By Sue Tiffin
Published Sept. 25 2018
Two mayoral candidates and eight candidates vying for councillor positions in Highlands East answered questions from constituents at the all-candidates meeting held at the Lloyd Watson Centre on Sept. 20.
Topics discussed included affordable housing public transportation short-term rentals improving cell and internet service septic re-inspections attracting young families here and conducting ice rescues.
The meeting was organized by the county’s media organizations both print and radio and was moderated by Canoe FM host Mike Jaycock. About 125 people were in the crowd.
“This is a wonderful turn-out and obviously demonstrates the interest in the upcoming election” said Jaycock.
Voters will choose between electing incumbent Dave Burton or Cheryl Ellis as their mayor.
Burton introduced himself by listing what he wanted to talk about in the evening: a doctor coming to Highlands East improved internet service improved cell service a financial institution in the municipality – Burton said he had “not given up the fight on that one” and said he was committed to the environment.
Ellis said people probably wanted to know why she was stepping into the race despite not having political experience. “I’m tired of standing in the back and bitching so I’d like to step up and I would like to be that person that helps everybody.” Ellis said she wanted to stop “taxing everybody for everything” and wanted to keep the area both quaint and lovely. She said she possesses the qualities that make her a good mayor and stressed that she is honest.
In Ward 1 Bicroft Steve Kauffeldt is running against incumbent Cam McKenzie.
Kauffeldt was born in Bancroft and has lived in Cardiff with his wife and children for 16 years. He has been a former councillor and chair of several municipal committees and more recently has worked on the Central Food Network the Places for People board as a volunteer firefighter and the Cardiff Light the Night committee.
McKenzie has lived in Cardiff for 50 years and has raised three children there but noted his family has had to move out of the area to find “meaningful work.” He worked 37 years with the MNR and served 15 years in the army reserves. He volunteered as a firefighter for 37 years runs the Cardiff Food Bank is chairman of the Haliburton Army Cadet Corp support committee and a member of the Cardiff Community Club and the Cardiff Legion. He has been councillor of Ward 1 for the past four years.
Suzanne Partridge running for Ward 2 Cardiff has been on Highlands East council for the past 17 years. She has been deputy reeve or deputy mayor for the past eight years and is currently the county warden. She has been a cottager or resident on Paudash Lake for the past 46 years and works in the landscape business. She acknowledged the importance in the area for tourism a need for balance between environmental protection and development potential and said she fully supports a county-wide transportation system.
Jane Russell vying for Partridge’s position said she has been living permanently in the area for just two years but has a lot of enthusiasm. She lives with her husband and his parents who have been here 18 years. She said she and her husband are looking forward to retirement years and hope to make some improvements to the area to live more comfortably here. Her interests include roads especially cleaning in the wintertime local schools staying open and environmental issues.
In Ward 4 Monmouth four candidates are running for a position currently being held by Joan Barton who is not running again.
James Deterling is married and raised his kids here. He said as a student he was full-time caregiver of the cemeteries and part-time truck driver for the township when needed and then spent almost 20 years with Hyland Ice then as a long-haul trucker. Deterling has served more than 10 years on council in the past almost 30 years as a volunteer with the fire department and coached minor hockey and men’s hockey. He said water is the community’s most precious asset and keeping it clean is essential.
Peter Fredricks worked in finance advertising and marketing before retiring to Wilberforce. He said his passion has always been to help and has sat on four Highlands East committees of council for much of the past two terms. He has sat on the county doctors recruitment committee and volunteers at Canoe FM as an announcer. He currently sits on the Haliburton County Development Corporation and the regional Community Futures of Eastern Ontario board. He said volunteering has taught him about what Highlands East needs and in particular his HCDC experience helps him understand what local businesses need. He said he wants to vote yes to the new Wilberforce park more affordable housing good paying jobs bringing more businesses to Highlands East job training and apprenticeship programs keeping youth in the community improving cellular service better internet service protecting water quality and finding a new financial institution and establishing doctor services in Highlands East.
Bradley Keller has worked for the County of Haliburton for the past six years and said he likes everything about the area. His family cottaged on Haliburton Lake when he was young and he lived out west and in Fergus before moving to the area so his wife could semi-retire. He said he’s 72 years old and has never been involved in politics nor thought he would be but he would like to see some changes made and wants to be totally involved in the community. He has volunteered for Horseshoe Days – both at the event and as a committee member – for the past four years and volunteers at the Wilberforce Fair.
Ruth Strong was born in Haliburton and has lived most of her life in Highlands East. She served on council previously in the late 1990s and has worked in the business world for 50 years. She said she is comfortable with the public understands the seasonal nature of work in the area finding skilled employees and retaining them and feels capable in making sound decisions for the municipality county and taxpayers. She has volunteered as treasurer of the Wilberforce Agricultural Society served on the Wilberforce recreation board and was part of the fundraising drive that built the Wilberforce Curling Club.
Cec Ryall councillor for Ward 3 Glamorgan was acclaimed.
Candidates took questions from the floor with most questions being posed to the mayoral candidates. Below is a sampling of some of the topics. To hear the meeting in its entirety visit the Canoe FM website and click on “programs” then “interviews.”
A tourism operator from Ward 3 asked if candidates would support addressing short-term rental issues by better enforcing current bylaws.
McKenzie said the topic had been controversial over the past little while. “My own personal feeling is that we need that economic activity here in Highlands East” he said. “Tourists are really the heart of our economy. The input we had was mostly against having the short-term accommodation. The one little glitch in that … running those rentals under our zoning bylaw right now is not legal.”
Deterling said the responsibility of renting should be borne by the person renting their property out not the general ratepayers in the municipality.
Ellis said the bylaws should be enforced and that more budget should be put toward that if necessary.
Burton said the issue was complaint-driven when it started but that council was “cognizant and aware and embraced the short-term accommodations.” He said the concerns of council were environmental safety fire and building and structure. Burton said he was adamant and council would follow through on regulations.
Tina Jackson an advocate for public transportation in the county asked candidates what they see as being their role in furthering the efforts toward a county-wide public transportation service.
Burton said the municipality was diligently looking into it and he was pleased they are. “I am adamant that if we’re going to have a transportation system in municipality of Highlands East or in the county that it’s both ways. Not going out bringing people into our township. Not taking people out of here for our businesses’ sake and different people around.” Burton said they are exploring all options including Uber.
Ellis said the Canadian Chamber has made their position quite clear on providing more rural transport and has taken that to the federal government. “The federal government has assured us that they are going to be looking into ways of providing and funding and going into partnerships to provide more transportation for these rural areas to get people to their jobs get people to their appointments and stuff like that. So it is coming down the pipeline and the funding is going to be eventually be there because the federal government has been approached already.”
McKenzie said in Cardiff partial rural community transportation is already happening. “We aren’t going to be able to change the fact that Cardiff people and Paudash Lake they shop in Bancroft their doctor’s in Bancroft our hospital’s in Bancroft.” McKenzie said he was “totally in support of anything we do for public transportation” to support transportation for residents.
Fredricks said the TROUT system helped the Cardiff community get seniors and youth to the swimming pool and that there was opportunity to expand the transportation service across the region which he considered important.
On ice-water rescue
Jenn Woolacott who identified herself as a proud member of the fire department said that almost every winter there is an unfortunate accident in which someone fell through the ice. “It’s not a good feeling standing on the shore and knowing you can’t go out there to help them due to political or money issues” she said. She asked the mayoral candidates to comment on ice water rescue.
Ellis said she couldn’t understand why ice water rescues weren’t being done given the number of lakes in the area and the number of accidents in which people fall through. “There is training because you can go up to the Ontario fire college … in Gravenhurst and they do do the training right there for ice water rescue. So even if we say we send a team of I don’t know sent five people up for ice-water rescue and then the insurance and that. But you know something maybe the insurance is going to be expensive but to keep losing people through the ice I think that’s more costly.”
Burton replied: “Right now the province are changing the protocol and we’re mid-stream of that. I would fully support doing ice and water rescue when the regulations get in place but right now I cannot and I will not until the regulations from the province are laid down to us. And I thought maybe my counterpart might have known that.”
On cell/internet service
Ted Morris approached the microphone to say he was getting phone calls from Bell and Rogers who were telling him they do not serve the area and that he would like to see more push from council to help everyone have access to better services.
Kauffeldt said high-speed internet services and better cell service were essential to encourage better business. “Businesses aren’t brick and mortar anymore it’s moving away from that … and we need better internet to support that.”
Partridge said she understands Morris’s frustration as she doesn’t have internet though she lives on Hwy. 28. She said the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus is working on the issue and that there has been a commitment from the provincial government for funding for cellphone service and to expand high-speed internet. “Fingers crossed I’m hoping to get it” she said.
Burton said he has been involved in the project to get internet in eastern Ontario for 10 years. “I believe it’s going to happen I can say it’s in the mail I can say it’s been happening for six or seven years now but I guarantee in the next four years we will have high-speed internet service to every home in eastern Ontario.”
Hilda Clark asked all candidates to weigh in on housing and the importance of affordable housing in particular for seniors and young people coming to the area.
Fredricks said through his work on committees he’s learned that the size of houses needs to be reduced and that financial institutions can make it prohibitive for young people to be involved. He suggested a program helping young people is necessary.
Kauffeldt said he has sat on a housing and grants committee and that types of housing was a focus and lowering square footage for houses so they are affordable. “We need young people to come here” he said. He acknowledged the senior population but said if young people aren’t moving here their houses can’t be sold. “It’s a crisis” he said.
Deterling said there is a definite need for affordable housing for all ages. He said it’s important to put trades back into local schools to encourage youth to get a trade and stay in the area so they can build and finance their house and that seniors living in their residences needed help and encouragement to stay in their homes.
Russell said she is definitely in favour of low-income housing having been herself on a waiting list for five years which she said caused chaos in her life.
McKenzie said a zoning bylaw had been passed so the minimum size of approved housing was reduced and that the building of an apartment or second suite in existing housing was approved as long as it meets code.
Burton said his hands are tied with the province to put more affordable housing in due to existing sewer/water infrastructure. He said he’s hoping with the new provincial government it might be easier to have units like that in place.