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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

This term, let's do more than vote.


It’s almost October 22nd. This is the time where we are supposed to encourage and remind each other, from 18-year-old to senior, to get out and vote. It’s so important, to exercise your democratic rights this way. You get to contribute to the governance of the amazing community in which we all live.
If you were born and raised here, like me, chances are when you were 18 the primary thought on your mind was not getting out and voting, but rather, getting out of Dodge. But the truth is, most of us, if given the opportunity to live elsewhere, would still choose North Grenville. It is a pretty spectacular place to call home.
I lived in the suburbs. I also lived overseas. When it was time to come home to Canada, my publishing certificate in hand, I just assumed I would end up in Toronto. That city, after all, is the home of Canadian publishing. The Universe had another plan, however. I spent my first few months as a returning expat living at my parents’ house, waiting for my driver’s license, health card and other privileges of being Canadian to be returned to me. During that time, I met and fell for the Farmer. I wasn’t moving to Toronto.
I often think about how life can change in an instant. Sometimes the same opportunities come up more than once. But we still have to take the step, push the button, answer the call, mark the ballot. Buy the lottery ticket or you will never win.
This week, we get to choose who will make decisions on our behalf, for the next four years. Let’s choose carefully. We are in an interesting position, here in North Grenville. We are growing like crazy, but we are also trying very hard to hang on to our small-town feel. We want new businesses and industry to move in, so that our skilled workers do not have to commute to the city every day. But we also want to be able to walk to the store, and to recognize people on the street. We want to keep our small town, but we want it to become sustainable.
After we mark our ballots and learn who the new council will be, it’s important to stay involved. I don’t mean you have to go to council or committee of the whole meetings every Monday night – unless you want to. But stay involved. Get into the conversation on social media. Read your local news. Learn what decisions are being made on your behalf, and hold your elected officials accountable if you think they are not following the will of the people who elected them.
We want to see some big businesses move into our community in the near future. They would be foolish not to. We are perfect for them. We have green space and homes for their employees. We are situated next to the highway, half way between the United States and the Nation’s Capital. We have no excuse not to become a tourist attraction. We are beautiful, with our Ferguson Forest Centre, our South Branch of the Rideau, and our Old Town. We have talented artists to entertain us, fun things to do, and great places to eat.
When the new council comes in, and municipal staff makes plans to replace the Bridge Street bridge, I would like to see it built so that boats can easily pass beneath it. We can be a destination for daytrippers by water. We used to have huge steamer ships come to our town centre.
Local businesses need to realize that we are still a big community of commuters. Ottawa is a government town and many of us are driving North every day to help staff the machine that runs the country. Stay open later so that we can shop locally after work in the evenings. Kemptville used to have a thriving downtown of shops that stayed open late until the last train brought workers home on a weekday evening. We need to look at our past to define our future.
We have many things to consider as we manage our community growth and prosperity into the next 4 years. We want all the things that growth brings, but we also want to remain the community that looks out for its own. We are North Grenville.
Now let’s go and vote.
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