By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - A slew of groundbreaking developments in South Stormont last year has Mayor Bryan McGillis looking to broaden the community's horizon in 2014.
The township west of Cornwall, made up of several communities, maintained the lowest tax rate in the region, hired its first full-time fire chief and boasted $18.6 million in construction in 2013.
"As mayor of South Stormont, I do anticipate steady growth and progress," said McGillis.
Finding out the township road network is worth a staggering $155 million after an asset management plan adopted by council this past December has added to their current momentum.
"These numbers are overwhelming. This asset management plan is the foundation block and is imperative for future federal and provincial funding programs," he said.
In 2013, residential construction saw an increase along with four new registered sub-division agreements adding the potential for more than 215 units.
Pending construction activity also looks promising with other industrial and commercial development.
The addition of LED bulbs to street lights after a retro fit of the previous 50-year-old structures will create energy saving advantages.
And working with the Eastern Ontario Training Board (EOTB) on an updated Economic Development Strategic Plan has opened new doors.
"Excellent public input was received during this process. Now with this feedback, in 2014 we can review the vision for the future," said McGillis.
For Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart, managing to make improvements at all levels in South Stormont during challenging economic times is a sign of council's united resolve.
"It always amazes me how staff, township workers and council come together to work within a tight budget and yet manage to be successful at keeping our infrastructure in place," she said.
Hart commended the public works and planning departments for keeping municipal drains cleaned out and roads safe.
"Communication is important. That is why we use our local media for our newsletters and community information," said Hart. "We also send out flyers spring and fall to all our residence to keep them informed about our recreational services."
Aside from boasting 500 soccer registrants, the (Bantom House B) South Stormont Selects took home top prize at the Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament in Ottawa.
But many big moves are coming from a rejuvenated business community who formed a new board in 2013 for the South Stormont Chamber of Commerce (SSCC).
"South Stormont Township has done a Community Improvement Plan and there will be great opportunities for businesses within that plan," said Donna Primeau, SSCC president. "We are hoping to help ensure businesses are aware of this opportunity. With a whole new Board we have the opportunity to look at new ideas and revisit the old ideas with renewed energy and enthusiasm."
SSCC did a soft launch of a new program to keep at least 10 per cent of spending within the community. It will be in full swing this spring.
"The Chamber of Commerce will be promoting their new “Shift 10” program in 2014," said McGillis. "Stay tuned for their news about the program. Although the concept is not new, it does make one think about local spending practices."
With a banner year behind them, the close-knit township will be unveiling plenty of success stories in the weeks, months and years to come.
"On behalf of South Stormont Council and staff, we wish you all a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year!"