Working with the community will be the lynchpin of Huntsville council over the next four years.
That from newly-minted mayor Nancy Alcock, as the new term of council was sworn in at the Algonquin Theatre Monday afternoon.
“It’s all about engagement,” said Alcock. “We will start by creating several new committees focusing on the delivery of our priorities, and we will call upon community members to be part of this process.”
Alcock listed council’s priorities as improving active transportation, new and alternative housing, climate adaptation, community and recreational infrastructure, opportunities for youth, addressing the shortage of health care workers, and making sure Huntsville grows in a way that doesn’t outpace its natural resources.
“In this election, it was also clear that our community asked us to listen and to act on issues with respect to inclusion, accessibility, equality, and frankly the basic essentials of life,” said Alcock. “It is imperative that we reflect the voices of our whole community and put their needs into action.”
Chief Ted Williams of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation was invited to speak at the inaugural meeting. Williams, a longtime friend of Alcock’s, praised Muskoka’s municipalities for their willingness to work with the area’s Indigenous communities through the Muskoka Area Indigenous Leadership Table.
He added he will “forever be a friend” of the Town of Huntsville.
“There were some very difficult discussions that took place, but we made it through. With Huntsville and the other municipalities, we developed a strong relationship with the Indigenous, First Nation communities,” said Chief Williams. “You would be hard pressed to find this kind of relationship of mutual satisfaction between First Nation communities and municipalities. I defy you to go anywhere across this country to find the kind of relationship that we’ve developed over the past three and a half years.”
Alcock’s council table is an equal mix of new and returning faces. Town councillors Dan Armour and Bob Stone ascend to District Council, joined by newcomer Scott Morrison. Helena Renwick joins as councillor for Huntsville Ward, Cory Clarke for Chaffey Ward, and Monty Clouthier for Brunel Ward. Dione Schumacher and Jason FitzGerald return as councillors for Stisted, Stephenson, and Port Sydney Wards.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say how fortunate we are to be supported by incredible staff, who are ready to work with us to achieve our community’s vision,” said Alcock. “We are one team, all with a collective responsibility to serve you.”
Alcock added that she plans to work closely with local volunteer groups, service clubs, and not-for-profits, as well as business, community, and faith-based organizations.
“We have a ton of work to do, and I think it’s time we get started,” said Alcock.