Candidate – Deputy Mayor
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. I grew up in Harcourt and Haliburton. My wife Cheryl and I raised our two daughters here, and they are now raising their families here. I understand the challenges young families face here, from day care shortages, the high cost of living, lack of housing options, poor internet and cell coverage, to the limited recreational opportunities for families.
I bring lots of experience to the table.
I have served on a number of local committees and organizations including the Dysart Economic Development Committee, the HHHS Board and am a past president of the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association.
I have also served on or chaired a number of regional and provincial boards and committees including chair of the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board, and was appointed by Premier Eves as the first executive director for the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission.
I owned and operated a store in Haliburton, and enjoyed a long career as a paramedic. The final eight years, I served as the director of emergency services for the county before retiring in 2014.
As director of emergency services I gained valuable knowledge and understanding of the budgeting process, managing a unionized workforce, developing and delivering new innovative programs and initiatives, and the ability to work with municipal and provincial partners.
I currently sit on the board of directors of the Haliburton County Development Corporation. This opportunity allows me to stay current with the challenges, issues and opportunities our business community faces.
2. I think the municipality has reached a point where we need to reassess our strengths, weaknesses and adjust our future goals and objectives as necessary.
I will recommend that council and staff develop a three to five year operational plan to address a variety of identified challenges including aging infrastructure, internet, housing options, economic stimulus, and develop solutions and goals for each.
A strong well defined, prioritized, and budgeted three to five year plan will be an asset as we move forward. Funds are limited and we need to be able to maximize both available funds and the human resources necessary to carry out our objectives.
Proper planning will enable staff to be vigilant in examining options and potential partnerships or alternate funding opportunities that align with our objectives if they have been included in the development of our goals.
I believe when we all (council, public, and staff) know where we want to be with a clear roadmap, then success is achievable.
Our current committee structure and their Terms of Reference should be reviewed to ensure they have the direction and ability to make meaningful recommendations for council consideration.
We have an extraordinary pool of experienced people here in Dysart who are more than willing to help our community move forward in a positive way. It is important as a council that we listen to such people and seek their advice.
3. I believe the availability of reliable cost efficient high speed internet service is the single largest influence on our future. Many studies have detailed the benefits to improving quality of life by having high speed internet available in rural areas. Here are a few that stand out:
•Brings Local Business to Global Markets
•Educational Opportunities and Healthcare
Broadband brings the opportunity for direct access to education and health care who are otherwise forced to travel long distances for college courses or medical treatment.
•Increases Area Job Growth
Business brings jobs, and high-speed internet brings businesses such as historically urban businesses like graphic design, website design, and other creative industries to experience life in rural settings while competing on the same level as city-based companies.
•Enables individuals to start or grow a business, or work from home or cottage
•Attracts Visitors to Local Businesses
•Provides residents access to global information and cultural resources.
The County is working with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to increase internet and cell coverage in the County. We need to be prepared to expand and support additional coverage as needed.
I will recommend to council that a team be assembled with a background in business, internet and cell experience to review and recommend options (including municipal broadband solutions) to enhance local coverage in time to work with the installation of enhanced service as we may receive through the EORN program.
4. I strongly believe that mitigation planning for major emergencies is needed now more than ever to ensure the safety of our residents and preservation of our properties.
For example, I am pleased to see that the county was successful in receiving funding to undertake the initial steps to identify and update flood plain mapping, and that staff have been directed to apply for Phase 2 funding this fall. This data will be extremely important as flood mitigation strategies are developed in the future.
I served as director of emergency services for the County for eight years, which included responsibility for the County Emergency Management Program so have an extensive background in emergency management.
In 2016 I was asked to complete a review and modernization of the Township of Minden Hills Emergency Plan. I have since completed similar updates in the past two years for the County and the Township of Algonquin Highlands.
Given the increase in severe weather events, and other impacts on our lives due to climate change, I am pleased with the efforts to date by our local Emergency Management Committees to become better prepared for community emergencies. Public education of how we can all prepare personally to deal with a variety of potential emergencies is the next key component to creating a community that will be better prepared.
I will continue to use my experience with Emergency Management to support programs or strategies that ensure the safety of our property, citizens and visitors.
5. Attracting and retaining young people is one of the toughest challenges facing rural communities. This is a worldwide problem, not just a Highlands issue.
The outflow of young people adversely affects Dysart in a variety of ways, including missed tax revenues from increased development, threatening the viability of our local schools, and depressing local economies.
A recent US research document (Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Nebraska) identified these five requirements for keeping or attracting young people or families. There are many reports with similar conclusions.
Investment in “youth priorities”
Provide entrepreneurial opportunities for young people
Actively engage and consult youth.
Market your community to attract young people.
Council can be the leader and advocate by providing a welcoming environment. Achieving success will require a multi-pronged approach, working with a variety of stakeholders including HCDC, Chamber of Commerce, financial and educational institutions, and provincial/federal partners to:
1. Recognize, and improve where necessary existing community assets,
2. Identify and work toward obtaining or creating key missing ingredients, including
a. Creation of a registry of Haliburton County companies looking to divest within 5-10 years.
b. Create a program that provides incentives for those companies to hire and train young entrepreneurs.
c. Investigate the possibility of starting a Community Economic Development Investment Fund program to create a local pool of capital for investment.
d. Examine opportunities to create housing solutions that contribute to a vibrant community atmosphere.
e. Create and actively promote a “business positive” atmosphere within Dysart.