Candidate - Mayor of Highlands East
The Haliburton Echo sent the candidates for Highlands East council the following questions.
1. Provide an introduction to yourself. (This could be about how you came to the area, your hobbies and interests, family life, education, accomplishments.)
Hello everyone, I am hoping to be your candidate for Mayor of Highlands East (HE). I am 54 years old and I have spent my life working and raising my son in Highlands East. My first summer job was at Martin Lumber, also my first true experience at manual labour, which was piling lumber under the watchful eye of Gary Stoughton. When I left school I started working for Wilberforce Veneer, I worked at the plant for 12 years until my son Forrest was born after which I was a stay at home Mom and School /Community volunteer. I got to a point in my life where I really wanted to help my community so I joined the volunteer Fire Department and this is where I found my place as a rescuer at Station 2. I re-entered the workforce when my son started High School. Landing the job at the County was an auspicious time in my life, I worked for Haliburton County Roads for almost 13 seasons. In the winter when I would get laid off I would take courses or upgrade subjects that I had taken in High School. My last educational accomplishment was obtaining my Human Resource Manager Certification. I am up to date and trained in employment law, labour relations, training and development, contract negotiations, occupational health and safety, compensation, performance management, and recruitment and selection. After studying the employment laws, I grew intrigued and now I have a keen interest in Administrative Law. I believe some of the knowledge I have obtained would be a benefit to council if I was elected as Mayor.
2. What is the most important issue facing Highlands East today? As a council member, how would you address that issue?
Access is the most important issue facing HE today. Access to medical professionals, access to our banking institutions. It is a fact that the resources are concentrated in the larger towns and cities. If you need to see a heart Doctor, you have to go to Peterborough, if you need to see an eye specialist off to Peterborough, if you need to deposit a cheque or get some cash you have to go to Bancroft or Haliburton.
Access to reliable communications services (Wi-Fi and cell). Here in HE we have been waiting over a decade, for these services. We are in a downward spiral and solving these access issues is a priority for the future of HE.
I would solve these access issues by providing some form of affordable public transportation and lobby CRTC for some of that $750 million they have promised us rural communities so we can have reliable, high speed internet and cell service.
3. Do you support regulating short-term rentals? Explain why or why not.
I do not support regulating short term rentals because there is NO practical reason for this to be put in place. If the renters are making too much noise we have a bylaw for that, if the renters are parking on the roadway, we have a by-law for that also, and the septic concerns will be there if it is renters or owners. And we also have an inspection system in place to identify failing systems. I believe this would be a liability to Highlands East. HE states in the frequently asked questions that “this licensing bylaw goes beyond just the regulations of the municipal bylaws we have within our municipality; it ensures the safety of the renters.” There you have it, Highlands East is going to ensure the safety of the renters; this statement is in print for any legal entity to get their hands on should something ever go wrong in a HE licensed premise. Time to stand down and put this Bylaw to bed.
4. What are the barriers to economic development in Highlands East? What can council do to grow the local economy and attract new business to the area?
I can’t really say what the economic barriers are in HE but I believe economic development starts with leadership and management. They develop the plans and strategies then they conduct the research and analysis. Take the word to the streets, let entrepreneurs know what is available to them, let them know we stand behind new business. Spend the time and search through the government funding sources and apply to programs such as Rural Economic Development program. The RED program funds projects that stimulate economic growth in Ontario’s rural and Indigenous communities. They will give up to 50% of the project costs or a maximum $100,000. They fund activities that would grow our local economy and remove the barriers of economic development. Some examples would be attracting investment, creating jobs, supporting entrepreneurs etc.
There is also the Eastern Ontario Development Fund they provide funding to businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for economic development in eastern Ontario. This fund supports projects that create jobs, encourages innovation, collaboration, development and attracting private sector investment.
5. What are Highlands East’s strongest tourism assets? What could council do to improve tourism in the municipality?
It would be our lakes; would it be bragging if I said we have over 70 lakes? I think for such a small community we really hold our own when it comes to drawing in and entertaining the tourist. Gooderham has the Action group and they really work hard for their town, the music festival they put together this summer was amazing, The Rec committee in Wilberforce work endlessly on events, Agriculture fair, Penny Raffle to name a few, Station 2 fire services in Highland Grove presented a family fun day that included a silent auction, slot car racing and fun games for the children. Our Canada Day celebrations take you from one end of HE to the other starting with breakfast in Cardiff to musical entertainments at Wilberforce Red Cross Outpost, History of Tory Hill at the park then a explosive ending of fireworks at Gooderham. There are many events happening all the time so I would have to say Council must be supporting the working committees here the best they can. And I can’t forget Haliburton County they promote all four municipalities, we are branded as a wonderful place to live, work and play. I find there to be no weakness in our tourism efforts.
The Haliburton Echo sent the mayoral candidates for Highlands East council the following questions.
1. Do you favour the concept of an amalgamated, single-tier government for Haliburton County? What would the advantages of such a system be, or, conversely, what are the advantages of maintaining the existing two-tier system?
I do favour a single tier government for Haliburton County. I believe there is an overlap of some services and amalgamation would solve that issue. One example is the roads department. In the winter I watch Highlands East drive by my place with their plows up because 648 is a County Road. I also believe a single tier government would result in less staffing costs. I strongly believe single tier government is something to be considered for the near future.
2. Is the county’s tourism strategy working? What are its strong points and weaknesses? Is there anything that could be done differently to attract more people to the Haliburton Highlands?
Yes, the tourism strategy for Haliburton County appears to be working. Haliburton County is widely advertised and branded as a place of many adventures. A shortage of accommodations could be a weakness as we can only accommodate a specific amount of guests at a time.
3. The county is currently in the process of strengthening its shoreline protection bylaw. What provisions and restrictions should be included to adequately protect the health of the county’s lakes?
The Shoreline Tree Preservation Bylaw is a huge step in the health and protection of our lakes. The bylaw not only makes a firm stand on shoreline habitat protection but it is also encouraging people to do everything they can to improve and rebuild what has been lost.
4. The issue of short-term rentals of private cottages continues to be a topic of discussion in the community. Should municipalities be implementing control measures on short-term rentals; why or why not? What does a responsible framework for the control of short-term rentals look like?
Short term rentals is part of Haliburton County’s tourism interests. Implementing control measures may look like a cash grab to many people that are already struggling to pay taxes. I believe people are renting their vacation properties to help pay the taxes. I am curious as to how much will it cost to administer this type of control?
5. The county has been working toward a public transportation plan, which has not yet been produced. Do you think the county should offer a public transportation service; why or why not? What would a sustainable transportation system look like?
Yes public transportation should be offered. Bancroft has “The Trout” (a small bus that has a pre-determined route) and it is working very well for them, a similar service would work well for Haliburton County.