Candidate – Councillor Ward 2
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. Having cottaged since birth, moving to Haliburton on retirement felt like the right move. Quality of life in a cottage community and the enjoyment of a clean, natural environment are very important to me, and I believe need ongoing support and protection. While cottaging on Gull Lake, I participated in the creation of their master Lake Plan, and with our full-time move to Haliburton in 2008, I became involved with the Chamber of Commerce. During that time, I facilitated the business and expansion survey in 2010, and assisted with the development of their advocacy program.
These experiences provided me with an appreciation for proactive planning for our communities, and the connection between services, policies and community initiatives which make a vibrant, healthy and sustainable place to live. This led to my interest in serving a four-year term on Minden Hills council.
Born and raised in Orillia, my career, following a university degree in Environmental Studies, focussed on service and project management for government, legal services and financial institutions in Barrie, Toronto, Chicago and Ottawa. This career required ongoing study in the areas of accounting, planning and technology. I’ve been fortunate to feed my hobbies with courses in art and construction as well.
I enjoy being actively involved in our community, thoroughly enjoyed my past work on council, and am currently working with the U-Links Centre for Community Research, Friends of Ecological & Environmental Learning, and the Committee of Adjustment in Minden Hills, which adjudicates minor bylaw variances.
2. One of the most significant issues facing Dysart for a sustainable future is the availability of housing options in our settlement areas. While some headway has been made building condominiums, and upscale developments, pricing, size, location, or apartment- style accommodation make these options affordable or desirable to only a few. At present, we have many seniors, students, and young families looking for a variety of affordable housing, coupled with a shortage of workers for our service and trade businesses.
For Haliburton to be a sustainable community, council must take a leadership role in ensuring that affordable housing options are available which will, in turn, support our local services, recreation assets, learning centres and businesses.
For our valuable seniors to remain in Haliburton, and young adults and families looking to study, work and settle here, council must provide Township resources, engage community partnerships, and County, Provincial and Federal support to enable development of our required housing.
Council can develop an inventory of available property in the village area that may be used for housing and related community services. Council can also amend zoning to allow and encourage rental suites in residential properties as well as engage our government housing partners to collaborate with community groups, local builders and developers in identifying and defining affordable housing needs and solutions.
Without appropriate housing for the residents who make our town and community thrive and survive, we cannot evolve, support and sustain our growing residential population.
3. Two services that will bring spending and people of all ages to town are a pool and a theatre/community complex.
This is a controversial subject that appears at every election, with strong opinions on both sides.
Haliburton County has a long history of recreation related to our arenas, and although a large part of our culture, they are costly to maintain and operate. This impacts funding available for competing recreational options. Periodic review is warranted to ensure that our spending aligns with the needs of our residents, as evidenced by our need to improve community resources for youth, young families and seniors.
There are a number of options and partnerships to be considered in maintaining access to current recreational programs, and determining viability of new facilities and programs. Pool sizes and recreation spaces vary depending on the type of use and affordability, and partnerships with other townships, schools and organizations can impact the cost to develop and operate recreational facilities.
My objective for council would be to assess our recreational needs, including a pool and community complex, evaluate the use and cost of our current facilities and programs, and identify options and alternatives that provide solutions for the sustainability of our community.
We need to think strategically about our spending on all our recreation facilities, explore the options to improve community resources for youth, young families, and seniors, and assess how they support our current residents as well as the Township’s long-term vision.
4. Climate change is having a significant impact on residential properties, Township infrastructure, water quality of our lakes and the health of our local economy.
With the increase in seasonal temperatures, we are experiencing more severe storms, increased lake temperatures and longer periods of drought. Severe storms are producing heavy rainfall and high winds, causing damage to homes, properties and both road and hydro infrastructure. Increased lake temperatures are reacting with septic seepage and shoreline runoff to increase weed and algae growth, threatening our water quality, diversity of fish species and potentially, property values.
Our bylaws to protect natural shorelines need to be supported with education on requirements for waterfront management. Waterfront building must include site plans to ensure that new or renovated properties do not have a negative impact on our water quality.
To manage the impact of heavy rain, areas susceptible to flooding or erosion must be mapped to assess the need for drainage upgrades. To prevent high water impact, building standards must be strengthened. In addition, planning for our watersheds needs to include wetland areas that can absorb large volumes of water, and mitigate flooding.
By contrast, long periods of dry, hot weather will increase the threat of fire. Standards for properties and woodlots need to be reviewed and revised to ensure that we are managing these risks.
Additional planning, infrastructure upgrades and bylaw revisions will be costly, but if started now, can prevent expensive rebuilding and be implemented over several years.
5. Haliburton offers amazing small community living for young families and young adults, with good schools, an active arts community, access to lakes and forests, a supportive volunteer team, and no congestion (most of the year).
We have a number of challenges attracting young families to stay or move to Haliburton. The variety and affordability of housing is in short supply. Transportation is an issue, but can be partially remedied with availability of housing in the village. Community recreation options for young adults and families are limited without a community centre, or a pool.
We are fortunate to have Fleming College in our community and a proactive high school with a theater.
Concerns raised by the business community regarding staff shortages, and by many families who would like the opportunity for their children to develop a career in Haliburton can be addressed with leadership, planning and partnerships. Initiatives in the schools to promote well-paying, successful careers by the Chamber of Commerce and local builders need to be supplemented by addressing Provincial barriers to apprenticeship training, and offering related education through Fleming College.
I see these issues as a leadership opportunity and priority for council as it directly impacts the sustainability of our community. At present, responsibility for this planning, and liaising with related levels of government, do not exist. Township staff, with an appropriate budget and achievable objectives, or an outsourced organization such as the Chamber of Commerce, could assume these responsibilities with ongoing financial commitments from the Township.