Tuesday’s council meeting marked the inaugural session of the 2018-2022 municipal term, as Wellesley councillors renewed their oaths of office for the next four years. Though the faces around the table remained unchanged – with Wellesley’s four councillors and mayor having all reclaimed their position from the previous term – the challenges they’ll be facing are not.
Mayor Joe Nowak, who was elected to his second term after a tight mayoral race in October, outlined some of the issues on the horizon for the new session. On the docket included problems and prospects, some universal to municipalities across Ontario, some distinctly local.
“Early in the new year, we will decide if the sale of cannabis will be allowed through a bricks-and-mortar type facility. We will be tasked to address the need for high-speed internet not only in Crosshill, Linwood and Hawkesville, but also at our own township office, where current service is woefully inadequate,” said Nowak.
The new term would also bring a resolution to the region’s lengthy boundary rationalization process, initiated earlier in the year, with councillors having the final say where those boundaries will be drawn. The decision will establish the locations of future development such as residential subdivisions, and where there will be no changes. The decision will determine how and where the township will grow in the coming years.
“The region has commenced its official plan review, which will be followed by our own review,” said Nowak. “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this process. When completed, we will have the policy framework necessary to address residential growth as well as employment land opportunities for the next ten years.”
Affordable housing was an issue that received significant attention and urgency during the October election, as residents voiced concerns of a shortage of living options in the township. The problem was noted as being especially acute for new families with limited incomes interested in settling in the township, and seniors looking to continue living in their home towns.
“Each of our communities requires a better mix of housing options,” said Nowak. “So with the provincial government committed to increasing housing supply across the province, we hope to find opportunities to address these needs.”
Also in the offing was the potential for a business improvement association (BIA) organization for the village of Wellesley, said Nowak.
“The business community in the village of Wellesley has indicated that they will initiate discussion on the development of a BIA, a business improvement association.”
The new challenges come in an uncertain environment, with a new provincial government at Queen’s Park, and an upcoming federal election next fall that could potentially change government priorities in Canada significantly.
“To the residents of Wellesley Township, I am grateful, privileged for this opportunity to serve you as mayor for my second term,” said Nowak. “I remain dedicated and committed to working with each of you to move this township forward.”