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Thursday, August 11, 2022
‘Time to smell the roses,’ Arsenault drops out of council race
Coun. Norm Arsenault has decided that, at 72 years of age, he has worked enough and looks forward to his fourth retirement.
Coun. Norm Arsenault has decided that, at 72 years of age, he has worked enough and looks forward to his fourth retirement. Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

After briefly entering his name in the running, Coun. Norm Arsenault has decided to withdraw from the upcoming municipal election.

“I found myself working on Saturday and Saturday night and I thought to myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’” The 72-year-old Arsenault said during an interview on Tuesday.

Arsenault said, while he has loved his time serving the town, he has a strong work ethic and has found his involvement in municipal affairs to be “all encompassing.”

“I thought, you know what, at this stage in my life I’m not sure I want to do this anymore. I had to take a good introspective look at what I was doing and I didn’t like where I ended up,” Arsenault said.

“So, it was time to take a step back and retire for the fourth time,” he said with a laugh. “It’s just time to stop and smell the roses, as it were.”

Arsenault is proud of council’s accomplishments in the last four years and says he is happy with the legacy he will leave.

He cited the tree bylaw, the town declaring a climate emergency, the creation of the environmental advisory committee and the grinder pump resolution as some of his accomplishments.

But he was particularly proud of how council has moved to address the problem of short-term rentals.

“We brought in large fines and made it illegal to operate without a licence, illegal to advertise without a licence,” he said.

He also touted the implementation of the Administrative Monetary Penalty System and oversight from Granicus Host Compliance as giving the municipality the tools to monitor and enforce short-term rental bylaws. Tools that were previously lacking.

“In the previous seven or eight years (before AMPS) there was only one charge brought against short term rentals,” he said.

He said since the AMPS system came into effect last September, there have been more than 50 charges laid against short-term rentals and 90 illegal rentals identified and either shut down or brought into compliance.

“So, it’s made a big difference.”

He also said he is proud of the implementation of the municipal accommodations tax.

He said running the town during the pandemic proved very difficult and exhausted council, staff, residents and business owners alike.

Finances also dropped like a rock and the audit and finance committee were just trying to “keep our heads above water,” he said.

Arsenault said the biggest disappointment by far was the delayed implementation of the new official plan.

“Hopefully by September, maybe October at the very latest, we should be able to finish the (official plan) and put that into place.”

Arsenault is looking forward to putting his feet up, playing some guitar and travelling.

“I’ve been looking at the Azores. It looks like an awfully interesting place.”