On the horizon
The new North Stormont council has a nice mix of newcomers and veterans to bring the township into a bright future. The inauguration in North Stormont saw friends, family, township staff and supporters welcome the members to their positions of office. Front from left, deputy mayor François Landry and Mayor Jim Wert. Back from left, councillors Randy Douglas, Steve Densham and Roxane Villeneuve.    Sawyer Helmer photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
BERWICK – The new North Stormont council was sworn into office on the evening of Mon., Dec. 3. The ceremony included comments from MP Guy Lauzon representative Adrian Bugelli, North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds and South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis.

The council has big shoes to fill following the departure of long-time council members former mayor, Dennis Fife and former deputy mayor, Bill McGimpsey. New deputy mayor François Landry set the theme for the next four years when he assured that honesty and transparency would be the factors that lead to a successful council; something he learned while serving the previous term.

The new council was on the same page for the most part with immediate plans moving forward. The hiring of a new CAO is the biggest concern for the team. Mayor Jim Wert said finding the right person for the job was paramount. While newcomers Roxane Villeneuve and Steven Densham will be learning the ropes, former council members Wert, Landry and Randy Douglas have their previous experiences to draw on.

“We have to set up the structure so that the CAO has an understanding of their powers and the performance appraisal process; that is paramount. We went through the same process four years ago when we hired a CAO and I learned from that process,” said Douglas.

Other factors to consider in the next few months will be the outcome of the wind mill project, opting in or out for cannabis retailers in the township, and getting council into budget procedures. “The [councillors] are going to be baptized pretty quickly,” said Wert.

With so many decision ahead, the council will have a steep learning curve and have to work together for their township; a sentiment each of the members recognized.

“I’ve got some really great people to work with and I think with Mayor Wert guiding us in the right direction I think we’re going to do some great things in the next few years,” noted Villeneuve after the ceremony.

“There are five of us here to work with the staff so I am confident we’ll be able to settle in very quickly,” added Densham.

Mayor Wert will be leading the charge with Landry at his side. The two recognized their ability to work well together and Landry said it is his intention to support Wert as best he can. While Wert admitted there would be some nerves associated with his new position, he has years of knowledge from his predecessors to rely on.

“I have a lot of respect for the guys that have gone ahead of me. I’ve already warned them that they are not off the hook yet, I’m going to use them as often as I can. I think thats the way the process works,” he said.

Throughout the ceremony on inauguration night, it was apparent that North Stormont has good representation across their communities and has chosen a council ready to work. The members, Wert noted, are positioned well geographically in the township to be able to bring the six communities of North Stormont together as one. “The most important part is that each councillor is going to bring a unique strength. I think we’re going to be really well positioned,” concluded Wert.