County council prepares for quadrennial change

By Cecilia Nasmith

This week's final meeting of Northumberland County council before new councillors and mayors are sworn in was occasion for a farewell address by Warden Mark Lovshin – who will also see a replacement as warden sworn in next month.

“As a member of county council for the past 12 years, it has been an enormous pleasure to work with council and staff in pursuit of the county's vision,” Lovshin said.

“And it's been my distinct pleasure to take a leadership role as warden for a second term.”

Highlights of the four-year term that is winding down were shared by Lovshin, chief administrative officer Jennifer Moore and a brief film the staff made.

These include infrastructure projects (like the new shared emergency-services base in Roseneath and a similar one begun for Campbellford), entrepreneurship programs (like The Factory), 29 additional beds for the Golden Plough Lodge, completion of a waste-services agreement with Alderville First Nation that will help the county achieve its goal of 75% waste diversion from the landfill, continuing work with the agricultural community (including the opening of the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre in Colborne) and creation of an affordable-housing strategy that will stimulate the development of public, private and nonprofit rental housing across the county.

As they are related, Lovshin typically tempers his praise of Moore, but not on this occasion.

“Jennifer has been awesome to work with. She doesn't just do her work, she takes a lot of work home with her. And any event I have attended, Jennifer is there,” he said.

He also praised the dedication and professionalism of the rest of the county staff, as well as his fellow county-council members. Given that four of them will not be returning, Lovshin took time in his remarks to say a little something about each of his six counterpart mayors.

Trent Hills Mayor Bob Crate is the rookie of the class, Lovshin said, as he only came aboard last fall to replace his late predecessor Hector Macmillan. “He had to learn a lot quickly, but he never missed a beat,” Lovshin said.

Municipality of Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson was characterized as “a little bit of the oddball thinker of the county council.” His habit of thinking outside the box has resulted in very successful changes for Port Hope, the warden noted.

Alnwick-Haldimand Township Mayor John Logel was referred to as Big John, “the gentle giant of county council, but one of the most personable people I have ever met.” Lovshin's own recommendation is that Logel be chosen as his successor as warden, or at least that he serves a term in the not-too-distant future.

Cobourg Mayor Gil Brocanier is soon to be replaced by John Henderson, but his service goes beyond county council to include two terms as Cobourg mayor, two terms as warden and 21 years on Cobourg council in all. Lovshin called Brocanier the group's Godfather. “You have to be accountable, you have to show results,” he said.

“If you do that, you will be in Gil's good books.”

Brighton Mayor Mark Walas, soon to be replaced by Brian Ostrander, has also served two terms as warden. He was commended for being “the guy everyone in this room knows dresses for the part. He would make Don Cherry proud, no doubt about it,” Lovshin said.

“He's a class act, and probably one of the most respectful toward staff. Staff appreciate all the kind words he says.”

Cramahe Township Mayor Marc Coombs, soon to be succeeded by Mandy Martin, has a county-council record as long as his own, Lovshin said, meaning 12 years of service (including a term as warden). “He can crack a joke or one-liner and has a quick wit about him and a straight shooter.”

As well, Lovshin himself will be replaced by incoming Hamilton Township Mayor Bill Cane.

Their shared focus has been fostering partnerships and delivering the quality services and programming members of the community rely on, Lovshin said.

“As the term comes to a close, I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of Northumberland County staff to extend sincere appreciation for your collaboration and support over the past four years,” Moore stated.

Not only can councillors be proud of their council milestones, she continued, but also their service to the community through the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus.

“You can be confident your efforts over the past several terms have brought this organization closer to its vision of being a best-practices leader.”

Council orientation for the next term is scheduled for Jan. 23, with monthly meetings beginning a week thereafter.

A draft calendar for 2019 was approved, listing regular county-council meetings Feb. 20, March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17, Aug. 28, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18.