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Last Weeks Question:

Are you concerned that the low price of gas could have a negative effect on the economy?                 

Yes 37% | No 63%

Mayor Strathdee wants public input on budget Deputy Fire Chief proposed

The long process for the Town of St. Marys started this week, with twp meeting being held. Mayor Al Strathdee said that all through the election campaign, and also since the election, people have told him that the Town has to keep taxes down. But he says that “we have to maintain the things that are important to the town”. Mayor Strathdee said that as far as he is concerned the Town has fallen behind on infrastructure “and we have to spend money on it”. As a result the Mayor and Council are seeking input from the public on what is important (or not) to them. In the upcoming budget meetings, time has been allocated for the public to ask questions or make comments. For those who cannot attend the meetings, the Independent has included a question/comment column for people to fill out and we will forward all the answers returned to the Mayor. (please see page 4). At the first budget meeting, Fire Chief Brownlee presented Council with a proposal to hire a Deputy Chief. As far as fire fighting is concerned, Chief Brownlee said that there are three lines of defense, public education and prevention, fire safety inspections and enforcement, and, emergency response. As a result Chief Brownlee said that help is needed for annual inspections. He noted that there are 12 major residential apartments, 12 major manufacturing facilities, numerous businesses not only in the downtown, plus outside the downtown, churches and schools and vulnerable care centres. He noted that time permitting, every residential dwelling should be checked for smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. The decision will be made during the budget process.

Little Falls “Forest School” Receives Grant

Little Falls “Forest School” Receives Grant “Forest School”, a new nature awareness education program at Little Falls Public School, is a recipient of a 2015 Stratford Perth Community Foundation grant. The $4,500 grant was made possible through the Annie and Isabelle Chesterfield Fund – a fund held in trust with the Foundation. “We are very pleased that Stratford Perth Community Foundation has chosen to support Little Falls Forest School. The generous funding will allow us to continue connecting kids with nature and teaching them how they can be caretakers of the environment” said Kendra Martin, Little Falls Forest School founder and grade 2 teacher. “The grant will be used to directly support the Outdoor School part of our program. Community and parent support and enthusiasm for the program have been fantastic, and we’re now being asked to share our ideas and learning with other educators throughout the region.” Now in its second year, Little Falls Forest School provides primary students with daily learning through hands-on experience in nature to teach concepts across the curriculum. The program uses the natural world as the vehicle and the venue for teaching academic, social, and physical skills while instilling respect for one another and stewardship for the natural world. Students get plugged back into nature by taking on local animal names, adopting tree friends, spending reflection time outdoors, building animal habitats, and using natural materials for learning. As a registered, public, non-profit organization created for and by the people of Stratford and Perth County, the Stratford Perth Community Foundation engages donors as community builders — matching donor interests with community needs. Through the power of philanthropy the Community Foundation currently cares for 1.6 million dollars in community assets and has granted over $220,000 to local charities. Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada’s more than 191 community foundations. And for 92 years, community foundations have provided the mechanism for Canadians to invest in community, helping to build strong and resilient places to live, work and play. Community foundations are one of the largest supporters of communities, providing more than $143 million in support of local priorities and organizations in 2012.

McCotter welcomes Liberal environment critic as part of local speaker series – By Dan Rankin

In conjunction with the federal Liberal Party’s winter caucus meetings in London, local Liberal candidate for the Perth-Wellington riding Stephen McCotter recently announced plans to invite several prominent Liberal politicians to the area. The first was long-serving Scarborough-Guildford Liberal MP John McKay, who visited St. Marys Wednesday afternoon and spoke on the topic of the environment to a crowd of people at the Westover Inn. Notable locals in attendance included Mayor Al Strathdee and town councillor Jim Craigmile. In his introduction for McKay, McCotter noted that McKay, originally elected in 1997, had been re-elected five times. His portfolio over the years has included being parliamentary secretary for the minister of finance, chair of the government operations and estimates committee, as well as the Liberal Party’s defence critic and, currently, their environment critic. “Throughout my nomination and since then I’ve talked about how I wanted to put Perth-Wellington on the map,” McCotter said. “To have the Honourable Mr. McKay here today shows that we are on the map, and on the radar of the Liberal Party.” According to McCotter, the environment has become a “vitally important issue” that affects both the province and locally. “You see the cuts to VIA,” he said. “It may save money, but at what cost? Less trains on the tracks means more cars on the road, which means greater damage to the environment… and to have the critic of the Liberal Party here today to speak, to me, means a great deal.” In his presentation, titled “The Impact of Environmental Policy on Canadian Communities and Business,” McKay outlined how one of the five or six key components of the Liberal Party’s platform in the coming election would be the environment. McKay indicated his party’s environment strategy would look into carbon pricing, investment in green jobs, investment in infrastructure such as municipal flood-management capabilities and protecting at-risk species and ecosystems. According to McKay, the image most Canadians have of their naturally beautiful country doesn’t coincide with the reality of the path the Harper government has charted, or with how the rest of the world sees us. “We are on a very bad path and we have to do something,” he said. “So far, the response of the Government of Canada has been ‘we’re not going to take any leadership’… Even Environment Canada, who were probably speaking out of turn, said there’s no chance we’ll meet our emissions targets.” That’s in contrast to leadership on the environment being shown by US President Obama, McKay said, who announced in his recent State of the Union address that America would meet their targets and increase them for 2025, as well as recently announcing climate cooperation with China. “The prime minister’s neglect of the environment has got him in some hot water with president Obama and, up until the congress change, with congress itself,” said McKay. “The Keystone debate has been a proxy debate for failure to be serious about our carbon price emissions… Now the prime minister has decided to blow [Obama] off until he’s got a new president to deal with.” He also answered questions from the audience, including how to go about cutting red tape for renewable energy and how the Liberals would distinguish themselves from the NDP and Green Party on the environment, calling Harper and Mulcair “mirror images” on the issue. McKay admitted that, compared to when he started in the party and Ontario was home to 99 Liberal MPs, his party is in a “diminished status,” but on the heels of what he called the “top quarter ever for the Liberal Party in fundraising terms” he is feeling “really good.” “Some of the people who are on board are very impressive people, like Stephen here,” he said. “I’m hoping you gather around and support him in every way.” McCotter’s Speaker Series continues today, when Liberal heritage critic Stephane Dion will present on advancing Canadian heritage, arts and culture from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm at Stratford’s Pazzo Taverna restaurant.