As we look at the year ahead, there will be plenty of issues, battles and opportunities for our community to shine. Here are five we believe deserve your attention and consideration in 2015.
A municipal budget that meets our needs.
We’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks, but the budget has the ability to set the tone and attitude for the year. We have six new faces on council and an opportunity to bring forth a document that reflects the reality of our tax bases while allowing us the opportunity to build for the future.
Completion of fundraising for a proposed new animal shelter.
The Park Avenue location has been an embarrassment for years. It’s obvious the OSPCA will not invest money into the municipality and it’s equally obvious local government can’t. The solution may be the private fundraising drive announced last month that will result in a building which can be turned over to Chatham-Kent or operated at arm’s length.
Realignment of the non-profit sector.
With a number of longtime charities failing to reach their financial goals, it may be time for a re-examination of what is being delivered, who’s delivering it to what clientele and at what cost. If the community has reached its capacity to give, the amount now being given must be used ever more wisely.
Achievement of some symbolic economic goals.
We need the downtown condo project to finally rise more than two stories above the pavement. Nearly five years after it was first announced, it currently stands as a testament to political rhetoric and promises. It can become a symbol of progress instead of a punch line. Its “failure to launch” has cast a pall of cynicism over all subsequent announcements, such as that of Brightenview in Blenheim. That must change.
Increased public engagement.
Last year’s increase in voter turnout was but the first step in building a participatory democracy where citizens get more involved, raise their voices and, just as importantly have those voices heard. Those in power must be prepared to listen, to understand that constructive criticism can be helpful, not negative, and that no individual has all the answers.