Candidates weigh in on some issues

Saugeen Times has received many questions to ask the candidates running for office in Election 2018.

We have summarized some of the questions and responses received from some of the candidates. Do you have a question you want to ask (1 only)?

Q.) What is the biggest challenge for Saugeen Shores around development?

Dave Myette:  Development is taking place at a rate higher than the rest of Bruce County or almost anywhere in rural Ontario. The main problem developers are having is attracting and retaining sufficient skilled trades to keep up with demand.

Paul Seaman:¬†I believe the biggest challenge is ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is in place and forecasted appropriately for future growth. Further to that, ensuring we don’t lose the character of our town while growing larger in size is very important to me.

John Rich:  The biggest challenge is making sure that infrastructure is taken care of, the core services of Water, Sewer and Roads will always be our primary responsibility.  Following that we need to ensure we offer soft services on the recreation side that unfortunately are costly but add to the livability of our community.  The final challenge is ensuring that our community retains its small community charm throughout the projected growth.

Don Matheson:  The biggest challenge I believe is meeting the needs of all the people in Saugeen Shores.  Our staff monitor the water and sewer levels.  We are within our building capacity.  Staff also monitor and develop the roads.  These areas are taken care of.Where I see our biggest challenge is providing affordable housing and meeting the recreational needs of our citizens.  It is getting more expensive to live in Saugeen Shores.  We are not however, in the house building business.  We must work with the County to provide affordable housing space. We have land that we can donate for this, but the projects are approved and paid for by the County.  So, we must keep pressuring them to build the next project in Saugeen Shores.  As we grow, people are becoming more active.  Whether it is walking, cycling, swimming, playing baseball, soccer or hockey or pickleball, we must be sure to provide the facilities for this to occur.  The 50, 60 and 70 year olds of today are way more active than they were 10 and 20 years ago.  An Active Community is a Healthy Community and a Happy Community.

Patrick Jillesen: Ontario municipalities must have an Official Plan. The Official Plan describes your local township, county, region, district or city government’s policies on how land in your community will be used, and where future development will go. It is prepared with local citizen input and helps ensure that future growth and development will meet the needs of the community, in an orderly manner. I will ensure that our community will have the opportunity to be part of a proper consultation process that is meaningful and robust.

Cheryl Grace:  Our growth has been extraordinary in the last 12 years. Between 2006-2016, our population grew by 17% and it continues to grow, as permits for new dwellings are nearly four times higher than in 2014. Since 2001, Saugeen Shores has accounted for 55% of all growth in Bruce County. Such growth can provide our municipality with many advantages: an increased tax base and more consumers to support and grow our local businesses. However, we must ensure that our community has the necessary infrastructure, health care, school capacity, affordable housing and recreational and cultural amenities to support this growth.

Our biggest challenge is to ensure that development is located most beneficially for our residents and in a way that reinforces the vitality of our downtowns, not just as land becomes available. We need a growth strategy that builds on our Official Plan and Zoning By-law to provide clear direction on where and how residential and employment growth should occur over the next several decades. With such a strategy, we can assess where our growth should be located and that it happens in a way that is consistent with the goals and visions of our community. I am also committed to maintaining the charm and character of our Towns – this value must be protected in our development plan.

Q.) Do you support the proposed Innovation Centre for Southampton?

Dave Myette:  I absolutely support the proposed Nuclear Innovation Centre at its proposed location in Southampton.  

Paul Seaman:  Yes.

John Rich:¬†I do support the Nuclear Innovation Center.¬† Currently there are some community concerns and that is an important part of the process.¬† I’m confident that through consultation and innovative¬†design a concept will come together that will satisfy all of the community concerns.¬†¬†

Don Matheson:  I totally support the Innovation Centre in Southampton.  What people have to understand is that the County owns this land and they are developing this in partnership with Bruce Power.  They do not have to involve the community in their project, but they are being open and theywelcome public input.  Bruce Power will not develop a project that will cause problems.  This is a fantastic project that is cutting edge and offers endless opportunities for our students and schools. 

Patrick Jillesen:  Innovation is elemental to the future of any industry.  I believe that by supporting innovation we are enhancing opportunities for people in our community.  As with any new development, proper community engagement is imperative.

Cheryl Grace: The prospect of a Nuclear Innovation Institute coming to our municipality is a positive development. I have concerns about the proposed location at the northeast corner of Victoria and High, especially since at present we have not been given specific information about the size and height of the building, how many employees will work there and what their daily parking requirements will be, and what security requirements would be in place. My concerns at this point are:

a) traffic congestion and safety, especially since this is already a busy corner with G.C. Huston school, the museum, three churches, tennis courts and the lawn bowling club and that this proposed site is located at one end of our core commercial area.

b) the proposed removal of the Anglican church rectory, one of our town’s heritage buildings

c) the impact upon Fairy Lake and the surrounding park

d) the effect of a potentially large building on Southampton’s streetscape

Q.) Where do you stand on preserving Hwy. 21 corridor as green space vs. development?

Dave Myette: If the question is referring to the section of land between Port Elgin and Southampton, then it is not designated, or proposed as green space. This area is a combination of commercial and agricultural zones. As such any development must comply with those zoning requirements. I would not be in favour of any special designation that would unfairly impose special restrictions on the owners of these rural lands.

Paul Seaman:  I have not investigated this issue or had it brought to my attention.

John Rich:  All development has to be thoughtful and in keeping with the design guidelines of our community.  We should do what we can to preserve green space where we can while encouraging the kind of thoughtful development to help continue to make our community a great place to live.

Don Matheson:  I like green space.  We as a municipal government try to keep as much green space as possible in the community.  However, if we do not own the land, we can not dictate what the owners of the property do with their land. 

Patrick Jillesen:  Official Plans outline which areas within the municipality will be designated agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial, recreational, or institutional uses. Official Plans also regulate the growth of these competing land uses within the municipality. Zoning by-laws focus on specifics, such as how lands within each major designation will be used, where buildings and structures can be located on each parcel of land (setbacks from roads and lot lines), the types and sizes of buildings permitted, lot sizes and dimensions, and parking requirements. 

 When establishing and updating Comprehensive Zoning By-Laws and Official Plans, I will consult with the agricultural, residential and business community to reduce or eliminate negative consequences such as the depletion of green space.

Cheryl Grace:¬†One of my priorities is to help our highway corridors be as beautiful and welcoming as possible. It‚Äôs a priority for me because our highway corridors are the ‚Äúfront doors‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúcurb appeal‚ÄĚ of our community. When visitors drive into our town, their first impressions come from what they see along our corridors. If they see what they like, they are more likely to stop for a meal, shop in our stores, book a vacation or make a permanent investment as a resident or business owner. In addition, we want our residents to be proud of our community‚Äôs image, from north to south, east to west.

In 2016 Council directed staff to re-assess and update 2009 Design Guidelines to improve our highway corridors. While those guidelines had been presented to Council they had never been integrated into our planning documents. In February, 2018, staff presented a report to Council with recommendations on how we can best use these guidelines within our by-laws. This report shows that our residents want our highway corridors to preserve our lakeside identity and the uniqueness of our towns and that protection of trees and green spaces along our corridors is a priority. We should continue and strengthen current strategies such as tree retention plans, and improved landscaping guidelines like use of native plantings and flowers.

Q.)  What changes, if any, would you want to see in the two downtown cores of P.E. and Southampton?

Dave Myette:¬†I would like to see requirements for owners of lands or buildings to keep them in a reasonable level of maintenance. The ‚Äúurban blight‚ÄĚ that is evidenced, particularity in Southampton, from unused, vacant or abandoned buildings needs to be cleaned up. ¬†

Paul Seaman:¬†I’ll leave the Southampton issue to the relevant councillors. I have no proposed significant changes for Port Elgin

John Rich:  In Southampton I think we need to revisit the bump out designs and start to address all the community concerns to ensure there is ample parking while continuing to beautify the landscape.  In Port Elgin we need to continue to work with business owners to ensure that as people drive though the downtown their first instinct should be to top and take advantage of our many services.

Don Matheson:¬†¬†We have two BIA organizations that work very hard to ensure that our downtown core areas are lookwd after.¬† I would like to see Public WiFi brought to both cores.¬† The majority of visitors who come to town, are all “wired”.¬† The bigger urban centers have already accomplished this.¬† Also, as we are getting closer to 2025 and the implementation of the Accessibility Standards Act, and I would like to see all businesses become accessible well before this date.

Patrick Jillesen:  My vision is to foster a vibrant and economically sustainable downtown core that is driven by an innovative, successful and ever-expanding business community.

Cheryl Grace:  It’s a top priority for me to ensure that our downtown cores retain the small-town charm and vitality that makes our residents love living here and that draws the tourists who provide essential economic support for our local businesses. To maintain and enhance our downtown cores we need: safe and accessible sidewalks and intersections, amenities that make our downtowns beautiful and welcoming places like benches, flowers, trees, successful businesses who invest time and money in the inside and outside of their buildings, and provide financial support of events like Music on High and Poutinefest. Heritage buildings like the Southampton Town Hall and Port Elgin Library beautify our streetscape and protect our cultural traditions. To maintain the vitality and community spirit of our downtowns, it’s important to keep community services like our post offices and libraries downtown, instead of having them migrate to locations along the highway. We need strategies to support businesses that invest in improvements and to encourage vacant storefronts to rent or use their properties. We must continue to support and recognize the investment in money and energy by our BIAs and Chamber of Commerce who provide flowers, benches, decorations, and promotion and organization of events like the 150th and Canada Day celebrations, Santa Claus Parades and holiday events. We have just launched our municipal Transportation Master Plan study. I hope this will provide recommendations for us to maintain the best traditional features of our downtown while providing the safest streets and sidewalks for all.

Q.)  Do you support nuclear power?

Dave Myette:  Absolutely 

Paul Seaman:  Absolutely

John Rich:¬†¬†I support nuclear power.¬† At this stage it is impossible to create a low C02 solution for Ontario’s energy needs that does’t include nuclear power.¬† As well, nuclear power is the largest piece¬†in our economic development puzzle.

Don Matheson:  I totally support Nuclear Power and specifically Bruce Power.  Nuclear Energy provides 60-70% of our energy needs daily.  It is clean and efficient.  Bruce Power is also the largest employer in the area, and we as a Municipality work closely with them as we develop our Economic and Development Plans.

Patrick Jillesen:  Absolutely.  I believe the provincial government must find permanent solutions to deliver affordable electricity rates for residents, farms and businesses to keep rural Ontario competitive.  Nuclear power ensures stable and affordable electricity while providing directly, and indirectly, thousands of full-time jobs to our community.

Cheryl Grace:  I understand and appreciate the significant contributions Bruce Power makes in this community and region, and how important nuclear power is in meeting the power needs of our province. I also recognize the need for a long-term solution to deal with Nuclear Waste but I believe we should research and pursue alternatives to deep burial which can provide safe recycling of radioactive waste. Last week, I heard a presentation on the Future of Nuclear by Frank Saunders, VP Nuclear Oversight and Regulatory Affairs, Bruce Power. He spoke about small modular reactors as a new model of production, and one which probably won’t depend on centralized storage. I was also encouraged to hear that he believes the nuclear industry will move to recycling radioactive waste when it becomes profitable, and I hope that move is sooner than later. It makes sense considering that so much potentially useful power remains in used fuel.