I don't envy the seven members of the next council term which begins on December 1st. As with any government, there are many challenges ahead for this group of elected representatives, but with challenge comes the opportunity to shine.
It is easy to stand on the sidelines and point to all of the things that are wrong, or to identify areas in which this council may have difficulties, but I'd like to think that along with this new council will come a positive new attitude and energy for our entire municipality.
With more than half of the members of our new council team being first time Meaford Councillors, what this group will need most is constructive input from the residents of Meaford, along with some patience and understanding.
Nothing happens overnight in the world of governance, and we will all have to give this council a chance to get their feet wet before they plunge headlong into the depths of the often messy world of governing a municipality.
Though it is very easy to forget, what might be the most important issue to you, or your neighbour, or to me, is but one of the hundreds of issues that these councillors will be bombarded with in the coming weeks and months. And every one of those issues will be considered a top priority by whoever is putting the issue forward whether is is a homeowner concerned with the neighbour's dog, or a resident unhappy with the condition of the road they live on, or as is always the case, calls for lower taxes.
That is a lot of pressure for any elected representative, let alone rookie councillors. What we must remember is that we are all part of our municipal council, and the seven people we have selected to represent us will benefit most if the rest of us work with them, not against them.
The challenges that lay ahead for this council bring with them the potential for many positive results.
Among the first of the major issues that this new council will be faced with is the preservation of our heritage.
With rumours running rampant about the possible demolition of some of our downtown buildings, the drums of protest have been beating, and they are getting louder. And while it is a very positive sign that we have a community filled with residents who care about preserving our past for the benefit of our future, we must ensure that we don't jump to conclusions, and that we allow process and procedure to take place.
These seven representatives are not stupid. They are not unreasonable. Surely they have already picked up on the fact that concern is growing with regard to this issue.
What we the residents need to ensure is that concerns are expressed with respect, and that differences of opinion are debated without resorting to negativity and name calling.
It is true that properties in the downtown core have recently changed ownership, and it might even be true that there is some consideration being given to demolition of some of the structures on those properties in order to make way for new development.
I confess that I am one of those who doesn't want to see our historic buildings destroyed. Those buildings are our link to the past. They are in part what defines our community and its image. It is crucial that everything possible is done to ensure that we preserve those buildings.
Government though doesn't run itself by what is felt in the heart. Our council will make decisions based on policy, procedure, and economic realities.
We do have an Official Plan in Meaford, and we do have a Community Improvement Plan. We also have a public process for property development issues, and we have the benefit of having a very capable Director of Planning in Rob Armstrong who from everything I have witnessed, is not only willing to listen to the concerns of residents, but encourages them to become part of the process.
And for those that are concerned about preserving our heritage buildings, that is what must be done- become part of the process. And I hope that is exactly what we will see happen.
What I hope results from residents becoming part of the process on this issue is that a mutual understanding will develop of how difficult it is to be on either side of the fence. Not just in this situation, but for any issue. There are always opposing views to consider, there will always be compromises that need to be made. But isn't that what democracy is all about?
I wish our new council well, and as a resident of the municipality of Meaford, though we won't always agree, I am proud to be part of this council team.
Now who is going to join me on the team?