Bain cites teamwork and collaboration as successes for county in final warden’s luncheon

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County Warden Tom Bain championed teamwork, collaboration and the region’s successes during his annual “Warden’s Luncheon” address.

The 11th annual “Warden’s Luncheon” was held last Friday afternoon at the Ciociaro Club with Bain noting there is “a new sense of vitality” in Essex County. Bain said that the area is known for its creativity, innovation, ingenuity and perseverance, and that shows in the unemployment figures. The unemployment rate in the area was 9.4 per cent in early 2015 and said it is now at 4.9 per cent, “one of the lowest in the province.”

The warden pointed out his belief that municipalities don’t create jobs but can create the conditions where economic improvement is possible.

One of the issues Bain addressed was the expansion of energy capacity in the region and “thankfully, this is finally getting addressed.” One issue that is not getting addressed is the expansion of Highway 3 from Essex to Leamington. Bain stated that it is a vital gateway for the shipment of agricultural products and called the widening of the highway “a priority for county council.”

There are also safety concerns with Highway 3 as Bain referenced the volume of traffic that uses that roadway.

“This leads to a number of accidents and, sadly, fatalities,” said Bain.

The county is in solid financial shape, he continued, noting Standard and Poor’s has given the county a AA+ credit rating, the highest possible for a municipality in Ontario.

Warden Tom Bain gestures during his address at the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce’s “Warden’s Luncheon” last Friday. It was Bain’s final luncheon as Essex County warden.

“This long-term financial vision is credited to county council and administration,” said Bain.

Essex County has also been able to control tax increases, he added.

“Over the past 15 years, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) has increased on average 1.8 per cent per year,” said Bain. “Over the same period of time, our county tax rate has increased on average 1.3 per cent per year.”

Those increases come despite $440 million in roadway expansion, $171 million in new trail projects and $100 million committed for the county’s share of the new mega-hospital. The hospital, he added, went through a “fair and thorough” site selection process.

The mega-hospital was one of the examples listed by Bain of Essex County’s willingness to collaborate. He said the SWIFT project, which aims to bring fibre optic high-speed internet to the region, is another example while also noting environmental gains by working with ERCA and economic gains by working with the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC).

Essex County is also bidding to jointly host Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conferences with Windsor up to four times between 2021-24, something Bain said could bring 2,600 and $3 million in spinoff revenue to the region.

Municipalities can’t ignore change and have to work together, he believed, but can control how they react to change.

“In today’s day and age, the way we have been doing business is no longer feasible or reasonable,” he said, touting the benefits of teamwork and collaboration between municipalities.

Bain said he is proud of the work that has been done around the county council table and of the work still to come.

“We have such a good team here,” he said. “The team has worked together on so many things. The results are there and I’m so proud of that and proud of our team.”

In this municipal election year, he advised candidates to avoid the trappings of short-term gains and look long-term.

Bain indicated that while he is not running for another term as warden, he is looking at running for re-election as mayor in Lakeshore. He is the longest serving warden in Ontario, having been in the position since 2010. He was also warden in 1993. Bain has been a municipal politician since 1978, when he was first elected as a councillor in the former Rochester Township.

The luncheon was presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce with Libro Credit Union being the main sponsor.

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