2020-11-11

Bridgewater sets stage for housing to be key priority in new mandate

by KEITH CORCORAN

  • <p>Stacey Colwell, left, and Mike Conklin, are new civic politicians in Bridgewater. The new mandate of council was sworn into office November 2.</p>

Bridgewater has welcomed new civic politicians, said good-bye to long-serving members, and set the stage for affordable housing to be a key issue during the mandate.

Housing will be front-and-centre of a new all-council committee, Mayor David Mitchell vowed after councillors were sworn into office November 2.

While the topic is not municipal jurisdiction and largely a negotiation involving provincial and federal levels of government, Mitchell said the town will be involved in planning, strategy, and other aspects.

"We need to recognize, while there are many things not in our direct control, we can influence policy and people outside our organization," the mayor, who is entering his second term, told a council meeting.

Mitchell pointed to a number of developments on the horizon as being positive. These include Bridgewater's continued energy-efficiency work - which led to a $5 million windfall after winning a national contest last year - next year's establishment of a new Highway 103 interchange, and two new transit buses coming in 2021.

He urged the council members, including newcomers Mike Conklin and Stacey Colwell, to enjoy the moment and the privilege of their roles in what lies ahead.

"We will lead by example, and we will inspire though our actions."

Colwell and Conklin and the incumbent members thanked supporters and said they were grateful for the opportunity to serve. They expressed appreciation for the public's backing whether it was for election or re-election.

Mitchell, Cheryl Fougere, Jennifer McDonald, Andrew Tanner, and Wayne Thorburne were returned to office during the special ceremony. Mitchell went unchallenged for mayor and was acclaimed.

Two-term Councillor Michael Graves, and multi-term civic politician Bill McInnis, didn't re-offer in the October municipal elections.

Mitchell thanked McInnis, a retired bank manager who served 20 years on council, for his financial knowledge and experience.

"I think we have the easy job," McInnis quipped, "because the staff prepare us well for everything we do."

He passed along advice to the new members: "Always remember, it's not your money you're spending; it's the taxpayers' money, and you have a fiduciary trust to manage that as best you can - it's critical."

Graves was acknowledged for his two terms in elected local government, along with community involvement and his never-ending slate of positive ideas.

"I know that we're going to see you on committees all across Lunenburg County, I'm sure," Mitchell said.

McInnis and Graves were honoured with presentations following their remarks.

"Bridgewater is a better place than it was four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago, 16 year ago, 20 years ago," Mitchell said. "That is because of the commitment you've had to this community, and the effort you put into serving."

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