WINCHESTER – Mayor-elect Tony Fraser knows North Dundas has to grow.
How that will happen is anyone’s guess at this point, but the lower-tier municipality will get its chance to shine under Fraser’s watch. At least that’s his plan.
Where will the room be made, and how will a targeted increase in the municipality’s residential numbers pay dividends for the business community? And what about other items that will no doubt come along the way?
This and much more will be looming throughout the next four years. Here’s part two of the Winchester Press’ interview with the township’s next mayor.
WP: How can you make North Dundas more attractive for growth?
TF: I think we are attractive; we just have to make ourselves more known. We have to show off our attractiveness – we are an attractive community. If you look at other municipalities, they don’t have what we have. We have the good agriculture areas, we have development areas, we have two pools, two arenas, we have the curling club. We have nice outdoor spaces, and we’re going to have a nice park in Hallville. We are attractive, we just have to ensure that we put ourselves out there and let people know about us. Let’s attract them to us with what we have. We do have development lands. But we also have to find developers, or convince the current developers, that diversity is needed.
WP: Is there more the township needs to do to support the business community, or is it up to a level in which they deserve?
TF: I don’t think we can rest on our laurels… I don’t think that’s an option. We always have to look at new ways to support, and whenever I talk about the efforts that have been made, that has to continue. I’m not suggesting we take the focus away from that and transfer to developers, what I’m saying is we have to take that type of energy and use it with the developer side. I look at some things that happened, like the rejuvenation of the relationship between the township and the Chamber of Commerce, or the Communtiy Improvement Plan and Meet Me on Main Street events in the five villages, and the Local Business Expo. It is all about ‘what can we do?’ or ‘is there more we can do?’ Not so much reinventing ourselves, but reinvigorating ourselves.
WP: The next council has a decision to make on marijuana outlets, has your stance changed on that?
TF: It is a decision that council will have to wrestle with and come to a decision on. But my stance on it, I still believe the market will dictate. I’m a supporter of business. If a businessperson thinks they can be successful, I support their efforts. I wouldn’t want to be the person to stymie someone’s dream. Businesses and business people have a right to conduct business – it’s legal. My stance hasn’t changed on that… The market will decide if it’s going to be viable and the community will decide if that business will be viable.
WP: Shifting focus, is there more to be done with the township’s recreation offerings?
TF: In the larger picture, our arenas are top notch, and there is going to be dressing room expansions in Winchester and Chesterville. The slabs are good, the lobbies are very nice, and the roofs have been given longer life spans. Some municipalities near us have suffered with arenas being shut down, and ours are being maintained – they’re in great shape. Our pools are being maintained – our larger facilities have been looked after. The programming is there, yes, so we have to have a standard for all of our properties. They should look the same, and we have to treat them with the respect they need to have because it is taxpayer dollars paying for them. We have to be house proud. I want every resident of the township to be proud of our facilities – because they are excellent.
WP: Will there be a renewed focus on the township’s roads network? There was a 10-year plan that didn’t get finished.
TF: To be fair to us, we lost the first year I think through discussion and convincing people we had to get at it. When we started at it, I think we jumped in pretty hard with both feet with high expectations. I think we did ourselves a disservice, and we had some issues with some of the roads that we did and they had to be redone. If I could take the 10 years, and say the commitment was made eight years ago, then the commitment hasn’t been made yet. If I can claw back a year or two from missteps on our part, we might really be down to only five or six years. If we did the right thing right off the start, and if we didn’t have any learning pains, and if we knew exactly what to do right off the start and we’re able to achieve eight per cent a year, we’d be pretty happy. I think we recognized our mistakes, and we’re working toward something. There is a lot of roads that have been redone recently, and now they are pleasant roads and I believe people are happy we got them done. But we’ve hit the number now where we need to do maintenance on the roads we’ve done. It’s a longer process, and we’ve bought into the idea and there are more roads that need to be done. There are going to be some hard choices made, but the desire is to complete the roads.