Past mayors also weigh in on accomplishments since amalgamation
Greater Napanee’s mayors, past and present, offered a retrospective look back at the town’s first 20 years of amalgamation Thursday night at Selby Hall during the mayor’s levee.
Mayor Gord Schermerhorn, who is entering his 15th and self proclaimed final year in office, hosted the event, which explored how much the town has grown since 1998. He was joined by Bud Calver and by a pre-recorded video from Dave Remington.
“I had the honour of being the last mayor of Napanee and the first mayor of Greater Napanee,” said Calver, who was in office when the province put forth a mandatory amalgamation which took effect Jan. 1, 1998. “In 1998, on Jan. 18, our first challenge as an amalgamated municipality was the ice storm of ‘98. Two major issues also in the new year were the dump expansion and the signing of the OPP contract.”
Calver noted a lot had changed since his time in office and continues to do so every year.
“Twenty years later some of the electorate are still proposing changes,” said Calver. “That’s a good thing. I seen a lot of positive things that came from amalgamation. In the south there’s the hydro plant, the cement plant, the new gas plant, the new fire hall in Dorland. In the north its gone beyond expectations as far as Goodyear, Stinson’s has a new fuel depot, there’s a marijuana plant proposal, the Hampton Inn, numerous food outlets, a proposed Best Western, new fire hall, new police station, new ambulance base and west of us lots of new housing projects in the works.”
He closed by offering a tongue-in-cheek observation.
“I see public works are plowing a lot of sidewalks in Napanee this year,” said Calver. “Ironically in 1993 and 1994 mayor Lambert and myself presented council with a working plan to plow all sidewalks and our motion was defeated. Twenty-five years later, this has happened.”
Calver was succeeded by Remington, who served as mayor from 2000 to 2003.
“Amalgamation was a very difficult process for a lot of people,” said Remington in a pre-recorded video. “However, despite that, I’m convinced we made the right choice. We pulled together the best of each of the former townships to create a new thriving community.”
He mentioned the town’s commitment to preserving its historical buildings as an integral part of its charm.
Schermerhorn feted the town’s many sports tourism events over the past 10 years, hosting tournaments such as the National Women’s U18 Hockey Championship, 2010 Ontario Tankard, 2012 Canadian Juniors curling as well as several national and provincial fast-pitch tournaments, including the upcoming U19 Men’s Canadian Fast-pitch Championship in August as well as the Canadian National Barefoot water skiing championship.
“Since our 10th anniversary, a lot of improvements have been made,” said Schermerhorn. “Starting with the installation of new lights on the Springside Park trail. We also opened the splash pad in 2013. We opened a 13 acre passive park on Loyalist Parkway and most recently completed the Rotary Park. Communities in Bloom, through the work of our volunteers, made us a five bloom community.”
Schermerhorn also pointed to annual events such as the Big Bright Lights, Winter Chill, Waterfront Festival and Parade of Lights as feathers in their cap.
As the community has grown over the last 20 years, so too has its residents.
“2018 is a major turning point for Greater Napanee,” said Schermerhorn. “This year will mark the first election where people who were born after amalgamation can vote. These residents have no ties to pre-amalgamation ways.”
He concluded that he hoped the community would continue to work together as they look to build on their success of their first 20 years.