Jane Torrance: Let’s build the community we want to live in
I’ve had the incredible privilege of speaking to more than 1,000 of you as I’ve gone around knocking on doors. With voting opening in just a couple of weeks and with many of you understandably more focused on Thanksgiving dinners and fall activities than on municipal affairs, I want to let you know exactly who I am, why I’m running, and what we can achieve together over the next four years.
My name is Jane Torrance and I’m hoping to win your vote for Almonte Councillor because I want to get back to building the community we want to live in.
Community building takes two things: a vision of what you want to build and the skills and experience to get it done.
As a member of Mississippi Mills Council for three terms (2003-06, 2006-10 and 2014-18) I know how town hall works., and I have represented Almonte with pride. I am well educated in all aspects of municipal decision-making and have participated in dozens of advanced learning opportunities to further my municipal knowledge.
During my tenure on Council, we worked collaboratively to support this vibrant community. We revamped Gemmill Park with a splash pad, skateboard park and play structures and we expanded critical infrastructure like the Almonte and Pakenham arenas, the Pakenham library, and the sewage treatment plant in Almonte in preparation for long term growth. We partnered with the community to create legacy projects like the Riverwalk, the James Naismith statue, and the beautiful Veteran’s Memorial Walkway to honour the men and women who’ve served this county.
I also had the honour of serving as Deputy Mayor, and as chair of the economic and development committee at Lanark County. I served 8 years on the police services board and 7 years on the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority,
In short, I am an experienced Councillor that understands financial management, including the difference between capital and operational budgets, and I am willing to work cooperatively with staff and all council members in an approach that will serve us well in the challenging years ahead.
A vision for the future
Of course, leadership is more than capable stewardship. We also need a vision of what we want our community to be.
Mississippi Mills is part of the fastest growing region in Ontario and that growth needs to be sustainable and strategic to ensure that the benefits are truly shared. It’s possible to grow without losing the charm that makes Almonte special and it’s possible to grow in a way that ensures life here remains affordable. But it won’t happen automatically.
We need to commit to a housing strategy that serves the needs of everyone in our community regardless of stage of life, family size and career path – a true “all ages and all stages” strategy.
We need to commit to an economic development strategy that fosters business growth while maintaining the unique character of small-town life.
And we need to commit to a spirit of collaboration and trust to ensure that our community offers solid recreational services for all residents, affordable access to a swimming pool, a strong hospital, childcare spaces, and excellent schools.
Let’s build together
The last four years have been a challenging and divisive time on many fronts. We know this, and we also know that a spirit of divisiveness has, at times, affected our Council and town hall too.
We know recreation matters but Almonte residents lost access to preferential rates at the Carleton Place community pool when the cost-sharing agreement that had been in place for more than 40 years could not be negotiated.
We know affordability matters. A return to stability, predictability, and measured financial planning and management is necessary to our community resilience. It is possible to avoid additional huge spikes in tax bills. MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) assessments (last done in 2016) will be coming. We will need astute financial management now more than ever.
We know that a vibrant business community matters, but we’ve seen the Community and Economic Development Coordinator leave and not be replaced, and the dissolution of the Community and Economic Development Committee. This is an alarming signal to our many small businesses and their success stories in Almonte over the years.
And we know that our town depends on a strong and stable presence at town hall. A staggering 46 different people have bounced through the16 senior and middle management positions in Mississippi Mills over the last four years. We must restore our reputation as an employer of choice and focus our efforts on stabilizing our council and staff team for growth.
I have been part of this community for 30 years and throughout that time I’ve devoted my effort and commitment to building a better place. In August, I was awarded a Community Builder Award by Mississippi Mills. This represents a starting point, not an end point for my ongoing efforts.
Voter information letters are being sent out shortly and all residents of Mississippi Mills will be able to start casting their ballots online or by phone on October 17. Between now and then I hope to meet many more of you when I knock on your door, but you’re also welcome to contact me at 613-206-0028 or read more about my vision at www.janetorrance.ca.
Let’s build the community we want to live in, Almonte. And let’s do it together.