Mayor Isbester says council has much left to accomplish heading into 2022

Greater Napanee Mayor Marg Isbester. File photo.

Adam Prudhomme

Uncertainty of COVID-19 aside, Greater Napanee mayor Marg Isbester foresees a busy year ahead for council.

Just a few days into 2022, the Beaver spoke with the mayor on a wide range of topics as see looks ahead to the next 12 months.

“Whether we’re in (COVID-19 protocols), whether we’re out, whether there’s good weather, whether there’s good news, we have to keep moving forward,” said Isbester. “We have things that are on the radar that maybe some of them have sat with COVID. We’ve got to review the official plan looking for input for Jan. 25, whether that date will stick, things like that and not being able to have face-to-face in public, butts in the chairs sort of discussions, those kinds of things are made difficult, but we have to keep going.”

Jan. 25 is currently the date council has circled to review its official plan for the coming years.

Among the first major topics to be discussed will be R.W. Tomlinson Ltd’s proposed permanent asphalt plant at 8243 County Rd. 2. As it stands right now there are two public meetings scheduled on that topic, one on Feb. 17 the other Feb. 24, the first planned as virtual while the second is intended to be in-person. These dates were set in early December, before the province instituted a series of restrictions in response to the highly contagious properties of the Omicron variant.

“We were hoping that we could have one in person and one virtual, hoping that the one in person would be reserved for people that don’t have access to internet and so on or those who have really done their homework and are very keen one way or the other to be able to speak in person,” said Isbester. “Those are the things that even though we do have to keep moving forward, we have to consider that we are listening to everybody.”

Those meetings would be strictly to gather public input on the matter while also providing answers to residents who oppose the plant. The date of a final decision as to whether or not the proposal to build a permanent plant on that site would be approved is yet to be determined but the mayor is hopeful it will come within this term of council, which expires in late October of this year.

“Hopefully this council will be able to make a decision (on Tomlinson),” said Isbester. “If not it would carry over to the next council and I have a feeling that no matter which way it goes it will end up going to the tribunal to be reviewed anyway.”

In their final meeting of 2021, council approved moving forward with a pilot project that would see the formation of public transportation links with Loyalist Township and Kingston. Isbester said those talks need to continue.

“Transportation has become extremely important to get people moved for jobs and for that we’re looking at collaboration with Loyalist Township for moving people back and forth and an expansion or an enhancement perhaps to Deseronto Transit to make sure we look after people who need to go west,” said Isbester. “These are all things that we need to put in place now.”

Following up on a recommendation made by new town CAO John Pinsent, Isbester said the town is beginning the process of consolidating all town services into a centralized location.

“We need to do, even though part of it might be virtual, we need to be a place where the departments are within one roof,” said Isbester. “Not just for staff, but for the public. We need somewhere central where if you want to buy a dog tag, get a fire permit, pay a tax bill, pay a utilities bill, lodge a complaint, meet with your councillor, meet with the mayor, meet with staff, it needs to be one place. That’s something that needs to be decided or well on it’s way to being decided for the next council.”

Looking back on the first three years of this council’s term, what started with traditional meetings at town hall back in 2018 soon evolved into virtual meetings in March of 2020 to live streamed meetings at Selby Community Hall for much of 2021 to now back to virtual meetings to start 2022. For a council that was formed before anyone had even heard of COVID-19, they’ve now spent over half their term operating under some sort of emergency protocols.

“If you had said to me when I first became warden at the end of 2019 and going into 2020, if you had ever said to me that we would still be sitting in this (pandemic) going into 2022 I would have just said absolutely no way,” said Isbester. “But I’m proud of our staff, I’m proud of our council and I’m proud of our municipality as to how we have gotten through this. It’s been tough on business, it’s been tough on people and it’s been tough on families and it’s been tough on education.”

Through it all, she says council has found a way to get things done.

“No matter what, this council has been able to go back to people and get answers for them,” she added. “Find out things that could help them do their research. Even though we might not be in the same room, they’re still serving the public as is expected.”

On the topic of the upcoming election, Isbester said she hoped there would be plenty of interest with people putting their name forward for the right reasons. As for her own plans on whether or not she’d seek re-election, she says she’s yet to decide.

“Let me get this term finished,” said Isbester. “I have never ever, agreed- which is very evident with me- on deciding on issues based on the next election.”

error: Content is protected !!