Highlands East council convened its advisory committees for the first time in more than a year after a hiatus caused by the pandemic.

Council held a joint committee meeting March 31, with almost all of its committees: recreation and culture, housing and grants, environment, trails and outdoor tourism, and economic development. The meeting was held on an online Zoom call, with each convening in turn.

The structure was approved Jan. 19. Meetings are to resume monthly going forward.

“We want everybody heard,” Mayor Dave Burton said. “We want to make everybody part of this.”

The only exception was the fire committee, which remains on hiatus.

Visitor information kits

The economic development committee plans to create a visitor information kit to help with a busy summer season. The kit was drafted and being edited before the pandemic.

It is a document focused on seasonal renters and hard-to-reach visitors, providing information about the community. Member Barbara Kraus said the kit should be a priority.

She added based on last summer, there will be a greater influx of people to the area.

“This is really our opportunity as a region to shine and present ourselves to the general public that, in the past, may not have even heard of us,” Kraus said. “This is a project we would be silly not to put in the foreground.”

Economic development coordinator Joanne Vanier said there is money in the budget to print the document. The committee agreed to make it a top priority at an April meeting.

Green burials back on the agenda

The environment committee is planning to take another look at green burials. Chair Suzanne Partridge said the committee explored it before going on hiatus. The environmentally-friendly burial practice was promoted by the local Green Burial Society, founded in 2019. No County cemetery currently offers it. Members agreed to discuss it at an April meeting and review the cemetery bylaw.

Trails projects resume

The trails committee reviewed a long list of projects after a year hiatus.

The committee’s plans include creating multi-use trail links in Gooderham, Wilberforce and Cardiff, creating a water trail map and adding more signs and markers to tourist mineral sites.

“We have lots of things on our plate, which is great. Gives us purpose,” chair Cam McKenzie said. “Because of COVID, there’s been a lot more outdoor activity going on.”

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