Candidate – Councillor Ward 5
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?
1. Haliburton has been part of my life for over 40 years. My wife Marie and I were initially cottagers and when we decided to retire in 2017 we made our cottage on Haliburton Lake our permanent home. We have two children that have enjoyed many years spent at our cottages in Haliburton.
I was the President of a cottage condo corporation for eight years on Lake Kashagawigamog. Currently, I am the president of the Haliburton Lake Cottagers’ Association and have been in that role for four years. I am also on the Board of the Haliburton Curling Club.
During my 35-year career as an electrical engineer with Hydro One, I was involved in many areas of the business that allowed me to develop a wide range of skills:
Financial analysis – budgets, financial reviews and creating/tracking business plans
Risk management - identifying positive and negative scenarios and determining what is the best course of action
Field operations - managing the day to day running of a department - working with a team towards a common goal
Information Technology - upgrading technology - allowing staff to work more effectively
Asset management - managing all decisions about the maintenance and replacement of an asset, such as roads, buildings and trucks.
I have always enjoyed basketball, playing intercollegiate in university and became a basketball official after graduation, while also owning a sports goods store. Since my retirement, I have found the time to join the curling club in Haliburton and enjoy the odd game of pick-up basketball.
2. I believe the most important issue facing Dysart is a need for a vision. It is critical to know where you want to go and put in place plans to get there. I know there are currently several tactical issues facing Dysart such as roads, internet and cellular services, short term rentals, youth programs, housing, etc. It is difficult to prioritize these issues unless we know what we are striving for and have a budget in place and a 5-year business plan in place to get there.
As part of developing the vision for Dysart, we need to analyze and discuss how we work with Haliburton County. I believe there are issues that should be managed at the county level, such as waste and septage management. It would be more cost effective to have one approach to address these issues instead of having four municipalities charting their own course.
The effectiveness of council is critical to move forward and achieve a vision. I would recommend a review of the committee structures and mandates to increase effectiveness.
Once elected, I would be willing to lead a group of elected officials and civic leaders to determine Dysart’s vison which would include public consultation. Once the vision is determined I would actively participate in architecting the five-year plan supporting the vision.
3. I believe there is a requirement for more community space - places where families can go. The Haliburton Junction Skate Park is a wonderful facility but Haliburton needs more low/no cost alternatives for families. Community space is critical to attracting and keeping young adults and families within Haliburton County. More on that in Question 5.
A very close second is a need to ensure the availability of high-speed internet service across Dysart. Within Ward 5, most properties do not have a reliable high-speed service. The internet plays a huge role in the life of almost everyone. It is necessary for services such as communications, education, economic transactions, research, local and global information, and entertainment to name a few. Most important, these services allow residents to work remotely or operate home based businesses promoting more economic opportunities within the community. Our children require these services to work in the digital age.
Currently Dysart’s elected officials are waiting for the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) as the solution to our internet needs. EORN’s solution is a tower based cellular network. Unless you have line of sight to your property you will not be able to leverage that cellular network for home internet. The best solution is to leverage and upgrade the existing Bell telephone network.
I am willing to do all the necessary research looking at other rural areas to understand how they have addressed this issue because EORN is not the internet solution for many parts of Dysart.
4. Climate change is a very real challenge. We will see the impacts in warmer temperatures, and more extreme weather events especially around precipitation and flooding. In its simplest form, higher volumes of rain impact our roads and lakes and higher temperatures impact the long-term health of our environment.
Higher volumes of water in our watersheds that feed the lakes, will lead to serious issues. If the flow of water is not managed, pollutants will be pushed into our lakes. The Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Association (CHA) has been indicating that shoreline naturalization helps to address this issue. Naturalized shorelines are being supported by a Shoreline Preservation bylaw at the County level. There is also a move to introduce site alteration restrictions in the revised version of the Shoreline Preservation Bylaw. I support these initiatives.
On council, I would support the creation of a Community Climate Change Adaptation Plan, to enable Dysart to address and respond to the challenges of climate change.
There are tactical changes that can be done quickly at Dysart and the County to adapt our infrastructure to address Climate Change:
Use larger culverts for all future work
Begin discussions regarding the removal of gravel roads – gravel roads cannot cope with heavy rains
Plant trees that can adapt to warmer temperatures that are expected in the next 50 years
5. Attracting and keeping young adults and young families in our area is a serious issue and needs to be addressed. If elected I would support the formation of a working group that includes young adults, students, civic leaders and council members to create a plan and bring it to council for adoption. The task of the team would be to look for models locally and internationally as to what has worked.
I see the following components to be included in a final plan.
Community Space - As I mentioned in Question 3, one of the top priorities for Dysart is the creation of community space, the Junction Skate Park is just a start. What about a splash pad or the much talked about Community Centre with a pool maybe partnering with the school system or even a large camp.
Housing - is another key factor. What about making a residence at the college a priority and that would free up housing currently in use by the students for young adults and families.
Technology – As I mentioned earlier the requirement for internet and cellular systems are critical facets of work and home life. People will move to communities that have good, affordable cellular and internet services.
Jobs - There also needs to be continued focus on building new jobs in Haliburton, analysis of economic and business development within Haliburton. Tactically, job fairs should continue as should college and university recruitment fairs.
The Working Group would be expected to prepare a preliminary and final plan. Haliburton must act on this issue!