Happy New year, Bonne année!
2017!!Simply incredible how time flies. As I started to write todays message I could not help but feel, a bit nostalgic as I reviewed the last month in my 2016 calendar. To that end, I thought I would reflect on and highlight a few of the developments that have taken place in our Town during the past year.
To start off the Recreation and Community Services Department has been extremely busy! The Grand Opening and Official Launch of our new Splash Pad took place in June. What an amazing turnout for this event! This waterfront feature is relatively unique to our area and was certainly put to good use. 2016 appeared to be the ideal year to open a splash pad with a significantly hot summer that carried right through into the fall.
On October 21st we once again gathered in our beautiful Waterfront Park to celebrate the grand opening of our outdoor amphitheatre. After some live entertainment provided by our very own Scott Cooper, folks bundled up to watch Hocus Pocus, a Halloween favourite! With the installation of lighting planned in 2017, I can’t wait to see what our Recreation Staff have in the works for the warmer months in this impressive new outdoor space.
This year saw improvements to our Bocce ball courts in McGuire Park and the installation of some spectacular looking playground equipment in Gendron Park. Rotary Champlain Wendat Park received additions of fitness equipment, statues on the Legacy Walkway and landscaping enhancements to the Circle of Four Nations.
2016 saw the first annual March MUDness event in support of our hospital. Thanks to a collaborative effort from devoted volunteers, sponsors and staff, the event raised $40 000 for GBGH Foundation and provided an exciting opportunity for over 170 participants to race and tackle ten fun and challenging obstacles. We anticipate March MUDness 2017 to be just as exhilarating as we gear up to raise funds for a new CT scanner. To register for our 2017 March MUDness visit our website: http://www.marchmudness.ca
Another new and exciting event that made its way into our Town was Urban Slide. With Pirates of the Bay and a cooperative forecast, Penetanguishene welcomed many visitors to experience and enjoy all that was taking place at the North end of Highway 93 on the Civic long weekend. Last but not least, we had the pleasure of co-hosting the Ontario 55+ Senior Games from August 9-11. It was wonderful to see so many active and vibrant seniors engaging in recreation and sport in our community.
Our infamous T dock at the end of the Main Street now boasts a gazebo and seating area for residents and visitors alike to sit and pay witness to all the activity in our beautiful harbour. Improvements were also made to the rub rails on the docks. In 2017 we will add spud extensions further securing the docks in place, building a new launch ramp kiosk and adding some security surveillance.
Moving on to the Planning and Development Department, we launched the Official Plan Review “Sailing Forward” and have completed a draft of the Vision with Goals and Objectives and the Background Discussion Papers on Housing, Policy, Infrastructure, Growth Management and Land Use. The goal is to prepare a new Official Plan to guide growth and development in the Town until 2031.
Complementary to the Official Plan Review is the Natural Heritage Study update. This study examines our environment and maps areas for protection and enhancement. Public Meetings on the above capital study projects will begin in January and wrap up in early summer 2017.
Early in 2016 the first phase of the Maxson subdivision on Maria Street was registered. Pre-servicing of Phase 2 of the Bellisle Heights subdivision or Harbour Pointe, as it is now known, was approved. Industrial Filter Manufacturing received Site Plan approval for the addition at 187 Robert Street East and Burkevale Protestant Separate School renovations are progressing. Phase IV of the Village at Bay Moorings began construction with all fifty townhouse building permit applications submitted.
Committee of Adjustment was the busiest in 2016 with 24 applications for Minor Variance or Consent.
The busiest year since 2011 for the Building Department! To the end of November the department has received 162 building permits for an estimated construction value over $20 million, compared to $8.5 million in 2015. There have been over 75 new homes, including 50 townhouses and 8 new apartments and over 800 inspections.
In the beginning of February, Transportation and Environmental Services, worked on starting up a Midland and Penetanguishene Transit System, which has provided our two communities with a tremendous transportation service.
The Preventative Road Maintenance Program was completed on Gordon Drive, Broad Street, Payette Drive, Forestdale Drive, Thompsons Road East and Poyntz Street. The Main Street Reconstruction Engineering and Streetscape Design were also introduced.
Emergency Services for Midland and Penetanguishene conducted a joint Emergency Management Program and related training and table top exercises this year. I was very pleased with the outcome of this Program and the role that our two municipalities played in a mock Emergency Management Training session.
And lastly, Finance and Corporate Services has made significant improvements to the Wi-Fi at the Tourist Information Centre and at the Wharf for Boaters. The future goal is to have Wi-Fi accessible in some Parks and on the Town’s Transit Bus. The 2017 Budget was approved on November 23, 2016, with a $227,000 budget increase, resulting in a town tax increase of 2.4% ( we anticipate that the town tax rate once blended with the County and Education rates will result in an overall tax increase around 1%). Our Youth Council continues to have a strong voice in our community and played major roles in the opening of the amphitheater, splash pad and were all hands on deck at our festival of lights!
Jan and I wish you all the best of health, prosperity and happiness in 2017,