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Niagara Falls
Friday, March 31, 2023
Council’s four years ends with a long goodbye
Town council meets for the last time, on Sept. 26. Evan Loree

With three retirements and a long, hard-fought campaign wrapped up, Niagara-on-the-Lake council will have a new look after Monday’s election.

The outgoing council’s final meeting was a time for a bit of reflection as Couns. Norm Arsenault, Clare Cameron and John Wiens all prepared for life after their stints on council.

“I’m really proud of this council and every member on it,” said Lord Mayor Betty Disero.

She said she regrets nothing of the “adventure,” but she hopes to be part of the next one as well when the new council holds its inaugural meeting in November.

Couns. Allan Bisback, Gary Burroughs, Wendy Cheropita, Sandra O’Connor and Erwin Wiens all hope to join Disero on the new council. 

Several committees came to council with their final reports and chief administrator Marnie Cluckie presented a report of the town’s accomplishments over the last four years.

Some of the town’s modernization efforts will be ready next year, she said, including e-permitting, which she expects to launch early in the year, and online zoning, which won’t be ready until the fall of 2023.

Cluckie said the e-permits especially will “help our business community, our residents who want to expand and help our staff to be more effective and efficient.”

Town treasurer Kyle Freeborn said there has been an uptick in the town’s overall financial health.

The town’s reserves are trending up since 2019, reaching a “historic high,” he said.

Erwin Wiens said that while the town “may be in a healthy situation,” things may be less “rosy” than they appear.

Wiens worries there is still much to pay for after council decided to delay some projects, including the reconstruction of the town’s estimated 18,000 culverts.

A culvert project on Simcoe Street was among those put off by council.

“There was still a couple more years lifespan on the existing culvert,” said Disero, adding that the town decided to repair a culvert on Mississagua Street instead.

After a long meeting, the councillors said goodbye to those not running for re-election. 

Cameron gave thanks to her fellow council members in turn, affectionately describing Erwin Wiens as “the happy contrarian.”

Bisback thanked his fellow council members as well.

“I am more enriched now at the end of four years,” he said, adding he learned a lot in his first term.

The council had its disagreements, Bisback said, but “when we walk out, we still walk out as a unified team.”

The meeting came to a close in the waning hours of the evening on Sept. 26 with a recorded vote to adjourn and a chorus of quiet cheers from the “class of 2022,” as the lord mayor referred to it.

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