By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Councilor Robert Edney is the new Deputy Mayor of St. Marys.
Edney will be recognized as Deputy Mayor as of December 9th and will continue in that capacity until December 14th, 2021. Edney was nominated for the role by Councillor Marg Luna, who briefly served as acting Mayor last year when Mayor Al Strathdee took a medical leave of absence. Councillor Jim Craigmile has served as Deputy Mayor for the last year.
Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer gave several verbal presentations to the Council, one of which was the requested presentation of the Draft Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan for 2021. The presentation, according to Kittmer, was given to make sure Town staff are on the right track with their plans. At the Council's most recent budget meeting, it was suggested that staff review and draft updates for the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan and report back to Council. In recent months, the municipality has launched several projects connected to Community Safety and Wellbeing, and this review, according to Kittmer, will help streamline all the projects and create alignment between all the initiatives. This would also ensure that projects don't get duplicated or unnecessarily overlap.
Social initiatives that fall under the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan would include issues relating to increasing attainable housing, ending chronic homelessness, and mental health projects. By better consolidating these projects under the same Community Wellbeing umbrella, it will allow the Town to better understand how these social issues may connect, and allow for easier creation of projects and policies to address these issues. Additionally, the Town's projects have, to some degree, had very narrow focuses. This doesn't mean that the Town's strategies for addressing social issues have been bad, Kittmer noted, but it has meant that some people can fall through the cracks of some of these projects and that casting a slightly wider net and implementing a slightly broader approach will enable the Town's programs to be even more effective.
Kittmer also mentioned an interesting initiative being done by Community Services in coordination with the Stratford Police is the distribution of "care packages". This is part of the effort to address food insecurity and give some of the most vulnerable members of the community at least one quality meal over the holidays. These kits, 30 of which were given to St. Marys, include a voucher for a local meal along with gift cards to buy groceries. The Town is working with the Police Service to distribute some of these kits because the Police are familiar with some of the most in-need community members and, thus, are an effective partner for such a project.
Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent