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2016 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, Councillor Murphy and seconder, Councillor Reinwald 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 2016. We have a 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 community as we work 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 councillor, Mayor, Reeve, Warden and community volunteer. Please allow me to introduce to you my wife, Alanna. 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 the Town of Renfrew. 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 some colleagues that I work with in my other life. They are extremely supportive and accommodating and I am lucky to have them as friends and colleagues.
In 2015 we worked on a number of important projects. The efforts of council will continue unabated.
Further Twinning of 417
Along with the newly formed Highway 417 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. 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. The good news is the province has finally included the next phase, through from Scheel Drive to Bruce Street in their construction plans. Now we need to remind them to fund it and to start moving rock.
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. We haven’t forgotten about it and will continue to raise it at every opportunity. Agriculture, construction, road building, land development and new home construction, forestry, mining and tourism investment continue to be 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.
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) now CNL for a very long time has been a vital engine which drives our economy. We look forward through our relationship with the Operators to ensure this continues. We expect, and our community, expect it to remain one of the world’s premier nuclear research facilities as it evolves.
Nuclear science and technology, research and development and radio-active waste management facilities and a thriving business cluster in Renfrew County is what we expect, this is what we have observed in other areas hosting nuclear labs and research.
In 2013 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 CNL evolves here in the County.
We accept and support nuclear industry and science in our community. CNL, the laboratories and the science are rooted and belong here. To 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.
We, as always, look forward to the ongoing and mutually benefiting relationship with our Garrison Petawawa.
This coming year, we 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 Pikwàkanagàn 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. 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 2016 with enthusiasm and a healthy sense of needing to improve. We also work with the Health Unit and a number of partners to improve the physical activeness of our children. I am honored to be the “champion” for the Healthy Kids program and enjoy the enthusiasm of our partners as they grow the program.
Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus
The Eastern Ontario Wardens’ 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. In 2013, economic development was one of two priorities for the EOWC and a Regional Economic Development Strategy was completed and implemented in 2014 and 2015.
County of Renfrew CAO Jim Hutton and myself will continue to support the efforts of EOWC and ensure the concerns of the County of Renfrew are duly considered. I should note in 2013 we forwarded the concerns of council to the EOWC in conjunction with Councillor Sweet’s presentation to EORN about the patchiness of cell coverage in our community. EOWC has conducted 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. A project is being formed with discussions as to funding expected to be formalized with the province and the federal government.
A committee will be established to advise council and our community on a project for Canada’s 150th celebration--A project demonstrating who we are and where we are going in the future. To that end I ask you to start thinking about this as 2017 is shortly upon us.
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. We will be taking every opportunity to appear before provincial and federal bodies to offer policy options when they impact on Renfrew County.
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 no municipality will be immune to fiscal challenges and pressures. Partnership across many fields are the new “revenue producers” for municipal government and we will need to lead and facilitate the discussions on this.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor that I sit here before you as your Warden for the County of Renfrew starting my fourth 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 and in the past year. Together as councillors, staff and community members, we will continue to make Renfrew County the best place to live, work, invest and play.
Undoubtedly 2016 will be filled with challenges, as has occurred countless times before in these chambers, and 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 other’s 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 2016.
Warden Peter Emon
December 8, 2015