RECREATION AND TOURISM – David Hinks, candidate for Deputy Mayor, Mississippi Mills
How do you spend your leisure time in Mississippi Mills? Were you born here and knew from a young age that this area had so much to offer? Did you visit here and then move? Are you visiting now? Are you thinking of what’s ahead in terms of recreation and tourism?
As your Deputy Mayor, I would invite each of you to think about what three factors strongly influence the quality of your life in Mississippi Mills. Your answers are fundamental to how we should move forward with planning that makes sense. Trust me, I’ll listen.
An interesting fact came up from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ statistics recently. It was about Mississippi Mills’ industrial base and showed that the largest growth in jobs – a whopping 81% since 2011 – has been in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry. Wow.
As a professional economist, and someone who sees the growth of this sector in our community, I know that these sectors need to be nurtured just as any other industry. I believe we must continue to support the sectors through tourism promotion, facilitating access to community resources and strengthening the local economy by encouraging local entrepreneurs. The questions will be what are the right investments for our community and how do we measure the return on investment? What benefits our bottom line?
Case in point – we’ve had a lot of passionate community dialogue on the impact of the Ottawa Valley Rail Trail (OVRT) as well as bike lanes, among others. No doubt we’ll keep talking because we all care about our home and how others interact with it. As a municipality, we’ve moved on these issues and now we, our shared community and council, need to evaluate the real use and local impacts to firmly shape the future of these spaces. Balancing our views with the realities of increasing recreational tourism and positive economic impact will be part of the discussion.
Informed decision making will be based on the facts and ensuring that there are no negative impacts on public safety or quality of life. Appropriate solutions will be based on striking a reasoned balanced between what we as residents want and what forms of recreation and tourism we would benefit by.
As your Deputy Mayor, I’ll work to find the right balance. As a member of County Council, I will work hard, in a non-adversarial way, to ensure that County Staff and Councillors understand and appreciate the views and concerns of the residents of Mississippi Mills.