The Tillsonburg and District Historical Society was not able to play host to its annual Mayor’s Levee.
But Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar was able to share his message through media and social media channels.
“We normally hold the Levee the first week of January,” said Molnar, who has participated in several past levees organized by the historical society at Annandale National Historic Site, home of Tillsonburg’s first mayor, E.D. Tillson, son of town founder George Tillson.
“We obviously don’t have the capacity to do that this year,” said Molnar, “but we’d like to recognize the efforts of the Tillsonburg and District Historical Society through the years, and the volunteers that they have, and of course our own team at the National Historic Site. Protocols and respecting public safety did not provide for that this year, but I still felt it was important to release a positive message – a message with the reality and ultimately hope and some level of compassion – understanding that while we’ve suffered and continue to suffer many challenges in 2020, that we remain a resilient community.”
A community that in large part, said Molnar, continues ‘to be that shining light.’
“We’re facing challenges now, but 2021… these things don’t turn when the calendar turns. From my own personal perspective, I’ve never been so proud of the members of our community.
“So many of our service clubs, our charitable organizations, our places of worship, these places aren’t getting access to the revenues that they normally have to reinvest into the care and vulnerable population of our community. And they found new and creative ways to continue on, to continue to give back, and I think both as individuals and as a community as a whole, that’s something – even in these tough times – that we need to celebrate.”
The Jan. 10, 2020 Mayor’s Levee in the ANHS Rita Corner Gallery was the 20th annual, and it has been celebrated by each mayor since Cam McKnight held the first (including Brenda Carroll, Irv Horton, Molnar, John Lessif and Dave Beres).
This year’s New Year’s address by Molnar was recorded at ANHS and posted on social media on Dec. 31, with excerpts printed in the Norfolk and Tillsonburg News.
In it, Molnar expressed appreciation for health care providers, emergency service personnel and other essential workers, and to entrepreneurs and small business owners
“And to the citizens of Tillsonburg who are shopping locally and following the advice of our public health professionals – washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping your physical distance from anyone who doesn’t live with you – we also express our gratitude.
“I would also like to extend special thanks to our own corporate team for finding new and creative ways to faithfully extend the valuable services we are charged with providing, in a safe and productive framework.
“While focused significantly on the impacts of the deadly virus, this past year has also continued to provide us all with hope and possibilities, and in large part still so much to be thankful for.
“From additional transit operations, to expanding residential housing options and accelerated job growth, 2020 has seen identified success despite the challenging environment we have individually and collectively experienced. While community celebrations have been cancelled or delayed, community partners have continued to find unique and creative ways to support those most vulnerable in our community.
“Tillsonburg has been, and will remain, a unique and resilient community, focused on our residents and built on a foundation of inclusion, accessibility and a sustainable environment for balanced growth. This does not come directly from decisions made around a council table every other Monday night, but ultimately is created by the passion and ideas of an engaged community.”
In 2021, the town will introduce a Public Engagement process for the updated Community Strategic Plan, he said.
“This is your plan and you will be both invited and encouraged to participate in this important initiative.”
The Town will continue with its Service Delivery Review, ensuring residents and stakeholders receive value for their investment in the community.
“We are excited to work towards the challenges surrounding additional affordable and attainable housing options as well as the enhancement of a local continuum of care in the Long-term Care sector.”
There will be lingering challenges in 2021, he said, and the Town remains focused on listening and adapting to ensure “we all continue to make Tillsonburg a ‘Place to Build Your Future.’
“When this pandemic ends – and one day it will – we will again gather with family and friends to celebrate life’s special moments.”