DAN CEARNS, The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor, Doug Elmslie shared how the city council is building a strong foundation in the municipality, during a Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon, on Wednesday, May 24th.
"I can say this from the perspective of a 25-year resident and a Councillor for the last 16 years: we have built a solid foundation for our community. Over the years, Kawartha Lakes Council has made good decisions, often hard decisions, to ensure the municipality has the financial and other resources it needs to deliver for its taxpayers, with no surprises," Mayor Elmslie told attendees.
Prior to being elected Mayor, in 2022, Doug Elmslie had served as the Ward 6 councillor during the 2006, 2010 and 2014 terms. He became the Ward 3 Councillor in the 2018 election; after the council voted to change the number and geography of the wards they had.
Mayor Elmslie referenced how the City made a decision in 2016 to raise the tax rate to eight percent, as an example of a hard decision the municipality had to make. "That was a very hard decision and a hard year for residents. That was the year of 'closing the gap' between the funds we had and what we needed, to look after all of our lands and buildings. That increase was a 'catch up' so those future years could have lower, stable, affordable increases."
He then spoke about Kawartha Lakes Council's decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. "More recently, the decisions made through the Pandemic have left us in a good position. We wisely leveraged the pandemic grants provided to us by the Province, and we invested our last couple [of] years of surplus funds into reserves, helping our economy recover. For example, many community organizations, such as the United Way, John Howard Society, Community Care, Big Brothers and Sisters, and more, have accessed the municipal pandemic recovery fund, and we're starting to see a return to normal operations. The effects of the Pandemic will echo for some time to come, but the worst is over."
Mayor Elmslie said, construction in downtown Lindsay is expected to be completed by Canada Day, July 1st. "We're putting the finishing touches on it, such as landscaping, asphalt touch-ups and brickwork.
I'm sure you'll all be glad to see the construction crews leave town by July 1st. I want to thank each of you who has lived through the construction, and kept your doors open, for your ongoing patience and support of these costly, and necessary, projects."
He stressed how the council has invested in road work across the municipality. "As always, we're investing heavily into our roads, with almost $27 million going to roads capital projects. This wouldn't be possible without the dedicated 1.5 percent infrastructure levy every property owner sees on their tax bill. This came about from my time as Deputy Mayor and [when] I did the Roads 101 tour. I consistently heard from residents what was needed was better roads. We've committed to chipping away at that each year. Although we only have seven households to support each kilometre of road, we now have the funds required, and the roads are getting addressed year over year."
City growth-wise, Mayor Elmslie explained, "the growth across the municipality is largely in Lindsay."
"We are working to develop smaller urban centres, like Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls and Omemee; however, the lion share of new housing will be in Lindsay," he said.