With an election looming in the fall, Mayor Gord Wauchope still has business to finish in the new year. He’s starting by hosting a South African delegation Feb. 24. Innisfil partnered with the Municipality of Ngqushwa in August 2017, to focus on building inclusive green municipalities program in South Africa. Innisfil staff visited there in October and now it’s the town’s turn to host.
What Wauchope is most excited about is the construction of the health hub on Innisfil Beach Road, slated to begin this spring. “It’s something that is long overdue for this town,” Wauchope said. Launching in the new year is a public fundraising campaign to raise $1 million to support the town’s commitment to the project.
Another project Wauchope hopes to get off the ground is the servicing to Innisfil Heights at Hwy. 400. “We’re hoping to get a staff report in early 2018,” Wauchope said. “When we first made the announcement (about servicing) in 2015, the phone never stopped ringing with people asking when it would be completed.” But with two years of delays, no one is calling any more to inquire about relocating. There are still companies interested in coming,” Wauchope said. In 2016, The County of Simcoe offered to extend its $57 million loan to the town for another two years. “That offer runs out as of Dec. 1, 2018 and by then, there will be a new council,” Wauchope said. The cash is for servicing the lands at Innisfil Beach Road. However, in June, Innisfil council heard the $70-million servicing quote is now at $142 million. “I hope to have something to announce before that money is gone and I have to convince the county to do it again,” Wauchope said. “There’s development that wants to come on board but until council makes a decision, we can’t commit to anything.” While he works on that, Innisfil staff is working with the province on its greenbelt study.
Innisfil has been overlooked in the latest water protection map supplied by the Ontario government. “It’s a kick in the backside for the town to go through this all over again,” Wauchope said. He’s also keeping an eye to the north as Barrie starts construction on the annexed land. “A lot of people keep talking about selling InnPower, but with the annexed land from 2009, the only thing the town received from that deal was the right to service it,” Wauchope said. When development begins, the dividends will start coming to InnPower, he added. “At that time, we’ll see residents’ rates drop.” But what’s not dropping is the cost of wages, with an increase coming into effect Jan. 1. “I know the government says it won’t hurt small business, but it is going to hurt them,” Wauchope said. “All the restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, it affects them so they will either raise prices or go with minimum staff.“ It will be tough for small business people to keep employees.” He hopes it doesn’t reflect in small business closures in the town.
Janis Ramsay, Innisfil Journal, 04/JAN/2018