Puslinch Township council looking ahead to coming term

Puslinch councillors say they are ready to tackle the next four years.

On Dec. 3, Puslinch CAO Karen Landry presided at the beginning of the inaugural meeting for the 2015 to 2018 term of council.

A brief official swearing in was held, after which Mayor Dennis Lever presided over the remainder of the session.

Susan Fielding

In starting the new term, Fielding thanked her friends and family for their support over the years.

“I was thinking back over the past council terms and it reminded me I am getting older and more sentimental and philosophical,” she said.

“I began to ask myself some big questions. Do we have a vision? Are we looking ahead? Or are we getting caught up in the details?”

She added, “Over the years in Puslinch we have sadly lost some great political talent.”

Fielding spoke of the recent passing of former Puslinch mayor and county warden Brad Whitcombe.

“Brad never did lose sight of the big picture and I felt very grateful I was able to reconnect with him again over the past year,” she said.

“Brad literally dedicated his life to public service … for far more than 20 years he was working on things. I think most people respected that sacrifice, but when you are actually in the trenches doing those things you realize how much you give of yourself.”

She noted Fred Law recently paid tribute to Whitcombe at a Puslinch Optimist Club meeting and shared the poem What Will Matter.

A celebration of Whitcombe’s life was held on Dec. 7 at the Puslinch Community Centre.

Wayne Stokley

Stokley thanked his wife Barb and his family for their encouragement over the past four years.

“I’m very pleased with my increased voter confidence and the clear mandate I was given. The election results to me are like a report card,” Stokley said.

“I feel that the residents of Puslinch agreed with my work effort and the goals I set.”

In conclusion, he added, “I would like to now renew my pledge to the community and to continue to promote the qualities that make Puslinch Township a wonderful place to live and great place to raise a family.”

Ken Roth

Roth also thanked his wife and family for their support. He also thanked those who voted for him.

“I look forward to serving you people for the next four years and I will do it to the best of my ability. If you ever need anything, please give me a call,” said Roth.

Matthew Bulmer

Returning to council after a four-year absence, Bulmer helped shine light on one of the unlikely stars of the meeting: a local piece of furniture steeped in township history.

“When I first heard the inaugural meeting was to be held (at the Puslinch Community Centre) it gave me cause to reflect on a bit of history on this site,” said Bulmer.

“Many of you know the township was incorporated in 1850. At the time, the township did not have its own council chambers until 17 years later in 1867 the agricultural society and the township decided to work together to build a permanent structure for the fair – right here on this site.”

That structure could also be used as the town hall and house a modest 18 by 20 foot council chamber … “including the council table we are sitting around today.”

Bulmer thanked members of the Puslinch Historical Society and the roads department, who made it possible for the table to be used for the ceremony.

“What is interesting is that (original) hall served this community up until the late 1970s,” said Bulmer.

At that time, the first woman ever elected to Puslinch council became concerned about the stability of the structure. An inspection of the century-old structure resulted in its closure in 1978.

But that ending led to the construction of a new municipal building on Wellington Road 34 “… and the building we are standing in today.”

Bulmer said the “important thing to remember about that process is the funds needed to build and equip this hall were wholly raised by the community. In effect, this building is a gift from the residents to the municipality.

“It stands as a testament to the spirit of generosity that this community holds so dear.”

Dennis Lever

“In my mind, the results of the election were a clear message that we are on the right path. I am looking forward to the next four years and the success for all in Puslinch,” said Mayor Lever. “Most of all, I am looking forward to moving ahead.”

Lever thanked those present for coming out. He thanked his wife Karen for her support over the past four years, noting she comes to council meetings and “understands what goes on there on a regular basis.”

He also thanked the 2010 to 2014 council for what was accomplished in the past term.

“We worked together to move the township ahead just as we promised to do.”

Referring to outgoing councillor Jerry Schmidt, Lever said “Jerry, we all appreciate the work you did and your commitment to our residents.”

He then added, “I want to welcome councillor Matthew Bulmer back. I’m sure he’ll find much to be pleased with.”

Lever also thanked township staff – both current and past – for the “great work and thorough approach” to deliver township services.

“We saw a number of changes and the township continued on in the best interests of us all,” said Lever.

He added that he and council are ready to look to the future.

“Four years ago we met shortly after the election to create a ‘to-do list’ of items we would like to see to take place during the term. It was a good exercise and looking back at that list now – most of the items have been crossed off.”

Lever said he will be asking the current council to meet in the next few weeks to again look at the path ahead for this term.

He noted among the items to be discussed at the first regular session of council was the township’s fire master plan.

He said council will also be soon reviewing the township’s recreation master plan as well.

As to the Morriston bypass, “… we will be working with the coalition and our incredibly hard-working and supportive MPP Ted Arnott to continue to move this project ahead.

“We will build upon the improvements which have been made to our financial and budget process. We will have real challenges ahead and what we will likely see is declining transfer payments from the province.”

Lever continued, “I’m sure we will all be looking at other opportunities to improve the quality of life here in Puslinch for our residents and the ease of doing business.

“In the end we must retain respect for all our taxpayers – and that we keep their concerns in mind when making decisions.”

He added, “There may be different opinions on what comes before council … but that is what it is all about. In the end the majority rules and each one of us is accountable for his/her actions.”