Published: March 17 2016
By Angelica Ingram
Haliburton County Warden and Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt would like to see more collaboration positive attitudes and encouragement spread throughout the Haliburton Highlands.
That was the message she delivered to guests at the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s annual Warden’s Breakfast held on March 15 at the Stanhope Firefighters’ Community Hall.
Moffatt said in her 25 years in the area she has seen an increase in the amount of activities and partnerships that exist however more could be done.
The warden gave examples of poor customer service and negative gossip about local success stories such as Artech’s recent trip to the Emmy Awards as illustrations of what hinders our success as a whole.
“These things are a bee in my bonnet” she said adding that just about everyone who lives in the area is in the service industry. “If we deal with humans we’re in the service industry.”
Moffatt said it’s up to community members to support all businesses and to start thinking differently which will in turn result in a better economy for the Haliburton Highlands.
“Nobody cares about us except us” she said. “There’s room for everyone in the Highlands.”
In municipal politics since 2006 Moffatt has been reeve since 2010 and is currently serving as county warden for the second time.
Moffatt updated local business owners and community representatives on the challenges facing the upper tier of government which include decreasing infrastructure funding and increasing employee costs due to union wages and benefits.
Since the bulk of the county’s operating budget comes from residential taxes it puts a strain on everyone living in the area she said.
Other challenges that face the region include lower incomes and a high seniors population.
One challenge the county has been tackling is the gap in high-speed Internet and cell service within the Highlands.
With the recent broadband project announcement Moffatt said the county is trying to leverage projects to get the best they can get however 16 per cent of the eastern region is still without cell service.
Moffatt said she knows that these services are essential services in this day and age and one of the answers to improving coverage lies in more cell towers.
Other ongoing issues include escalating police costs fewer grant opportunities and government (provincial and federal) dollars.
The warden concluded her talk by encouraging everyone to look ahead positively to the future and the possibilities that exist.
“Let’s get on the bus and find our best selves” she said. “Let’s keep the Highlands on the map.”
The event also included greetings from local MP Jamie Schmale who said the federal budget would be delivered on March 22.
Schmale said the budget could include funding for infrastructure projects and cell and high-speed Internet connectivity.
The next Chamber of Commerce event is scheduled for March 23 Business After Hours to be held at Walker’s Home Hardware. It is a members-only event.
The April Chamber breakfast will be held at Red Umbrella Inn on April 5 and will feature Haliburton County tourism director Amanda Virtanen talking about branding.