West Nipissing council outlines road ahead

West Nipissing council is drafting a term-plan, which will serve as a guide for the next four years and include goals for the municipality. Currently, council is “halfway through the process,” Mayor Kathleen Thorne-Rochon noted, but it should be completed within the next month or so.

“This Term Plan was initiated by Council in an effort to strategically align the community’s needs with the actions of the Municipality,” municipal staff outlined. The plan “allows Council to set priorities and to stay focused on goals and outcomes during their term.”

The document also outlines the principles council holds dear, including working toward building trust and fostering positive engagement together. They want to get along. Council also wants to “embrace change” in the municipality and serve the community “by listening and being transparent.”

The municipality will also “take chances and seize opportunities,” but will remain “realistic, honest and respectful” while working to realize these opportunities.

Weaknesses are also identified in the report. Some of these include “siloed identities of communities” within the municipality, limited internet and cell service in rural areas, transportation services, dependence on government funding and by-law enforcement.

Council also noted that the public perception of council based on the previous term is a weakness the municipality must overcome, and council would also like to improve collaboration with neighbouring First Nations.

See: West Nipissing launches community improvement plan

Other issues needing attention are a “dwindling labour force,” and a need for more housing. Council is also concerned about youth leaving the community and an aging population.

However, there is much light on West Nipissing council’s horizon. They see many strengths to draw upon, including the community’s bilingualism, a knowledgeable municipal staff, and the finances are healthy and in order.

Council noted an “excellent working relationship with community partners,” and the area has a strong, “passionate” volunteer force. The municipality offers a “low-cost and user-friendly development process,” and council is proud of the area’s schools, health care, and long-term care facilities.

Over the next four years council will also focus on plans for the former mill site, a housing strategy and a community well-being plan. Councillors also will prioritize recruiting medical professionals and explore options for improving internet for all residents.

However, there are more items on the list that council plans to address, including a comprehensive zoning by-law, a roads study, and a fire master plan and risk management plan. Councillors are reviewing the document and will provide feedback at an upcoming meeting before the document is approved by council.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca