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 first visited this area in the 1980s and my wife Brenda and I purchased our property on Kennisis Lake in 2002. After several years as seasonal residents we consider ourselves very fortunate to reside here year round. We greatly enjoy every opportunity to host our children and grandchildren here at the lake.
During my working years I always believed community service was important and so I served on the Boards of several not for profits including a hospital in the GTA. Three times in the 1980s and 90s the voters of Etobicoke elected me as a School Trustee on the Etobicoke Board of Education.
Here in Dysart I have served on the Board of the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association (KLCOA) since 2015. Currently I serve as Chair of the Community Advisory Committee at Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS). I have also served on the Board at Abbey Gardens. As part of the KLCOA I was a strong advocate for the septic re-inspection program and understand the critical importance of healthy lakes and forests to our entire community.
My experience has taught me how to work effectively with others to establish consensus build plans set priorities and measure progress for the entire organization instead of focusing on individual goals and objectives. I know from personal experience how local government works. Success comes from Councillors working as a team on behalf of the entire community. I am prepared to work full-time to serve the residents of Ward 4.
2. The need for better care of our environment is the most important issue facing Dysart. Without clean and healthy lakes and forests the future for Dysart is bleak because for many those natural assets are a reason to visit Dysart. We must do a better job of looking after them.
The mandatory septic re-inspection program now in its first year was an important step. I led a group from the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association that encouraged Council to take this step. We can continue to improve that program. I would personally continue to advocate for better communication and a greater focus on educating property owners.
We also need to look for and implement better approaches to septage disposal than the current practice of open field spreading. New technologies are now in use elsewhere and should be evaluated for use here.
I also believe it is time we sought out better approaches for garbage disposal. Many of the existing landfills are nearing capacity and replacing them like for like is not acceptable. A multifaceted program that educates people on the total cost of garbage disposal/recycling and reduces the material we all have to dispose of will help. Maybe Dysart could become a “plastics free” community.
Dysart council needs to better manage its own affairs and educate residents to understand what they can do. Others have shown it is possible to grow our economy and reduce our impact on the environment. We can do the same.
3. First of all the development and provisioning of new services and facilities should be based on the priorities established by the new council as part of a strategic planning process that leads council members to align around a single set of objectives. Piecemeal is not good enough.
Personally I believe that the need for construction of new housing especially rental units for young workers and seniors is absolutely urgent. In addition new approaches to handling our garbage and septage and continued exploration of avenues to actually build the bioheat facility previously proposed for the village of Haliburton deserve real consideration. The development of new technologies that leverage our natural assets (forest products for bioheat) should be a priority.
At the same time we need to recognize that the village of Haliburton is not the only place in Dysart that matters. Here in Ward 4 the broad range of attractions at Haliburton Forest draw many visitors including local residents by providing recreation and entertainment that appeal to many people. We have great community owned facilities in hamlets like West Guilford that are currently very poorly utilized.
I would like to work at ensuring the West Guilford Community Centre is much more utilized going forward by providing programs that use the space and attract permanent residents the cottage community and visitors already drawn to the area by the numerous activities at Haliburton Forest. In fact activities that bring together permanent residents and seasonal cottagers can only be good for our entire community.
4. Global climate change will continue to have a very substantial impact locally. Lake water temperatures and overall temperatures are rising. We will have more extreme weather events (especially heavy rains exceptionally strong winds and periods of drought) and less snow accumulations.
This is already impacting our natural assets. Lake trout populations are at risk as are other native wildlife including moose. Some of our current tree population will be lost and therefore new species will need to be planted. The warmer temperatures mean more pests will survive and impact native species.
Council must accept the realities of climate change and prepare our community for the impact. We need to build infrastructure that will withstand the ferocity of extreme weather events (let’s evaluate alternative road finishes) and reduce our carbon pollution (e.g. implementation of the bioheat project).
Our council should be leading efforts to ensure we have plans that will help us continue to attract visitors year round even as our climate evolves educating property owners on the types of vegetation they should be planting so as to survive and thrive in the years/decades to come sharing knowledge on how to deal with pests and invasive species and more.
We can and must adapt. Leveraging the work of others council should be taking steps now to develop document and share a set of programs that will ensure this remains a great place to live in the decades to come. Those preparations should also help us secure available federal and provincial funds.
5. Council should be working with all community partners to ensure Dysart is consistently positioned as a great place to live and raise a family. We need to recognize not everyone lives on a lake and can simply enjoy our natural assets. Thriving communities offer their residents a range of housing choices and a multitude of services.
I believe the lack of practical housing alternatives is the primary impediment to making our community attractive as a place to live and work. As a first step I believe council should sponsor a “Housing Summit” of property developers local builders investors and property managers to identify and resolve the roadblocks which currently stand in the way of them constructing some new rental apartments in our community. The existing Housing Task Forces and Fleming College should participate. This approach has worked elsewhere and it can work here.
We also need to recognize that housing alone will not solve the problem. The new Youth Hub jointly developed by Point in Time and HHHS is a great step but we need more. Many thriving communities offer a range of services including community centres (most with pools) largely funded by users.
Our new council needs to build a plan and then must make a commitment to provide a broader range of facilities and services that will make Dysart a great place to live and raise young families. Let’s complement our wonderful natural assets with a greater range of services that showcases all we have to offer.