Nine candidates running in the October 22 municipal election for Mayor, Town and District Council, and Brunel Ward fielded questions on everything from affordable housing and healthcare to water quality and waterfront development at an All-Candidates Forum on September 20 hosted by the Huntsville Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce. (Note: Town and District Council candidate Lillian Fraser was absent. The candidates in Chaffey Ward, Jonathan Wiebe, and Huntsville Ward, Karin Terziano, are acclaimed. Candidates in Stisted, Stephenson, Port Sydney Ward participated in a separate forum on September 27.)
At the end of the meeting, candidates were given two minutes each for closing remarks. These were their comments.
Brunel Ward candidates
Ken Inglis: “Thank you everyone for listening to all of us this evening. I care about the future prosperity of Huntsville and I believe that I can be of a great help in physical services, public works. I know my stuff with soils, drainage, as a small business owner I also have had lots of interaction with the public. I have a tremendous friends and customers and I love living in Huntsville and I want to see Huntsville be a better place for us.”
Dan Armour (incumbent): “It’s been a very long and interesting night for everyone. I’d like to thank you for your questions and your patience. As the incumbent for Brunel Ward I will continue to show strong leadership as we go forward. I will continue to advocate for acute emergency hospital services in Huntsville and support the redevelopment of Fairvern Nursing Home as part of our health hub. Funding active transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed and we need to continue to invest in our roads, bridges and trails. We need to address affordable housing because this plays a critical role in stability and security of many individuals and families in our community. Housing offers a meaningful place in our community, a safe place for families to grow. When housing is affordable in a community, it provides stability to everyone. As residents, you need a council that will keep you informed of the issues. It might be economic development, our lakes, our transportation infrastructure. I will continue to work on ways to improve the communication of these issues so council can make informed decisions. It has been an honour to represent the constituents of Brunel Ward for the last four years and I am excited about the opportunity for a second term. I look forward to continue to work for you and a chance to finish the projects that we started like the streetscape that will improve our downtown core and make it even more vibrant. We need to continue to support the curling club in its journey to build its new multipurpose facility. What Brunel Ward’s been missing is longevity, continuity and commitment and that’s what I bring to Brunel Ward by being elected for a second term and vote for Dan Armour on October 22.”
Town and District Council candidates
Tim Withey: “Four years ago, the alarm bells over healthcare were ringing and today they are even louder. We have seen that there is a very real and material role that our municipality can play in this issue. As we learned in the past, one move of an essential service to another site will begin a cascade of issues that will threaten our hospital’s very existence. Growth, geography and a strong complement of dedicated physicians, nurses and hospital staff not only demand that our hospital remains in Huntsville but that it grows and expands to be the next regional hospital in Ontario. I will not only work to preserve our hospital, I will continue to push for the timely redevelopment of Fairvern Nursing Home and will be a strong advocate to expand Algonquin Grace Hospice. I categorically reject the notion of One Muskoka and will fight any attempts to move towards that model of governance. I support a model where the town has more power will work to end the duplication of services toward a leaner, more effective and efficient government. The environment needs to sit at the forefront of every decision and I am committed to ensuring that. Working to adopt the latest in sustainable ideas for a greener Huntsville with responsible development. We have to make sure we are getting top value for the tax dollars we collect, making sure we get an appropriate return when there is a decision to dispose of capital assets. As your councillor, I will bring a more fiscally prudent opinion to the table. We need to continue to invest in our physical infrastructure such as bridges and roads. We live in an era of climate change with more intense storm activity making this a growing concern for all. In closing, Huntsville is the largest population town in the District and growing. We must have leadership in our municipal government that can manage this and other challenges in a responsible manner. If we are destined to great heights, and I believe we are, we need a vision and a plan to ensure we harness the potential that is laid before us. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less. Please consider a vote for me on October 22 to return to the council table. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will work tirelessly on your behalf. That is a promise you can count on.”
Bob Stone (current Huntsville Ward councillor): “Thank you all, both candidates and viewers for being engaged in the process tonight. Clearly we all love this town we call home. We want to see it grow with care and preserve the things that make it special. If elected, I will continue to listen and advocate for you. I encourage you to continue to call me with your thoughts, stop me in the grocery store to talk, contact me and I’ll come to your home and we’ll talk about your concerns. This is your government and we need to always be listening. I spoke to a resident yesterday who was complaining about an issue that wasn’t being addressed by Town staff. I said, did you call your councillor because that’s exactly what we’re here for. The last four years on council have taught me to stand up and fight when things don’t seem right, to do my homework, gather understanding, and collaborate with others. Together we will find ways to reduce property taxes such as implementing the tourist accommodation tax, and we can streamline services and reduce the public payroll by assuming all Huntsville roads and planning authority from District. And the time has never been better to reduce the number of bureaucrats at the District Council table. This is your government and I would be proud to continue to be your voice.”
Brian Thompson (incumbent): “As mentioned in my opening remarks, I’ve saved my thoughts on possible changes to the District of Muskoka governance model for my closing remarks. There has been a movement afoot for some time now to reduce the size of District Council and with the election of Premier Ford and his actions on the size of Toronto Council, it’s fairly safe to assume that changes might be expected here in Mukoka. In the event that District Council is reduced there will also be expectiations to reduce councils at the municipal level as well. Presently three members of Huntsville Council also sit on District Council. However, …council composition review was presented to District Council on Monday and came up with five recommendations, the first of which called for representation by population and in another they call for each councillor to represent an equal number of constituents. As Huntsville is the largest community in Muskoka and when seasonal residents are included would have same number of councillors as Muskoka Lakes with its large seasonal population. So should those guiding principles be followed for restructuring District Council, it’s possible that Huntsville Council might remain the same size. The One Muskoka model that has been touted for several years would see a reduction in the number on Muskoka Council but would also see decisions and authority taken away from the municipal level and go to a single upper tier council in Bracebridge. In my opinion, and alternative and more responsible model would see the departments that have a huge financial, environmental and social impact on the taxpayers such as water and sewer and community service administered by the District. These areas impact everyone in the District and so should also be the fiscal responsibility of the population at large. Having public works and planning at the municipal level would reduce duplication in planning and public works. Dealing with issues like potholes, ditching, planning and zoning do not need approval from two different levels and are best dealt with here in Huntsville. I have served on council now for several terms and I would respectfully request your vote sometime between the 12th and 20th of October.”
Helena Renwick: “Thank you to Kelly and the Chamber of Commerce, media sponsors and my fellow candidates and most importantly to you, the listening audience both here and at home. Thank you for coming out tonight and giving me the opportunity to answer your questions and perhaps get to know me a little bit better. Elections are about choices. On October 22 you will have to make a choice about who will represent your interests in this community about the environment, affordable housing, the economy, the infrastructure and the health and wellness of our community and a lot of other things but these are big choices. You want to choose the right person and I know I can be that person. When elected, I promise to serve to the best of my ability, I will be understanding, proactive, respectful and open. I will be totally committed to working to make this community the best it can be. I am not running to be a politician. I am a dedicated citizen who wants to be your fulltime councillor and represent you the public. I have said before, you are our community’s greatest asset and if you can invest your time and energy to come here tonight and listen to me and the rest of these candidates, the least I can do is represent you to the fullest. I’ve been asked why I want to run for office and I guess it’s the challenge and the opportunity to bring a fresh, creative perspective to this town and to the area. One of the lessons that I learned when I was growing up was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. So when I hear negative comments, I really don’t invest any energy in them because I know who I am. I am Helena Renwick, a partner, a mother, a daughter, and a sister to so many other women, and I am running for District Council.”
Nancy Alcock (incumbent): “Four years ago, when I ran the first time, I said that it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and I can tell you that running the second time is no less humbling. I care deeply for this place, and what I have come to appreciate is how much the people in our community love and cherish it as well. I think about this every day and that’s what motivates me as a councillor. So here is my track record and why I think I can bring value to the next council. Everything I do is grounded in 30 years of practical experience as a trained urban and regional planner. I am a consummate team player but I am also someone who doesn’t back down on deeply held beliefs and values about our community. I participated on the Mayor’s task force on attainable housing, where we made some progress in finding solutions to create more affordable housing and clearly we need to do more. I sat on the Official Plan working group alongside a group of dedicated citizens who gave a lot of their time considering questions around density and development. When council had the opportunity to complete the Hunters Bay Trail, I was one of the early supporters of the trail extension project. We had some lively discussions around the expense. Today, the Hunters Bay Trail is one of the most iconic in the province. Congratulations to all who made that happen. As an instructor at Ryerson University, I organized a group of students to prepare a redevelopment plan for Brendale Square. I am proud of the collaboration between town staff, councillors, the public and businesses who participated in this exercise. At District we finalized the revised Official Plan and created a new position to coordinate District efforts to deal with climate change. There have been many contentious moments in this term and for me my takeaway has always been what have I learned and how can I do it better next time. I’ve learned a lot and I will continue to do so if reelected for another four years.”
Scott Aitchison (incumbent): “Thank you Kelly and the Chamber of Commerce, thank you to all who have come out this evening and of course the media partners who helped organize this event and those who are watching at home tonight. I thank you for the opportunity to answer some questions, I’m sure we didn’t get to all of them, Dave I’m sure you want to talk some more about soccer fields and that kind of stuff so I’ll meet you downstairs. I believe in partnerships and I think your question was a really appropriate one because it speaks well to the way I’ve led council. Being the mayor isn’t just about good ideas, it’s not just about being available, it’s about leading. And I believe in leading by example, leading as a collaborator and working together. This council has worked well together, we have done a lot of great things in partnership with other organizations and groups in our community, and I see an opportunity for us to do an awful lot more of that as we go forward to solve the problems that we face. We have real problems, and a lot of those problems that we are facing is because things are going really well in this community. We have a housing problem because the economy is booming, and so that brings with it its own set of challenges whether it’s making sure that we remain a quaint, beautiful community and whether we make sure we have all forms of housing available for people in our community. Those are real challenges. They’re challenges that I just don’t think of them as something on paper, an analysis that we have to do. They are real lives, every single day that are affected. I promised last time that I would wake up every single day fighting for Huntsville. I have done that for the last four years and am going to continue to do that for another four with your support.”
Peggy Peterson: “First and last this evening and once again thank you everyone for showing up and being interested in this election. The reason I am putting my name in to be the mayor is that I believe that I can bring something to the table. I believe I can bring the respectful chairing of a meeting and the relationships with other levels of government. I have never been a politician and I have never worked withing government but I have worked around every level of government in this country and I know what’s not working. The reason I ran for mayor is because I think we have to start locally to change some of the things. I do understand that over the last course of time how many terms of office that we have changed direction as a community. We have become a community that is recognized for some showing up for photo ops and making shiny pages and talking about the trees and talking about the environment and talking about the economy but what we haven’t seen is any real action. I’m a doer and I’m fearless in my approach to how we look after the town of Huntsville. I was at the meetings for the soccer. I was at the meetings for Grandview for the amendments and Deerhurst. I was at the Empire block, all of those public meetings when the town was redesigning that building and refused to include affordable housing. We need to be a resilient community. The first thing I’m going to do is pull the Unity Plan off the shelf collecting dust, because many of you put very many hours into creating something. We just didn’t have the inspiration of the elected officials of the day to actually do anything or act on any of that. I am really interested in being a full-time mayor and looking at all of this and asking for all of your support as we move in a process that really has to be managed… (end of time allotted)
Moderator Kelly Haywood reminded residents to visit Huntsville.ca or contact Town Hall for information on the upcoming municipal election. The election voting period is from Friday, October 12, 2018 to Monday, October 22, 2018 at 8:00 p.m., with voting occurring via phone or internet.
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