Mayor's Top 10 of 2022

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Here is Mayor Paterson's Top Ten of 2022, counting down from 10 to one.

#10 Trails Eyes and Ears: This initiative continues to be a valuable community engagement program. The establishment of the volunteer program in 2019 garnered a lot of public interest and rallied residents after safety concerns were raised during a public meeting. The program is a Hanover Parks, Recreation and Culture initiative in partnership with the Hanover Police Service. Trail volunteers serve as “eyes and ears” on the Hanover trail system. They provide a regular presence on the trails and report trail issues and incidents. This initiative also launched Hanover’s first Police Bike Patrol Unit. As part of the patrol’s mandate, Hanover police have increased their presence along the town’s trails, parks and footpaths. Reports are in and there has been a decrease in graffiti, garbage, vandalism, campsites and fires.

#9 Healthcare: The Hanover and District Hospital is an essential part of the community. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you and a huge shout out to CEO Dana Howes, all staff and physicians and the board of governors at Hanover and District Hospital. Ontario’s health system is experiencing a serious health human resource crisis due to COVID related absences, staff fatigue and burnout. Our hospital is also experiencing this pressure. HDH continues to manage the effects of the pandemic and to keep the ER Department open and operating efficiently.

#8 Award Winning Initiatives: The town has been awarded the prestigious Marketing Canada Award from the Economic Developers Association of Canada. This award is for Brand Identity and recognizes our HIPP initiative, Hanover’s Innovative People Program. Our aquatic centre earned the M. G. Griffiths Cup from the Lifesaving Society of Ontario for the third year in a row for the largest lifesaving program in a community with a population less than 10,000. The Hanover Regional Aquatic Centre opened in 1996 and it has provided Hanover and area residents with the opportunity for physical activity, learn to swim programs, advanced aquatic leadership training and numerous school programs. The pool welcomes more than 75,000 patron visits a year while the P&H Centre has more than 250,000 visits per year. I also want to give a shout out to the Hanover Swim Club. This club started in 2018 with approximately 20 swimmers. Fast forward to the 2022-23 season, the club has more than 130 registered swimmers. This relatively new club was recognized by Swim Ontario, receiving the team award for most improved performances, and head coach Katrina Carter was presented with an award for a volunteer coach who has made a significant contribution to the sport of competitive swimming in her community.

#7 Sports Success for Hanover Teams: The Hanover Barons had an outstanding 2021-22 season, making it to the league final for the first time in 12 years. It was also the first time in 20 years the Barons finished in first place of the division. It was great to see the community support and a “full barn” at the P&H Centre in an exciting playoff run and particularly a division final series that went to seven games. We are all looking forward to the Barons 2022-23 season. Our ringette teams were champions at Western Region Ringette Championships and the Hanover Lawn Bowling Club hosted their provincial championship. In 2021, Hanover council supported a staff recommendation to adopt the Build Back Better Assistance Strategy that provided further rental rate subsidy for our user groups in order for these groups to “build, back, better” after the pandemic. In 2021, approximately $35,000 in rental rate relief was provided to approved user groups, and in 2022 that rental subsidy is estimated to be $43,000. Many of our sport groups are approved for this program.

#6 Development and Progress: Hanover continues to move forward with developments to ensure our community is ready for future growth. We are increasing our housing inventory. The ground breaking at 223 10th Street (former Queen’s Hotel site) has been many years in the making. There is a lot of community excitement regarding this project as the site has been vacant since the building was demolished in 2009. The CIP Tax Increment Grant is a valuable leverage tool which is increasing attainable housing stock. The result is the development of 251 new rental units within three buildings. 11th Street reconstruction from 15th to 17th Avenue was completed, directly in front of The Beer Store. Environmental assessment processes were initiated for the 7th Avenue water tower replacement and wastewater treatment plant future expansion, and the trail bridges replacement EA was completed. Phase I and II of our Business Park has reached capacity and planning has started to develop Phase III north of the Saugeen River. Grey County Official Plan Amendment #11 that included secondary settlement areas on our borders passed. This is a positive step forward in our growth strategy plan.

#5 Playground Retrofits and Parks Planning: Our residents are benefitting from the complete retrofit of two playgrounds – Kinsmen Ball Park and 4th Street Crescent Park. We are thankful for the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation Community Building Fund that provided 100 per cent of the funding for these projects – a $160,000 investment in our community. The success of Hanover’s playground retrofit is the result from more than two years of work by the Hanover Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee. The new play structures include accessible features and graduated levels of challenge to allow all users regardless of age and ability to join in the fun. This same committee is working toward a Centre of Excellence Park development along with investigating the feasibility of construction of a splash pad. An outdoor rink initiative is also planned, and provided Mother Nature co-operates, there will be an outdoor rink at Kinsmen Ball Park this winter. This is a partnership with community volunteers and the Parks, Recreation and Culture staff.

#4 Fire and Rescue: It’s been a year of unprecedented challenges with more than 175 emergency calls to date, which included a bomb threat at the hospital and a major downtown fire. Attracting and maintaining up-to-date trained firefighters is crucial to ensuring response for calls at any time of the day or night, but particularly during day time hours as members are working. Recently a recruitment information night saw the largest ever attendance and application intake for new firefighters resulting in more than 15 applications for up to nine firefighter positions to begin in 2023. There is a new requirement for all firefighters in Ontario to certify for the level of service outlined in the municipal enabling bylaw. Currently we meet or exceed the requirements for our municipality’s firefighting levels. This is due to the fact that HFD was proactive in the establishment of a recruit training program and have been training and testing to standards since 2019. We are very proud that our department is one of few volunteer fire departments that will attempt to be provincially approved to train and certify in four fire specialties. This is such a huge positive for our residents knowing that Hanover firefighters have extensive training and are prepared. A new fire hall is to be built east of 18th Avenue near the vet clinic. Working to take action against climate change it will be a net zero building, meaning the building will produce as much energy as its uses. It is scheduled to be ready for operation by early 2024.

#3 Events Return (or return to “as close to normal” operations since March 2020): In-person events returned to our community and our residents welcomed the opportunity to participate and support existing and new events. The town established an Event Development Fund which supported the start of two new events – Plein Air Art Festival and the Christmas Festival Market – and the growth of three other organization’s events – the Kerry Moore School of Dance expanded their annual recital, Fall Harvest Market and Art Under the Harvest Moon Library Gala. The first ever Earth Day event was successful with engaged JDSS students and residents participating in the “Mayor’s Tidy Town Challenge” community cleanup and recycled art contest. There were 60 bags of debris collected by Grade 7 and 8 students, 25 bags collected during the mayor’s challenge and 20 entries in the recycled art contest demonstrated support for our environment and beautified our community. Some examples of the events that have returned are: The Lions Club Car Show and Duck Race, Hanover Raceway Dream of Glory signature race along with the spectacular fireworks display, the Hanover Fair, Back Porch Events tribute shows at the Civic Theatre and the Rotary Santa Claus Parade. These events build community spirit, bring people together and, in some instances, raise funds for other community projects and initiatives.

#2 Civic Theatre Renovation: It is wonderful to have our arts and culture groups back “home” using the renovated Civic Theatre. This project was two years in the making. The initial assessment of the facility and the health and safety deficiencies prompted a $2.8 million rehabilitation investment. In 1937, a disastrous fire almost completely destroyed the town hall and theatre. We were reminded of this event as the building was gutted during the renovation and its scars were revealed. Initiated in 2021, this project corrected many outstanding deficiencies and required upgrades, most of which are not visible, including: insulation for the improved efficiency and overall comfort of audiences and performers; new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems; a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system; and enhancements to meet accessibility standards. All of this was accomplished while marrying the modern with the theatre’s historical context. The grand reopening event on Sept. 23, during Culture Days, was a celebration of our valued theatres in our community, including the Paramount Theatre, which celebrated 100 years of business in 2022.

#1 Collaboration: Early in the morning on May 19, a fire broke out at a rooming house at 315 10th Street in downtown Hanover. Thanks to the observations by two Hanover police officers on patrol and the brave actions of the Hanover firefighters, police officers and others, everyone was safely evacuated before the buildings were fully engulfed. The Hanover Fire Department and their mutual aid partners battled the blaze throughout the night, resulting in other buildings being spared from significant damage. No serious injuries were reported and lives were undoubtedly saved. During the fire and the days that followed, the outpouring of support, kindness, generosity and patience was on full display from our citizens, businesses, organizations and neighbours. The downtown fire, while an unfortunate disastrous event for our community, highlighted the importance of partners and agencies in our community, particularly in the event of an emergency.

  • Community organizations assisted – Grace United Church jumped into action within hours to provide a safe location for those impacted to gather for food and access to service agencies. The members have an exceptional emergency call tree as their doors were open to assist by 6 a.m.

  • Numerous service agencies were on site to assist. Once I declared an emergency, that activated Grey County Community Services and their resources, which included setting up an evacuation centre.

  • Five fire departments were involved in tackling the fire and preventing further impact to our downtown core. It was an example of the importance of mutual aid and response. Our fire department’s specialized training and equipment made use of the drone to battle the fire, allowing firefighters to focus on the hottest areas. Chief Dentinger noted that his fire team had planned and trained for response should a fire break out in this location. This advance plan and practice was vital to their response and setup.

  • Police – Engaged night patrols allowed for early notification of the fire and was key to ensuring all residents were evacuated safely.

  • Paramedics – Grey County’s Supportive Outreach Service was on site providing wraparound services which included medical care, peer support, mental health and addiction support. This frontline support service continues to be offered in Hanover with bi-weekly clinics.

  • The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office worked hand in hand with our fire department and police service to investigate the fire to determine the cause and point of origin. The fire marshal also assisted both services in determining there was no human loss of life.

  • Along with fire and police, all town departments were engaged in the emergency response, site assessment, assistance, clean up and follow up – Building, Public Works, Parks, Recreation and Culture, Administration, Finance and Library.

 A tragedy like this inspires kindness, connection and a desire to stand together and support each other.

 

Honourable Mention

We don’t always pat ourselves on the back or brag about our actions and activities – we usually say Hanover is progressive which covers all aspects and characteristics of our community.
Hanover showcased its amazing community spirit on December 3rd. To set the stage – on that Saturday the weather started with a downpour and when the rain stopped strong gusty winds developed playing havoc with planned outdoor activities and it was cold!
So what was happening on that Saturday? It was a busy day. It started with a Minor Hockey organized breakfast at the legion and a visit with Santa. The outstanding volunteers working in partnership with the DIA were hosting a Christmas Festival Market in Heritage Square and when the strong winds blew over the patio heaters the decision was made to move the event to the P & H Centre. That sounds easy but just think of communicating with 20 vendors, entertainers, volunteers, town staff, and of course the public. Despite the relocation the market was successful and I am sure the junior choir, the fiddler, and the two groups with musical bells and hand chimes appreciated performing inside. The Rotary Club got everyone into the Christmas spirit with horse-drawn wagon rides at Heritage Square and Santa was available for pictures. While these events were happening it was game day for the Barons hockey team and the Hanover Community Players were performing Oliver with Fagin, the Artful Dodger and the full cast. In the evening the Rotary Club celebrated the holiday season with the Santa Claus parade along with the most spectators I have seen in many years. Main Street was very festive with lights and decorations for the ‘Magic on Main’ contest and Santa made a final stop at the Curling Club for another round of photos. Santa is one busy guy.
Hanover was showing its true community spirit on December 3rd and I was proud.