DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Not all members of Uxbridge Council were buying what the Region was selling recently, when the North Durham Economic Development Strategy was recently unveiled.
The report, which as Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis explained, is part of the North Durham Integrated Sustainability Plan shared between Uxbridge, Scugog and Brock, contains several recommendations to aid the municipalities in building vibrant and resilient local economies.
However, some members of council saw it mostly as a "make-work" project.
"If we are going to do something we should be looking at doing our part, on our properties, like improving downtown parking and lighting," said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy. "We could also clean up the parking lot behind Coffee Time to maybe make it more attractive to businesses. But this report seems like a make-work project to me."
Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle shared many of Councillor Molloy's sentiments, and stated that he felt the township's energy may be better spent on other areas of economic development.
"As council, we simply create an atmosphere. Government doesn't bring business to town. In terms of implementation, some of these things go beyond our reach, and I really question just how effective this document will be," commented Councillor Mantle. "Our energies might be better spent on things that we know work."
Later, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast commented that many of the recommendations brought forth by a group of visitors from Shelburne in the summer of 2011, still haven't been implemented. Councillor Northeast argued that the township was perhaps best served by implementing some of those recommendations, such as establishing a tourism centre and improved signage for township facilities before tackling this economic development plan.
However, Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor countered that many of those recommendations will be carried out, and later defended the plan to her fellow councillors.
"Major things recommended by visitors have been dealt with through the 2013 budget, which we just finished passing," countered Mayor O'Connor. "Something like this is really healthy for the three North Durham municipalities."
In spite of the passionate appeal from Mayor O'Connor, Councillor Molloy remained skeptical of the report, referring to it as "tripe," and urging councillors to come up with their own solutions for attracting and retaining businesses.
"We have to fix our own house, and rather than wait for some magical answer, we need to get to work ourselves," said Councillor Molloy.
"We have to have money to fix our own house," responded Mayor O'Connor.
After being presented to the three North Durham municipalities, the Economic Development Strategy will now be refined through stakeholder consultation before the final strategy and action plan is returned to Council in June of this year.
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