Blue Mountain Ratepayers' Association

Update from Mayor McKean

The Blue Mountains Mayor John McKean discusses the year, looks ahead to 2016

Source:  Thornbury Paper, Jon Svec

Following the conclusion of Town of The Blue Mountains Mayor John McKean’s first calendar year in his new role, Mayor McKean sat down with the Thornbury Paper in order to share his thoughts on 2015.

“I think it went well,” McKean said of his inaugural year in the head chair. “Having had those 11 years of experience on Council really did help, because you’re not brought in on issues that you’re not familiar with.”

It was also the first calendar year for the new Town Council as a whole, and McKean feels that, overall, the group has done a good job.

“We’ve had our disagreements, but every Council will do that,” McKean said. “I think it’s worked relatively well. We’ve tried to engage the public a lot this past year, which is a great thing – I think municipalities need to do that.”

When asked about which areas he feels Council could improve upon in 2016, McKean was able to pick up on one area that could possibly be addressed.

“We really do need to follow our bylaws,” he said. “We do a good job of it now, but we shouldn’t deviate from that very much until we’ve actually engaged the public.”

When it comes to specific projects, McKean feels that the Town of The Blue Mountains had a productive year in regards to improving the municipality’s infrastructure.

“The west end improvement in Thornbury here has gone really well. They had great weather for it,” he said. “One of the other projects that we completed this year was the landfill expansion, and that was a huge job that a lot of people don’t see . . . The landfill project, I think, is going to be a real bonus for this municipality for the next 20 years.”

One issue that has repeatedly come up in Town Hall recently has to do with the future of the municipality’s signage – though this discussion tends to touch upon a wider philosophical question about the town’s identity as a whole.

“I think that a lot of existing residents, and people that have moved here recently, came for a particular reason – and it’s because of the feel of the place, and the look of the small town,” McKean said. “I think we need to really get a handle on our small town identity, and our agricultural heritage as well . . . You can go see skyscrapers anyplace.”

dam2Looking ahead, there are a number of new and continuing projects on the Town’s plate for 2016, though Mayor McKean was able to pick out a couple specific initiatives he is keeping an eye on.

“One of the things we’ve done, and it’s going to start taking place next week, is the lowering of the dam to see if we can make some headway with this frazil ice. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that goes,” he said. “One of the other big projects for 2016, as long as the tender numbers come in acceptable, will be the 33rd Sideroad and 10th Line.”

Another project that Mayor McKean will be keeping tabs on in 2016 is the study regarding the downloading of Grey County Roads to the municipality – part of a wider issue regarding Blue’s relationship with Grey.

grey road1“The big issue is trying to get a little better deal for the Town of The Blue Mountains from the County, and in turn being able to drive our economy here to help Grey County – I think that’s going to be one of the main focuses,” he said.

As for community involvement, McKean feels that The Blue Mountains is more active than many of its neighbours in this particular regard.

“The community is really engaged here – I think far more than most municipalities in Grey County,” he said. “You go to a County meeting or go to meetings in a lot of other municipalities, and you don’t see the resident input that you do here. I think it’s one of the highlights of being here.”

And when asked about whether or not he, as the mayor, has any New Year’s resolutions for 2016?

“Just keep working at it – I think that’s all you can do,” he said. “There will be issues that come up this year that we weren’t even able to foresee, I’m sure.”