The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Achievement Awards was a sold out gala at Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre Saturday March 11. The evening included comedy by Mike Jaycock music a buffet dinner and swag bags in addition to the awards presentation. /SARAH BELL Special to the Echo

Walt McKechnieCandidate – Councillor Ward 5

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?

1. I was born in London Ont. where I played six years of junior hockey and then had a 16 year professional career and had the honour to play for my country in 1977 in the world championship in Vienna Austria. I also got to fulfill a childhood dream and got to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Around 1970 I came to Haliburton to work at the Haliburton Hockey Haven to teach kids hockey skills. In 1979 I bought property on Eagle Lake and built our home. My wife Suzanne and I raised our four daughters Katie Shannon Hunter and Tatum here. We have three grandchildren.
In 1986 I opened McKeck’s Place and owned it till 2009. Owning McKeck’s allowed me to establish my roots in the community and realize what a special place it is. Today I enjoy skiing and golfing in our community. I was so happy to have been able to play a big part in Hometown Hockey coming to Haliburton last fall. Our committee and Haliburton’s spirit made it a very successful event for our community. For the past eight years I have had the privilege to be your Ward 5 councillor and your voice at council. It has made me more passionate and dedicated to our community.
2. We have many concerns in our municipality and in our Ward 5 we have two that affect a lot of people. One is our water quality and two ways we can help is to make sure our septic tank system is working properly. The municipality of Dysart has a septic inspection program in place and will be in our area in a few years. In the meantime we should monitor our own systems regularly and not wait for an issue to happen. We should also not be fertilizing our lawns. If we do these two things we can help to preserve our water quality.
Another issue in Ward 5 that affects a lot of people is the poor cell and Internet service we receive.
I am told the municipality county and the province have done their part in the plan to upgrade these services and it is now in the federal governments position to disperse the funds to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to find a supplier to put the plan in motion for our area and also other rural Ontario areas.
3. I believe our municipality workers and administrative staff do a great job in serving our large municipality. I think there are a lot of services and facilities we all would like to have for our community and I don’t think a total reliance of taxes is the solution. Hopefully we will get some help from the provincial and federal government in attaining some of these services and facilities.
4. We have been experiencing more severe rainstorms lately and that is impacting our infrastructure such as road washouts blocked culverts and ditches which affect many residents’ driveways and properties. We will require more money in our infrastructure budget in the future to keep on top of this problem.
5. I think we have to find developers to create more affordable housing for our community so young families can get a start in living in Haliburton. I think it would be great if it was possible to have skilled trades courses at Sir Sandford Fleming College if was possible to create a new addition. It would help keep our youth at home and provide them with a chance to work and live in Haliburton. We also need to continue developing senior facilities for their needs.
I think the municipality has done a good job when we renovated our arena built the skate board park and are going to make the old skate board park an outdoors ball and ice hockey rink. I think we need to upgrade our baseball and soccer fields. The municipality has had great support from many organizations and private donors. These facilities will allow our youth to be outside having fun and competing with their peers.
I think everybody would like to have a modern recreation centre with a pool and many other facilities. I think it will happen some day when there is a private donor and the municipality county provincial and federal governments work together to make it happen.