Where everybody knows your name

In the heart of our quaint rural village stands a monument to history, resilience, and community spirit—the Orono Town Hall. As this beloved landmark celebrates its 125th anniversary, it’s not merely a commemoration of bricks and mortar but a testament to the enduring bond between a town and its cherished gathering place.

Myno Van Dyke ended presentation Saturday night at the 125th Celebration Dinner with a quote from Winston Churchill, “we shape buildings; thereafter they shape us.” This resonated profoundly in the story of Orono Town Hall – a structure that has not only sheltered generations but has also woven itself into the very fabric of the community’s identity.

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Soul-nourishing

When I start to miss the craziness of a larger news market, I reflect on the beauty of small-town life. There’s something inherently special about being a part of a close-knit community where familiar faces greet you at every turn and genuine connections are forged effortlessly. The bonds we share with our neighbours extend far beyond mere acquaintance; they are rooted in shared experiences, mutual support, and a deep-seated sense of belonging. Nowhere is this sense of camaraderie more evident than at a community event.

Now I know that I am not that only one who gets teary-eyed and nostalgic during the Orono Figure Skating Club’s Annual Skating Carnival. This year marks the 76th iteration of this beloved event, a testament to the enduring spirit and sense of community that thrives in our humble village. For me, the carnival encapsulates everything that is wonderful about growing up, living, and working in a small town—it nourishes the soul in ways that are truly unparalleled.

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Upholding democratic principles

In the bedrock of democracy lies the fundamental principle of citizen participation—a cornerstone that fortifies the very essence of governance by the people, for the people. At the heart of this participation stands the right of residents to speak before their elected municipal council, voicing their concerns, grievances, and hopes for change. This right is not merely a formality; it is a vital conduit through which the voices of the electorate resonate within the chambers
of power. In upholding this right, we affirm the essence of democracy and foster active civic engagement, ensuring that the decisions made reflect the collective will of the governed.

In any democratic society, the municipal council serves as a crucial forum where local issues are deliberated upon and decisions are made that directly impact the lives of residents. From zoning regulations to budget allocations, from public services to infrastructure development, the decisions taken within these chambers reverberate throughout neighbour-hoods, shaping the very fabric of communal life. Thus, it is imperative that residents have the opportunity to engage directly with their representatives, to express their perspectives, and to advocate for policies that align with their interests and values.

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The plan

In the realm of municipal governance, where decisions shape the fabric of our communities, one crucial document often sits quietly on the shelf: the Strategic Plan. This blueprint, crafted through collaboration between policymakers and stakeholders – yes this includes us, outlines the vision, goals, and strategies guiding a municipality’s growth and development. But do residents take the time to peruse its contents? The Strategic Plan is not just a bureaucratic obligation—it’s a cornerstone of responsible governance and community stewardship.

Clarington’s 2024-27 Strategic Plan is available on the municipality’s website. It’s not onerous, only 32 pages. When trying to understand the thought processes behind what the municipality does it may be helpful to know their Vision for 2024-27: A connected, dynamic and welcoming community, focused on the future while respecting our past. And their Mission: To enhance the quality of life in our community.

Their Vision and Mission then guides three priorities: Lead, Connect and Grow Responsibly. Each with its own objective, expected results and actions. The strategic plan will guide council decisions and administrative actions through the next four years.

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IWD: The other 364 days

As the calendar turns to March 8 each year, the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a day marked by rallies, events, and discussions, all aimed at celebrating the achievements of women and advocating for gender equality. But as the sun sets on this day, it’s crucial not to let the spirit of IWD fade away with it. We must carry its significance throughout the rest of the year.

IWD commemorates the tireless struggle for women’s rights throughout history. It honours the courageous women who fought – and continue to fight – against discrimination, inequality, and injustice. From the suffragettes who fought for women’s right to vote, to the activists who advocate for reproductive rights and gender equality today, International Women’s Day is a testament to the power of collective action and solidarity.

Celebrating IWD is a reminder of the progress that has been made, but also the work that remains to be done. While there have been significant advancements in women’s rights and gender equality, gender-based discrimination and violence persist in various forms worldwide. Women continue to face barriers in accessing education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and leadership positions. Therefore, International Women’s Day serves as a call to action to address these systemic inequalities and strive for a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

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