By Nancy Kelly
The first of order of business for Berwick’s new town council was to review citizen feedback gathered by candidates on the campaign trail.
“It’s a tradition here to informally report on what we all learned going door-to-door,” explained Don Clarke, who was installed as the town’s mayor prior to the Nov. 13 council meeting.
Joining Clarke at the council table for the first time were new councillors Jane Bustin, Rod Reeves, Preston Illsley and Matthew Redden, incumbent councillor Anna Ashford-Morton and former mayor John Prall, who was elected after stepping down from a 15-year term as mayor.
All were in agreement that policing and tax rates were the top two concerns among the electorate leading up to the Oct. 20 municipal election.
Other issues that dominated doorstep discussion included encouraging more R1 single-family homes in order to attract a younger demographic to town, improvements to the local trail system and more recreation opportunities geared to seniors.
“Consider this discussion the beginning of our priority-setting,” Clarke said, after councillors weighed-in on their campaign experiences. “It’s clear we have some work to do to address public concerns about the current policing project and how we plan to continue managing tax dollars.”
Clarke also reflected on the previous council’s term during “four rough years for the town,” which saw a big hit to the town’s commercial tax base with the closure of Larsen’s, the town’s biggest employer.
“We have come through it well, but now that Eden Valley is here, it is our job to see that the extra (tax) money gets put into the right places. There is no reason to sit on our laurels,” he cautioned.