The seven members of Loyalist Township council took their oath of office Monday in Odessa but Mayor Ric Bresee said it will take more than them to move the municipality forward.
In his inaugural address, Bresee looked back fondly on the heightened awareness and engagement hopefuls had with nearly 17,000 residents and encouraged that be continued.
“One of our biggest challenges will be to figure out how to maintain and increase the level of engagement with you, our citizens, throughout this term and beyond,” he said. “Finding and implementing a solution becomes easier when we have our residents aware and included in the process. I like to call that ‘buy in.’”
Bresee said that engagement can energize council as it deals with its tasks of maintaining roads and infrastructure, budgeting, delivering new economic opportunities, and reducing environmental impact.
“As with everything new, there are challenges and there are opportunities that lie ahead of us. This township has been well governed and prepared for these opportunities, Now, we are very close to realizing so much that this township has never seen before,” Bresee said. “It is up to us to make it happen — and I don’t just mean us, the seven faces that sit up here. It is up to all of us — council, staff, citizens, business owners and operators, institutions, other levels of government and all other stakeholders.”
The mayor challenged Loyalist residents and other stakeholders to continue to share their thoughts with their councillors so they could be truly represented. He also offered words of encouragement to family and friends gathered to see the swearing-in. Calling them “our closest allies and fiercest critics” he said they would be counted on for support and strength as they struggle through council business.
Togetherness, he said, would be a theme for the next four years.
“We will get there together. We will achieve our goals to the benefit of all,” Bresee said. “On behalf of my returning and newly elected fellow members of council, thank you for your support, for the confidence you have shown and placed in us. We will listen, share with you what is happening and work hard, because — like you — we too love this great community we call home.”
Justice Geoffrey Griffin presided over the swearing in ceremony. Returning to the horseshoe alongside Bresee are deputy mayor Jim Hegadorn and Ward 3 councillors Penny Porter and Ron Gordon. Mike Budarick will also represent Ward 3, while Carol Parks is the new Ward 2 councillor and Nathan Townend will represent Ward 1.
Council was to get right to business Tuesday with a special meeting scheduled at 5:30 p.m. for councillors to hear reports about a feasibility study on a proposal to move administrative offices to the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre and on options for interim accommodations for staff. Both reports for information would be forwarded to the Dec. 10 council agenda for further action.
With respect to the W.J. Henderson property, staff recommendations would encourage the new council to choose the site in principle for a sustainable community centre, including a new administrative building and expanded recreational facilities; form a steering committee, consisting of three councillors including Bresee to recommend a vision and detailed work plan for the site; authorize Lennox and Addington County to construct a standalone, County-funded daycare facility at the site; discuss the potential of funding from upper levels of government; and execute an agreement with the Green Municipal Fund to cover up to 50 per cent of eligible feasibility study costs to a maximum of $101,200.
Staff recommendations in the report on interim office space include the authorization of a second-floor renovation at the County Rd. 6 works garage in 2019 to alleviate space constraints at the Odessa office; authorize pre-budget approval of $40,000 for expedited design services for that project; and authorize the relocation of its infrastructure services department to that location upon completion.
Council was also scheduled to go into closed session for a property matter concerning the municipality’s industrial lands.