Cramahe Township Mayor is the New Northumberland County Warden

In City Hall, Editor Choice, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Former Northumberland County Deputy Warden Mandy Martin will serve the county as Warden for the coming year, commencing with this week’s inaugural meeting of the new term of county council.

She will be assisted by the new Deputy Warden, Brian Ostrander.

Both nominations came from outgoing Warden Bob Crate, and both were made and accepted with no other nominations put forward.

The meeting saw the mayors of all seven municipalities sworn in – Cramahe Township’s Martin, Municipality of Brighton’s Ostrander, Municipality of Trent Hills’s Crate as well as Lucas Cleveland of the Town of Cobourg, Olena Hankivsky of the Municipality of Port Hope, John Logel of the Township of Alnwick-Haldimand, and Scott Jibb of Hamilton Township.

Northumberland Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Moore offered congratulations and best wishes to the group as they serve the county’s 86,000 residents “across seven diverse yet complementary municipalities.”

County council has always enjoyed a successful collaboration with staff, Moore said, guided by professionalism, mutual respect and pursuit of common goals.

“We look to you for your leadership and direction, and we look forward to supporting your vision,” she added.

Following her declaration of office, Martin gave her address. Facing the back wall packed with more than 50 portraits of former county wardens, she began with a touch of nostalgia.

“I was 17 when I first started covering county council, and it was a joint county council – Northumberland and Durham. Now I am 70, so I have a bit of history,” she stated.

“I look along the wall at the back, and I knew most of those people. And some of them I regard as dear friends.

“I feel the weight of this. I feel it in my body and my soul. I am committed to Northumberland.

“I am honoured by the decision and the support of my fellow council members. It was a privilege to serve as first Deputy Warden for the last term of council. I also wanted to acknowledge and pay homage to Warden Bob Crate for his dedication and service over two years, leading the county over a challenging period.”

Looking at the current council complement, she sees a wealth of abilities and knowledge, but says their enthusiasm is vitally important “because these are challenging and uncertain times.”
COVID-19 is still with us, and the changes it made will continue to be felt.

“We are still very much in recovery,” she said, listing some of the most current challenges – housing affordability, employee retention and recruitment, inflation at a 40-year high, interest rates at a 15-year high.

“These challenges and uncertainties are becoming more and more complex for local municipalities,” she stated.

“This I know for sure – we will be working together as a strong and united team, actively listening to our staff and stakeholders, engaging with the community we serve.”

Ensuring the people have a voice will be a priority, she insisted, as the county touches people’s lives every day – in their health services, in their recycling practices, in supportive housing, in the maintenance of their roads. Their input is essential to ensuring these services continue and (if necessary) evolve to meet the needs of the community.

She commended the county staff as hard working, dedicated, capable and compassionate, in spite of the same workforce challenges faced across the country.

“In the past year alone, we had a shortfall of 85 job vacancies,” Martin said.

Council will also benefit from innovative strategic partnerships that have been formed, such as the Food 4 All Warehouse that annually distribute more than 1.3-million pounds of food to more than 120 local food programs (including food banks, shelters and school nutrition programs) and the Rice Lake Plains partnership, whose seven parties include the county and Alderville First Nation working to restore and preserve this rare ecosystem.

Partnerships are also hard at work on the housing affordability crisis that also is not confined to this community. More than 1,000 households are on the wait list for affordable housing, Martin noted, and the county has earmarked money for up to 50 $20,000 grants to developers building affordable housing. They are also expanding their rent supplement program. And a partnership with Habitat For Humanity Northumberland and Alderville First Nation will soon break ground on a 62-unit building in Cobourg in a mixture of affordability options.

Martin concluded with a few words on the creation of possibilities.

“We must consider decisions through the lens of economic, social, environmental and governance trends and impacts. This includes new policies and rapid changes being introduced from all levels of government,” she said.

“This requires council and staff to move quickly to understand changes, crunch the numbers, evaluate the impact and, in some cases, adjust our plans and practices.“We have been successful in the past in overcoming hurdles. We will be successful this term. We will see and act on opportunities like the introduction of the innovative Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program,” she said, mentioning a program begun with provincial funding to provide around-the-clock access to in-home care for seniors – 300 of them in the first six months of the program.

The Ontario Health Team-Northumberland is another successful partnership working to co-ordinate services with input from 36 health-care and social-service agencies, caregivers and stakeholders.

And the innovations to household recycling programs have increased the percentage of waste diverted from the landfill to 52% (compared to 39% at the beginning of the last council term).

“I know this county council is ready to get to work. The next four years will be challenging. Because of who we are, it will also be fulfilling,” Martin concluded.

This portion of the council meeting finished up with greetings from the Northumberland-Peterborough South MP and MPP.

MP Lawrence could not be present, but sent a taped greeting. It was brief and ended suddenly, leaving Martin at a loss for words.

“Thank you. That was…quirky,” she said.

MPP David Piccini delivered his greeting in person, a longer statement that said how much he is looking forward to working with council to create conditions for job growth and economic opportunity

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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