When I ran for Council in 2013, I focused on four things: accountability, low taxes, smart growth and community-building. As Mayor, I have worked to keep my promises. I’m lucky to be working with a great team of dedicated councillors and a growing group of keen residents – below is a short record of our work relating to these four points.
I strive to help Council and residents work together to make the best decisions for our community. The members of Council and Town Staff work for more open communication, transparency & collaboration. So far, we have brought the following changes:
✱ The Agenda for monthly public meetings is now posted online prior to each meeting so that residents interested in the issues to be discussed can plan to attend.
✱ The Minutes of monthly public meetings (which now include context and key discussion points) are posted online within a week of their ratification. (click HERE to see the Minutes of past meetings!)
✱ Transparency & collaboration in all decision-making is continually emphasized. There are a number of ways that the public can now participate in public Council meetings.
✱ There are now two residents’ advisory committees (mostly made up of residents) who help provide advice to Council: The Heritage Committee and the Community Enhancement Committee. Please consider joining one of these!
✱ In the coming months, we will be working to make the Town Website more comprehensive, user-friendly & accessible (http://torbay.ca & http://www.pcsp.ca are great examples).
2. LOW TAXES
For most residents of Witless Bay, low taxes are an important consideration. Recognizing this, our Town Council has reduced the mil rate by 11% in 2014. In the coming months, we will:
✱ Work to lower the minimum property tax to relieve the tax burden on our most vulnerable citizens.
✱ Manage town finances conscientiously & responsibly and control operating expenses.
✱ Focus on smart growth for long-term prosperity.
✱ Work to make Witless Bay an even more attractive place for business & industry.
3. SMART GROWTH
In the past five years, Witless Bay has grown more than the great majority of towns in the province. This growth must be carefully planned to ensure that it is sustainable & that it maximizes potential benefits for all residents. I will continuously keep inviting our Council to:
✱ Work closely with developers to ensure that new developments benefit all residents and avoid future financial & legal liabilities for the Town.
✱ Conduct thorough assessments of all new developments to ensure that the costs associated with these don’t exceed the tax revenues they’re hoped to generate.
✱ Make the protection of our Town’s water table & wells priority #1.
✱ Help protect & preserve Witless Bay’s unique natural & historical assets.
✱ Make residents’ quality of life a priority. This includes ensuring infrastructure & built environment, reliable & cost-effective services, access to facilities for recreation, physical fitness & leisure, and the fostering of a sense of community & belonging.
✱ Work for safer roads in our community. We have reduced speed limits throughout the community, and posted a number of road signs to help control traffic. We have widened aprons in trouble spots to reduce the amount of dirt and stone at intersections, and are installing a number of swales throughout the community to get the water off the roadway more effectively.
✱ Focus on growing business & industry so that Witless Bay never becomes a soulless “bedroom community.” Our new Town Plan identifies a number of key areas for light industrial and commercial growth, which are proactively zoned for this purpose. We have also spearheaded a strategic planning initiative to help grow the right types of businesses in the community.
A strong sense of community and town pride, active volunteer networks & a friendly feel increases the quality of life or residents & contributes to the Town’s economic prosperity by drawing more visitors, residents & businesses. Our Town Council is currently:
✱ Facilitating the establishment of a number of community-oriented projects.
✱ Working to assist community groups & associations in communicating with residents.
✱ Helping to build a stronger sense of place by working on signage, community mapping (click HERE for a great example), and a number of low-cost community-oriented actions.
✱ Looking into community composting initiatives to help keep our garbage collection rates low (Click HERE for MMSB’s explanation). We have sold 50 MMSB-subsidized composters to residents at cost (which was a fraction of the normal cost), and intend to do the same next year.
✱ Continually striving to foster pride in our community & promote a stronger sense of belonging & cohesiveness.
✱ Helping local groups and associations lobby other levels of government for funding.