Strong Leadership. Strong Results.
The past four years have seen Council and staff work together without drama and partisan bickering and games. It has made a difference: our meetings are effective, there is clear direction, and we are getting things done. My commitment is to keep that strong team approach and build on our results.
I am so proud of the record by our Council and staff. We have been busy, and we have all worked in a positive and constructive tone. These are just a few highlights of our many achievements made together.
I am asking for your support this fall to continue to build on the changes and modernization we have achieved in the past four years.
Accountability & Fiscal Responsibility
“One of the toughest parts of our job is setting priorities and continually finding ways to reduce costs and keep taxes low. You learn quickly that you can’t be everything to everybody, but we have worked constructively with businesses, local service clubs, and others to come up with low-cost or free ideas to help them instead. It’s been a win-win situation.”
- Froze the salary of Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Councillors for the entire four year term to show our commitment to fiscal restraint
- Kept any tax increases to inflation or lower. In many cases, if there was no assessment increase to property owners, many saw their property taxes nearly frozen or reduced
- Minimal, if any, tax rate increases to commercial properties to support small business and employers in North Dundas
Better Communication & Customer Service
“North Dundas has become a leader when it comes to developing better customer service and communication with taxpayers. We looked for new ideas and creative ways of getting our message out to residents and providing better access to services.”
- Presented a well-received session at the Ontario East Municipal Conference in Kingston that explained our positive customer service enhancements in the Planning and Building Department. Attendees rated the presentation as one of the best.
- Major redesign of Township website to offer more information, updates, forms, and services online.
- Offering e-billing for water and sewer bills, expanding to property tax bills in 2015
- Active on Facebook (www.facebook.com/northdundas) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/northdundas) to post instant updates and information about events and issues in the community
- Summer hours were implemented (open Wednesdays until 7:00pm in Planning and Building from Victoria Day to Labour Day) to offer more convenient times to meet staff and apply for permits.The extended summer hours program was expanded in 2014 to all Township services.
- Successful introduction of our Community Improvement Plan, which provided funding to 13 projects totaling $116,000 in improvements and renovations in the Villages of Winchester and Chesterville. The program will expand to Township hamlets in 2015.
- Hired an Economic Development Officer who continues to work directly with the business community regarding professional development and expansion opportunities. In just three years, he has assisted a number of businesses connect with grants for new jobs and capital projects totalling $1.15 million dollars, with more applications underway.
- Hosted 12 educational seminars and workshops for three key stakeholder groups (small businesses, contractors & builders, and festivals and events) to better communicate with them and share best practices and new ideas to enhance their work.
- Mail an annual survey to all clients that use Planning & Building Department to solicit direct feedback on quality and timeliness of service. The results show that Council’s focus on improved service has been effective.
- Building permits and zoning amendments are now processed in record time (half the provincial mandated time limit).
- Chief Building Official hosted more “open houses” to explain how to apply for permits and about changes to the Building and Fire Codes for builders and residents.
- A record 20 subdivision applications have either been approved or in process for development in North Dundas. That is the highest number of active subdivisions in all of SD&G.
Building a Better Road System
“We made significant progress to improve gravel roads with ‘tar-and-chip’ surface treatment. However, with major funding cuts by the provincial government this year, we faced a choice: scale back our plan and timeline or increase taxes drastically. We choose to keep taxes affordable and are pressuring the provincial government to give rural Ontario our fair share so we can tar-and-chip more roads.”
- This term of Council, over 200 homes saw their roads upgraded from gravel to tar and chip. That has reduced the number of homes on gravel roads by 36% in just three years.
- For the first time in our history, North Dundas has more tar-and-chip roads than gravel roads. (177.2km tar and chip vs.129.3km gravel)
- Successfully obtained funds to reconstruct and repave County Road 1 between South Mountain and Mountain (from Nelson Road to Cameron Road). This $800,000 investment has been needed for years and will come to fruition over the next two years.
Investing in Healthy Communities
“While the idea of an indoor pool or new recreational facilities would be nice, the frank reality is we already have more pools and arenas for similar sized communities. It not only costs a lot to operate each one every year, but many are now due for major, costly repairs. We have developed a long-term plan to repair our facilities for the next generation, without significant tax increases.”
- Major renovations to Joel Steele and Chesterville Arenas, Winchester Centennial Pool (totaling $1.7 million).
- New park spaces and play equipment in Harmony Park (north of Winchester) and Thompson Park (Chesterville)
- North Dundas offers the highest level of programming options for any rural municipality in Ontario. This term of Council has seen enhanced programming with a variety of new classes, exercise, and art programs throughout the Township. In 2014, we are offered more than 175 different types of programs alone.
- Enhancing ambulance service and improving response times by adding two Personal Response Units in early 2015, after years of inaction in SD&G.
- Developed and supported new programs at Eastern Ontario Health Unit (ie. Positive Parenting Program, Green Food Bag, etc.) that are proactive in reducing the future costs of health care services.