March 07, 2012

Terry speaks his mind to councillors

As published in The Erin Advocate

When Terry Hryhor sees something around town that is not quite right, he is more than glad to point it out to Erin politicians and staff.

After Mayor Lou Maieron recently urged people to get more involved in municipal affairs, Hryhor made an appointment to speak as a delegation before the regular meeting of Town Council on February 21.

He told the politicians that Erin needs to do a better job of communicating with residents, and of promoting the town as a great place to live and do business.

He wasn't happy with the amount of information on the notice board at McMillan Park, which for some time simply had "Happy 2012" and a request from last fall for people to bag their leaves. Hryhor would like to see that board actively managed as a source for a current community information.

The Town website,, does have a lot of details about municipal business and community events, including various ways to make contact. The What's On section has both an event listing and a monthly calendar view. There are also sections for local Facts, History, Council, Departments, Public Notices, a Photo Gallery, a Community Directory, a Business Directory, and links to documents and to other public agenciess.

Not everyone is in the habit of checking the town website, however, and Hryhor suggested the Town reach out to people by putting more information in The Advocate, and publishing its calendar on paper for people to have handy.

He said there are various unresolved issues where the Town should be actively seeking solutions, noting for example that he first heard the discussion of a truck bypass for Erin village back in 1974.

He would like to see more affordable housing, along with a sewer system that would make it possible. He was surprised to see a country house for rent recently, at $4,000 per month.

"How many condos or apartments or semis have been built in the last 20 years? You could count them on one finger," he said, adding that the Town should promote basement apartments, making the regulations clear for homeowners.

"There was also a suggestion that you were going to try to bring industry to Erin, and if you look around there are several opportunities."

As for community celebrations, he feels the Town leaves too much of the burden on service clubs and other community groups. He recalled the big party at the Erin Village Centennial, but was disappointed see nothing similar on the 125th birthday in 2005. He lamented that, compared to other Wellington County communities, there is very little in Erin for Canada Day (other than the Orton fireworks) or the rest of July.

Erin has "great facilities" that are not getting enough use, noting that Stanley Park (which is privately owned) could be the site of some public events.

He also promoted the idea of a highly visible Farmers' Market (which the Agricultural Society is actively considering).

Hryhor is no stranger to community involvement. As a builder, he developed the Valu-Mart store and plaza. He was on the board of directors at East Wellington Community Services (formerly EWAG) and contributed significant time and materials for renovation of their building at 45 Main Street. In 2008, he was honoured with a spot on Erin's Wall of Fame.

There are many ways to get your opinions, questions or information to the Town. You can phone or email the mayor, councillors, town manager or departments heads. You can write a letter to council, that will appear as correspondence on the council agenda and be available for other members of the public to read – be sure to include your name.

To appear before council, you must fill out a form (by noon on the Thursday before the meeting), stating your purpose – which could be a specific request for action, or simply general information. This enables your issue to be put on the meeting agenda, normally a requirement for anyone addressing council. People make their presentations or present petitions at the start of council meetings, and then can leave if they wish.

Delegations are limited to 15 minutes, but if there are two speakers from a group, each can speak for up to 10 minutes if they have something different to say. Members of council can ask questions of the delegations, but are not supposed to enter into debate with them. Questions from deputations to council are addressed to the chair, normally the mayor.

Sometimes after a delegation is finished, council may vote on a motion related to the presentation. Sometimes they may refer an issue to staff or a committee for further investigation, or they may simply take the information and opinions into consideration for future decisions.