Duncan Abbott announces Almonte Ward candidacy

My name is Duncan Abbott and I am a candidate for election to the Council of Mississippi Mills in the Almonte Ward.

I have served on this Council for the past eight years as a representative of the Pakenham Ward.  I also served on the Pakenham Township Council from 1979 to 1984, before amalgamation.

While in Pakenham, I was part of a community group that saw a need for public housing for the aging population. We established The Five Arches Non-Profit Housing Corporation.  In four years we went from a concept to provincial approval, funding, land acquisition, design, construction and full occupation.

From 2003 until 2010 I was a member of the Board of the Almonte General Hospital.

In 2010 I was elected to the Mississippi Mills Council for the Pakenham Ward.

From 2010 until 2016 I volunteered with the Town’s Recreation Director to run a Friday Night Youth Program every week at the High School Gym.

From 2010 -2014 I was on the Community Economic and Development Committee during which time the Committee worked with Council to remove the prohibitively restrictive sale provisions from the Business Park lots.  Before then only four of the serviced lots had sold.  Since then, almost all of the lots have been sold.

From 2010 until 2014 I served on the Highland Games Committee and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority as the Council Representative.

From 2010 to 2014 I was on the Accessibility Committee. We established a program of annual inspections of the parks, recreation facilities and public buildings.  We also advised the Fair Board and the Textile Museum on the accessibility of their facilities.

In 2014 I was re-elected to Mississippi Mills Council and continued my appointments on the North Lanark Agricultural Society (Fair Board) and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA).

As a member of the Fair Board I was also a volunteer, working at the Fair and at the Agricultural Hall during social events.  I worked alongside other volunteers to maintain the facilities at the fairgrounds.  I spearheaded a project to correct serious construction defects in the new Education Barn.  I briefed Council and the MVCA and worked with the Fair Board’s engineers to find a solution that suited everyone.  The building is now stabilized.

In 2015 and 2017 I worked with students from Pakenham Public School and Almonte High School to plant trees and bushes along the shoreline at the Almonte Fairgrounds and Fred Millar Park in Pakenham.

I have been on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority for the past eight years.   I was the Vice Chair for four years and I have been Chair of the Board since February.  I served on the Regulations Committee, hearing appeals from staff decisions. I have been on the Conservation Ontario Council for five years. I am also on the Mississippi Rideau Source Water Protection Committee.

Almonte is doing well.  Mill Street is fully rented.  Our industrial park will soon be full of new businesses.  Organizations such as The Mills are setting an example for other municipalities.   Service organizations such as the Hub, the Civitan Club, The Horticultural Society and the Fair Board are successfully operated by volunteers.  The Millstone, the EMC, and the Humm provide a broad range of news and information in different formats. The Augusta Street Park Volunteers are an example of what a group of neighbours getting together can do.  Our town is a beautiful place to live and has received accolades from major news sources and travel pages across the country.

In 2010 Mississippi Mills had fifteen bridges that needed to be replaced.  We have replaced 8 of these and have plans in place for the rest.  The funding for the construction of the bridges has come from designated reserves, grants, and in some cases borrowed funds. The current bridge project in town is the biggest of these undertakings to date.  Our staff members, with Council’s support, have built up a base of experience with all stages of this type of work and in each case have brought the work in on budget and on time.

In 2010 Council undertook a financial plan based on a complete assessment of our infrastructure and future service needs.  Council has established reserves for future infrastructure projects.

One major concern for Council and residents is how to develop a better sharing of information between the Council and the public.   The present system of committee meetings and Council meetings is not working.  We need regular open committee meetings for each department made up of a few residents and one or two councillors. The agenda of the meeting would be published in advance.  The format would be less formal than Council meetings with time for questions and comments from the public.  All of this should be done before a matter is formally presented to Council.

A related issue is how to give notice of meetings and agendas.  We now publish this information on the town’s website and in the EMC.  We also include some notices in water and tax bills.   A frequent complaint is that this is not enough.  We should expand to other news sources such as the Millstone and the Humm.

We need to be making better use of electronic media overall in our operations.  Water bills and tax bills should be emailed when requested.  Meeting notices and agendas should be routinely provided by email to anyone who asks to be on a circulation list.  This would be a more effective means of communication.

We live in a beautiful prosperous community.  There are issues to be resolved as there always will be.  I am asking for your vote so that I may bring my experience and ideas to the table where decisions will be made.

Contact me @ 613-256-4000 or duncanmmills@gmail.com