“I will do my best to be the spokesman for Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry,” said South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds on December 10, 2010 when he was officially sworn in as the Warden for the United Counties of SD&G.
Byvelds’s year-long position came to an end on November 21st when he chaired his last Counties council meeting as Warden of SD&G. His replacement, South Glengarry Deputy-Mayor Ian McLeod will be sworn in on December 9th, 2011.
The Warden is the head of council and, as Byvelds explained, “in theory, the CEO of the municipality, in this case, the Counties.”
“You are expected to go to meetings and events to represent the Counties. The Warden puts the Counties first when considering issues. However, all Counties Councillors should do this when performing Counties business,” continued Byvelds.
“We need to be open to new ideas but in the end we need to work to improve and enhance the entire Counties, not just our own little part.”
At last year’s swearing in, Byvelds stated: “Our goal will be to make the United Counties of SD&G the best counties government in Ontario.”
When asked if he was successful in this goal, he said, “I do believe we at the Counties do a good job. We have the best counties road system in Ontario and Council, through the budget, decided to keep our road system well maintained.”
“Staff also do an excellent job in making sure things get done right.”
During the Warden’s Closing Address, Byvelds said, “someone asked me at the banquet what were the high and low point of the past year. The high point was easy as becoming the warden certainly was a peak. The position is respected by many and the people of South Dundas appreciated having their mayor as warden.”
“The low point was council’s decision not to go to a two year term for warden.”
He later provided further comment on this issue: “I feel strongly that a two year term of warden is the way to go. It takes half a year to build the relationships a warden needs with Cornwall, our local member of parliament and member of provincial parliament, and especially at the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC).”
“The EOWC lobbies Provincial and Federal issues and an important issue we worked on was the Farm Tax issue. We met with provincial ministers twice through the year and although things have changed with our new minority government, a warden with a longer term can establish the connections required to get things done.”
It would seem that Byvelds enjoyed his year as Warden for the United Counties of SD&G. He admitted that “if council had agreed in September to go forward with a two year term, I would have allowed myself to continue.”
“I certainly enjoyed running meetings and making sure things got done at the counties level,” he said. “Counties Councillors worked well with me and I had a sense that the respect was mutual.”
“My advice to Deputy Warden McLeod is to be prepared and represent the Counties well. I have already offered my help and I feel confident that he is ready for the position.”
In the final words of his closing address, Byvelds said, “I believe we live in and operate one of the best county systems in Ontario.”
Byvelds’ promise: “I will resume being the councillor for South Dundas and I will continue to work for what is best for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.”