Editorial: Looking ahead to the next four years

Across the province, including the SDG Counties region, school boards, and the Municipality of South Dundas, the next term of council and trustee boards has begun. Throughout the past week, mayors, deputy mayors, councillors and trustees have been trained, sworn in, and started the jobs they were each elected to do. In many cases, the municipal councils and school boards have gotten somewhat younger, and there has been a turnover in experience.

The 2022-26 South Dundas council is the youngest elected ever with the average age of 41. This council is new and four-fifths of the team have never held public office. Because of this, we should give them the advice that we would give any group of people in that age group: be humble; be empathetic; and be conscious of the fact that they are representing an entire community – all with different socio-economic levels and situations. The group dynamic will make or break a council. There needs to be a willingness to learn, and learn quickly. There also needs to be a clear and realistic set of priorities.

In South Dundas, the election “honeymoon period” will be over soon enough as budget deliberations will soon be upon them. Water rates and property taxes are going to have a huge impact on municipal spending during the current economic situation where supply chain issues are clearly impacting the cost of everything. Inflation affects every aspect of the municipal budget.

The one benefit of being a younger group is a fresh perspective and enthusiasm for the role they are in. New people mean new ideas and ways of trying to tackle old issues. It is great to have a team and work together, but having different opinions around the council table and a willingness to discuss those will bring forth better governance.

SDG Counties faces similar challenges with seven new faces around the council table, a larger budget than that of the lower-tier municipalities, and six pairs vying for their projects and interests. In the last term, South Dundas representatives did well at the counties level. Many county roads were paved in South Dundas. The education strategy formed by the Counties included all parts of the region. And strong voices were heard advocating for local tourist and business funding through the Regional Incentives Program. Keeping that momentum going and keeping South Dundas in all relevant discussions for where Counties’ tax money is spent must be a priority.

The challenges of the next four years are not unlike the start of any other term of council. Hard work and perseverance, good intentions, and a willingness to check egos at the door will help guide local government for the future.

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