Petawawa looks to 2018 challenges
SEAN CHASE/DAILY OBSERVER Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, a former warden of the County of Renfrew, is currently serving his fifth term.
PETAWAWA – As the town counted down to the new year on Sunday night, it's mayor and council are considering the challenges that they will face in 2018.
The first order of business for the council will be striking a budget beginning with deliberations on Jan. 11. This is the final year of this council's term in office, however, Mayor Bob Sweet is confident they can get a lot done for voters go to the polls in the October municipal elections.
“We are really going to have a busy and prosperous 2018,” said Sweet.
The biggest hurdle will be bringing down a budget that can fund aging infrastructure, such as roads and buildings, while keeping taxes at a reasonable rate and not sending the town into debt, he added. The mayor said his key priority in 2018 will be to completely tie the asset management initiative up so the town can implement a long-term financial plan. He added he still believes they can keep pace with infrastructure upgrades while maintaining council's pay-as-you-go policy.
“There are huge demands on municipalities and it is a challenge not just to us but all those in the municipal field,” noted Sweet. “It's too easy to go to the bank and either borrow or increase the taxes.”
No matter who is still on council after November, the town will need to begin seriously considering the future of the Civic Centre. While reserves are being set aside for the ice surface, the arena itself is reaching the half-century mark.
“It doesn't look 45 years old but it is and it's not going to last forever,” said Sweet.
Looking back on what he called a productive 2017, the mayor highlighted many milestones including hosting Rogers Hometown Hockey on New Year's Day, working with Garrison Petawawa to stage events marking the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchendaele, and the official designation of the Ottawa River as a national heritage river. Petawawa also put itself on the map hosting the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) cross-country championships.
He lauded the many commercial developments that opened throughout the past year including Dollarama, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Harvey's. He pointed to the residential and commercial development achieved with $42 million in building permits issued in 2017.
In 2018, the town will see the continued development of the Algonquin Trail along the former Canadian Pacific Railway line and the opening of the Petawawa Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame at the Civic Centre. Sweet said he is looking forward to the impending opening of 14 additional housing units at the Riverview Seniors Apartment, a $3.5 million project that will address the need for seniors to gain affordable housing but remain in their community.
“I'm proud to be part of Petawawa,” added Sweet. “We have a great bunch of people around the table and a great staff. The unsung heroes are the volunteers who don't get the credit they deserve.”