WELLINGTON NORTH – As Wellington North faces a population boom over the coming decades, the newly re-elected council will have some tough decisions in the next term, the mayor said in his inaugural address.
On Monday evening, the Township of Wellington North swore in its new council mostly made up of familiar faces from past terms.
Re-elected mayor Andy Lennox and councillors Sherry Burke, Lisa Hern and Steve McCabe are joined by newcomer Penny Renken.
In his opening address to council, Lennox said on the campaign trail some rural residents asked him why urban issues and growth in Arthur and Mount Forest are dominating council discussion.
He noted the conversation is being driven by the amount of change the growth is bringing to the township’s urban areas which is having a domino effect with lots of things to consider.
Based on county growth allocations and projects, Wellington North is expected to grow by about 7,500 people by 2051 with nearly 3,000 new households.
He drew a parallel to a growing family suddenly finding out they’re having triplets instead of one baby.
“The plans for one more bedroom become the plan for three, the plan to sue the car we have turns into the necessity to have a minivan that wasn’t anticipated, the existing plans of how we pay the additional costs suddenly become obsolete,” Lennox said.
Lennox also spoke of the how the current state of the economy and provincial legislation is creating more difficulties for municipalities.
“We are seeing changes in economic times with inflation at generational highs, we are seeing employers struggling to find workers like never before,” Lennox said.
“We are seeing changes quite recently in provincial policy that can drastically affect municipalities like ours and the press on community growth has become immense.”
Although he said he felt Wellington North staff and council are a strong team, Lennox stressed these circumstances will require council to be flexible and willing to try new ideas to build the township for the future.
The other councillors all noted the challenging times ahead with McCabe adding not every decision will be a popular one.
“We have a lot of heavy lifting to do and we have to make a lot of hard decisions that won’t suit everyone but they need to be made,” McCabe said.