Election turnout, upcoming celebration dates, the big move of all town staff into one building on Advance Avenue, and many more topics were on the agenda in the Greater Napanee Council Chamber this week.
Town Clerk Jessica Walters submitted a legislative services report looking at the results of the municipal election last month. Greater Napanee saw only a 37.3 per cent voter turnout, which was a decrease from 2018’s voter participation rate of 50.4 per cent. The municipality had anticipated a decrease in local turnout for this particular election, due to the Mayor and School Board positions being acclaimed. Additionally, the low numbers followed a trend of declining voter turnout province-wide. At present, the municipal election report from the Association of Municipalities Ontario indicates 33 per cent voter turnout provincially this year, down from 38 per cent in the last municipal election.
Walters reported that voter participation rates across wards were relatively consistent. Most notable is that the gap in voter turnout for Wards 3 and 5, already significant in 2018, has grown even further over the last four years. She pointed out that this supported the staff and Council recommendation from late 2021 that a full ward boundary review should be conducted in 2024 for the next election. Such a review could also look at the question of whether the ward system continues to be the best method of representation for the taxpayers of Greater Napanee.
Town staff members in the Community and Corporate Services (CCS) department are working on the transfer of staff to 99 Advance Avenue. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Pinsent reported that, starting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, all residents can access administrative services from a single service counter located at 99 Advance Avenue. Pinsent noted that the intent is to streamline services, allowing residents to access information from all departments at one location.
To “set expectations,” Pinsent reported that residents should not expect customer service representatives to be able to complete all administrative processes “on-demand.” Rather, customer service representatives are expected to be able to take payment for any service or fee within the Municipality, provide forms, applications, and contacts for any service within the Municipality, take any resident complaint or request for service and input it into a work order system, and assist with registration for programs and online services. To help clarify the function of the new service counter, Town staff will be publishing a Customer Service Standard to reflect the level of service expected from employees and what residents can expect for response time.
All Council meetings will continue to be held at Town Hall, as was made clear by staff, and the desire of the public and Council during the consultation phase.
CCS gave themselves a pat on the back for their first successful “Trunk or Treating” event, which saw approximately 300 kids take part and 27 vehicles decorated for the event, including one of the fire trucks. Luckily, the Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 afternoon had perfect weather, and the event was well-received by the community.
CCS also highlighted some important upcoming festive dates to note, including the Big Bright Light Show on Dundas Street East, which will begin on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. The Indoor Holiday Market will be back at the Strathcona Paper Centre on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It was noted that registration for market vendors is full, and a waitlist has been started. The Parade of Lights will take place on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Planning for this year’s parade is well underway, and over 30 floats have already been registered.
Council received and approved the 2021 Draft of the Town of Greater Napanee Financial Statements as presented by Doug Churcher, CPA, CA, of the Town’s auditing firm, Welch LLP.
And finally, Sierra Planning and Management presented their draft of the Town’s Recreation Master Plan, which Kingstonist will cover in-depth in a future article.
As always, Greater Napanee Town Council Agendas and Minutes page is available for review online, and past Council Meetings can be found on the Town of Greater Napanee YouTube channel.