In some ways, it was like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
After a second year of winning national awards for promoting Wellington North, council is choosing not to renew the contract of its Economic Development Officer, Linda Reader.
Only a few weeks ago, the township issued an announcement it would not pick up the contract.
The News release, issued by Mayor Mike Broomhead, stated, “As most are aware, the contract for the EDO position for the township comes to an end on Dec. 31.
“On behalf of myself, council and staff, I would like to thank and show our gratitude to Linda Reader for all her wonderful accomplishments, dedication and hard work, and we wish her well in all her future endeavours.
“Council will be taking the opportunity to look at different options in the new year.”
Councillors appeared reluctant to explain the reason behind the decision.
Broomhead said Reader had approached council about whether her contract would be renewed. The indication, he said, was that if the contract was not renewed she would pursue other options.
He believes council’s decision would give her that time – and allow the municipality the time to pursue other options.
However, what options council might pursue was again unclear. One option, Broomhead said, might be to hire another person after drafting a new job description. He suggested this is no different than when the township’s previous economic officer left.
There was no discussion of the matter with the township’s economic development committee, which could create a rift between council and the committee.
Broomhead explained it was a council decision. And, he said, the position was a three-year contract.
“We think she did a good job. What forced a decision was Reader’s request as to what would happen at the end of the year,” the mayor said.
Otherwise, he said, a decision would have been made within the next few months.
As it is, council has roughly 12 weeks to make a decision on how it will deal with the loss of the position and what direction the municipality will take towards economic development.
“A decision will be made by the end of the year … hopefully,” Broomhead said.
Ironically, the decision not to renew the contract was made prior to Reader coming to council for a presentation on how well the township did in the national marketing awards.
Wellington North won for its advertisement “Avoid the Last Minute Rush” in the single advertisement category; best in class for budgets under $200,000; “Celebrate the Tart Taste Fest” and “Birding in Wellington North Trail” as best publication. She pointed out there were 233 entries.
Reader added Wellington North’s promotion not only won first as an advertisement, but also won best in its budget category.
“We’re in a budget category of under $200,000 so our budget of $25,000 is tiny compared to others, she said, adding the overall winner was Sudbury, which had a budget of $600,000.
For the second year in a row, Wellington North won for best publication. Last year it was for the Butter Tart Trail brochure; this year it was for the birding trail – “again a unique project in Ontario.”
Also, the township won for the best new event – the celebrate the tart Tastefest on the Canada Day weekend.
Councillor Dan Yake reaffirmed the mayor’s comments, thanking both Reader and her committee for going the extra mile.
Councillor Ross Chaulk said winning that number of awards on the budget it had was “extraordinary.”
Reader did not believe any other community came back with four awards.