Call for a Retroactive Moratorium on School Closures
Council voted to support a letter from MPP Jeff Yurek urging the Ministry of Education to revisit its decisions to close Sparta, Springfield, and New Sarum schools in light of the decision to overhaul guidelines used to review schools for potential closures and halt all new reviews. As these guidelines are now under review and have been deemed too flawed to use in decisions going forward, it is Council’s belief that they were also flawed when they were used to rationalize the closures of Sparta, Springfield, and New Sarum.
Elgin County Hires New CAO/Clerk
After a national search, County Council has hired an experienced and skilled government manager to lead the County government’s administration.
Julie Gonyou has accepted the position of Chief Administrative Officer/Clerk, bringing with her many years of exemplary public service, project management and leadership experience. She will start at the County on September 5th, 2017.
Ms. Gonyou has deep roots in Elgin County as she was born and raised on a family farm in Central Elgin. With a diverse career in both rural and urban settings, she brings a wealth of experience from her senior management positions at both the London Public Library Board and the County of Middlesex.
“Julie has great academic credentials, which include two Masters degrees as well as an incredible energy and passion for County government and administration. Her demonstrated innovation in leading numerous special projects and engagement of community stakeholders really impressed me,” said Warden Grant Jones. “Her communication skills, social media savvy, and progressive thinking will be very helpful as we continue to effectively deliver important services throughout our County.”
Ms. Gonyou commented “I am thrilled and thankful for the trust that County Council has placed in me. I look forward to working with Council and the outstanding senior management team at the County of Elgin as we continue to provide exceptional services to our residents.”
This leadership role materialized when the current CAO Mark McDonald announced he would be retiring in the fall of 2017. To help with the transition, Mr. McDonald will step aside in September to work on a number of special projects and to assist Ms. Gonyou as she embraces her new role.
International Plowing Match Scholarships Awarded
Elgin County Council awarded the 2017 International Plowing Match (IPM) Legacy Scholarship to Ms. Yasmine Farhan of St. Thomas and Mr. Bradley van Kasteren of Malahide Township.
The program was originally launched by a committee formed by Council, staff and members of the 2010 Elgin County IPM to assist County and City students with their agriculturally-related studies.
Ms. Farhan is pursuing a PhD in Plant Agriculture from the University of Guelph and Mr. van Kasteren is entering the Master of Science program in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo.
(Duncan McPhail, 2010 IPM Committee, Warden Grant Jones, Bradley van Kasteren, Yasmine Farhan)
Engineering Services for Wonderland Road
Spriet & Associates was selected through an RFP process to undertake Engineering Services for the reconstruction of Wonderland Road in 2019. Services will include complete design services, full-time construction inspection, and contract administration services.
Ride Across County of Elgin (RACE)
Council voted to host a new cycling event in collaboration with the Railway City Cycling Club and in support of the United Way. The event is called Ride Across County of Elgin (RACE) and will be held on September 24, 2017 with the Elgin County Administration Building as its starting point. The Warden will sponsor a Yellow Jersey competition to further encourage participants to fundraise for United Way. The Yellow Jersey will be awarded as a thank you to the person who raises the most money.
Bill 68 The Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, 2017 will make a number of changes to municipal legislation. Elgin County will primarily be affected by changes to the Municipal Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The Chief Administrative Officer presented Council with a summary of changes that will affect policies and procedures at the County of Elgin, focusing primarily on changes related to codes of conduct, conflict of interest, the role of the integrity commissioner, and municipal representation.
The full presentation can be found in the July 11, 2017 Agenda Package.
Recent Archival Acquisitions
The Elgin County Archives presented a report to Council outlining recent acquisitions and initiatives. Highlights of the report included the acquisition of the Ken Verrell Collection and the digitization of a series of Township Survey Plans from the Archives of Ontario. The Ken Verrell Collection includes several thousand items including correspondence, lease agreements, maps, plans and drawings related primarily to the Michigan Central Railroad and the London & Port Stanley Railroad. The Township Survey Plans from the Archives of Ontario are being digitized and published online. This collection includes 33 original maps created between the 1790s and 1850s, documenting allocation of land to settlers in areas of Upper Canada now located in Elgin County. This project was made possible by a generous donation from the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
2016 Annual Report
The Director of Financial Services presented the 2016 Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements. The annual report included information on the continued success of the Elgincentives Community Improvement Plan, the reconstruction of Dexter Line and Miller Road, completion of renovations to the Belmont Library, the hiring of an in-house County Solicitor, approval for the construction of the Elgin County Heritage Centre, and the launch of a new tourism promotional video.
The full report can be found in the July 11, 2017 County Council Agenda Package.
The full July 11, 2017 Elgin County Council Agenda Package and Minutes from previous meetings can be accessed here.