Outgoing Mapleton mayor: more amalgamation may be needed

Outgoing Mapleton Mayor Bruce Whale says future councils will be challenged to find “new efficient and environmentally-responsible ways to provide services to our municipality.”

Whale, who did not run in the Oct. 27 municipal election, suggested at the final meeting of the outgoing council on Nov. 25 that further amalgamation may be necessary to keep costs under control.

“We may have to look at further amalgamation to make some of these small communities more manageable,” said Whale.

“A municipality of 10,000 people isn’t really that big,” he added, noting municipalities 10 times the size of Mapleton are common in the province.  “The question is how do we put that together so it’s effective, so that there is still local input, but we get some of those efficiencies of a bigger municipality?”

Short of more amalgamation, Whale said councils could look at service sharing and partnerships.

“What sort of services can we do by joining with other municipalities, or the county, or even private industry?”

Whale noted the outgoing council had moved forward a number of projects targeted during the early stages of the term, including expansion of the Drayton sewage lagoon system, installation of water meters and new streetlights for the municipality’s urban areas.

In terms of roads and bridges, he noted, “we’ve been able to build some reserves and five and 10-year plans are being completed.”

Whale noted the municipality has undergone “a fairly significant internal restructuring that I think is going to serve the municipality well in future.”

Making the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension plan available to employees will help “attract staff that have the training and abilities that I think we are going to need in our municipality,” Whale noted.

“Surprise issues” council has had to react to included discovering mould and water damage that required major restoration work at the municipal office, and losing the municipal works garage to fire last November, said Whale.

Whale presented a plaque to each departing council member, recognizing their years of service to Mapleton and predecessor municipalities of Drayton, Maryborough and Peel.

Whale noted that during 14 years of municipal service, councillor Mike Downey “always came to council with your homework done and did a lot of extra homework.”

“I have enjoyed working for the people of the township. There have been a lot of different issues and I think the municipality has moved in the right direction in a lot of cases,” said Downey, who also opted not to run for re-election.

Councillor Jim Curry, who lost a race for the mayor’s seat to councillor Neil Driscoll, has accumulated 21 years of local municipal service.

“I know your contributions to Drayton, originally, and now Mapleton Township, are appreciated,” said Whale, adding he valued the many ideas Curry brought to the council table.

Councillor Andy Knetsch  served seven years on council for the former village of Drayton and Mapleton Township.

“Your concern for the community has always been evident and also your concern for those that maybe weren’t as privileged as the rest of us … your input was always appreciated,” Whale told Knetsch.

“It’s a different ball game” being a councillor than a head of council and meeting chair, Knetsch said.

“I know a few weeks ago I walked out of a meeting and I may have upset some people. I apologize for that. I’m a passionate guy and I made that decision,” said Knetsch in reference to his decision to leave the Nov. 11 meeting after renouncing a declared conflict of interest on the location of a proposed skate park in Drayton.

To the incoming council members, all of whom were present at the meeting, Knetsch said, “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we have served, and you will serve for the next four years, because we care – we want to make this township a better place.”

Whale said incoming mayor Neil Driscoll was part of an infusion of new blood bringing new ideas to the council table.

“I’m glad to see you here and I know you’ll serve your community well,” said Whale.

Driscoll said Whale has “done a great job as leader” of the local council.

“I hope I have the strength to be as patient as you. You had a term of council where we did have a lot of big issues, but you always let us have our say and that’s the sign of a great leader,” said Driscoll.

“I look forward to the next four years.”

CAO Patty Sinnamon noted Whale served the municipality for 11 years, first as a councillor then as mayor.

“You’ve certainly pushed us to think outside the box and look at different ways of doing things,” said Sinnamon. “We’ve had some challenges but we’ve always been able to meet those challenges.”