Mayor Quaiff says 2017 was a year to celebrate
At the annual New Year’s Levee, Mayor Robert Quaiff was led to the podium by a bagpiper in full traditional regalia. Quaiff started his speech by saying that he has always enjoyed having the levee a few days into the new year so that he can check in with people to see how they are doing with their new year’s resolutions. The mayor then asked for show of hands to see how people are doing with their individual resolutions.
Quaiff’s speech focused on the successes and the struggles of 2017, and what was in store for 2018. Challenges like the water emergency in March, and then the flooding due to high water levels in the spring were major events that the County had to deal with, and Quaiff praised the work of County staff along with local community agencies and service groups who answered the call to help their community.
Some highlights mentioned were growths in two major sectors. The Professional and Health Care sector and the Manufacturing and Construction sector. Both sectors are predicting further growth in 2018 and most plan to expand and hire. The tourism industry also saw gains, despite talk of being at its peak. Some impressive numbers were included in the levee from Mayor Quaiff. A total of 1,023 building permits were issued in 2017- ninety-two more than in 2016- with a total of $123.7 million being spent in the building sector, Of those permits, 178 were for new homes. Other issues brought up in the levee were affordable housing, access to health care, and the ability to attract and retain professionals in the County.
“It’s hard to retain employees when there are no places for them to stay. Diversifying our housing options will be a key focus for 2018. We are setting aside $250,000 for affordable housing in 2018. We won’t solve this issue overnight, but it’s crucial that we make some progress in 2018,” said Quaiff
Other points in the levee included the announcement that Stage 1 of the hospital redevelopment is before the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
“We will continue to be a strong voice to upper levels of government in advocating for healthcare facilities and services in our community,” said Quaiff.
The Prince Edward County Trails Committee exceeded their goal of $80,000 and raised a total of $110,000 for enhancement of the Millenium Trail, which will start in 2018.
As for County roads, nine million dollars in road projects are planned for 2018 with focuses on County Rd 1, County Rd 14, Wilson Road, Talbot Street, the Black River Bridge and a study on County Road 49, as well as the resurfacing and grading on other roads to be named later.
A host of dignitaries, including Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, MPP Todd Smith, Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison and Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher were on hand to mingle with Quaiff and his wife Susan.
There was a lot of information given in the levee, but the strongest message put forth by the mayor was that of thanks and appreciation to all residents who came forth to help the County in times of need this past year.