October 17, 2022: One week from today all votes will be in, and the municipal election will be over. The question as to who will represent you for the next 4 years will be answered, and a new Council will get down to work. I want to provide these final thoughts before you make your decisions.
I have knocked on thousands of doors and spoken to thousands of you personally in the past month. This is my favourite time of the whole process – making the connection with people and hearing what you want from your Council. After speaking to so many people, I can tell you that the same things come up over and over from the majority of residents:
- Access to the pool
These are the answers I have been giving at the door, and I hope they also resonate with you.
Access to the pool: I am not sure about you, but I am getting a little tired of the “he said, she said” defences I am reading and hearing. People want access to the pool, and they really don’t care how or why negotiations broke down. They just want us to talk to Carleton Place, strike a deal, and stop making this a political issue. It’s a pretty simple message, and I am ready to get people back in the pool.
My own 4 kids took swimming lessons in Carleton Place, swam competitively, and became lifeguards. They guarded and taught swimming lessons at the CP pool, guarded the beaches in CP, Almonte and Pakenham. They worked their way through university as lifeguards. Pool access is not just about an occasional family swim – it is about learning not to drown in the river, about keeping fit and mobile while we age, about training and employment. The agreement is a bond we have with our neighbours, about how we share responsibility, and a point of trust between partners. I will not play politics with this.
Growth: We have experienced and will continue to experience tremendous growth. People are concerned that we will run out of water, that we don’t have room at the sewage treatment plant, that we don’t have enough services for current population let alone the future population. Now is the time to proactively plan for that growth. From water and sewer to roads and bridges, from libraries to arenas to pools, from economic to community development. We need to plan the community we want to live in, and plan for hard and soft services.
I am a professional planner. My job is to look at current trends and plan for future services. Let’s not wait until the system is broken before we plan our own community. Let’s communicate those plans so folks aren’t in the dark.
Traffic concerns: With increased population comes increased traffic concerns, including speed and sheer volume of cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Our streets and sidewalks are full, and residents have so many solutions to offer, from stop signs to traffic bumps, increased fines, “neighbourhood only” access signage, more bike lanes, fewer bike lanes, snow clearance on all sidewalks, and protected sidewalks.
I am in favour of lowering the speed limit on our residential streets, of working with residents as well as professional staff to help calm traffic, and that includes any and all of the creative ideas I have heard at the door. People need to feel and be safe in their community. Our Police Service Board is now defunct in Mississippi Mills, and we need a better way to monitor and enforce speed.
The hardest question: Someone asked me what the hardest question is that I have received at the door, and it is this: “How will Council be different if you are elected?” My answer was, “I want to be part of the solution, to see a return to civility and respectful relationships and debate. I know that polarization and divisiveness is not just a problem for Mississippi Mills but is seen the world over. We can start here, in our own Council chambers, by choosing to act and speak with respect and consideration – of each other, of staff, of all taxpayers, of our neighbouring municipalities. We can return to some stability at townhall and stop the revolving door of staff that is costly in terms of training and service, as well as demoralizing to a council/staff team. Relationships do matter.”
Thank you for welcoming me into your homes, and for sharing your thoughts and concerns. Please visit my website (https://janetorrance.ca) if you want more information about me, but know we are more alike than we are different.
You have a tough choice when you mark your ballot. I hope you vote for me. It would be my honour to represent and serve you in the next term of Council.