Year-end reflections from Southern Victoria Mayor Cindy McLaughlin

by | Jan 19, 2024

Mayor looks back on 2023, and forward to 2024

Before the New Year, the River Valley Sun contacted elected officials in our coverage area to reflect on the past year and look at plans and challenges for the coming year. 

Here is Southern Victoria Mayor Cindy McLaughlin’s response to our question regarding her community:

RVS: What were the council highlights in 2023?

CM: Navigating the transition between being a small village to the new combined Southern Victoria

— 2023-2026 Strategic Plan Development – 6 Key Focus Areas – Healthcare, Public Safety, Economic Development and Tourism, Green Initiatives, Municipal Services, and Capital Asset Management.

— Development of a Solar Project in the industrial park.

— Approval of funding for flood mitigation to raise the Andover Well House, water and sewer line extension, and development of a new municipal building out of the flood zone area.

— Approval for funding to support housing support for VGM staffing.   

— Support for amazing special events such as the Hullabaloo Music Festival, Scots Festival, Tough Muck Competition, Winter Fest, and the Dam Run.

RVS: Going forward, what are your challenges, and what are the council’s top priorities for 2024?

CM: Continue to work with Horizon to retain and grow professional medical services for Southern Victoria

— Increase investment in key areas such as public safety, critical infrastructure, and green initiatives.

— Implement a housing strategy that fosters new residential construction.

— Power Distribution and Consumption —increases in NB power rates and changes at Tinker Dam (Algonquin) 

— Implement action items from the Strategic Plan.

— Develop a long-term capital asset management plan for the Aroostook Water network.

RVS: What should the province’s plans for financial restructuring include for municipalities?

CM: Significantly increased pool of funding municipalities.  

— Provide municipalities access to funding for investments in critical infrastructure.

— The province should review the downloading costs/oversight of provincial responsibilities to municipalities via the Regional Service Commissions.

— While Southern Victoria supports varied models of healthcare service delivery, the province should recognize that the rural populations are underserved. 

RVS: With your community having the unique position of owning its own power utility (Pert-Andover Light Commission), how much of a benefit is that for your region as power rates spike across the province? And what plans do you have for the commission’s future? 

CM: The Light Commission continues to be a viable asset for Southern Victoria. The utility is projected to save our customers and taxpayers over $350,000 in 2024.  

— We look forward to our solar project coming online in early 2024.

— Exploring the benefit of expanding our electrical services to all residents in Southern Victoria.

— Several changes on the horizon (power rate increases, potential ownership change of Algonquin) indicate that management of the Utility will be an area of focus. The Mayor and Council consider this a key priority.

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