By Dan Rankin
During the meeting of the Perth South Economic Development Committee on Tuesday morning, Council, the committee and the public were formally introduced to Josh Brick, the busy new summer student the township hired thanks to funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Brick, who recently graduated from Guelph University with a degree in Political Science, is originally from Stratford, or, as he put, “just a few stops signs away.”
Perth South Treasurer Rebecca Clothier said she wasn’t aware if the township had ever had a summer student working for them in the past. After receiving grant funding for the position this year, they “advertised for the position and were looking for people or students that meet the qualifications of the program and were interested in working in local government,” she said, adding that they “received quite a few resumés and conducted a few interviews” before deciding on Brick.
Brick, who will be enrolled in Western University’s graduate Public Administration program with a speciality in local government in the fall, said the summer job with the township will be “a great experience” for his professional development. “This is right up my alley and I’m excited for the experience,” he said.
“We’ve piled it on high for him because he’s so enthusiastic,” joked Clothier, prior to Brick’s presentation.
In his presentation on his duties and plans for the summer, Brick described recently attending the Rural Ontario Youth Summit, alongside Ontario municipal leaders, indigenous representatives, rural business owners and representatives from community organizations, which was put on by OMAFRA.
Many of Brick’s plans involve fostering a greater connection between the municipality and its rate payers, particularly local businesses, through electronic means including the Perth South website (PerthSouth.ca), email and social media. He said he is developing an administrative workplace survey, with the objective of updating the Perth South inventory of businesses. “With that, a goal is improving communication with businesses,” he said. “Whether that’s establishing an email list, or helping underground businesses come above ground, I think it will be a useful exercise.”
Also on the electronic side of things, he’s going to research the web pages of a number of other municipalities to “help provide some insight on what direction [Perth South] should go in,” he said. “I’m also working on drafting a social media policy for Perth South using the Perth County policy and other frameworks for reference. Perth County has a social media policy. We don’t. I’m working on getting that up to date.”
Included in Brick’s list of duties will be “revamping” the township’s social media presence. Initially, that has involved planning a photo contest that will get members of the community sending “cool pictures that they take,” and then use those on Perth South’s Facebook page and other web pages. He’s also working on automating social media posts from the township, so certain events and notices can be pre-progammed to appear on Twitter and Facebook for members of the community to see. “It adds a level of consistency to the social media,” he said. “I’m in contact with somebody from Perth County who’s going to teach me how to do that.”
Brick has also been involved with preparing some Perth South-centric material for a Perth County newsletter set to be released in a couple of weeks, organizing the pamphlets and other literature in the St. Pauls township office, and beginning the planning and grant application process for Perth South events that will coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation next July.
Part of Brick’s job will involve preparing a package that will teach area students about the role of the local municipal government, and hopefully getting them as excited about local government as he is. Oct. 16-22 is Local Government Week, as presented by the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO). Leading up to it, Brick will be “drafting strategies to educate Grade 5 and 10 students about the township of Perth South and its local government,” he said.
He’s also working with the local high schools in St. Marys and Stratford to arrange a high school co-op position, so that when his term is done in the fall, a new enthusiastic young student can pick up where he left off.