Sell hydro, buy Rolph Street: Lessif

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‘Sell Tillsonburg hydro and buy Rolph Street Public School for stand-alone municipal offices.’

Mayor John Lessif refused to be pinned down on whether he will seek re-election during the 2014 mayor’s levee Sunday afternoon at the Annandale National Historic Site. But that didn’t mean the event was without statements of significance.

“I am running,” Lessif smiled at a well-attended event’s conclusion. “I just haven’t decided which way.

“I got elected for four years, not three,” Lessif added, citing ‘a lot of work to do’ in the remainder of council’s current mandate. “At this point, I want to stay focused on business at hand, rather than whether I will seek another term.”

Lessif outlined two of his major priorities in that ‘business at hand’ during a brief address to the assemblage, the two named in the headline and the story’s opening sentence.

The first comes in awareness of what Lessif says is a provincial trend toward consolidation of electrical distribution companies to ‘five or six.’ A number of municipalities in the area have already made the decision to sell, Lessif continued, and have made or are in the process of making agreements to do so.

“I have concern if we wait too long to get on with the sale of our electrical distribution company, we risk not receiving the value we should be receiving and possibly a premium on top of that,” he said.

“And on top of that, risk being told who we have to sell to.”

Lessif’s second priority is for a free-standing, entirely-contained municipal building.

“We don’t have the identity many communities have in a stand-alone office.”

The fact the current location at the Town Centre Mall is not large enough to contain all town staff means fragmentation around the community says Lessif, and some inefficiencies. Rolph Street Public School is a building with great location along with both considerable historical significance and future potential, said Lessif. The structure would require considerable renovation, the mayor continued, as well as a partner to share in more available space than the town would require, but is definitely a structure of interest from his perspective.

“Rolph Street School will be available for us to take a look at once the school has closed.”

Members of council including Brian Stephenson and Mel Getty were also on hand Sunday to take in the mayor’s statements in between mingling with levee participants.

“It was good, well turned out,” said Getty, noting representation from the business and broader communities, along with family members. “Two hours that went by real quick.”

Getty essentially reiterated Lessif’s line on consistent priorities, regardless of whether it’s an election year or not.

“We are elected for four years, this is the fourth year, so we’ll do our work in the first like we did in the first three.”

But Getty was more forthcoming on his plans.

“Yeah, I’m going to run again,” he confirmed. “Haven’t filed the papers yet, but I am running again.”

Getty has enjoyed his council experience, he said, and hopes to continue.

“And I think I can partake of it in a positive way.”

Councillor Stephenson is also focused on business at hand.

“We’re elected to do a job ‘till the next election,” he echoed. “That’s what we’re working on now.”

The veteran member of council is however aware 2014 is an election year, indicating he will ‘probably’ run, although adding with a laugh, once a person says ‘probably’, assumptions are made.

“I’m leaning that way,” he clarified, of a community responsibility he definitely enjoys. “Not all the time,” he concluded with a laugh, “but certainly overall.”




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