Live with Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier returns with hybrid town hall December 7

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Published November 16, 2021 at 1:59 pm

The Live with Mayor Collier town hall series returns this December with a focus on COVID-19 recovery and an update on the Ajax strategic plan.

The event will be hosted by Malpack, a stretch film manufacturer which has called Ajax home for more than 40 years.

‘They’ve actually done fairly well through COVID. Their products have been needed and they’ve expanded,” Collier said of Malpack. After recently helping to sponsor the Mayor’s Gala, Collier said the company has been making “more inroads” into being more active in the community. “We figured it was a good match.”

The event will run on December 7 at 7 p.m as the fifth installment in the series, allowing a live Q&A with Collier.

The Mayor described the event as one of the “many ways we reach out to residents” to keep them informed, answer questions, be accountable and transparent. “Just to make myself accessible.”

“I hate to hear people say things like, ‘Oh, we only hear from you at election time. It’s nonsense. If you don’t see me it’s because you’re stuck inside of your house.”

While previous events at had been live in-person, this installment is a hybrid virtual meeting. The last installment, in November of last year, was uniquely online only. Collier was at the St. Francis Center but no residents could attend in person.

He has taken part in multiple other engagement programs since then, but says he’s excited to get back to this format.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has truly been a challenging time for our local businesses and community and I am incredibly proud of how Ajax has come together to support one another,” he said, “As 2021 is coming to a close, I want to take this opportunity to connect with our community to talk about the issues that they care about most.”

Collier says residents bring a very broad set of concerns to these town halls, “We always have the same old people that have an axe to grind and that’s fine. You can ask any question. Sometimes people have questions on developments that are happening, changes that we’re making. Sometimes they ask ‘Why are my taxes this much?'”

With a municipal election coming next year, Collier expects questions about his record over the term, particularly promises made in 2018 that residents may not have seen results for yet.

“People might ask, ‘In 2018 you promised this, why haven’t you done it,’ well we have done it,” he said, adding he is looking forward to showing residents the moves that have been made. “It’s kind of like steering a cruise ship. You can’t just turn. It takes some time.”

Collier said he set out some “very strong” economic development plans and strategies to cut red tape, and roll out the red carpet for business. “We’ve revamped our planning department. We’ve been very successful.”

Collier said people tend to be more understanding of these initiatives after they are over, citing a proposed Multi-Use Path (MUP) in the town as an example. Some in the cycling community were aghast, as they were under the impression they’d lose the on-road paths.

They will, but they’re being replaced by off-road trails along the MUP and Collier said once this and similar initiatives are explained residents tend to be much more accepting. He’s especially proud of Ajax’s cycling infrastructure, which earned a Silver citation from Share the Road.  The infrastructure was cited as an“inspiration,” behind Durham’s Regional Cycling Plan.

“I don’t have an agenda,” Collier says of the series, “We just open it up and we just let it flow kind of naturally.”

While the web page says COVID-19 recovery plans would be a focus of the town hall, Collier disagrees. “COVID is what COVID is. People are pretty familiar with it.”

“I think more we’re going to be looking at the election next year.” he said, “I think we’re going to looking quite a bit at moving forward. We have an incredible amount of development happening in Ajax. I think people are really interested in where we’re going as a municipality.”

“There’s a lot of growth in our town right now,” he continued. “A lot of jobs being created, a lot of investment.” He mentioned the new Amazon warehouse being built in Ajax, plans to renew the casino lease longer term and a push to develop commercial land throughout the Town as examples.

Collier says he expects 20 times the development Ajax has seen over the last three years to take place in a future term.

COVID-19 protocols, including mask, social distancing, and proof-of-vaccination, will be in-place for the live audience. Participants will have to pre-register for one of the limited seats.

Anyone who wishes to view the meeting online can do so through the Town’s Facebook.

 

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