Congratulations and thank you to the citizens of our community who put their names forward to potentially serve as municipal politicians. As tax-paying citizens, we expect our democratically elected officials to represent our interests and dig deep for the personal courage and commitment to move our community ahead to where we agree it needs to go. Building a genuine, efficiently managed community is a significant public responsibility and not an easy task with the ever-changing nature of societal and economic needs.
As newbies to this community, my family was fortunate to choose where we wanted to relocate to in our retirement and happily chose Meaford and area. We found ourselves immediately attracted to the gentle feeling of this small harbour-town community with its country atmosphere. From the gentle rolling hills, working farmland and apple orchards, to the special blue of the Bay, to the green hills of the escarpment, this is a special place. You know all this. You live here.
I am listening to the discussions and comments of candidates competing for positions as elected representatives of our community and I admit that I am concerned. No one would argue with the importance of ensuring our roads and bridges are safe, now and into the future, but there are other things that are important too. We want our elected representatives to talk to us, the citizens of this community, about the quality of life we seek to have for the future of Meaford. I believe our government officials and staff need to work together with their citizens to clearly define what we want our town to look like, and once defined, determine how we get there.
It concerns me greatly when I hear comments like “give the developers and contractors whatever they want to encourage them to build new housing in our community.” Of course, we need to attract new families to live, work and go to school in Meaford, but we don’t want to meet this goal at the detriment of citizens enjoying what this community already offers. It is the challenge before us to agree upon and implement a balance in the use of resources to create the quality of community life that we seek.
I believe it is important that we have a state-of-the-art entertainment venue and community gathering place for young and old, that is easily accessible in the middle of our town; a library that can offer all of the community services associated with this well-managed and essential public service; a community hospital that can continue to provide essential medical and emergency services for our citizens; green spaces that include children’s playgrounds and areas for recreational activities like golfing and hiking, swimmable beaches, and schools and places of worship.
What worries me are some of the comments I’m hearing about things like our new library project being in potential jeopardy (too expensive, poor investment, roads and bridges are our priority) or not being able to afford the services of Meaford Hall. This is rubbish! People can afford what they want to afford and there are all kinds of levels of affordability to access these entertainment offerings through user fees. We would like our elected officials to implement plans to keep and build upon the services that our citizens value. It is also important that we have a clear vision of our priorities … now and for the future …. and that we communicate these clearly to those who represent us.
It is a huge expectation we have of our elected officials to come together and agree upon this community’s priorities and commit 100% to work together and with other governments to implement plans to make our priorities happen. There will never be enough money to do all the things that we want to do to enhance the quality of our community life, so we must be abundantly clear about our goals.
So, we have a lot of work to do. We are about to confirm our selection of municipal government leadership going forward for the next four years. In my personal view, perhaps now is a perfect time to re-state the service and planning priorities the citizens of this community value, and clearly define our future mission and goals for the Municipality of Meaford.
Bette Sweatman, Meaford