Many of you in this unique community of Ward 6 already know me, but for those of you who do not, my name is Avia Eek.
My husband (a descendant of one of the first settlers who arrived in Ansnorveldt in 1934, William Valenteyn), and I operate 85 acres of specialty crop land in the Holland Marsh. Our main crops are carrots (jumbos for processing, and package, for the fresh market), as well as yellow cooking/red onions. I have lived in this community for 25+ years, and understand the complexities of this growing area, as well as the issues that arise in our rural areas of Ward 6.
Although I finished serving my second term, as a Director (a position to which I was elected by my fellow Farmer members) on the board of the Holland Marsh Growers Association on December 6, 2012, I have maintained a strong relationship with them continuing to bring Holland Marsh specific issues around legislation/trade to the forefront where the opportunity has presented itself.
Since being elected to King Township council in 2010, I have continued to promote the Holland Marsh as a strong economic driver to York Region and beyond, as a source of local, healthy, nutritious, safe vegetables for consumers.
My focus on council has been, and will continue to be, Agriculture and Economic Development, and marrying them together for the benefit of our Farmers and consumers alike. It was for this reason I became involved in developing the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan for King Township as an Economic Development Pillar Working Group member.
I was also involved in the BR + E (Business Retention and Expansion) project between King Township and the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville for agricultural and rural businesses to create the framework for addressing current barriers to economic development. The information gathered through the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis will be used in conjunction with King Township's Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, our first ever Economic Development Strategy (which I was involved in as a stakeholder), the Greater Countryside Mayors' Alliance Economic Analysis Phase 2 Study, and the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee (of which I am Vice-Chair) work plans.
When we are talking about economic development where agricultural businesses, and rural residents and businesses are concerned, there is a valuable tool we are missing--accessible/affordable/reliable connectivity. It is for this reason, I became involved with the N6 initiative (6 northern municipalities within York Region) to bring this necessary infrastructure to our communities. When we talk about infrastructure in this day and age, we must consider how the lack of connectivity impacts the economic growth of our agricultural and rural communities.