EDITORIAL: Experience around the horseshoe will be key in guiding County through next four years

In the end, those pining for a whole sale change at Shire Hall on Monday night after the (delayed) election results were put on public display were left cold.

The want for new faces in the halls of power is natural, particulary when global issues like physician and affordable housing shortages are compounded with local issues such at the County’s water rates. Those who wanted to see different faces at Shire Hall for the upcoming term may be disappointed now but if we circle back in four years, a council with experience might not have been the worst option for the electorate.

Your humble scribe has worn a number of hats in this community and one of the more recent ones was as a volunteer executive member with the local minor hockey system. As many folks know, minor hockey in Ontario is taking a beating after the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with the 2020 playoffs and the 2020-21 season that really wasn’t. Declining enrolment in programming has left the Ontario Minor Hockey Association with some very tough decisions as smaller associations try to hang on with less and less critical mass year-over-year.

In some areas, the issues facing smaller associations have been enough for the OMHA to create a regional representation hockey model with local league (house league) the only option being offered locally. For example, Stone Mills hasn’t offered rep programming for some time and the players and parents who seek those higher opportunities wind up playing for Napanee or Frontenac.

Should local programming here fall below a certain threshold, it’s not out of the realm of possibility the OMHA could create Quinte Region Red Devils program where players from the County, Belleville and maybe Quinte West tryout for AAA, AA and A teams with PECMHA offering local league hockey only. So what exactly does provincial hockey reorganization have to do with the upcoming term for the newly elected council of the County of Prince Edward? Well, there’s a certain word that starts with the letter A we are very loathe to bring up but is it not out of the realm of possibility amalgamation 2.0 could be upon us if we can’t stand together and solve the issues within our control?

How much longer are the County’s infrastructure woes- roads, water and wastewater- going to be harangued here, there and everywhere before the Government of Ontario really starts to examine the potholes and pitfalls in Prince Edward and wonder if linking up with a neighbouring municipality and creating a new regional government wouldn’t be the best course of action for a rural community of 25,000 that has a crumbling road system and multiple waterworks systems it can’t quite afford?

Wasn’t efficiency and the strength of an “all for one” approach not pitched in the local township halls in the late 90’s?

If you’re a glass half full person, there’s good news on the horizon. Houses are starting pop up around Picton and Wellington and the government of Ontario announced late Tuesday it was undertaking a bold strategy to build 1.5 million homes in the next decade.

]More water and waste water customers and an increasing municipal tax base could be the salve for rankled tax payers who look at their water bills and road conditions and wonder what they did in a past life to ever deserve this fate. It isn’t just hyperbole that the next four years are critical to the future of Prince Edward County and there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve for the folks that will serve in municipal government and be tasked with making critical and bold decisions almost immediately.

Maybe your candidate of choice didn’t win election to a seat on Monday evening but, moving forward, council’s success will be our success and here’s betting an experienced council and mayor will be the key required to pilot our community through the dark and rough patches of the next four years.

-Jason Parks

PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY

On September 17, 30 entrants enjoyed a fun-filled day while riding for a cause at Hadherway Farms Sandbanks Hunter Hack Show and raised $3,200 that will support the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s (PECMHF) Back the Build campaign. Equestrians ages six to 50 donned immaculate riding regalia and presented gleaming horses with intricately braided manes and tails, wowing spectators as they showed off their best skills. Later, these determined riders could be seen with beaming smiles and armfuls of fluttering multi-coloured ribbons. Pictured at a recent cheque presentation are (From left) Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation; Barb Kennelly with Eve; Sandra Karaz, owner of Hadherway Farms; Gaye Attwood with Felix and Nancy Parks, Back the Build campaign chairperson. (Briar Boyce photo)