In his opening remarks, Mr. Clark welcomed Mr. Yakabuski and Mayor Peckett, jokingly noting after the announcement he likely would be hearing from them less frequently. “My phone calls are going to go way down, both on my cell and in my constituency office,” he said.
He acknowledged his colleague in government, Mr. Yakabuski, for “his strong advocacy” in the community.
“His commitment to the good people of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke . . . he’s a great friend and I can’t say enough about his advocacy and the reason for me being here today.”
Turning his attention to Mayor Peckett, he described his host as a true champion for the municipality.
“I can’t say enough about the way the ministry and your municipality have been able to work together,” Mr. Clark remarked.
After acknowledging the other dignitaries present, he noted the government is focused on getting Ontario and the economy back on track.
“We’re using innovative tools like Minister Zoning Orders (MZOs), in partnership with municipalities, to cut red tape and to get important projects, like the one we’re here to celebrate today, to open faster.
“When I heard about this local support for this project, I wanted to ensure that our government did everything that we could to make it happen,” he added. “I know the importance of bringing industry to an area and the positive benefits that it has for the local community.”
A release describing the project explained firms involved in the construction and fabrication of modular agricultural buildings are expected to locate at the two sites, which will create up to 600 new jobs.
Mr. Clark stressed one “anchor” business could attract many others to the area.
“And that’s why, when the township asked for an MZO to cut red tape and attract this industry, I was pleased to be able to unlock those lands. These lands can now be used for manufacturing, assembly operations and other associated uses.
“Our government will always work with our municipal partners to build Ontario together,” he added. “We will always support our municipalities as they build strong communities, thriving local economies and good jobs, right here in McNab/Braeside and right across the province.”
He said the project will bring up to 600 jobs to the community.
“That is a huge number that will have a major impact on the local economy,” he stated. “And we know that if you don’t act quickly and you don’t act decisively, as our government has done, these opportunities and these jobs that come with them, just go somewhere else.
“And they could be lost forever,” he added. “So, I’m so proud that I’m part of our Ford government that has worked so hard and worked so much with our municipal partners to do great projects like this today.”
Real Significant Development
Mr. Yakabuski thanked the minister for his steadfast support and commitment, which the minister has continuously made to municipalities across the province in helping them in their ability to grow.
“The winds are blowing here today, and winds of change are blowing through McNab/Braeside because they’re talking about real, real significant development that couldn’t happen on the timetable that was necessary without the Ministerial Zoning Order that Minister Clark has announced today,” he said.
He thanked Mayor Peckett and the other members of the council for their determination on the project, noting when Mayor Peckett first approached him, he recalled saying it was a great idea.
“Well, that’s all I needed to say because Tom never let go of this at all and I can tell you that in my office, Laura Lapinskie and Chris Crawford (from the minister’s office), they are best friends, because they have been working together continuously to make sure that all of the i’s were dotted and the “t’s were crossed.”
He said the minute he spoke to Mr. Clark about the project, he provided some guidance and instructions on what to do.
“Once those were done, we knew we would have his support on this,” he noted.
Mr. Yakabuski thanked Renfrew County Warden Debbie Robinson, the other members of county council, and Chief Wendy Jocko of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation for attending.
“Their support was key as well to ensure that we had broad-based support right through Renfrew County for this to happen. And that’s what happens when you work as partners and when you see what is good for the township of McNab/Braeside is going to be good for all of us here in Renfrew County.”
Mr. Yakabuski then drew attention to Hansi Reichart and Andrea Reyers, who were in the audience, explaining their involvement in the whole scheme of things could not be understated.
“They’re hiding in the background there, but they’re such an integral part of this,” he explained. “Their initiative, their confidence and their willingness to locate here in Renfrew County and McNab-Braeside, obviously, none of this happens without them as well.
“I want to thank them for their commitment and confidence that this could be done,” he added.
He said by everyone working together, more prosperity will be forthcoming to the people of the county and the township. He added there will be good jobs, the highways are getting better, and all of these things really tie the project together.
A Big Deal For Area
Mayor Tom Peckett extended his thanks to Mr. Clark and Mr. Yakabuski for helping move the project forward.
“It is a big deal for this area,” he stated. “Five to six hundred jobs is exactly what the County of Renfrew has needed and hopefully, we will be bale to continue moving the township and Renfrew County forward.”
He offered his thanks to Warden Robinson, noting she was supportive of the project right from the moment he spoke to her. He also acknowledged the efforts of Bruce Howarth, from the county’s planning department saying he played an integral part in getting things moving forward.
“And to to all my neighbouring mayors and councils and staff, thank you for coming. This is not only good for McNab/Braeside, it’s good for the entire area.
“Five hundred jobs will require 500 people to do the jobs,” he added.
Mayor Peckett later thanked Chief Jocko for attending, saying it was important the Pikwakanagan community was involved and is aware of what is going on throughout the county.
Living The Dream
Warden Debbie Robinson said she was thrilled to be in attendance, noting when municipal leaders are elected to council, they want to do something positive for their communities.
“And bringing economic development and jobs, that’s all of our dreams. And right now, Tom Peckett, you’re living that dream, and that is just fantastic.”
She acknowledged the pivotal role Mr. Clark and Mr. Yakabuski played in what was happening, adding she wished she could hug Mr. Yakabuski for all he does for the county, but COVID prevents that right now.
“When I’m allowed to do it, you better take it,” she joked.
Following the formalities, Mr. Clark told the Leader when he was approached by Mr. Yakabuski and Mayor Peckett about the project, he realized the possibilities that exists for potential other manufacturing and assembly industries.
“That really shows that the site is a big site, so it does provide an opportunity to grow and create the multiple companies that will create that 500 to 600 job range.”
Terry Fleurie, Staff writer, The Eganville Leader