It’s been a long year for residents across the region, but the City of Dryden’s Chief Administrative Officer, Roger Nesbitt, is praising the work of municipal staff for all of their efforts throughout 2020.

During a virtual Council meeting earlier this month, Nesbitt took the time to thank staff for their work despite a tough year, as we head into the holiday season.

“As we approach the end of 2020, I need to say that it’s been an extremely busy year. Our staff overall have done such a great job with moving the organization forward, despite having to deal with a pandemic for the better part of the year.”

“I just want to say thank you to the entire team and make note of their extraordinary efforts this year. We have a fantastic group of employees with the City of Dryden.”

It was business as usual for the City of Dryden until March, when the COVID-19 pandemic went into full-force. 37 municipal staff were laid off throughout the pandemic, in an effort to keep them as safe as possible. The city introduced additional benefits to ease the impact on employees.

By August, Red Lake Fire #49 had evacuated the Red Lake community, and hundreds of displaced residents found their way to the City of Dryden for support. Municipal and Kenora District Services Board employees opened the Dryden Memorial Arena for shelter, supplies, food and gas.

By October, Nesbitt was named as one of 10 members of Dryden’s new Indigenous Working Circle, which aims to improve relations between the City and Indigenous residents, communities, partners and organizations. Councillors have said this move was a ‘huge step forward’ for Drydenites.

Nearing the end of 2020, the City of Dryden is finally looking at an approved budget with less debt repayments in 2021, and councillors will have an additional $2 million to play with.

Since the mid-to-late 2000’s, city councillors in Dryden have been staring down the barrel of $16 million plus interest in debt, which handcuffed the city’s ability to spend on infrastructure, recreation and a number of other initiatives.

But now as we head into 2021, councillors have passed their Operating and Capital budgets with no taxation increases, no water or sewer rate changes, and a small deficit was covered through the city’s reserve funds. As a result, the city finishes off 2020 with nearly a $1 million surplus.

Nesbitt was hired as the City’s CAO in April of 2018, after spending over 10 years with the municipality as their Information Technology Manager. He’s been Dryden’s 9th CAO since 2011.

During Ontario’s Boxing Day lockdown, Nesbitt is asking all residents to to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary.

“I wish staff, council and our residents a merry Christmas and a very safe holiday season. Remember that we’re still in the throws of COVID-19 and there are restrictions to abide by, but we’ve done such a great job throughout this pandemic. We don’t want to see those efforts spoiled.”

Municipal facilities in Dryden will see closures through the lockdown. They include:

- Dryden Pool and Fitness Centre will be closed December 26 to January 10,
- Dryden and District Museum will be closed December 26 to January 10,
- Dryden Memorial Arena will be closed December 26 to January 9,
- Dryden Public Library will use curbside pickup only from December 29 to January 9.

The city asks anyone who needs additional information about the closures to contact them at 807-223-2225, or email generalinquiries@dryden.ca

For more information:
Council seeing light at the end of financial tunnel
Strong response for evacuees from Dryden community