Prince Edward County is celebrating a very productive 2016 and toasting to a prosperous 2017.
At the annual New Year’s Levee held at the Macaulay Church in Picton on Sunday, Mayor Robert Quaiff told a crowd of 50 including a handful of dignitaries that 2017 will be a year of transition toward financial sustainability.
“2016 was an incredibly busy and exciting year for the municipality,” said Mayor Quaiff. “It has been a year of fun and a year of productivity and a year of planning for a brighter future in a transitional 2017.”
In 2016, the municipality saw an all-time tourism high with almost one million visitors flocking to the County; construction totaled over $83 million – $6.3 million more than 2015; the completion of many much needed infrastructure projects including the downtown Picton revitalization and the resurfacing of 52 kilometres of roads plus the opening of the new joint fire and paramedic facility.
Mayor Quaiff said in 2017 and beyond the municipality will be focusing its efforts on full-filling the goals set out in the Corporate Strategic Plan (created in 2016). Priorities include: stable employment, affordable housing, maintaining stable community healthcare, promoting a business friendly environment, maintaining rural and historic character and achieving financial sustainability.
He pointed to how these priorities played a role in the review of the 2017 budget and will inform the development of the County’s municipal budgets going forward.
“This year’s approved annual operating budget (33.6 million) reflects the municipality’s intent to making 2017 a transitional year in its journey toward financial sustainability.”
Throughout 2016 council also mandated the creation of two committees to help study urgent issues facing the community – the water and wastewater committee and development framework sub committee. The water and wastewater committee will be bringing its recommendations and findings back to council at a meeting in April.
“We are hopeful that these recommendations will contribute to our municipality’s transition towards financial sustainability,” said Quaiff.
He said the community development department has also initiated a number of initiatives to spur development including its business retention and expansion program. The goal of this program is to gather information as to the greatest challenges and opportunities facing industry in the County. A study released in 2016, found 130 new positions within the manufacturing and construction industry have been created in the County over the last three years. Quaiff said another 124 new positions are expected in the next 18 months – double the average provincial employment growth rate.
Also coming in 2017 will be the findings of the Land Evaluation Area Review (LEAR) study that reviewed prime agriculture land in the County. Those finding will be coming to council in early 2017 with the official plan to follow.
Quaiff said the municipality has also been working on maintaining a strong voice with upper levels of government to push forward the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital redevelopment project.
“Earlier this fall, Quinte Healthcare signaled the redevelopment of the hospital is the organization’s top redevelopment priority,” said Quaiff. “We are now waiting for the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Dr. Eric Hoskins) to accept projects pre-capital submission.”
He added how Minister Hoskins visited the County in August and the municipality used that opportunity to illustrate the needs of the community and the importance of redeveloping the hospital in a timely manner.
The mayor also thanked thanked council, county staff, first responders, small business owners, teachers, health providers and volunteers for their continued efforts throughout the community. Dignitaries in attended included: Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, 8-Wing CFB Trenton Col. Colin Keiver, Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher, Chief Administrative Officer Rick Kester, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Quinte West deputy Mayor Jim Alyea and Loyalist College president Ann Marie Vaughn.
To hear Mayor Quaiff’s full speech click here. mayor-robert-quaiff-levee-speech