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2014 Inaugural Speech
Welcome, council, staff, honored guests and members of the media. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I address you today.
I wish to thank my mover, Mayor Briscoe and seconder, Mayor Rabishaw and all of county council for bestowing this honor on me. You have allowed me to serve as warden again and I accept the challenge for 2014. We have lot of work to do. I say we as I believe, as do you, that the office of Warden is an instrument of council and our public as we seek to continually improve all aspects of our community.
It takes a great deal of support to fulfill the role of Warden. Support from council and staff and the many welcoming and kind residents of the County. I have had support from my family and friends throughout my life acting as councilor, Mayor, Warden and community volunteer. Please allow me to introduce to you my wife, my friend and councilor Brian Hunt and councilor Bruno Kierczak. Your support and wise counsel has been most welcome and at times urgently needed.
I would also like to introduce you to some of our staff from Greater Madawaska: Allison Holtzhauer, Lindsey Taniwa, Teena Kelly, Marko Cekic. They represent a supportive and innovative team whom I am fortunate to have back stopping me in all of my roles.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing Raelene Young, Gurlie Kidd, Nancy Lounsbury, Molly Fulton and Cheryl Summers whom I work with in my other life. They are extremely supportive and accommodating and I am lucky to have them as friends and colleaques.
In 2013 we worked on a number of important projects. The efforts of council will continue unabated.
Further Twinning of 417
Along with the Warden’s Advisory Committee and with the support of our community we will continue our conversations with both the Federal and Provincial governments to stress the need for the predictable and timely twinning of Highway 17 through the County of Renfrew and beyond. This is a critical piece of transportation infrastructure which is necessary for the continued economic stability of our community, and the twinning is absolutely essential for the future and necessary expansion and diversification of our communities’ economy and our ability to compete with the rest of Ontario and beyond.
We believe Highway 417 will bring interested companies and investors, visitors and future residents to our many safe, affordable, caring and welcoming communities. We have observed and documented the positive impacts the extension of 417 to Arnprior has brought to that community and their closely linked neighbor McNab Braeside. We will continue to document the benefits in that area and in other areas on other 400 series highways and advance our case with both levels of government about the importance of the TransCanada Highway system and highway 17 to Ontario and to Canada.
Endangered Species Act
This is a significant issue for rural Ontario and for Renfrew County. It has created a number of problems, increased costs and significant work delays and stoppages for businesses in almost all economic sectors in our diverse community. Agriculture, construction, road building, land development and new home construction, forestry, mining and tourism investment have all been adversely affected by the time consuming and complicated requirements of the ESA. We have been told there have been job losses and missed investment opportunities. Industry representatives, our partners tell us, in many situations the ESA duplicates the requirements of existing Acts, such as the Ontario Planning Act, and specific Forest Management Plans.
County staff recently prepared an excellent and very comprehensive report that involved wide consultation with affected individuals and businesses. On behalf of council and staff I want to thank the numerous individuals, businesses and staff that participated in the consultation sessions and we look forward to continuing to press the provincial government on this issue on behalf of our community and rural Ontario. We will continue to assist our partners as they educate their respective sectors.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) for a long time has been a vital engine which drives our economy. We look forward through interaction and consultation with members of the community and elected representatives and AECL management, staff and retireds to ensure this continues. We expect and our community expects it to remain one of the world’s premier nuclear research facility as it evolves.
I can inform you recently a delegation from Renfrew County visited several nuclear science and technology, research and development and radio-active waste management facilities and business clusters and their host communities in the United States. The delegation left Canada with two objectives in mind, both directly linked to the federal government re-structuring process of AECL and the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL), presently underway.
First, we conducted an exploration of business opportunities and potential investment attraction to the County of Renfrew through prospecting industries involved in nuclear science and technology specifically, and other advanced manufacturing and research and development activities generally.
Second, with the selection of a private company to operate AECL under a Government-Owned, Company Operated (GOCO) model, it was highly informative to learn how other communities and regions have adjusted to this change from a government structure to private sector environment, and how they have managed their economic development investment attraction, community growth and labour force retention and development under a completely different operational structure.
We visited laboratories, science and technology clusters and waste management operations which have similarities to Chalk River Laboratories and the County of Renfrew environment. We gained a valuable perspective on what challenges and opportunities our community may face as AECL evolves here in the County.
I should mention the delegation heard countless times how valued an asset AECL and Chalk River Laboratories and the staff were and the importance of this GOCO being framed as an opportunity – this is much, much more than a shut down and clean up. Chalk River Laboratories needs to be developed as Canada’s national laboratory and a valued and primary growth hub for Renfrew County, Eastern Ontario, the Province of Ontario and Canada. This will be moving forward: a cornerstone statement for our community as we inject our opinions into the procurement process.
It remains the contention of this council that AECL is located here in the perfect community. We accept and support nuclear industry and science. AECL and the laboratories belong here. To move them or in any way systematically diminish them is to ignore the glorious and productive past, the significant present value and the limitless future.
Garrison Petawawa continues to evolve and grow. The many benefits accrued by our community extend beyond the Town of Petawawa. It generates income for many, opportunity to provide services and goods for others and a strong group of volunteers who care about and build our community.
Renfrew County has always and continues to have a strong and emotional attachment and relationship with Garrison Petawawa. We wish to ensure the serving members and civilian employees know they have our continued and heartfelt support as they fulfill their role globally in terms of defending Canada and others, providing security and disaster relief.
The recent addition of the heavy lift 450 Helicopter Squadron is illustrative of how the base continues to evolve to meet the challenges of serving Canada. We welcome those new squadron members and their families and supporting civilians to the County. You will find your new home welcoming and warm with a variety of activities and opportunities which will allow you to call this place home.
We look forward to the ongoing and mutually benefiting relationship with our Garrison Petawawa.
This coming year, I will continue to receive nominations with regards to the Warden’s Community Service awards. Recently, I had the great pleasure, with the support of council and on behalf of our community, to award individuals and organizations for their outstanding commitment to making the County of Renfrew a better place to live, work and play.
We reside in a part of the province, the country and the world, envied by many. Our connection to Canadian history mixed with our evolving social diversity and the vibrant arts community is second to none. Renfrew County residents are fortunate to share our community with the Algonquins of Pikwaknagan community, it is a treasured relationship which needs to be constantly respected and developed.
We will through the carefully fostered partnerships with Ottawa Valley Tourism Association (OVTA) and the various cultural groups work to properly showcase and further develop our unique attributes to residents and visitors alike. I would encourage each and every one of you and your families to take the opportunity to explore the arts, culture and historical treasures we have hidden away and waiting discovery here in Renfrew County.
The County of Renfrew will continue to take an active role in healthy living by participating in a health promotion challenge with Lanark County. I truly enjoyed the Silver Chain Challenge this past June. The Silver Chain Challenge encouraged the use of our roads, trails, hallways and any natural or man-made infrastructure to increase physical activity along with social and community engagement. I look forward to June 2014 with enthusiasm and a healthy sense of needing to improve.
Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus
The Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC) sets priorities for the year in January of each year. As council will recall the Caucus has been very successful in completing major projects and studies such as EORN. In 2013, economic development was one of two priorities for the EOWC and a Regional Economic Development Strategy should be completed by the end of January 2014.
CoR CAO Jim Hutton and myself will continue to support the efforts of EOWC and ensure the concerns of the CoR are duly considered. I should note we forwarded the concerns of council to the EOWC in conjunction with Mayor Sweets presentation to EORN about the patchiness of cell coverage in our community. EOWC has agreed to conduct a gap analysis utilizing a process similar to the origins of the broadband initiative in 2008 when it reviewed the area represented by the EOWC .
This coming year will see the County of Renfrew complete the mandated Asset Management Plan. Asset management is an integral part on ensuring services and infrastructure continues to be maintained to expected levels of service, while providing the CoR with an accurate snapshot of the financial costs, maintenance schedules and growth of CoR assets.
This vital and necessary document enables our staff to make accurate and measurable recommendations to County Council, and in turn council to make effective and responsible decisions on assets and infrastructure. There are challenges with ensuring assets and infrastructure are sustainable for long term service and growth. Council will continue to seek and press for sustained and predictable funding through the Prov’l and Federal governments to ensure the CoR continues to deliver a standard of service and infrastructure that attracts new business, retains current business and makes our county a truly fantastic place to be for work, fun and living.
I look forward to continuing our working relationship with our MP Cheryl Gallant, and our MPP John Yakabuski in ensuring the issues of Renfrew County and our local municipalities and our community are duly considered by our senior governments. Partnerships with our federal and provincial governments are extremely important if we are to move forward on the major initiatives offered today.
Council through me requests our staff to please continue to work hard on behalf of our communities. We constantly challenge you to be innovative, informative, thrifty and visionary on a daily basis. Our local councils depend upon you to be subject experts and assistors in a variety of situations. Residents and clients expect you to assist them, to protect them, to heal them and to advise them. You respond to all of these roles, challenges, requests and expectations with grace and professionalism. You do not disappoint.
Once again, we call upon you to provide thoughtful papers and policy options containing clear goals, costs and comparators upon which we can make informed decisions. This year with local councils facing dramatically increasing operating costs from policing and electricity to name just a few - we will no doubt be asking about different service models and expanded partnerships as the no municipality will be immune to fiscal challenges and pressures.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor that I sit here before you as your Warden for the CoR starting my second term. I understand the immense responsibility you have graciously bestowed on me. I will encourage and work with you to adopt and implement an agenda which allows us to move forward on the issues we have mentioned today. Together as councilors, staff and community members we will continue to make Renfrew County the best place to live, work, invest and play.
Undoubtedly 2014 will be filled with challenges, which as has occurred countless times before in these chambers, will require patience and appreciation for each other and our individual points of view and diverse goals. I am sure we will not always support each others goals and views, I am confident we will always expect to find ourselves at the end of the session supporting our community.
To each and every one of you, have a wonderful Christmas and I hope an extremely busy, prosperous, and successful 2014.
Warden Peter Emon
December 10, 2013