As we make the 2017-2018 transition Just Sayin’ Caledon once again touched base with the office of Mayor Allan Thompson to hear about successes and challenges from the man who has the big picture view of Caledon….
While the tone of this office, in keeping with a stated goal of the Mayor, is one of optimism, and with a focus on the community, Thompson opens our interview by recognizing that “The challenge, of course, is negativity. For example, people saying that Bolton is dead. Bolton was actually recognized as one of the GTA’s “next hot neighbourhoods” in Toronto Life last fall.”
The article the Mayor was referencing said anyone yearning for “small-town life with the convenience of the big city should consider a foothold in Bolton. It’s quiet and picturesque, with plenty of modern amenities to keep it vibrant.”
Thompson went on to talk about how large businesses like Princess Auto settling in to Bolton helps draw people to the area to do other shopping. “And then there’s exciting new businesses like the Salt Cave and the Miller’s Meats pop-up shop. So I believe that to say things like “Bolton is dead” is a discredit to Bolton and to those businesses.”
Moving on, the conversation shifts to the aggressive Council Work Plan, a listing of the priorities for 2015-2018, as agreed upon by the Mayor, members of his Council, and key staff, at the beginning of the term. “I’m especially proud of our progress on the Plan to date”, says Thompson. “It looks like we’ll be able to check off almost every box by April.”
Broadband was one of the key issues identified in that Plan. “As just-in-time manufacturing results in bringing back jobs that have gone offshore it is vital we continue to make broadband improvements. As well, innovation means more people are working from home. We want a community that’s connected” he states firmly.
And how about the perpetual issue of infrastructure funding? Thompson, an AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) Board member, is part of a concerted effort to get the Provincial government to agree to share 1% of the HST with municipalities to help with infrastructure. “Roughly 74% of the traffic coming through Caledon is commuter traffic coming from somewhere else. And we have over 400 bridges and box culverts to maintain. We can’t continue to burden our residents’ property taxes with that. It’s just not sustainable. We need the Province to dedicate that 1%.”
Another Work Plan priority was Customer Service and improvements have been made in various areas including e-Service, allowing for online Recreation registrations, Ping Street, and online burn permits. This year’s launch of Service Caledon features a separate, dedicated Customer Service counter.
Canadian Tire’s new facility on Coleraine Drive in Ward 4 has been operational since May of 2017 and already Thompson has been hearing that its 123,000 square feet of office space, a remarkable size for a small community, may need to grow.
While on the topic of Canadian Tire, the Mayor once again dismisses a rumour that was being spread in 2017 that Caledon taxpayers’ money was funding a bus for CT employees coming north from Brampton. “That was untrue” he states emphatically.
“But, speaking of transit, that is something Caledon does need. And we are looking at that. It is doable but Caledon is a very big area, so we need to figure out the right balance of enough service versus the cost to make it work.”
With a lot accomplished and more in progress I had to ask “There must have been some let-down or frustration during the course of the year?”
Thompson admits “It was definitely frustrating when, while respective lawyers were busy working out the details and conditions of a potential land donation to the Town by a resident, some people decided to try to make political hay from the issue.” Questions ultimately arose as to whether there had been a possible breach of confidentiality. Thompson, in his role as head of Council, asked for an investigation by Caledon’s Integrity Commissioner to ascertain whether or not such a breach had occurred.
That report is now finalized. “After reading the Commissioner’s report I was satisfied with, and respected, his decision” Thompson says. “That report will be discussed in open session at our January 16th General Committee meeting and I look forward to bringing resolution to this matter.”