By John McPhee
Brockton council will have some “major decisions” to make in the next few months that will affect the municipality’s future according to Mayor David Inglis.
“It’s decision making for the future,” Inglis said of the challenges coming in 2013 during in an interview with The WHT during the New Year’s Day Levee at Walkerton’s Branch 102 of The Royal Canadian Legion.
The mayor specifically mentioned the former Brant Central, and Walkerton Public School properties as well as the former Walkerton jail.
All of the lands and buildings are being offered for sale to the municipality – the schools reportedly carry a $500,000 price tag each while the jail is being offered by Bruce County to Brockton for $1.
Inglis said the municipality needs to develop a plan for the properties, if they want to pursue them.
“We can’t be sticking the taxpayers with a $100 (bill) just to keep the jail,” he said. “We need a plan.”
Currently Brockton’s Heritage Committee is looking at various ways to keep the century old building open and a report is due back to council in the near future.
The mayor acknowledged that if council turns down the county’s offer, “they will put it on the market. It’s a nice piece of land in a good location,” he said.
He said council also has to look at what it wants to do with the school properties. “We definitely need to look at it, we have to come up with some plans.”
Reflecting on 2012, Inglis said he was impressed with the development that went on. “It has been a good year for Brockton and the county,” said Inglis, who last month was acclaimed to a second straight year as Warden of the county.
Inglis said he hadn’t seen development and progress on such projects as apartment units and townhouses being built in Brockton “in a long time”.
But last year’s progress will be met with some “serious challenges” in 2013, Inglis said, noting that he’s hopeful the soon to be completed sustainability plan will help “develop a better vision for the community”.
The mayor said it will be important to ensure the ‘Building a Better Brockton’ plan becomes “a living document” and not one that gathers dust on a shelf.
“I want to look at it every three months or so,” he said. “See where we’re at, where we’re going and what our priorities should be.”
Inglis suggested officials will “pull out” a different section at various council meetings during the year.
Much of the direction, he said, will be based on what funding and funds are available at the time.
The financial challenges ahead are also a concern for Mayor Inglis who said the coming municipal budget “will be one of the toughest” to complete, noting assessments have jumped considerably in some areas of the municipality.
“I’ve heard it’s up an average of six per cent and as much as 25 to 30 per cent in the rural areas,” he said.
“We have a responsibility to take some of that hit away from the taxpayers and try to lower taxes in some areas,” Inglis said. “We can’t absorb all of it, but some of it.”
The mayor is hopeful the coming year will bring the same continued growth seen in 2012 and recognizes that the future of a new municipal and recreational complex in East Ridge Business Park will be a hot issue in the coming year. But believes council is on the right track.
“I’ve heard from people on the street and several young families too, that we need this facility. This is the vision they want,” he said.