This month, Collingwood residents got a newsletter in their Collus- PowerStream utility bill: The Half Time News. Recognizing this is the season of the Super Bowl, our brochure provides residents a fun yet non-political update on the events and activities around council’s first two years in office: at the end of 2012 we are at the half-way point in our term. And what a term it’s been so far!
While media attention is often focused on a handful of issues, council has been involved in numerous initiatives and activities since we took office in December, 2010. These are all important to the community. Because we always get asked by residents about what is happening at council or in Town Hall, this flyer was produced.
This is the second in our new initiative to communicate better with our residents and keep people more fully informed about what their municipal government is doing for them.
Here’s the list of accomplishments from our first half, as listed in the flyer:
First Year Highlights:
Patios: Resolved the downtown patio issue satisfactorily;
Railroad: Closed the railroad, saving taxpayers $400,000 a year in operating costs. Started negotiations with the County of Simcoe and Metrolinx for future railroad development;
Taxes: Kept property taxes and user fees low. Kept water and sewer rates low;
Debt: Lowered the town’s outstanding debt from $41 million. Topped up our financial reserves;
Development: Gave the Admiral Collingwood development the green light to go ahead and build. Started the reconstruction of Raglan Street;
Costs: Reduced municipal spending. Significantly reduced legal costs;
Safety: Approved a new fire station;
Finances: Sold unneeded municipal properties;
Services: Improved local roads and servicing;
Transit: Implemented a new bus transit link with Wasaga Beach;
Recreation: Improved signage on local trails. Created a steering committee to research new rec facility options;
Growth: Approved new developments including Creekside, and Mountaincroft. Welcomed new businesses into town including the Hyundai dealership. Encouraged new growth and business at the Collingwood Airport;
Planning: Initiated a natural heritage study;
Community: Approved a community garden project. Improved relations between council, staff and the community;
Downtown: Implemented free downtown parking on evenings and weekends. Implemented a courtesy/warning ticket system for downtown parking during paid times.
Second Year Highlights:
Growth: Welcomed a proposal to build new Sidelaunch brewery in town. Approved new developments including Balmoral Village. Created a new partnership between Collus and PowerStream for future energy growth and efficiencies;
Taxes: Kept taxes and user fees low again;
Debt: Lowered the debt to $37 million by year-end. Topped up reserves;
Municipal: Purchased new Works and Parks & Recreation Dept. property and building at much less than the appraised value;
Recreation: Purchased Fisher Field to improve soccer and other recreational activities. Resurfaced and upgraded our public tennis courts. Developed a tax-neutral solution to build much-needed, new recreational facilities through use of Sprung technologies;
Services: Extended water services to Long Point Road residents. Approved new traffic lights at Mountain Road & Tenth Line;
Development: Reconstructed Hurontario Street at Cameron to improve traffic flow. Purchased and demolished the former Mountain View hotel to finish the First Street widening project;
Management: Completed council’s strategic planning and priority-setting exercise. Implemented a team-based executive management model for municipal services. Initiated a comprehensive operational review of municipal services and functions;
Planning: Initiated an active transportation plan planning process;
Transit: Purchased two new buses to improve our transit system;
Downtown: Developed a new, energetic partnership with our BIA board and Downtown Revitalization committee;
Tourism: Developed a new partnership with the Georgian Triangle Tourism Association;
Safety: Started construction on the new fire station.
And here’s some of what we plan for the remainder of the term:
Second Half Game Plan:
Economy: Engage a director of marketing. Focus on employment and economic growth;
Taxes: Continue to keep taxes and municipal costs low;
Debt: Reduce the outstanding debt even more;
Operational Review: Implement identified efficiencies and communications within town hall;
Harbour and waterfront: Develop a new strategic plan with input from all stakeholders;
Recreation: Complete and open the new rec facilities;
Hume Street Corridor: Complete plans for the redevelopment;
Hurontario-First Street intersection: Complete the planned design upgrades;
Communications: Engage a communications co-ordinator to improve social media engagement;
OPP: Renovate and upgrade the current police building for improved service and efficiency;
Admiral Collingwood & The Shipyards: Encourage the developers to finish the projects this term.
We have some exciting, progressive ideas about growth, communications, economic development and transportation that we’re working on and hope to be able to present to the public soon. Keeping taxes low is another goal that we are always working towards. The past two years we have managed a 0% increase in property taxes. It’s unlikely we can continue that low, but we are trying our best to minimize increases and reduce the impact on residents while still maintaining service levels and our wonderful quality of life.
Reducing our debt by almost 10% in two years without raising taxes has been a challenge, but we have done it.
Contact information for all members of council is included on the back. This is a non-partisan production, and all members of council can take pride in what we have accomplished in the first half of our term. If you didn’t get a copy, or would like another, please contact town hall or drop in at 97 Hurontario Street. You can download a PDF version here.