By Jim Barber
Bay of Quinte Living is interviewing all of the mayors elected or acclaimed in the Oct. 27 municipal election to talk about their economic and community development plans for the new four-year term of their councils.
Residents of Tyendinaga Township were obviously satisfied with the job Rick Phillips had done as their reeve over the previous four years – there was no great uproar to unseat him from his post to the point where he ran unopposed in the recent 2014 municipal election, meaning he was acclaimed for another four-year term.
Phillips was first elected mayor in 2010 after serving as one of the township’s councillors before that. He feels the reason that he was unopposed in the vote is that residents approve, in general terms, of the direction the municipality is going and with his leadership around the council table.
“The support comes from our policy to use common sense and to work as a team – both council and staff. I am 100 per cent confident that this will continue,” he told Bay of Quinte Living in an email interview.
Phillips said that township has recently been experienced what he termed “marginal growth” economically, and reiterated his position that for growth to continue, the municipality must continue to operate in a common sense manner and “to work within our means.”
He admitted that to a certain degree all small municipalities need help from the policies and programs put in place and administered by both the federal and provincial governments to help spur on that economic growth in communities such as Tyendinaga Township, and that he and council will continue to pursue those sorts of arrangements and partnerships.
Tyendinaga Township has a population of approximately 4,200 people, spread over 313 square kilometres, the vast majority of which is farmland. It is composed to the communities of Albert, Blessington, Chisolms Mills, Ebenezer, Halston, Kingsford, Lonsdale, Lonsdale Station, Melrose, Marysville, Milltown, Myrehall, Napham, Read and Shannonville, none of which are particularly built up urban areas.
Phillips said because of the primarily rural nature of the township, growth comes in the form of increased residential development and new people moving to the area.
To that end, besides boasting and promoting its placid, slow-paced, natural country lifestyle, the township is working to improve the soft and hard services and community amenities.
“We have a core program to maintain our roads and infrastructure. And we rebuild or upgrade a road or roads almost every year,” he said.
“Our recreational facilities are always improving as are other parts of the community such as the library and fire services, etc. This is attracting people to a rural way of life in Tyendinaga Township.”
Phillips admits that there are challenges to attracting new businesses because of the lack of urban centres, but this isn’t stopping the township from promoting the businesses it does have and asking for assistance and expertise to help attract more.
“We do have many small businesses of various types [which can be found at www.tyendinagatownship.com/businessdirectory.php] and we encourage more. As a small, rural community we are limited, but the County of Hastings is available to provide services in this area if needed.”
The reeve said that tourism will continue to be an important economic development tool for the municipality, because he is convinced that once people get a taste of life in Tyendinaga Township, they will want to return.
“Many people who visit our community to visit friends and relatives, or are here for our attractions and excellent recreation facilities do end up staying here,” he said, adding that families tend to want to stay in the area as well.
“Many second and third generations love their township and also build homes and stay here.”
Phillips also believes that it is in the best interests of the various communities in the Bay of Quinte Region to work together to some degree for the mutual benefit of everyone.
“We should co-operate together and be invited to participate should we choose. We should use all the resources available, including Hastings County,” he said.
It comes as no surprise that Phillips, who is just finishing up his term as Hastings County Warden, loves the community he serves and sees lots of good reasons to live, work and play in the Bay of Quinte Region.
“Our area, and indeed all of Eastern Ontario, is a great place to live and visit. We are all different but the same. We all have things to offer [as communities both] big and small. There are many different things that all of us can offer. I truly believe that people love our township. Why? It’s pride that the community belongs to them and they are involved in making many of the changes to keep life simple, yet still having all they need to enjoy life.”
For more information on Tyendinaga Township, visit www.tyendinagatownship.com.