Our community has gone through an exciting renaissance - we're on the move and we can all be proud of the accomplishments the town that is "Wonderfully Unexpected" has achieved in the last eight years. At the same time, there's is more work to do and it will take all of us to complete the vision.
This is a critical time in our history as all of this exciting change and new thinking is still fragile and has yet to set the type of roots that will sustain it long into the future. We haven't finished writing this chapter in our book and to do so, we will need the kind of leadership that will continue to provide the firm and steady hands on the wheel, effectively guiding us through the challenges of collectively standing together under one roof, with one common strategy, continuing the plan forward.
Throughtout the campaign I will release a plank in the campaign platform. Be sure to keep an eye on this page to see it all unfold.
A master parks plan that will identify all the undeveloped green space in town and establish action plans to modernize each site over time, has been started by the Recreation Board. The plan will look at places like Chalmers, the High Schools, Hill Crest Park and George Ash Park to plan developing these sites into effective, modern green spaces in our community. Through active community involvement, we will identify best outcomes, design progressive, healthy and active spaces and seek the funding to pay for each.
Like the developments around the Waterfront, each piece will be done responsibly and only as funding and sponsorships are secured.
Through active community involvement, we will identify best outcomes, design progressive, healthy and active spaces and seek the funding to pay for each.
Having the right leadership will be critical to ensuring this kind of modern, progressive thinking is completed and not shelved.
At the core of Cochrane's heritage and history is the beach and what it meant to those who grew up identifying it as the anchor for their memories. The Recreation Board has been working diligently to find the resources to try and re-establish the beach as that core part of our community, that will allow our children and their children to identify with what their parents and grand parents did. If successful, we will have effectively made the beach an anchor for every generation since the town was established.
Over the last six years, the Recreation Board has tirelessly fundraised to establish beach assets like a free water slide, water craft for lake side leisure, re-introduced lifeguards, bicycles and free bike share, public BBQ’s, and outdoor movies, all with funding and sponsorships, adding no cost to the tax payer.
The Recreation Board has also managed to fundraise an additional $80,000 this year, for the development of a splash pad and new docks at the beach next summer. These two assets would be the final pieces to bringing the Beach back to its hay day and providing Parents and their children more outdoor recreational options, along with memories just like the generations before.
The Recreation Board and Town have also begun planning to complete the trail system around the Lake by building a boardwalk and lockstone trails from the Giant Tiger Hill at Fourth Street, right through to Fifth Street. This will complete the modernization of the trails providing everyone some of the most scenic views around the lake day or night.
These kinds of social development investments not only help provide a higher standard of living for those of us here now, but help attract and retain those who will be looking to fill the workforce void just ahead, and provide our children and grandchildren what they need to help bring them back home when they establish their young families elsewhere.
This money is set aside and will be used to secure the remaining funding in the spring to once again lead to important developments done responsibly and with little to no additional cost to the tax payer. The elected leadership in this election will be critical to this coming to fruition, ensuring the money and will are still there in the spring.
Check out this great video then scroll down to continue seeing Peter's Platform unfold.
With Rail, forestry, mining, laboratory, and a number of secondary industries, Cochrane already has one of the most diversified economies in the region. At the same time, the future will depend on how well we continue to rethink and build upon this foundation.
We've built multi-modal transportation into our strategic plan as a pillar for our economy going forward. The plan calls for moving all freight from the south by rail to Cochrane, while off loading onto trucks from here to be delivered nationally east and west. The long term vision even includes exploring other transportation solutions like small zeppelin style airships that carry about 20 passengers and 20 tons of freight at the same time. The scope explores building a port on the coast so freight can leave the Cochrane hub on air ships, trucks, or trains to go in any direction.
We have already invested in the fuel offload components at about $1.2 million dollars and this infrastructure is up and going. We are just about to receive the funding to implement phase two which is agriculture silos and capacity.
This is an ambitious and forward thinking plan that will help modernize our economy. It has the potential to be another boom and paradigm shift for our community.
It's critical to have the right leadership, with the vision and modern, progressive thinking required to ensure this does not become minimized and continues to responsibly move ahead.
The decision to shut down Cochrane Power was a political one. The Plant was producing affordable, reliable, renewable green energy for decades before it became popular to do so.
I believe we can demonstrate to the new government that the Plant can actually save them energy costs. I also have established relationships in the new government and hope that helps get through the barriers that have led to its closure.
This is a complicated, tactical challenge that will require the kind of leadership that can strategically navigate that mine field in front of it and find success. Even with the realtionships we will need to have the fortitude to get through the barriers and sell the upstart.
With an aging population and an actively developing community creating a variety of services throughout the town for both seniors and tourists, the municipality needs to be building infrastructure with these future needs in mind. If we're just maintaining today's infrastructure, we're not preparing for tomorrow's needs.
A public transit system of one or two buses, set up on a circuit that targets the places seniors and the less mobile need to do their business, and places where we have valuable tourist attractions that we have invested into, would be the kind of modern, progressive and responsible thinking that municipal leadership must be contemplating. The challenge is to do it innovatively and such that the cost is mostly offset and responsible.
For example, the bus would provide access to key banks, the Post Office, Drug Store, Grocery Stores, and shopping centers, while also providing access and driving tourism money to the Pavilion, the Tim Horton Events Center, the Polar Bear Habitat, the Train Station, and the highway business district.
We have secured the rare opportunity at both operating and capital funding. A plan needs to be put in place that will allow us to use the funding to attract a private operator to run the service. The innovation is we use the private sector to run the service so it doesn't become a cost burden on the municipality. While the private sector operates and runs the service, the Town would regulate it to ensure the service is in the public's interest.
We have begun discussions with the private sector and having the kind of leadership that can create the outcome, negotiate it and drive the access to funding to create the incentive for the service to get off the ground in the first place, will be critical to seeing this through. If successful, Cochrane will once again have broken trail for many other smaller municipalities to follow suit, while providing our community another modern, progressive, leading edge service that is responsibly paid for.
Some argue we cannot afford recreation and social developments because our roads need repair. Others argue recreation and life style are more important. My position is that it's not an either / or proposition. We have to find ways to do both.
Modern, progressive and responsible strategic financial management is how we have accelled in social and recreational development while also being aggressive on road repairs. This same thinking can be used to accelerate the amount of roads work we do every year. It starts with long term planning that will allow the town to focus on where repairs need to be done, when they need to be done and how much they cost. The securing of funding to do that also is set into motion to ensure that when a particular repair is up, the money is there.
This plan needs to be in place up front and available when periodic funding comes up so we can be "shovel ready" and can go after the funding ahead of others. As well, the methodology we use needs to be rethought to place a higher emphasis on paving production every year.
Once the plan is complete a by-law should be created to solidify the commitment to ensure the reserves are built to pay for the outcomes planned.
The key to all this is money, planning and creative strategy. In today's municipal world where funding is dwindling and needs are growing, modern, progressive and strategic financial management is the fastest and most productive way to address this issue. Out of the box thinking like, an investment in this kind of long term infrastructure should be spread across the generations that use it instead of trying to get one generation to pay for everyone.
The roads and infrastructure challenge is a real one and its the same for every municipality because in large part no one would spend the money when it was needed and now everything has fallen apart. The challenge is a modern day challenge that requires modern, progressive strategic thinking, and the kind of leadership that is forward and leading edge thinking, while also being competent in leveraging money into even more money.
A Community Improvement Plan is a tool used to establish business priorities, focus and investment. These Plans are viewed by upper levels of government as necessary to securing funding and resources to grow commerce locally.
Cochrane has developed it's first Community Improvement Plan this past Summer. The plan is a comprehensive roadmap for local businesses to follow in organizing their efforts, generating new ideas and securing the resources and incentives to follow them through. Our plan has a series of funds established in it that are available to local businesses that they can tap into to do things like:
These funds are customized local funds for local commerce only. They are built from provincial funding accessed through seed money provided by the town.
Community Improvement Plans are generating success stories right across the province and they are a forward thinking leading edge tools that communities need to be driving from the grass roots up.
This plan having the opportunity to bring success and progressive evolution to local commerce requires the kind of modern, progressive and responsible leadership that will make it a priority and drive it forward. The kind of leadership that will put everyone in the best position to make the best of the opportunity and reach full potential.
Historically, small communities like ours have accepted the premise that our youth and others will eventually leave and migrate to larger centers, further south. And until recently, there wasn't much that could be done to change that.
My preference is not to capitulate to external pressure and give in, but to embrace it, understand it, and then go on the offensive to change the outcome for the better.
A new report has been released that points to how technology and modern access to communications now allows smaller communities to go on that offensive and actually reverse migration back to rural Ontario.
The plan is to study what folks in larger centers don't have that we can provide, then to establish a modern, strategic marketing campaign to target populations and attract them here. For example, forty to fifty year old folks in the south can sell their expensive homes that they've paid for, buy a comparable home here for a fraction of the price and free up that equity at a point in their lives when they can make best use of it. We can offer things like:
Can we also offer cheaper more affordable homes and life styles, thus access to homes and lives that may not exist in the larger centers?
This is out of the box thinking that will require the kind of modern, progressive and strategic leadership that can get it through the typical barriers and established thinking around historical migration. It requires the kind of leadership that will make it a priority and drive it to fruition.