The Last 72 Hours

Jane Torrance

The last 72 hours of the municipal campaign! I am pleased the campaigning will end this weekend and we can all begin to again focus on our community’s well-being.

This past term of Council has been like no other.  It was obvious that Council could do no right in the minds of some individuals. There were a variety of issues that provoked extreme stances and some that resulted in uncivil behavior.  Yet, I am proud of this term of Council and stand behind each of my votes and efforts to bring about a better understanding of the issues within our community.

I would like to remind people of my voting record.

  • Enerdu – because the decision was made by the Province, I took a neutral position through the council debates. I wished the previous Council had tried to negotiate and build a relationship with Jeff Cavanaugh that would benefit the municipality, but I recognized that Enerdu, as a private enterprise, had a right to exist. I voted against a building moratorium that was aimed at delaying Enerdu.
  • Heritage Conservation District – after numerous public meetings, trying to compromise by reducing the size of the district and meeting individually with most affected property owners, I reviewed all facts related to the economic impact of protecting the heritage downtown that we all value. I voted in favour of an HCD
  • Replacement of our murdered colleague Bernard Cameron – after reviewing the costs of a by-election, the processes used across the province to replace a Council member, and considering available scenarios, I voted to accept a transparent process to be undertaken by Council that included a public interview, public ballot, and public appointment
  • Don Maynard Park – after listening to all sides, I voted to respect the neighbourhood and school council wishes, and to save Don Maynard Park
  • Bike lanes – I am in full support of an active transportation system that encourages cyclists and pedestrians to share the road in a safe way
  • OVRT – I have always supported a multi-use trail that runs the whole length of The Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail from Montague to Mattawa. I also supported, backed by the majority of Council, a 1.2-kilometer by-pass around the built-up area of Almonte for the safety of non-motorized users.  A bypass could not be established that ensured the safety of motorized users, so the bypass option is not available. I continue to look for ways to increase safety in Almonte including placement of boulders and proper signage
  • Natural Heritage System – The review of our Official Plan triggered a provincially-mandated inclusion of a natural heritage system. I voted to accept a technical report and recommendations produced by local professionals, rather than hiring a consultant, as the basis for mapping to take to a public meeting for consideration and future decision. The public was not in favour of the proposed scope of the NHS, which exceeded provincial minimum requirements, so I voted to scale back to the minimum standards
  • Official Plan review – I voted in favour of the housekeeping amendments to our community official plan. I also voted, within the first 18 months of a new council, to review the boundaries of the Almonte Ward as well as a Pakenham-specific growth plan and to conduct fair and transparent public meetings in this review.

I want you to know that I approached the election with a heavy heart.  The constant public anger, criticism and negativity weighed heavy, and I could not find a way to wish another 4 years of this barrage on myself and my family.  In the end, I felt that it was my duty to stand up to the bullying behavior, to be up-stander rather than a by-stander, to do my absolute best to allow a democratic process to be my judge.  Am I ever glad that I did!

What I have found is that my community is as welcoming, generous, polite, and respectful as it always has been.  As I knock on doors in Ramsay, Almonte and Pakenham, I am completely energized by the welcome.  People are tired of the acrimony and self-righteous rhetoric, and just want to go back to normal.  Some are voting for me and some are not, but they all thanked me for stopping by.  Some agree with my platform, and some do not, but they were pleased to see me at their door.  Not one person has displayed the biting disdain that we see on social media.  Not one person has stooped to the open mockery we see from the gallery in the council chambers.

What started as my reluctant attempt to stand up for my community has resulted in a reconfirmation for me that our community is good-hearted, forward-looking and wanting the best for family and neighbours alike. My faith in my community has been restored – we stand together in this upside-down world with a quieter, deeper, calmer voice.  So, win or lose the election on Monday night, I have already won, and I could not be happier.

We live in this small, wonderful rural community.  We are all neighbours, and will continue to be so after this election. Thank you, Mississippi Mills

Jane

www.janetorrance.ca