Remarks to Council
by Mary Venneman at the Angelstone Public Meeting Thursday, February 20, 2014
I’m Mary Venneman and I live in the village of Erin. And you know that I’m interested in economic development. However what I want to speak to you about tonight does not speak directly to the application but it’s relevant in that is speaks to the bigger issue of a global vision for this community. I don’t know where we’re going.
When I hear one decision, it seems we’re going in this direction. Then there’s another decision, and I think, okay now we’re going in this direction. Then another decision and another direction. Then another. I’m getting dizzy. We seem to have a crisis of identity; we don’t know what we want to be when we grow up.
Would it not be better to take the time to first develop a vision for the community, collectively deciding on the direction we want to go, the principals to guide us, the goals we want to achieve, and how we’re going to get there?
I know you’ve done some preliminary work on this and you’ve hired a consultant to do some more work on this. That’s great and it’s really encouraging. But the pace seems to be really slow and it’s not at all clear what it is we’re going to end up with or what compromises will have to be made because it will be impossible to please everybody.
So it’s as important to communicate what we’re not doing as it is to communicate what we are doing. The benefit of creating a community vision, guiding principles and a strategic plan are five-fold:
1. Everyone – residents, business, those who are here now and those considering locating here – will know where they stand, and then they can make personal choices accordingly, and reduce the blindsiding.
2. Council will have a cohesive decision-making framework. When things come forward requiring a decision, the overarching consideration should be, how does this help or hinder us in accomplishing our strategic goals?
3. There will be a comprehensive game plan in place to increase jobs, protect the environment, retain the character of the community, support the disadvantaged, ease the residential tax burden through economic development, help young people assimilate into the community, manage future growth, and know the fiscal and resource requirements.
4. It will help with the SSMP decision. The SSMP shouldn’t be our master, it should be a tool. The vision and the guiding principles should come first, and then the results of the assimilative study and the options will provide input to establishing the parameters in developing the strategic goals and action plan. Those decisions will be so much easier if we first decide which direction we want to go.
5. It would be a bonding experience. Opposition groups are springing up all over the place. Do we really want to continue down this road of dealing with one adversity after another? You can produce a strategic plan behind closed doors, but you would miss out on the real value of unifying the community to a common purpose. How exciting it would be to bring everyone together to roll up their sleeves, share information and perspectives and working collaboratively to shape the future of our community! For once we have an opportunity to work on something positive. And we so badly need something to celebrate.
I know money is tight but this is one of the best investments you can make at this time. And investment is the operative word. If you bite the bullet and make this investment now, it’s a one-time cost that will pay dividends for years to come in the form of increased tax revenue, greater harmony, less stress on staff resources, and less demand on Council’s time.
With your leadership, a good consultation plan and adequate resources, we could have a vision and guiding principles in place in three months. And once we have the SSMP results we will have the information to tackle the strategic goals.
Erin is wilting at the moment and there is so much potential to make Erin a…