December 24, 2014

Town seeks Economic Development volunteers

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erin’s new Town Council is appealing for participation from all sectors of the community as it establishes an Economic Development Committee.

Bob Cheetham, the Town’s Economic Development Coordinator, presented the Terms of Reference (TOR) to councillors on December 16, and they gave unanimous support.

“This has got to work,” said Councillor Matt Sammut. “I’m really hoping our community steps forward and we get some really good economic minds that are passionate about this. We need our economy to not only stabilize, but revitalize.”

The committee will help create an action plan and be dedicated to the “economic well-being and future prosperity of the community”. Principles will include enhanced quality of life and “responsible and sustainable growth”.

Councillor Jeff Duncan noted that the local economy consists of residents and businesses, not the Town.

“The government can’t make this stuff happen,” he said. “We can facilitate and try our best to get things to happen, but we really do need some good people to really drive this and make it successful.”

Councillor John Brennan, who has represented Erin at the Wellington County Municipal Economic Development Group and Hills of Headwaters Tourism, said the timing is right for this initiative, with opportunities to leverage funding from various sources.

“What starts out as a relatively modest investment by the Town grows into something that can really make some great change. We’re never going to get a better opportunity,” he said.

Specifics of the mandate include marketing the Town as a destination, enhancing growth in specific sectors, identifying new trends and looking for partnerships.

Cheetham said the TOR follows the general principles of several others he has been worked on, and of earlier consultations in Erin. Calls for expressions of interest will be advertised in local media, and the TOR is available at

“The make-up of the committee is sectoral, with broad-based representation from the community, which is important if you are going to have good collaboration and a bottom-up approach,” said Cheetham.

Although he’s only been on the job for a month, he says, “This is a community with a heart. I’ve seen that. It’s got all kinds of potential. The assets are there. They just need that vehicle to move them forward. And we’ll be coming back to the rest of you in the community to be part of that.”

Mayor Al Alls noted that County Councillor Pierre Brianceau has a seat on the County Economic Development Committee and that the new Warden, George Bridge is a strong supporter of the process.

Members will be appointed to the Town committee by a vote of council. Prospective members will fill out an application by January 15, where they will indicate their interests, experience and priorities. Those will be reviewed by Town staff, who will make recommendations at the next council meeting on who should be appointed.

Initially, one member of council will be appointed as the committee chair. The normal term of committee membership will be three years. The meetings will be open to the public.

The committee will have no binding authority, but will advise and assist council. They will report to Chief Administrative Officer Kathryn Ironmonger or her designate. They will normally communicate to council through staff, but may appear before council as a delegation.

They will be expected to seek consensus and normally the majority opinion would be communicated to council. On matters of significant disagreement, the chair will have the option of reporting minority positions to council.

The committee will have up to 14 members and the Town hopes to include representatives of commercial and industrial businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Improvement Area, agriculture, the equine sector, recreation, culture, tourism, education, health care, information technology, social services and youth (18-24).