Peterborough-area mayors outline early priorities for new council term

City of Kawartha Lakes Municipal Hall building. Global News File

For many municipalities, the new four-year term of council is officially underway.

Inaugural council meetings have been held and councillors, both new and returning, have been sworn in.

In the City of Kawartha Lakes, long-time councillor and Fenelon Falls resident Doug Elmslie is the new mayor.

READ MORE: City of Kawartha Lakes elects Doug Elmslie new mayor in 5-way race

He says there are three things that are at the forefront as council hits the ground running.

“We have, what I’m calling, four and a half new councillors, because one of our new councillors was an experienced councillor, but is coming back after eight years. The first priority is to get council up to speed as quickly as we can so they can start doing the business of the city,” Elmslie said.

“We also have to pass a budget and again, we’re going to have to do some education on what municipal budgets are and how they work, what they do and why they’re so important. We also have heard while we were campaigning … our roads and infrastructure really need more attention.”

Elmslie, who was a councillor during the last term, highlighted that the last council actually doubled the amount of funds that were spent on infrastructure.

“We need to make sure we continue that in the budget that’s upcoming,” Elmslie said. “I think, by doing that, by the end of this term of council, people will really see that our infrastructure and roads will have improved.”

Major infrastructure improvements were completed in the downtown cores in Lindsay and Fenelon Falls, while a similar improvement project is now underway in Omemee.

Elmslie notes some work needs to be done in the smaller hamlets around the municipality.

“I think they need some TLC as well.  It’s time to be moving out to those areas and doing it. I would like to think we are a council for the whole city, we’re not just worried about the central part of it,” Elmslie said.

“The folks who live in Sebright, Kinmount, Manilla, King’s Bay and Bethany are all going to be included in our programs.  We’ll try to get there and do the things we do.”

READ MORE: Lucas Cleveland ousts John Henderson as new mayor of Cobourg

In Cobourg, Lucas Cleveland is the new mayor after unseating incumbent John Henderson on Oct. 24.

“It’s the job of myself and council to really build trust in the community,” Cleveland said. “I think first-and-foremost, we need to do that.

“Our priorities are about coming together as a team as council and building a strategic plan for the next four to five years for what we, as a team, will work towards. It’s about getting on the same page.”

Cleveland said accessibility is a key and that his door at Victoria Hall will remain open.

“I had (my door) opened to the lobby so that people have access to the mayor. There is nothing to hide here and I want people to understand that,” Cleveland said.

The Town of Cobourg has a special council meeting called for Nov. 28 to discuss the suspension of the appointment of coordinator roles that are handed out to councillors.

“We’re going to be looking to suspend some of the appointments of coordinator roles in the hopes we will be changing the way we govern through our governance review that’s coming early in the new year,” Cleveland added.

“One of the things we are looking to do at council is to put off the appointment of coordinator roles and moving towards our governance review. Potentially that review will suggest to allow our government to move more effectively and efficiently to address the problems quicker.

“That’s our priorities right now: come together as a team, make sure what we’re doing is open, accountable, transparent, effective and efficient and also look to see how we can govern more effectively and efficiently in the day-to-day aspect of that.”

READ MORE: Jeff Leal returns to politics as new mayor of Peterborough

Port Hope mayor Olena Hankivsky wasn’t available for an interview about council’s priorities there.

“Mayor Hankivsky is diving into orientation and getting up to speed on the matters for the municipality.  She has asked that we defer any media request for the next few weeks so that she may focus on learning her role,” municipal communications coordinator Tamra Barlow wrote to Global News Peterborough on Monday.

Barlow offered to schedule an interview “in a few weeks time.”

The City of Peterborough holds its inaugural council meeting on Nov. 28.

Peterborough County council will meet for the first time on Dec. 1, where Otonabee-South Monaghan deputy mayor Bonnie Clark will be acclaimed as the next warden.

Click to play video: 'Queen Elizabeth II’s tours of Canada included visits to Cobourg, Port Hope, Ont.'
Queen Elizabeth II’s tours of Canada included visits to Cobourg, Port Hope, Ont.

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