By Jenn Watt
Jan. 9 2019
Now that we’ve said our goodbyes to 2018 with all of its ups and downs it’s time to look forward to the year to come. 2019 will provide puzzles for our local political representatives and require much energy from those working to create new projects to better our community.
Here are a few stories to follow in the year to come.
Housing – This fall we learned there are plans for both a retirement facility and a student residence in Haliburton village. Gardens Retirement Development Inc. came to Dysart et al council at their Sept. 24 meeting to discuss their plans for the property at 1 Sunnyside St. at the former college property. Council was highly receptive to the idea which has been long-awaited for those wishing to remain in the Highlands as they age.
In November we also heard that Greg Bishop has plans to construct student housing for Haliburton School of Art + Design. The property is near Glebe Park and would be an easy walk or bike ride to the campus. Just like retirement housing the lack of student housing has been identified as a barrier to growth not only for the college but for the Highlands in general.
Creation of these two types of specialized housing will free up rental units throughout the community hopefully making it easier to find a place to live in a market with a dearth of supply.
Youth hub – Work is underway to get the new Haliburton Youth Wellness Hub building ready for the youth of the community. Grant funding allowed a partnership between Point in Time and Haliburton Highlands Health Services to come together to purchase the former Lighthouse church on Dysart Avenue in Haliburton just down the street from the arena and new skate park.
It can’t be overstated how important it is that this project succeeds – and grows. Right now there is limited programming taking place as the space hasn’t been fully renovated. However once it’s operational the hope is that the hub will give young people a safe place to go outside of school and organized sports.
Students (and their family friends and supporters) have been the engine behind the movement to create the space and Point in Time and HHHS staff have thrown considerable energy into finding funding and organizing the project. In 2019 they will need our financial and moral support as they push to make the youth hub a reality.
New councils – Even local councils that saw few new members join the table following the October election still have made considerable changes and are looking to tackle difficult topics in the coming year. In Highlands East there is a new deputy mayor: Cec Ryall. In Dysart et al Andrea Roberts is the new mayor and Pat Kennedy is deputy mayor. The county’s warden Liz Danielsen has taken on the role for the first time. Providing more public transportation will soon be discussed at the county level. We will need more action from all of them on climate change mitigation and action. And all of the councils are facing potential funding cuts from the provincial PC government. How our new leaders handle new pressures will be interesting to watch.