Year in review – a look back at 2015

The year started off with frigid temperatures, which would linger for many weeks.
Max MacPherson survived a fall into Niagara Gorge, while ringing in the New Year.
Tony Pook and Kevin McCotter made a second appearance on “Dragon’s Den” promoting their “Pook” products, but, still received no concrete offers.
Council approved $10,000 for repairs to the Water Street bridge, which would allow the bridge to be re-opened.
The Town submitted a list of 11 concerns to the MOE in relation to the proposed Green Arc tire company opening. The list includes such items as pollution, storage, fire concerns and the amount of insurance the company such have in case of a disaster.
Matt Staffen and Rick Fifield appeared at Council asking for financial assistance from flooding on the golf course, which they said was caused by Town water. No decision was made.
At the first meeting of the year, Perth South council resolved to act as a partner in a County of Perth grant application to make Perth County an age-friendly community.
The “Save VIA” committee made a successful presentation to Perth County council. Among the items mentioned were a resolution from Council to support the save VIA effort at all levels of government and financial assistance for an upcoming report by Transportation Consultant Greg Cormick to be released in February. The committee also met with MP Gary Schellenberger who offered to speak to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and to VIA, requesting a ridership study.
The long budget process started with Mayor Al Strathdee asking for public input. Mayor Strathdee said that he had heard from people that they want taxes to be kept down, but he said the Town is falling behind on infrastructure “and we have to spend money on it”.
At the first budget meeting, Fire Chief Dennis Brownlee proposed the idea of a deputy fire chief.
Colin Haskett made a presentation to Council asking for a ten-year lease to open a funeral home at the train station. Haskett, who operates funeral homes in Lucan and Exeter, was responding to the Town’s call asking for ideas for uses for the train station.
St. Marys and Area Mobility Service were informed that had received a grant of $91,000 from South West LHIN. The money will be used for a new mobility bus.
Greg Gormick released his Via plan at the train station before a big audience. The plan in pert calls for an early train on the North Line to Toronto and a late train leaving Toronto.
As a result of reduced provincial funding, Perth South initially were looking at a 15.7% tax levy increase over the previous year. However, after cuts were made, this was revised to show a 3.5% increase.
Meanwhile, the Town of St. Marys was looking at a 3% tax increase.
The OPP submitted a new contract to the Town for policing. The amount submitted was $1.32 million, down from $1.5 million the previous year. It was recommended by the Police Services Board to accept this contract for three years but Coun. Don Van Galen proposed a motion for a study of costs to amalgamate with Stratford. This motion was defeated 3-2.
Town CAO Kevin McLlwain resigned from the Town. Bruce Grant will act as interim-CAO until a replacement is found.
In a surprise announcement at the start of a budget meeting, Mayor Al Strathdee said that Town had terminated Town Treasurer David Jansseune and relieved him of his duties, and that there would be “no comment” on the situation. As a result the final budget numbers were to be postponed until April.
Chad Papple, the Town’s Manager of Operations, reported that all the LED lights will be installed within the next two weeks. He said that the new lighting will “achieve about 60% reduction in energy, which will equate to about $1.6 million over 20 years for the town in hard savings from hydro bills.”
Perth South passed budget with a 3% increase.
It was announced that repairs and replacement for the roof at the PRC will cost $673K.
Bill Day was hired as interim Treasurer for the Town, until it was announced that Jim Brown was hired vas the permanent Treasurer. Brown had been Treasurer in 2013.
Two downtown businesses, New Orleans Pizza and “Pastime Consignments”, closed.
Election expenses for the local municipal election were released with Mayor Al Strathdee having the highest expenses at $12,066. In Perth South Mayor Robert Wilhelm topped the list with $2,012.79 in expenses.
The Town hired a consultant for their search for a new CAO. The fee for Nigel Bellchamber & associates was announce as “no more than $18,000”.
A 23-year old male was arrested and charged for vandalism at the PRC and Little Falls School.
The Supreme Court ruled that there will be no prayer said before Council meetings. The Town discontinued the practice.
Mayor Al Strathdee called a public meeting to discuss the future of the Water Street bridge.
Perth South rescheduled a public meeting to discuss possible changes to the ward system for future elections. One idea mentioned was having one ward in place of Downie and Blanshard wards.
St. Marys Ford celebrated 30 years in business.
With approx. 100 in attendance at a public meeting, Council made the decision to not only re-open the Water Street bridge but the bridge will be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation was later postponed until next year.
The Kinsmen announced that the beer tent would be located at the Wobbly Knees tournament as part of the “Summerfest”. In prior years it had been at the Flats.
2000 Inductee to Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Jim Fanning, passed away at the age of 87.
10-year-old Lydia Taylor, held a fundraiser at Little Falls School, with funds to help send a girl to school in Zambia.
Green Arc Tire issued a press release that the company has received a draft Environmental Compliance Approval permit from the MOE.
Over $40,000 was raised for the annual gala for St. Marys Memorial Hospital.
Tom Teahen, then Chief of Staff to Premier Wynne, was the guest speaker for the Rotary Club’s 90th year celebrations.
The Town announced a 2.2% tax increase which would be an average of $74 for each household.
Perth South announced an increase in existing and new user fees for township services including administration and animal control.
Continued next week.