Welcome to a new decade with the dawning of 2021. I am hopeful that it will bring back health, happiness and friends to everyone as the COVID-19 vaccination programs wind their way throughout the world. I have been receiving regular vaccination updates from Retired General Rick Hillier and am reassured as he promises that most Ontarians over the age of 16 will be receiving the vaccine by summer 2021.
While there was much about 2020 that we did not enjoy there are some wonderful benefits that 2020 brought to Seguin. We truly recognized the importance and value of our frontline workers in many industries - health care, retail, hospitality, road crews and scientists. We also spent more time in our homes, often returning to the regular family dinners that had slid into obscurity with the busyness of out of home lessons and activities. The importance of robust and affordable internet connectivity came to the forefront of essential services - even with our elected provincial and federal representatives. I am confident that COVID-19 has shone a lasting light on the digital divide between urban and rural Canadians and that more resources will be allocated to assist rural municipalities like Seguin deliver broadband to all of our residents.
Your Council will continue to make the expansion of broadband a strategic priority until everyone can access 50 mbps down and 10 mbps up from their home or business.
I am very hopeful that we will be moving ahead with the West Parry Sound Pool and Wellness Centre in 2021. I believe that we are closer than ever before to bringing this much needed community resource to the region. Through the cooperation of the 7 municipalities and 2 First Nations in the region, we have been successful in being considered for very significant provincial and federal funding for the Wellness Centre. We are keeping our fingers crossed for positive news early in the year.
As you probably know, Ontario is moving to producer responsibility for blue box recycling programs. Working with our neighbouring municipalities, Seguin is lobbying the province to coordinate the timing of this mandate throughout Muskoka and West Parry Sound. This initiative will affect some local businesses and how we manage our waste in the coming years. Stay tuned for more details!!
I want to thank all of the ratepayers that took the time to send us input into our Official Plan review and the Shortterm Rental Policies (STR). The first draft of the Official Plan should be made public for your review early this coming spring. The results of the STR consultation have proven that it is a very divisive issue and that there are many points of view both in favour and against rental of your homes and cottages. Council is reviewing the options available and will be conducting further public consultations as we gather further legal input.
As we all want to enjoy all of the winter sports that our winter wonderland offers, please be aware that most of our lakes are not safe for travel in any form yet. Wait until the ice is at least 4 inches thick before walking or skating on a lake. See more information at: https://www.lenthompson.com/uploads/1/5/7/0/15708726/7468569.jpg?725
I am delighted to report that Jason Inwood joined Seguin as our Chief Administrative Officer in November. Jason comes to us with a wealth of experience as Operations Manager in Innisfil. Jason and his family are already enjoying the winter in Seguin and at Humphrey Elementary School. I look forward to working with Jason and his energy and enthusiasm to bring exceptional community experiences and community prosperity to the Township. Environmental stewardship will remain our guidepost as we develop opportunities throughout Seguin.
As soon as we can, Seguin will be returning to full community programming and reopening our community centres
, libraries and the arena. Please continue to visit seguin.ca for full information. In the meantime, please continue to practice all of the public health guidelines including wearing masks, regular hand washing, staying home as much as possible and keeping gatherings limited to folks you live with. Most importantly, please continue to support all of our local businesses and frontline workers. They are our community mainstays and have provided wonderful support to us throughout our COVID journey. Please continue to value kindness and spread it throughout Seguin throughout the year. Happy and safe New Year to all!!