Since a new mayor and council took office in Emo around a year ago, they've been working through many government regulations to complete assessments and attract more people to the town.
Mayor Harold McQuaker, who's new to council, said working with MPAC for tax assessments has been difficult and 2020 will be a tough budget year.
“It's hard to get young people into your municipality that can stay and how are the young people going to be able to afford to stay in the municipality with high taxes?" he quipped. "This is a lot of the stuff we're going to address and look at.”
McQuaker stressed that affordability for those who wish to move to Emo and already live there is key to keeping the town thriving.
As well, creating opportunities for businesses and making it financially feasible for them to start up in town is important for the growth of Emo.
“The assessment rates have to be affordable to attract business and young people here and keep them in the community,” McQuaker reasoned.
He told the Times he hopes the provincial and federal governments can assist with funding for various projects.
McQuaker said it's great that the municipality is on the right side of the country's higher levels of government. MPP Greg Rickford told him that he's trying to eliminate some of the red tape and other obstacles faced by smaller municipalities.
McQuaker noted that some of the greatest challenges have been timelines for projects and applications.
“We've got to be able to move quicker and get through the red tape quicker, so that decisions can be made," he reasoned. "There's a short window here to get projects done.”
Meanwhile, roadwork will be an area of focus this year, particularly along Emo Rd.
Replacing water and sewer infrastructure is another objective for the township throughout 2020.
Of the four councillors who serve Emo, there are two incumbents, Warren Toles and Lori Ann Shortreed, while Lincoln Dunn and Harold Boven were newly elected near the end of 2018.
So far, McQuaker said he's proud of the work council has accomplished and is looking forward to achieving more as the term progresses.
“Everybody seems to be pulling together on it and everything seems to be working quite well that way,”
“There's lots of committees and . . . everybody seems to have delved into it now and it's working quite well.”
McQuaker told the Times last year was great for getting all of the new councillors and himself comfortable in their roles.
“2019 was a year to get involved and get a good feel for municipal politics and in 2020 hopefully we can make some changes and make the system a little bit easier for everyone involved,” he explained.
By the start of 2021 McQuaker said the council will be a little over halfway through its term and have a good idea of the town's direction for projects and infrastructure.
All of Ontario's municipal councils will finish their terms on Nov. 14, 2022.