OUTLOOK - If you call Outlook home and perhaps have a question or two for your elected officials, you may wish to consider stopping by the town offices building on a Monday morning, hanging a left, and stopping in at Room 5.
That's where the people of Outlook will find their mayor, Maureen Weiterman, on a weekly basis from nine to noon as she has begun hosting her open house, welcoming people to come and discuss anything that may be important to them.
On this particular Monday, October 4, Maureen said people were talking to her about the Railway subdivision, as well as other initiatives being tackled by the Town.
"I've had a few visitors, and most people are curious about the Railway subdivision," she said. "People are paying attention, and that's exciting. As well, stormwater outfalls, which are on our radar. We also met with the Highways Minister and we're now further up the list! The meeting went very well. They explained to us how it works and it's not an easy task; people are always after Highways, right? We're now higher up on the list than the average Joe. It won't be tomorrow, next week or next year, but soon, and that's a good thing. We'll keep in contact with them."
It's been close to a full year since Weiterman was elected Mayor and the current Council was formed. She says that in talking with people, they tell her that they see a change in Outlook, which Maureen takes as something that can be interpreted multiple ways.
"It's been 322 days as of today," she said. "I think it's been great, and I've been really encouraged in the last little while as I've been talking to people, and they say that they can see a change. Now, I don't know what that means exactly, but we've accomplished some things. I think they see that we're open, we're willing to talk and we like to listen, and I'm encouraged by that. We're going to make mistakes, everybody does, and hopefully we'll be able to fix them and learn from them. Right now, we're in the process of working on a strategic plan and we put it out to the public. We got just a phenomenal response with 75 responses coming in. Kevin (Trew, Chief Administrative Officer) wasn't shooting that high because a lot of the time, there can be some apathy with responses to surveys and things like that. So we're going ahead on the 21st with a full-day session with the staff, talking about strategic planning, and then we're going to start working on the Budget pretty soon. So really, this first year went by fast and we've had a lot of fun, even during COVID. We worked hard, and I think all the councillors are engaged and having a good time."
Weiterman says Outlook's town council is comprised of a mixture of demographics and people who come from different professional backgrounds, something that she says makes for a good mix of minds to approach issues in the community.
"Yes, because just take a look at them," she said. "We've got older, we've got young, we've got professionals. I encouraged young people to become involved in their local government. At one time, the mindset used to be that we needed older people to serve the most because they're wiser, but now I think it's the younger people who are the movers and the shakers. I'm certainly not speaking disparagingly of anyone, but maybe 65 isn't the age to be the mayor, maybe it's 45? You're fully engaged, you're young enough to do the work, and you're never too old to learn anything. I'm only doing as well as I am because we've got such a great council."
Knowing that the administration side of things was being looked at as almost a revolving door in Outlook in the last few years, when asked if the Town of Outlook has finally found a good fit for a Chief Administrative Officer, Weiterman was quick to respond.
"Have we ever!" she said. "Kevin's our man. He's got the correct education, the correct experience, and he's got the right kind of personality to work with this council, but also to work with Outlook. He's energetic, he's a go-getter, he's a planner, and he's had successes in other communities. I'm hoping he's planning on staying here for some time. Now, people like that don't stay in one place forever just because of the nature of their personality. He'll go on to do bigger things yet, but right now, he's perfect for Outlook and we're very lucky to have him."
One of the current projects being worked on right now is the extensive renovations being applied to the Civic Centre, said to be long overdue. Weiterman says that there isn't a whole lot to report on that particular project right now, but thinks everyone will be happy to see the changes that are coming to the building.
"We're massaging a few things," she said. "The renovations there are ongoing. I know Equinox Theatre had already booked dates for it, but it's not going to happen, it's just the nature of the beast. So far, the entryway is being modified, and we're going to have 'cream of the crop' bathrooms! I think everybody in town will be excited. I know that they're working on the front end of it right now."
There are many possibilities when it comes to the future of Outlook, something that the Mayor and Council are exploring by way of strategic planning. Maureen says that the next few years will see a number of projects start to unfold, which may only tap into what the community could see as far as continued growth and prosperity is concerned.
"We have grants in the works," she highlighted, talking about what Outlook is tackling right now. "We need to decommission our old landfill, we need to finish the Civic Centre, we need to develop Railway so that we have more commercial lots for sale, and then we're working on the stormwater outfalls. So those are what I'd call the big projects, and they're going to take up the next five years. None of this stuff happens really fast, so that's where we are. We're working on our strategic plan that we hope will outlive us and will be the basis for the next council to start working on. In five years, I hope we have a new highway and that the lots are sold in the subdivision to the point where we can start on the next part of that. And, of course, we need to start looking at more properties for sale on the west side. Are we going to go finish down Mann Street or are we going to go up north to the college, where the community plan has already been approved? We've got lots of potential. Kevin is leading us in the right direction, and Council is the team that's doing a good job, and the fact that people are noticing that there's a change. I'm not saying we're better than the old council, we're just different from the old council, and people are recognizing that."