Last week I reviewed a few stories that had shaped 2021. This week I will follow another of my traditions and try to predict which stories you will see in our pages in 2022.
There will certainly be major changes to the political landscape both municipally and provincially in 2022 as we are expected to have elections at both levels of government in the second half of next year.
First in June, we are expected to go to the polls in a provincial election.
In the riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, a provincial election has been fairly straight forward for the past decade, with Progressive Conservative candidate Jim McDonell time and again easily cruising to victory.
This year however is different. Just a few weeks ago McDonell announced his intention not to seek re-election, making the campaign for his party’s nomination almost as significant as the actual election itself. So far, we have two candidates who have formally announced their intention to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination, one is South Stormont Township Councillor Andrew Guindon, and the second is local entrepreneur, Dairy Queen Cornwall owner Nolan Quinn.
Whoever gets this nomination I feel will have a strong change of winning the election, even if they lack experience at the provincial level. The other parties will have to field all-star candidates who have name recognition in Cornwall and the Counties if they hope to flip the riding from being blue.
As for the municipal election, for Cornwall in particular, this election, scheduled for October, will be a transformative one. A number of incumbent Councillors as well as the Mayor have announced that they will not be seeking re-election.
This raises the question as to who will fill that void, something that I won’t hazard a guess at right now, but I have heard of a few names who are interested in being on Council, and at least one who is interested in running for Mayor.
Ultimately, the story will be the turnover, and how this new group of Councillors will learn to work together to get the City’s business done.
Major budget challenges
The City of Cornwall will be facing some serious budget challenges next year, and in the years that follow I feel.
Cornwall needs a new intake pipe for its water treatment system. Currently the system has only one intake pipe. Installing a backup will cost $40 million.
Then there is the prospect of installing water meters, another price tag, this time $17 million.
The City also will have to continue to prepare for the closing of the Cornwall Landfill, which has about 10 years of life left in it, with an estimated cost of just closing that site being $36 million, plus the cost of finding and opening a new landfill.
With such harrowing financial waters on the horizon, the next few years could be quite expensive for the Cornwall taxpayer.
Housing becomes the top priority
Slowly, the City of Cornwall has begun to focus more and more on the issue of housing in the municipality.
All across the region, not just in the city, we have seen rising housing prices and rising rental prices.
Whether a piece of real estate goes on the market for sale or for rent it certainly doesn’t stay there for long.
The cause of this hot real estate market is that even before the pandemic, there was just not enough housing stock.
The pandemic has allowed more and more people to work remotely, and working remotely from a place like Cornwall, which is more affordable than Ottawa or Toronto, has become appealing.
Not just a lack of housing, but the quality of housing as well as landlord tenant issues have started to come to the fore.
I have heard multiple stories from members of the public, some of which have been covered in this paper, of issues of mold in rental spaces and other issues. To solve this problem, the City of Cornwall is considering implementing a landlord registry.
Under former Mayor Bernadette Clement, a Housing Taskforce was formed in 2021. I expect the Housing Taskforce and the landlord registry to be making big moves in 2022 to solve the issue of a lack of housing, particularly affordable housing.
COVID, still, sadly
Yes, COVID will still be with us in 2022, unfortunately. However, I think that we are getting better at adapting. The latest challenge, Omicron, has again tested us, but I hope at least that we’ve learned how to live with the virus. To keep our businesses open and operating safely, to keep our schools open safely, and to hold our events and activities safely.
Even with Omicron’s easy transmissibility, I still hope that with social distancing and vaccines that the virus slowly becomes much like a seasonal flu. During the medieval period in Europe it took decades if not centuries to get past the Black Death. We will put COVID behind us in a much shorter timeline.
Everyone stay happy, and stay healthy this New Year’s.
As always, please send me your Letters to the Editor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org