By Mark Squibb | July 22, 2021
Councilor Rex Hillier is hoping for another four years around the Conception Bay South council table.
“When you’re running for the first time, residents really don’t have a metre stick to measure you by,” said Hillier, who will once again be running for one of the four councilor-at-large positions. “So, I guess I’m going to be measured, and council is going to be measured, by the decisions that we have made over the past four years.”
And, Hillier said, he has no trouble being judged by his record.
“When I was hiring staff for my schools, I always looked at what they had done in their previous schools,” said Hillier, who had worked at management and administrative positions with the Eastern School District over the years. “And I think if you look at what I have done in my time on council and working for this town, I think that speaks for itself.”
Hillier highlighted what he sees as successes for council that he has been a part of over the last four years.
“One of the goals going into the last term was to control spending,” said Hillier. “And we reduced spending at the town four years in a row, which is unheard of. We’ve heard people talking about wanting more policing, so we went out to see if we could get more policing and ended up partnering with the RNC to repurpose the old town hall, so now we have our own detachment here. We applied to host the Grand Slam of Curling, and we ended up hosting two Grand Slams of Curling. And it’s the only time that they have gone back to the venue in a subsequent year. So we’re pleased with that.”
Hillier highlighter other council achievements, including the continued work on the new community park and the success of automated garbage pickup.
“So, I’ve got no problem being judged based on what we’ve down over the past four years,” said Hillier.
Of course, no project has gained as much attention in CBS this term as the controversial OCI Long Pond Harbour proposal. That application was passed unanimously by council earlier this summer.
“We’re counting the OCI project as a success,” said Hillier, who also counted the opening of new businesses like Heritage Square and Starbucks as successes.
While he allowed some vocal opponents of the development may wish to see the current council thrown out the door and that may influence the tallies on election night, he believes most folks are in favour of the OCI project.
“Most of the people who have followed this process and looked at what council has done, realize what a great project this is,” said Hillier. “I think we have their support. In the meantime, I think there are some people out there that really don’t want this, and I think you’ll see them attack council personally.”
He reiterated the comments made by himself and other councillors during the meeting in which they approved the project; mainly, that the town needs the commercial tax revenue that will come from the project, as the town’s dependence on residential taxation is an ongoing concern.
“Eventually, that’s going to come tumbling down,” said Hiller. “We’re going to have to build our commercial tax base. And I think we’ve seen this year the importance of our harbor, and I think that could be an economic engine, an economic driver for our town that we need to promote more, and certainly with the help of the Long Pond Harbour Authority.”
Hillier said one of his priorities will be to continue to work to reduce spending.
‘We know that nobody wants to pay any more taxes, so the next council will have to strive to maintain a reduction in spending,” said Hiller.
He listed several other issues that he would like to address over the coming term, should he be re-elected.
“We did, I believe it was 38 streets of one level or another of paving, and we did 3,000 meters of sidewalks around schools, and those things need to continue,” Hillier said. “We have a preliminary review of our recreation master plan, and that’s showing that people want a community centre. And I see that need as well, with my background in sport and recreation, so I see that certainly as a need within the town. We’re hearing more and more about the need for transparency from council, and at the same time people are demanding more personal privacy. So, we’ve got to try and find a balance there for those who want more transparency, and still being able to protect those who want more privacy. There’s a lot of things that we need to do over the next four years. There’s no trouble to find something to do, put it that way.”