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StephenVance 270We are nearly halfway through this month of December, and before we know it the calendar will turn from 2019 to 2020.

In recent days I have noticed an uptick in the energy and pace of those around me, with many busily preparing for the coming holiday season. With gifts to buy and recipes to source and test, most everyone has a lengthy 'to-do' list in December.

I have always enjoyed the energy in the month of December, and while I don't celebrate Christmas, I am very much looking forward to some downtime at the end of this month, as well as some celebrations of my own. At the end of this month my eldest son turns the magic age of 21, and a week later his younger brother turns 17. As a father, I have found that I have really enjoyed seeing my boys turn into young men, and I am looking forward to celebrating their birthdays when they come for a visit at the end of this year.

As a community we have had a busy year. For a small farming town, there is much going on. Our new library is well under construction as is our new school, and if that weren't enough, this municipality also rehabilitated the most heavily travelled bridge in the municipality this year, and on the whole the experience was relatively painless.

Our council has just one more meeting this year on December 16. During that meeting council is hoping to finalize their input into the 2020 budgets with a goal of presenting a final draft to the public in January.

School-aged kids, whether in kindergarten or high school, are no doubt watching the calendar this month, eagerly anticipating a well-earned break from the classroom. The little ones will have dreams of Santa, while the older ones might be hoping their parents don't embarrass them with an ugly sweater this year.

I too am looking forward to some downtime in the coming days. We will publish our final paper of the year on December 19, and our first paper of 2020 will be published on January 9. During that time our office will be closed as our team refreshes and recharges in order to be ready for 2020, which will no doubt be another busy year.

In 2020 we will see work continue on the new library and the new school, and there will also be plenty of road and bridge work scheduled, including work on the Trowbridge Street bridge. We are also likely to see continued issues with erosion damage along our shoreline, with already high water levels expected to increase by nearly a foot come spring. In fact, I expect rising water levels to be a major story in the coming year, and someone recently suggested that it could become the story of the coming decade for communities all along the Great Lakes, and I suspect that might prove true.

Another story that will no doubt continue to build in the coming year is the proposed pumped storage facility that TC Energy is hoping to build on Meaford's military base. The public is worried, and many are angry about the proposal, and there will be significant pressure on the federal government to reject the proposal. As a community I think Meaford would likely be thrilled if this proposal never advances past this initial feasibility study, but should it move beyond this phase, I suspect we will see an even more aggressive campaign against the project.

So the coming year will without doubt be a busy one, but December isn't a time for worrying about next year's problems, but instead it is a time to reflect on the year that has nearly passed, and to spend some time with family and friends while putting our troubles behind us.

So whatever you happen to celebrate at this time of year, or if you celebrate nothing at all, I hope that the coming days are a time for some relaxation, a time to store some new energy for the year to come, and a time for reflection.

Before signing off, this is probably a good time for a reminder that there is never a good time to drink and drive (or to toke and drive). The holiday season has often been a time of increased incidences of impaired driving, and the police will be out in force hoping to root out those impaired drivers. Don't be one of them. Aside from whatever legal trouble you might find yourself in, you could kill someone, or yourself. Call a cab, call a friend, take a long walk in the cold, but don't get behind the wheel if you've been enjoying some alcohol or cannabis – it just isn't worth it.


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