Candidate – Mayor
The Echo sent the following questions to all candidates running for a seat at the council table in Dysart et al.
1. Provide an introduction to yourself. (This could be about how you came to the area, your hobbies and interests, family life, education, accomplishments.)
2. What is the most important issue facing Dysart et al today? As a council member, how would you address that issue?
3. Are there services or facilities you would like to see in Dysart et al that don’t already exist? If elected, how would you go about making them a reality?
4. Explain how climate change is impacting Dysart et al, and what council can do to help mitigate its effects.
5. The chamber of commerce and local businesses have raised concerns that there are not enough young adults and young families choosing to live in the Highlands. This has led to shortages in some fields (skilled trades, for example) and fewer children and youth in the community. What can council do to attract and retain young people?
The ballots will be going out in the mail this week. Election day is Oct. 22. For more information on voting, contact the municipal office.
Next week, we will feature the Q&A from Highlands East candidates.
1. I was born in Toronto, graduated from Northern Secondary, then attended University of Ottawa one year and U of T for two years. I moved to Haliburton in 1987 to manage a local restaurant. It was there I met my husband Steve, we married in 1991, and have raised our blended family of three girls here. Two of them still live in the area and the other lives in Ottawa. We are proud grandparents of two boys, one is 11, the other a newborn. Steve and I owned Roberts Austin Fuels and sold the business in 2011. I’ve always been a person who liked to get involved and have served on many boards, organizations and volunteered for numerous events. I was the Ward 1 councillor since 2006 to 2014, and am currently the deputy mayor. As well as keeping busy on council I enjoy many activities, especially walking around Head Lake, riding my bike, skiing at Sir Sam’s, curling, and swimming. I’m the founder and chair of Rotary Music in the Park which has just finished its fifth successful year. I’m a big reader, love cooking and having friends and family for dinner. I feel blessed to live in Haliburton but love to travel.
2. There are so many issues facing Dysart today but without proper planning in place it’s easy to get pulled in several directions, and then we end up making short term decisions. I would say because of that, having a strategic plan that looks to the future, 10 to 20 years ahead, will help council stay on track and prioritize. A strategic plan may take a bit of time so in the first month I would implement an information, education and goal setting strategy for this term of council. This would involve all of council and department heads. We need to understand the current plans and projects, future needs as well as realizing our limitations in municipal government. Environment and our landfills, housing, economic development and asset management of our roads, buildings and parks, and better communication with the public would all be on the agenda.
3. One thing I have been advocating for but have not been able to move forward is a renovation of the upstairs of the arena. It is an existing space that is under-utilized for many reasons. The kitchen needs a major overhaul, the acoustics are terrible, the lighting is outdated, and it needs to be accessible. If it were renovated the municipality could offer senior’s programming and rent the space out to more groups for events or ongoing activities such as fitness classes.
We have a fabulous new facility in Harcourt and I would work with their board to look at ways to promote the space. The West Guilford board has been around for a long time and they work closely with Dysart staff to keep that building in good repair and there are many activities there.
Dysart has added many new recreation programs over the last four years since we have hired a dedicated program coordinator, such as swimming lessons, junior baseball, walking Wednesdays, ball hockey and many more. I would encourage members of the public to get involved and be on the recreation committee so we can offer new and innovative programs in that department. Our museum programming has grown over the years thanks to the dedicated staff there and they are always willing to try new things to engage the public.
4. Climate change is most definitely impacting Dysart and we have to plan accordingly. Washouts and repairs due to severe storms have cost us a lot of money in the last few years. On Museum Rd and Bayshore alone we have had two major washout events in the last couple of years. We need to budget enough for what we used to call rare occurrences. It also means we need to maintain, build and design for major weather events. On the other side we need to see what we can do to reduce our energy uses. We have had an environment committee but it is only made up of members of council and staff. There are many qualified people within our community who could serve on this committee and share their expertise.
5. Years ago when I moved here there were very few full-time year-round jobs. It was not uncommon to be unemployed in the winter. We are in a construction boom and I have talked to many builders who have work throughout the year but are behind because they don’t have enough qualified employees. The Home Builders currently have an excellent video on social media that is promoting the job opportunities here. This issue isn’t only felt in the building sector, retail and other services are also affected and help wanted signs can be seen in many stores. Dysart is a wonderful place to raise a family and most that live here do so because they don’t want to be anywhere else. Promoting our area as a great place to raise a family means having things for them to do. It also means looking at the housing market and seeing what council can do to encourage more rental and lower cost housing options. Engaging the young families in our community and asking what they need and want could help us to bring more families here.
The municipality needs to work with the Chamber, BIA, Home Builders, schools, and other groups to stay connected to the needs and do what we can to promote our area as an ideal place to raise a family.