This is the ninth in a 2018 series of commentaries from municipal politicians which allows them to tell you, in their own words, what is important to them, what bugs them and what makes them tick. Each week will feature a member of either the Huntsville or Lake of Bays Council. As we enter an election year, this is your opportunity to get a better picture of your elected politicians. This week: Lake of Bays Councillor Michael Peppard
Becoming a councillor in any municipality is no different than any other new job. There is a learning curve and it can be steep. As a ward councillor there are numerous policies and bylaws to absorb, terminology you will need to Google, and every issue encountered can be new and often comes with a very specific set of circumstances that need to be understood. Unfortunately, there is no textbook or class on how to do all of this right.
I have been a councillor in Lake of Bays for two years now and I wanted to share some of the lessons that I have learned.
The Township of Lake of Bays is BIG. It covers nearly 700 square kilometres. My own ward, Sinclair Ward, can be a challenge to get to know in enough detail to be of the most support to everybody due to the many lakes and the large area it covers. You really need to get in your car and drive around to see all of the issues for yourself and to properly understand the daily challenges. There are wash-outs, pot-holes, ice damage to public and private docks and boat launches. Having a camera or phone on hand to record what you see to refresh your memory always helps.
Every member of our community has a unique perspective and all of them have a vision for how they would like our community to improve, evolve, or maintain the best of itself. You really have to take the time to listen to all parties involved in order to make informed decisions. You may not always agree with what you hear but that too is part of the job and part of the learning process.
The fact is you have to get involved. If you want to know how to make decisions that really benefit your community you have to get out there and be a part of the community. In Lake of Bays this is quite easy. There is so much going on. There are lots of opportunities to get out and make friends, to volunteer, and to make that difference.
I still have lots to learn but I can see that the role of a Lake of Bays councillor on District Council is a pretty straightforward one. Do your best to make sure that Lake of Bays holds onto and preserves what makes it unique and special. Do your best to make sure that Lake of Bays tax dollars are spent in a way that supports all that is best about Lake of Bays and Muskoka. Do your best to address issues that face all communities in Muskoka including a viable economy that supports everyone’s needs, and the challenges of housing everyone including those seeking seasonal employment. And last, but not least, good roads, better internet access, and finding the happy balance between so many people who love Muskoka and Lake of Bays for many similar and different reasons.
To read more in this 2018 series of commentaries from municipal politicians, click here.
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Mike Peppard grew up in Ottawa. He spent 20 years moving around Ontario in his role as a biologist. Algonquin Park was often a destination so despite the excitement of living, working and volunteering in Toronto for over a decade, he says it was great to finally call the north home. Mike says that living here for the past seven years has brought a great mix of peace and quiet as well as the excitement of meeting lots of new people and, in the end, living the life in Lake of Bays.