Inaugural Council Speech 

On November 22, 2022, Selwyn Township Council held its inaugural meeting. Council was sworn in and then each councillor, the deputy mayor, and the mayor were invited to make their inaugural remarks. Below is my speech.

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Selwyn is a diverse community comprised of those who live on farms, in urban enclaves, in waterfront homes, and in a fully serviced urban Village. Mary, Brian, and I were elected in our wards but now, like Sherry and Ron, we must, and we will consider and represent the interests of all the people of Selwyn.

As a council and staff, we have two challenges before us. First, working as a team, we must be managers. We must manage the maintenance and enhancement of our services and infrastructure.

The second challenge is that while managing, we must also be leaders. Leadership is tougher than management because it entails dealing not with what is immediately before us, but instead, with all that lies beyond the horizon.

Leadership demands engaging in an existential conversation regarding who we are and who we wish to be. In many ways, the five of us are joining that conversation already in progress. The conversation is reflected in our official plan, in our strategic plan, and in the goals of our staff departments.

But part of that conversation should, I think, now become more intentionally focussed upon the pivot point at which we find ourselves due to the most fundamental issue that lies before us — growth. Everything else we address in the next four years will be affected, and informed, by growth.

Growth is necessary because we must play our part in addressing the nationwide housing crisis. We owe it to those in Selwyn now and those wishing to move here, to provide more and more affordable housing. Growth is necessary because we owe it to ourselves to be a vibrant community in which people can work, live, play, and invest. We must accept the responsibility to not just manage how we grow, but to lead it.

Over the next several years, growth will occur throughout the township with the creation of new lots on which new homes will be built. Our largest area of growth, though, will be Lakefield South. When completed, it will be home to 2,500 to 3,000 new neighbours – close to the current population of Lakefield. Let us begin the exercise of our leadership by considering Lakefield South a blank canvas. Let us establish a vision regarding the neighbourhood we wish to build there, within the community we wish to be.

Let us accept the leadership challenge necessary to create, through our development of Lakefield South, a process and showpiece that will inform the growth that will inevitably follow — more in and around Lakefield and Bridgenorth, and more spilling over Peterborough’s borders. Let’s do even more than that. Let’s accept the challenge to make Lakefield South a nationally recognized benchmark in how community building can and should be done. We can do this.

Let’s be clear, the Ontario government has committed to seeing 1.5 million homes built in the province over the next ten years. It has the power now to largely dictate the process through which those homes will be built. Its new Bill 23 proposes to increase that power. We must lead within those provincial parameters. Further, a lot of work has already been done to advance the development of Lakefield South and elsewhere in the Township and we must also lead while respecting that work.

But here again, is the fundamental question before us — we can manage or lead. Leading means that we do not bemoan the power that is not ours, but rather, responsibly apply that that remains. Responsible leadership, in this case, means seeing developers as partners who share our desire to create the best possible community.

We have an extraordinarily professional and skilled staff. We have an exceptionally strong council of which I am sincerely humbled to be a member. It is the strength of our council and the professionalism of our staff that affords me the confidence to propose what I have, and the assurance to know that we can do it.

I thank my wife Sue, daughter Jennifer, and granddaughters Kenzie and Anna who encouraged me to undertake this endeavour and then helped to realize the goal, the many volunteers who supported my campaign, those who engaged me in conversation when I knocked on every door in Village, twice, the staff and my fellow councillors for their dedication to community, and I thank Anita Locke for her years of public service.

I am looking forward to working with the other members of the council, staff, and others, as we critically assess the pivot point at which we find ourselves, and develop the processes and partnerships, based on transparency and trust, that will allow us, together, to lead our way forward.

All-Candidate’s Debate

Granted, it was really more of a joint press conference than a debate, but it still allows viewers to see;

a. what each of the candidates thinks about various issues,

b. their priorities as seen in their opening and closing statements,

c. how well they can express themselves and so how effective they will be in dealing with others on the council, staff, and the community

You can watch the September 29 debate at the link below. Please leave a comment regarding any part of the debate below or contact me at boykolakefield@gmail.com

I hope I can earn your support. Remember that voting begins online or by phone on October 11. You should have already received a letter from the Township with your pin number that will enable you to vote.

OPENING STATEMENT AT SEPTEMBER 29 ALL-CANDIDATE’S DEBATE

The Selwyn Township All-Candidates Debate took place on September 29 via zoom. The link to watch the debate will be available soon and I will place it here.

Below is my opening statement:

My name is John Boyko, and I am running for Selwyn Township’s Lakefield Ward Councillor. I grew up in Peterborough and have lived in and served the community for over 30 years and if you would like to learn more about me please visit my website at johnboyko.com.

The next council will address many issues and I hope we can address some of them tonight. But I believe the umbrella issue under which all others will rest, because it will shape our community going forward, is growth.

We are at a pivot point.

The Peterborough County and Selwyn Township Official Plans both state that Lakefield will grow through infilling, that is, building over 300 homes in the village by 2051. This determination begs questions regarding available property in the Village, the development off Bishop Street, and the future of Ridpath School.

The Official Plans also establish growth areas; one of which lies between the water tower and the 7th line, called Lakefield South.

If implemented under its current iteration, one preliminary development plan for Lakefield South would see the building of 966 units – houses, townhouses, and apartments. It would represent a doubling of Lakefield’s population.

We are fortunate that we have a fine Township staff who have been handling the development process for several years now and that the preliminary plan is by Triple T; a strong, local company, run by good people.

The next council must navigate this pivot point at which we find ourselves by establishing a clear vision for growth.

We cannot surrender our agency or forfeit our responsibility by saying it will be years before the developments are completed. We must instead acknowledge that we are at a pivot point and that decisions made by the next council will shape our community for generations. It is for that reason that Lakefield needs a strong voice on Selwyn Council. I hope to become that voice.

National to Local in Two Minutes

Last Thursday I was humbled by a successful launch to my campaign to become Selwyn Township’s Lakefield Ward Councillor. Seventy-one people gathered at Lakefield’s Isabel Morris Park Pavilion on a beautiful warm evening. Lakefield’s former Reeve, Bob Helsing, was MC and introduced businesswoman Susan Twist and engaged-citizen Sue Bell-Gastle. All said positive things about my candidacy. Their words and the crowd’s presence left me humbled. Then it was my turn.

Part of my remarks addressed the issue that seems top of mind for most people I am meeting at their doorsteps: the planned neighbourhood between the water tower and 7th Line known as Lakefield South. Some people have told me that it’s been talked about for years and will never happen and others that we must stop it. My response to both is the same. It’s happening. Our task is to ensure that it’s done right.

In my speech, I said that we should consider the impending Lakefield South development from a broad then narrowing perspective. To begin, all of Canada is experiencing a housing crisis. House prices and rents are too high, partly because supply is too low. We need more housing across the country, including here.

The Ontario government has designated Peterborough County as part of the Greater Toronto Area, or Golden Horseshoe, in terms of development. Part of that designation makes new housing a priority as much here as Toronto, Oshawa, or Hamilton. The province can issue ministerial orders regarding development decisions.

Peterborough County and Selwyn Township have both submitted new Official Plans to the province for approval. Both have designated two areas in Selwyn for development. One is Woodland Acres, adjacent to Peterborough, and the other is Lakefield South.

So, Lakefield South is happening. We are fortunate that a large portion of the land that will be developed has been purchased by Triple T, the Turner family business. We are fortunate because the Turners are good people, the company is strong with a track record of good work, and it is local. The people who will be on the next Selwyn council matter because to them will fall the task of partnering with Triple T to plan our community’s future.

We must begin with a vision. The vision must be informed by community. We must consider who we wish to attract to live in Lakefield South and how we can help them to interact with each other and those already here in safe and healthy ways. We must enhance and protect the character of the Selwyn-Lakefield community and not simply build a Peterborough suburb.

The vision must be future-ready with considerations that include environmental sustainability, a recognition that the climate crisis is real, and a genuine dedication to doing our part, however small, to address it. Directly linked to that imperative is that we must make the new neighbourhood for people and not cars and so consider safety, walkability, sidewalks, bike lanes, green space versus concrete, and plans for recreation, trees, and landscaping.

We must consider traffic in and around the new neighbourhood so that the tense situation where Lakefield already experiences frequent traffic snarls from the downtown traffic lights to Clementi Street is not made worse. We must consider the challenges and opportunities that welcoming 3,000 or so new neighbours will have on schools, arenas, police, fire, ambulance, and other municipal services.

There is more that can be said about establishing a comprehensive vision and some of this work has already begun but the point, I hope, is clear. That is, the decisions that the next council will make will affect the future of Selwyn and Lakefield for decades. Like the national to local perspective regarding whether the development will take place, we must begin with a vision, let that vision inform the plan, and the let the plan inform the details.

We have a once in a generation opportunity before us. We owe it to those of us living here now, our new neighbours, and to generations ahead, to get it right.

(I hope to earn your vote in the election that takes place beginning on October 11. Please contact me at boykolakefield.com with questions or comments.)