Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson addresses the crowd in front of councillors at Macaulay Church in Picton Sunday afternoon. (Photo: John Spitters/Quinte News)
Another New Year’s levee and another big crowd.
Over 200 people filled the historic Macaulay Church in Picton Sunday afternoon for the annual Mayor’s Levee.
During his address Prince Edward County’s mayor stressed generosity and collaboration as being key to dealing with issues affecting residents in the county.
Mayor Steve Ferguson also said the county was a complex place to govern but that his council would never waver in its desire to move beyond “ward vs. ward, north vs. south.”
He stressed council will focus on dealing with the entire county as one, “from coast to coast to coast”.
Mayor Ferguson opened his address by paying respect to the Indigenous peoples who originally settled on the land they were now gathered on.
“We thank all the generations of people who have cared for this land over the generations.”
The mayor went on to highlight examples of volunteerism and collaboration that help make the county a special place to live in.
The saving of Sophiasburgh Central School was the first example. “This wouldn’t have happened without the tireless work of parents and other community members.”
The effort to save the school from closing led to the Prince Edward County Food Hub being created.
Mayor Ferguson also cited the rehabilitation of the Millennium Trail, an abandoned rail bed that runs from Carrying Place to Picton as another example of a volunteer effort made possible in collaboration with county council, municipal staff and senior government.
Another longstanding volunteer organization, the Prince Edward District Women’s Institute, received time in the spotlight for its work and financial support in the ongoing creation of a transportation network, particularly for those who are physically challenged and over the age of 65.
As the mayor of Belleville Mitch Panciuk had done the previous day at the Belleville levee, Mayor Ferguson said the lack of affordable housing was the most pressing issue facing the county.
To help make progress on housing the Prince Edward County Housing Corporation was created recently and the non-profit group will soon be up and running to come up with solutions, something Mayor Ferguson said wouldn’t be easily done.
The mayor finished his address saying how proud he was that council had previously committed $4.5 million to the redevelopment of Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and had just welcomed six new family physicians to the Family Health Team.
Prince Edward County council begins budget discussions next week.