WAINFLEET – The holidays can be a time of great excitement and hype, and for at least one issue in Wainfleet mayor April Jeffs said she’s happy that excitement has subsided as the holidays move into the rearview mirror.
“People know we’re aware. We know how people feel,” she said.
Jeffs was referring to the recent vote by Wainfleet council to help fund Skydive Burnaby’s legal fight against the Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. turbine project in the township. The vote to provide $40,000 to Skydive Burnaby was a controversial one, which brought a vocal response from residents. While Jeffs said residents have begun to come to an understanding, the vote is just another example of the little township that makes big decisions.
Chief among those decisions is Wainfleet’s continued push against wind turbine projects. In addition to the opposition of local turbine projects, Jeffs said the township has been a leader on the issue for rural municipalities throughout the province.
“Wainfleet is definitely a leader in telling the province how we feel (about turbine projects),” she said, adding local officials met with Premier Kathleen Wynne twice this year to discuss the topic.
But it hasn’t just been turbines in Wainfleet. Jeffs said she was happy to see the residential septic inspections begin this year. A report is expected to come back to council at an upcoming meeting.
In the past year the township has also had to face a reshuffling of staff and staff responsibilities. The Township has lost its clerk, director of operations, and senior planner, who have all moved onto various positions elsewhere. While Michael Sullivan replaced former planner Grant Munday, the Township chose to try to make due and shift responsibilities to remaining staff.
Jeffs said the changes have gone fairly smoothly.
“We’re running about as lean as we can,” she said.
While they don’t have the staff to take on any major projects, Jeffs said things are going fairly well.
The ongoing floodplain mapping issue is another that Jeffs said will be important for the township. Last year she was named vice chair of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the organization in charge of the mapping.
“The ideal thing is to leave the mapping as status quo,” she said, adding she hopes to be re-elected as vice chair at the upcoming elections.
Looking ahead to 2014 at the top of the to-do list for Jeffs is work along the lakeshore. The mayor said she’d like address issues at the township’s beaches, both the publically- and privately-owned portions. That means working with the Niagara Regional Police to ensure events like Beach Day continue to stay under control, while also promoting the beaches and finding ways for more people to enjoy the water.
Jeffs said she’d also like to get working on a strategic plan for the township, though with all the changes to staff in the past 12 months that might not be feasible.
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