South Dundas council is now more than half way through its month-long series of municipal matters meetings, dubbed “Coffee with Council” and so far, it is a been a good exercise in community engagement.
In the three areas of the large municipality so far, some common themes have come up that mirror the concerns raised in the community during the 2018 municipal election campaign. And we have learned of new concerns that had not been voiced before.
Council should be credited for following through on a commitment to engage with citizens outside of election time. Far too often the promise of listening more, is the first pledge forgotten after winning an election. This is not the case here and now.
The common themes coming out of the meetings include the usual roads, drains, and landfill concerns. And in many cases some community specific concerns like: the future of Seaway District High School and economic development opportunities in Iroquois; ball diamond lighting in Brinston; and preserving rural infrastructure in Dunbar have come to light.
Some long standing issues like the Carman and Forward houses, the Galop Canal Marina, and the perceived favoritism of one community over another were also brought up, discussed, and hopefully put to rest once and for all.
What is clear is these meetings have not just brought out the usual suspects who complain, but citizens who are happy to be asked “What do you think?”
Community engagement is a good first step, but it is only a first step. It will be incumbent on council to take this input and do something with it. It is also incumbent on the citizens of South Dundas to continue the dialogue and engage with council and municipal staff.
Many communities outside of South Dundas are not so fortunate to have a council willing ask for your opinion outside of an election period. Few politicians would dare put themselves out there for one such meeting, let alone five meetings in one month.
There are two meetings remaining this month, May 22nd in Williamsburg, and May 29th in Morrisburg. Take the time to attend, and have your say.