By Jenn Watt
Published Oct 9, 2018
We don’t have enough sidewalks, they’re blocked in the winter and in disrepair in places. Deer and turkeys are overrunning the village. Fireworks are too frequent, loud and pollute our environment. The downtown isn’t accessible. Young people aren’t being presented with the right employment opportunities. Housing is among the top concerns and is potentially the key to community improvement.
These were among some of the topics raised at the Dysart et al all-candidates meeting last week by members of the public, who asked the 15 potential councillors, deputy mayors and mayors to give their views.
The all-candidates meeting was incredibly popular, with people spilling out of the Great Hall at Fleming College in Haliburton into the front lobby and down the hallway. The audience was respectful. The candidates were respectful.
And good ideas were discussed.
For the details of the meeting, make sure you read Chad Ingram’s article in this week’s paper.
For those who remember the last election cycle, the marked difference this time was candidates’ willingness to commit to an investment in community infrastructure. There is an understanding that a big project needs to happen in order to build Haliburton and ensure it’s appealing to a range of people.
Unlike other years when candidates shifted nervously in their chairs at the mention of a pool, on Thursday, there wasn’t anyone on stage who flat-out rejected the idea that major dollars needed to be invested in creating a place for people to gather.
There were differences in the scope and scale. Some wanted to see more use of current facilities and investment in upgrading them. Others had sweeping plans for new buildings. The more conservative said they were open to the concept, but needed to see the business plans.
The skate park, opened this year, was a clear success for council and the community and has demonstrated how much people were yearning for a place to go. Before it was even officially unveiled, kids and teenagers were already zipping up, down and all around that part of town on skateboards and bikes. And many months later, they still flock there daily.
That same desire is present in the rest of the community and the politicians (current and soon-to-be) are feeling it.
The election isn’t the time to nail down detailed plans; it’s the time to imagine what our community can achieve. Most candidates on the stage last week understood that it’s time for new spaces to be created for the residents of Dysart et al.
Voting is underway in Haliburton County, and in Dysart et al, it’s through mail-in ballot. Those ballots can also be hand-delivered to the municipal office. Election Day is Monday, Oct. 22.
If you haven’t voted yet, consider checking out the candidates’ websites, read their Q&A responses on our website (haliburtonecho.ca/election-2018) and listen to the meeting on Canoe FM’s website or just pick up the phone and give them a call.
On Thursday, be sure to come out to the last of the all-candidates meetings when those running for mayor and deputy mayor of all four municipalities will be taking questions.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the great hall in Fleming College, Haliburton.