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January 2015 Winter is Here

Cold weather, snow and sometimes difficult driving conditions have arrived with the New Year. I would like to remind everyone to take extra caution when travelling on our roads or walking through our busy streets over the coming months.

However, you don't have to hibernate this winter. Simcoe County is also home to some of Ontario's top outdoor winter recreation activities. I hope you can find time to enjoy the lighter and more enjoyable side of winter. Personally I have snow shoeing on my radar—nothing is more enjoyable than traversing pure white snow that makes you feel like you're the first person in the world to explore the area.

Now down to County business. If you follow the County on social media (@SimcoeCounty or facebook.com/CountyofSimcoe) you probably know that our new County Council has completed the orientation process and is delving into regular County Council matters, such as our 2015 budget. These are extremely important issues for our residents and I look forward to a busy and productive year ahead.

In other news, I recently attended the Western Ontario Warden's Caucus meeting in London, Ontario. As a combined group of Wardens, we represent approximately 2 million people, across 310 communities. Since this was our first meeting since the municipal elections last fall, we decided to focus on three key areas of municipal/County concern:

1. Interest Arbitration
2. Accountability Act
3. Sustainable Funding for Municipalities

I am personally taking a lead role in developing a paper and move-forward-position on the Interest Arbitration file. The financial impact of arbitrated decisions on municipalities is a deep concern, and I look forward to working with all our partners to find a better solution.

The Western Ontario Warden's Caucus is also working on a Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project. Many of my speeches have focused on securing our position for the next forty years. SWIFT is truly a future-based initiative that would see high speed connectivity available in communities across Southwestern Ontario via a dedicated fibre network. This network could provide farms, small businesses, industrial areas and low density residential pockets in all 310 communities with high speed access. The economic benefits of this are tremendous—I'm totally intrigued.

Sincerely,

Gerry Marshall
Simcoe County Warden