Council candidate Mark Willmer sees great potential for the Township of Madawaska Valley. He recently spoke with The Madawaska Valley Current at his home overlooking Lake Kamaniskeg about his vision and campaign.
The Township of Madawaska Valley is a great place to live and work, and it has a lot of possibilities, but we have to keep things moving. We can’t miss any chance to improve governance, actively search for economic opportunities, and find creative ways to retain services and keep taxes as low as possible.
Willmer has extensive municipal experience as a councillor and a municipal employee having served as councillor for the town of Arnprior for 21 years and having worked for other municipalities for 30 years. He started as the pool manager in Arnprior; moved on to the former City of Nepean to co-ordinate arts, special events and recreation facilities; and eventually retired from the City of Ottawa in the role of strategic analyst in the city manager’s office. He feels these experiences, the knowledge he has gained and his common-sense approach are relevant. He would like to put them to work for all the citizens of TMV.
I would like to do the best job I can for the community. I love living here and I feel I can help by providing new ideas and new perspectives. I am a positive, people-person and I am committed to meeting people and hearing what they have to say.
Given his political and work experience, Willmer understands the importance of good governance: “Council governs and staff run the day-to-day operations. Staff have the expertise council needs and an effective and positive working relationship is essential.” Willmer is glad to see that a new CAO whom he thinks understands these separate roles and how they mesh for the good of the municipality, is settling in to her important role. “That guidance will make things easier for the new councillors and especially for the next mayor,” he said.
Willmer also feels careful decisions must be made around the issue of closed meetings. While some items which are sensitive and private must be discussed in camera, others are best dealt with publicly.
It might be easier to discuss them in a closed session, but so many problems can be avoided, and public trust can be enhanced, if the public receives as much information as possible.
Mark Willmer feels TMV’s strengths — its people, its beautiful natural environment, and its unique culture — provide for a great quality of life. Planning for the future is essential to maintain this. Specifically he feels that TMV must find a way to check the outflow of young people, bring new residents to the community and promote the area as tourist destination and a place for business.
Eco-tourism and eco-industry are two things we should be promoting, but we also have to recruit medical professionals, young people and families, and encourage people to work in trades and services.
Willmer maintains that the quality of life in TMV is a delicate balance, but the municipality must seek and take advantage of opportunities. Fiscal responsibility is important, and basic services are a start, but he wants to find ways to bring people here and keep them here.
I am offering my time, experience in strategic planning, knowledge of municipal affairs and roles, team-building strategies and positive attitude to represent everyone in the municipality. I love living on Mask Island, it’s nice to be close to Barry’s Bay, but when people ask me where I live I always say “I live in the Madawaska Valley” because that is my community.