By Bill Jackson
CAMBRIDGE – Pomp and circumstance ushered in a new term of city council this past Tuesday (Dec. 2), and following oaths of office, Mayor Doug Craig delivered his inaugural address, pushing an “aggressive” and “transformative” agenda to move Cambridge forward during the next four years.
“We need to deal with the traffic problems we have in our communities, especially on the 401, in our downtowns and in our neighbourhoods,” he said.
Working with provincial and regional governments to bring GO trains to Cambridge and build a southern bypass road is paramount for Craig, who reiterated plans to move forward with streetscaping projects in Hespeler and Preston cores, and transform Galt’s former post office into a digital library.
Craig also hopes to see the expansion of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, which is proposing a new program he believes, will draw business to the city.
Additionally, the mayor, entering his fifth term, wants to see council play more of a role in addressing women’s issues.
“I suggest we make a capital donation of $25,000 to a place called Haven House over a number of years to help with its construction,” Craig said, alluding to the expansion of the local women’s shelter.
He also stressed the need to address the Riverside Dam in Preston by first finding out if it can be replaced.
“What can we do to reflect the wishes of that particular community?” he asked rhetorically.
It’s “aggressive” and it’s “doable,” new Ward 3 Coun. Mike Mann said of Craig’s agenda.
Mann liked the “three-pronged approach” to move away from what the mayor termed “who gets what” in each of the city’s core areas.
“We’re bringing the community together,” Mann said.
New council members said they were encouraged by what Craig had to say, including his agenda to get people back to the river with beautification and bridge lighting.
Ward 2 Coun. Mike Devine agrees that riverbank cleanup and improving access to Hespeler’s Mill Pond is greatly needed.
Ward 6 Coun. Shannon Adshade was excited about plans to look at the construction of a new multi-use sportsplex.
Yet, while new Ward 4 Coun. Jan Liggett supported most of what Craig had to say, she stressed council still hadn’t been asked its opinion.
“It’s called the mayor’s address for a reason because it’s about his hopes and wishes and dreams,” she said.
Liggett hopes to keep spending to a minimum to pay for much-needed infrastructure that she says is falling apart due to neglect.
Though Craig says more funding is needed from upper levels of government, Liggett said the city can’t depend on it and must pace itself when setting its priorities.
“It’s no different than a household,” Liggett said. “You hope you get a raise, but you can’t expect it.”
During his address, Craig also broached the idea of holding city council meetings on Tuesdays instead of Mondays, thereby allowing more time for the public process and preparation.
All four new councillors will get the lowdown on the inner workings of city hall through a series of meetings during the next two weeks – the first entitled “Municipal Politics 101” that gets underway today (Dec. 4) at 2 p.m.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of council will take place Monday, Dec. 15.
Regional council, including newcomers Karl Kiefer and Helen Jowett of Cambridge, will be sworn-in next week.