Aaron WalkerCandidate – Councillor Ward 4

The Echo sent the following questions to all candidates running for a seat at the council table in Dysart et al.

The 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.)

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 first visited Haliburton in 1997 and knew that this is the place that I would like to be. I grew up in downtown Toronto and thought that there may be limited work availability but my family and I successfully moved here in 2006. Haliburton has proven to me to be a place of opportunity that strongly supports entrepreneurism and a strong work ethic. Haliburton has a tremendous community spirit and civic pride this resonated with me and I became more involved. My engagement with the community has taken me down several paths including being a previous director of the Chamber of Commerce being a community development coordinator for Food for Kids being a volunteer committee member of Dysart’s Economic Development Committee being a director of the West Guilford Community Center etc. Currently my wife Melissa and I own and operate McKecks Tap and Grill in the village of Haliburton.

2. Maintaining the water quality of our pristine lakes is of utmost importance. Haliburton’s current economy is primarily tourism based and depends on healthy lakes. Mandatory septic re-inspections and healthy shoreline initiatives are already in place however ongoing education for property owners is essential particularly since properties change hands frequently. Developing a short term rental by law will also promote lake health through ensuring that waterfront properties rentals do not exceed their designed capacity. Limiting the number of rentals per lake will also ensure that there is diminished contamination.

3. Rural transportation continues to be an issue. Utilizing Uber as a possible transit solution for Haliburton County is worth giving a try it is not entirely dissimilar to the TROUT bus in Hastings County but much more flexible in regards to availability and transit routes. Investigating if the province will incentivize with gas tax subsidies alongside multiple Municipalities sharing the cost.

4. Climate change is impacting Dysart with more extreme weather systems in the area. In the summer we experience torrential rainfall with incremental wash outs and road damage. In the winter we experience less snow and less snow sports tourism. I do not think that it is possible to mitigate these effects aside from developing a local economy that is less dependent on tourism and allocating more funds for road repair.

5. Young families and youth are crucial to the health of our community. Insecure housing and systemic poverty exist in every municipality but is more pronounced in Central East Ontario. I believe the next Official Plan should include Inclusionary Zoning in which new development is mandated (or encouraged with waived fees) to build a percentage of affordable housing this is already in place in most major cities in North America and has a proven track record. Young people do not have enough recreational activities or resources for support in mental health and education. The soon to be opened Youth Hub is innovative in engaging with youth in Haliburton I believe that at least in the short term the municipality should be open to financial support of this programming as long as there is evidence of planned sustainability.