Muskoka’s Mayoral Word - Gravenhurst’s Paul Kelly talks housing, leadership and youth

Paul Kelly

September 30, 2019, will mark 300 days since taking office as the Mayor of Gravenhurst. Prior to assuming the role I was afforded the gift of four months to prepare for this new challenge. In preparation, I scheduled a variety of meetings which included community members and staff. This was a great opportunity to discuss with many the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing our town.

Following these meetings I established some goals for myself during this term of council. Subsequently, these were shared with council, community groups and staff.

GOALS 2018-2022

• Create an atmosphere of Collaboration

•Develop a Youth Council

• Support Economic Development initiatives

• Support Poverty Action

• Acknowledge Achievement

• Promote Arts & Culture

• Address Infrastructure concerns

• Pursue Financial Stability

• Investigate Health Care related issues

Look for solutions to Housing shortage

• Value Community Leadership

Although these goals are lofty and intended to reach some level of accomplishment over four years, we have been able to make some inroads on several over the past ten months.

Today I will focus on three goals that have begun to evolve in a positive direction.

The issue of a Housing shortage was adopted by council as a top priority early in the term and both Gravenhurst  and District of Muskoka are working collaboratively to look for opportunities to address the needs for all forms of housing. A forum took place in the spring and a Housing Task force for Muskoka has been created. The community has a heightened awareness of needs which includes rental and purchased accommodation. There is no easy fix for this problem, however many groups are making a collective effort to alleviate the shortage.

Recognizing Leadership has also evolved over the past several months. Council has taken time at meetings to recognize the achievements of several residents and staff.

We have all learned while out in the community, of many unsung heroes that volunteer or give of their time in many ways that are not always obvious. Many “fly under the radar” and actually shy away from recognition. However, we believe it is important that these quiet leaders are shown some form of appreciation. If you know of an unsung hero, please let us know.

Developing a Youth Council for our community was imperative in order to hear the voices of young people.  This Youth Council has now received official Council Committee status and is well under way to creating some exciting opportunities for the young people of Gravenhurst. The Youth Council has a membership of 20 youth from 12-30 years of age and includes a Council rep, staff and affiliate members from the YMCA, YWCA, BBBS, School Board, etc.  In the spring of this year the Youth Council identified four areas upon which they wanted to focus:

Youth Leadership, Youth Poverty, Youth Well-Being and Youth Employment/Unemployment.

We all look forward to seeing these young people shine over the coming weeks and months.

In an upcoming edition I will review the status of several other goals and specific issues the Gravenhurst Council is addressing.

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