Candidate – Councillor Ward 1
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. My name is Nancy Wood-Roberts, and I am running for re-election in Ward 1. I am a full-time registered nurse at Haliburton Highlands Health Services, a mother to three great daughters and a wonderful step-son. I have lived and worked in Ward 1 for my whole life. My desire to continue being involved in municipal government is driven by my firm belief that our tax dollars should be spent responsibly and on projects and programs that benefit our community as a whole. I have the last four years of experience, as well as I served as the Ward 1 representative from 1998-2003. I went to night school in Peterborough to become an RN while raising three small children at home in Haliburton, and for the last four years, I’ve chosen to take my shifts over the weekends at the Haliburton Hospital to make myself available for council and committee meetings. I’m committed to helping my community in both my professional and personal life.
2. I would say that housing is the single biggest challenge we’re facing in Dysart et al. As a nurse, I see the negative impacts that the lack of safe, affordable housing for our seniors has on their health, vitality and families. I also see how the lack of long-term care beds in our community strands our most vulnerable community members in unsafe housing situations or in acute care hospital beds. Additionally, as the mother of three adult daughters, I know that housing is a huge challenge for young people and young families, whether they are looking for a first apartment or are hoping to purchase a home. We also have a beautiful college campus in our village that desperately needs student housing to allow it to grow. As a member of council, I have sat on our Aging Well Committee and the BIA. Both groups have energetic and ambitious members who strive for the betterment of our community. I have been involved in our Public Planning Committee, which over the past four years has had some very contentious issues. I am committed to supporting any development in our community that is not detrimental to our natural environment, increases the diversity of our housing stock, and provides a safe place for our community members to live. I also feel that we need to continue to lobby our provincial government to support local infrastructure projects, social programs and hospital funding to keep our community members where they belong: safe in our community.
3. Most residents would love to see expanded recreational opportunities for our community and I know the possibility of a public pool has been of great discussion among everyone in Haliburton County. I would like to see all four of the lower tier townships consult with community members and the County to discuss the feasibility of an aquatic centre. Dysart et al does not have the resources to build or maintain a facility like this alone, and I am unwilling to commit the tax dollars of my neighbours to a project that we have not fully considered from a cost perspective. If we could come together as a county and make this happen, a recreational facility with a pool would create jobs, attract young families to our community and provide safe, low impact exercise for all of our community members year round.
Beyond large infrastructure projects, I would like to make our existing facilities work harder for everyone by making them more accessible to all residents. Finding funding opportunities to provide even more recreational programming for all age groups would be important, because I believe the youth recreational programs have been extremely successful in our area.
4. We have already seen a shift in weather patterns here in Haliburton County. Our summers are becoming longer and drier and our winter weather has become less predictable. The longer, warmer summers have been a boon for tourism but our risk of wildfire and toxic algae blooms have increased exponentially. We have more people living on our lakes year-round rather than just seasonally cottaging, and as Haliburton County as a whole grows, our footprint on our natural landscape is constantly expanding. Council can help mitigate the effects of climate change by supporting sustainable development through our planning processes, accounting for the possibility of winters with higher precipitation in our roads management and budgets, and supporting our fire department with funding so they are prepared for increased risk of fire and water rescues in both the summer and winter. As well, working with our partners to protect our shorelines and educating our community about cohabiting with our natural environment are clear ways to help reduce our impact. Continuing our work with septic re-inspections to support our lake health needs to be a priority, as is working with municipal staff and our partners to improve landfill diversion rates. Most importantly, I think we as councillors need to listen to the experts. There is a wealth of information available for local municipalities in dealing with the changes to our climate and it is up to us to do what’s right; not just what’s easy.
5. A great start would be to support more medium density development, especially in the village of Haliburton. A lot of young people who find jobs in the area struggle to find a place to live. When I was young and newly married, I lived in an apartment above a store on main street before buying my first home. Demand has simply outstripped supply and we need to support initiatives to create more housing that is appealing and affordable for younger professionals. Continuing to push to improve our broadband internet coverage in the Municipality is also important; young people want to feel connected to the world beyond their front door and a lack of basic internet in our community, especially outside of the downtown core, makes the prospect of living in our area less attractive.
I also believe that council needs to continue to support community building measures even in times where budgets are tight and resources are hard to come by. We need to continue to support local groups and community events that provide all of our residents with ways to be involved, live a healthy, economically feasible lifestyle and be entertained here in Dysart et al.