A very, very promising year

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Well, it’s time to clear the slate again and start over. 2010 is upon us and many will be making New Year’s resolutions that they won’t keep while others will follow through and make this New Year even better than the year that led into it.

With that in mind we called on Cornwall Mayor Bob Kilger to find out where he was coming from, as it pertains to Cornwall. “The momentum that was created in 2009 has some overlapping going into the New Year. As we enter the fourth year of our (city council’s) mandate, it looks to be a very exciting year.”

No conversation could ever take place without talking about our border problems.

Mayor Kilger refers to 2010 as the “Year of the Bridge.” “The two principals—the federal government and the community of Akwesasne—are the major stakeholders and I hope the suggestion we made some weeks ago about both parties considering mediation to assist them in arriving at a resolution might be taken up. Akwesasne has already indicated that they would be interested in proceeding in that fashion but the federal government hasn’t given any indication yet. As we get ever closer to the completion of our new sports/recreation facility in the general area of the 7th Street extension and the traffic circle where the temporary installations of the port of entry are established, that area will come into greater demand with wider use, particularly in the Spring of 2011, so let’s hope that 2010 comes with a permanent solution to the border entry which will then allow us to move forward on the future bridge replacement,” said Kilger.

The mayor says the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, which the provincial government is cutting back from many municipalities, is not going to affect Cornwall. “I understand the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry have had a cutback in the area of two million dollars. Our funding is stable so we’re very fortunate we don’t have that additional challenge in arriving at the best and most responsible budget we can provide,” said Kilger. On the budget issues for 2011 he says, “It’s very early for us. It’s very challenging as it was last year and for two more years after this with the municipal assessment rates which are being pro-rated over four years. I’m hopeful in the end we will arrive at a tax rate increase of no more than two percent.”

When you look at the “new year” of any municipality, you wonder about development, particularly with the economy being the way it has been. When it comes to development in the city, Kilger points out that the new distribution centre for Shopper’s Drug Mart is already on the books. The facility is already under construction and when it’s up and running, it’s expected to produce 150 jobs. He says, “We already have construction underway for a federal call centre creating approximately 175 new positions. Economic development has some other interested parties (not identified) looking at Cornwall for possible expansion or investment, so we’re very fortunate to have good management and a bit of good luck. Nobody wanted this global recession but that has assisted us in a way, that given our strong fiscal position, we’ve been able to take advantage of the programs offered by the provincial and federal governments that has allowed us to transform the city from what was a largely manufacturing sector to a much more diversified economy at a much greater rate than we could ever hope for to do on our own. 2010 promises to be a growing year and on that front we’re optimistic we’ll be able to maintain the positive direction.”

Kilger says it won’t be a steep climb of growth but rather an “incremental, manageable and progressive” kind of growth.

Mayor Kilger is already on record as standing for re-election in the next municipal election. “I’m 65 years of age. I’m having the time of my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else at this stage of my life that I would enjoy more. It’s really gratifying to work with the present council and administration on behalf of the residents of Cornwall and I’ll certainly offer my services for another term. I think a great quality about our council is that we’ve learned to express our differences in a respectful way and always having the best interests of the ratepayers in mind. We work hard and when we have an opportunity, we enjoy each other’s company. It’s been a great experience for me,” he said.

As a matter of fact, Kilger says he’s sold on the idea of four-year terms for the elected positions. “It’s been a real bonus. We’re past the three year mark now. In four years you’re really able to implement things and see them come to fruition before you go back out to seek another mandate. I’m certainly pleased with this new policy the provincial government has put forward.”

His message to the citizens of Cornwall? “We’ve overcome a lot of adversity. We’re a resilient population and a very close-knit community that I’m very proud to be head of council. I think our future is very, very promising and I look forward to sharing that and building that with all the other stakeholders in the community. I wish everyone a healthy, Happy New Year.”

I’ll do the same.

2010 is a brand new year. I hope it’s the best one ever for you.

I’m John Divinski.

Organizations: Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund

Geographic location: Cornwall, 7th Street

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