After an underwhelming result of the topics covered at the Meet the Candidates: Council and Deputy Mayor event last week, the community took the Mayoral Candidates to task. Organized by Rotaract, Engage Goderich and Huron Chamber of Commerce, the Meet the Candidates: Mayor event at Lakeshore United Church was inquisitive and informative. Whether the questions were better filtered prior to the main event, the topics covered issues and concerns of value to the community. Each candidate, John Grace, current Mayor Kevin Morrison and David Yates provided intelligent, thought out and articulate responses while put in the hot seat on issues concerning Goderich.
In the coming weeks prior to the 2018 Municipal Election on Oct. 22, voters must take into account what is of value to them and elect the best person to lead for four years. Below is a summary of the opening and closing remarks of each candidate, as well as the questions asked and each candidate’s answer.
Candidate John Grace (JG): “Thank you. Welcome everyone. Who has the experience, who has the drive and who can deliver? I’m John Grace, and I am that person. I welcome the opportunity to share my interest and passion for serving as Mayor. For me, being Mayor is about the big idea of leadership. Leadership is about who has the experience, the character and the commitment to deliver a shared vision. A little bit about myself: born and raised, right here in Goderich, I moved away to develop my career and business and came back here in my 30s with my wife Wendy, to raise our family. I chaired the dialysis unit at AMGH. I have continued to demonstrate my leadership, passion and experience through initiatives such as the Maitland Recreation Centre, the building of the Maitland Valley Medical Centre, rebuilding the community after the 2011 tornado, and the upgrades to the dialysis unit just last year. It’s about using my leadership to bring people together for one common goal – the betterment of our community. I spearheaded the development of Fanshawe College here in Goderich, bringing post-secondary education to our doorstep. I serve on United Way and I also Chair the United Way Goderich. Since 2016 I have chaired the Maitland Manor Focus Group – our goal was the retention and expansion of brand new, facility. To add to that, eight years at County Council. I come from a business background, yes I’m full of energy and I know how to lead. I have the character, the commitment and the experience. I have the reputation of getting things done. Over the last three years, my family and I have been in the process of transitioning our family business to our eldest son John. It’s time for me to step back and it’s time for him to take the reigns. I’m committed to being YOUR full time Mayor. For those who know me, when I say committed, I’m all in. Thank you.” Candidate Kevin Morrison (KM): “Good evening and thank you for having us here tonight. I don’t know where these last four years have gone. I’m going to be brief on my background, as most of you know my background. For those of you who don’t, it probably doesn’t matter here tonight. Like many of you, in 2008 I made Goderich my home, along with my partner. I got very involved in this community when I arrived. I love Goderich as so many of you do, or you wouldn’t be here tonight. When I decided I was going to run for Council back in 2010, that August I knocked on about 200 doors. My question was, ‘Have you always been from Goderich? If not, where are you from?’ 82 percent of the 200 doors I knocked on, were from somewhere else and made Goderich their home. We made Goderich our home because of what it offered and continues to offer. Back then, my slogan was ‘The future begins now’ and as a surprise to many, I was elected to Council. I asked to be judged in those first four years because the next four years I would be running for Mayor. And, the most you would have me, if you had me, would be two terms. I’m very vocal to the Provincial Government that we should have term limitations when it comes to the top job. I believe in fresh, new ideas. I don’t believe in career politics. I believe that you get in, do your job and move on. I had a vision for this town when I ran for Mayor – that vision was that it was time for change, and change we have had. I have had the privilege and honour to work with an amazing group of individuals who have been dedicated on your current council. The other night, last week, the question was asked about diversity on council and I think we have already achieved that with this last council. We had one individual who was a retired Supreme Court Justice, pushing 90 years old and is one of the wisest men I’ve ever met; we had a young individual in his young 20s; Michele Hansen I see here tonight who is a woman and has been a great representative; and yes you have an openly gay Mayor. I’m not afraid of the issues, I’m not afraid of the challenges, but I stand up for what I believe is right. I have no personal agendas and I believe that we have just begun. Most of you in this room have seen what has happened in the last four years. Goderich has become a more desirable place to live and it’s all because of not only the dedication of your current Council and those seeking re-election, but also due to the dedication and commitment of this community. I look forward to being your representative as Mayor, for four more years. Thank you!” Candidate David Yates (DY): “Thank you and I welcome everyone here this evening. This is an election about leadership. The voters this year have to decide what type of leadership does the town want at the helm, to steer us into the future. I’m building a grassroots movement to be Mayor of the WHOLE town. All this town’s citizens from the business owner who needs the town’s assistance to help grow their enterprise, to encouraging an entrepreneur who wants to relocate here, to the young family who wants a place for their children to have a safe place to play, to seniors who need access to the town’s services, and helping the homeless get the necessary services needed to improve their lives. I would be a Mayor for all of Goderich. Whether it’s my home, community, school, church, I have always taken an active leadership role in whatever field of endeavour I have been involved in. I have served and was honourably discharged as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment Reserve. I taught Canadian and World History to thousands of Huron County youth. I took a leadership role as a Town Councillor and served on several town boards, committees and service groups, while being actively involved in several heritage and cultural events that have highlighted Goderich and area. In distinguishing myself from the other candidates, not diminishing the achievements of Kevin or John, they are real, make no mistakes, but whatever accomplishments I have had, which I take pride in, has been as a member of a team. I can’t take sole credit for all of those achievements that have been made in whatever role I had. I did it as a functioning member of a team. As a calm, steady, delivered and empathetic individual, I have demonstrated the ability to act and move forward. I am an effective listener and communicator. As some of you know, over the past weeks, I have knocked on doors and listened to the concerns. I heard everything from someone worried about a broken sidewalk that might endanger the safety of kids or seniors, to homeowners concerned about their tax rates, to people worried about the town’s economic future. As your Mayor, I have a key understanding of the town’s past and I share the concerns of the present and want to guide the town into its future. Moving into the future can only be done with a Mayor who can appeal to the broadest cross-section of the town and work cooperatively with all levels of government. A consensus of the town also involves you. This is a time when we have to mobilize all the town’s resources to become a prosperous and competitive entity in the future. Thank you!”
Question 1: When Huron County had committees formed to consider a strategic plan, Goderich was identified for a focus on healthcare. One consideration was to have a separate mental health facility to service Goderich and the surrounding areas. How will you make this become a reality?
(KM): “I don’t think many realize, but we are the only mental health facility at the hospital, here in Huron County and we are overcapacitated. We are certainly aware of the needs here in Goderich. When I took office, we had a very large orphan list, of people who needed doctors and that has decreased substantially. Healthcare is important to us in this community and we will continue to fight for what is rightfully ours. The healthcare system across the province is broken. You need someone who is well connected to the province and other levels of government, to make our needs known. I think it’s been more obvious this past winter than any other time before that we have mental health issues on our streets. Police are called to the third floor continuously and taking away from policing. Training of the facility staff, training people how to involve themselves with mental health problems, bringing on an expert as I’m not an expert when it comes to mental health, and bringing on the people that understand it is where we need to go. We’ve gone leaps and bounds in the last six months when it comes to what we can offer. Mental health is not going to go away but in fact will increase. When you take a look at the stress people go through, it’s going to get worse and we need to address it, and we are, but more needs to be done.
(JG): “Thank you. Healthcare in general has been a concern of mine and has been a hot button issue. Ever since I moved back to Goderich, I’ve always been involved in healthcare in one level or another, whether it’s dialysis or mental health. Today, being involved in two different projects, really zeros in on mental health. That is being Chair of the United Way, and the other issue is the homeless issue that we have in the community. We have mental health issues all through society and it’s quite acute in Huron County. Mental health is important, needs to be addressed. It’s not a problem, but an issue we can address, but we have to get going on it.”
(DY): “Thank you. There’s no doubt, having been in the classroom over the number of years, and over the last five to 10 years, we have seen a real increase in mental health issues amongst our students, amongst parents and society at a large. We need to work closely with our County partners at the Huron County Health Unit, we have to work with the Provincial Ministry of Health and other agencies that can assist Goderich in solving mental health. It’s not at a crisis stage yet but there is certainly an increasing demand and it can’t be swept under the carpet. It can’t be ignored. We now have to deal with serious mental health issues within our community.” Question 2: There are many high cost plans for Goderich, for infrastructure. What are your priorities and how do you intend to pay for them?
(JG): “Yes there are some priorities. The biggest one that is in front of us right now is finishing off Ag Park and paying for it. The next one is the waterfront and how we approach that. As far as I’m concerned, the money that we get from the Port Corporation needs to be used for the waterfront redevelopment. It can pay for it and it should. I know that for sure because I sit on the Goderich Port Management Corporation Board and I know of the money that is available. The harbour is in really good shape right now and we are ready to start on the waterfront redevelopment. This last council has put forward a plan. We need to look at that plan again and start to implement it right away. We need to have a good look at our downtown, and how that needs work, as far as road surfaces are concerned. We need a five year plan when it comes to infrastructure and then we need to set priorities and a budget to meet those plans. It can all be done, but it has to be done methodically and there has to be a plan in place so we can pay for it.
(DY): “In short, we have to hold the line on taxes. We have to finish the Ag Park development – it will look beautiful when it’s done. The one thing the next Council can initiate is the waterfront development. A waterfront development scheme would help alleviate some of the problems we saw down at the beach this summer. I think what next Council has to do, is sit down, have a priority planning meeting and prioritize our expenditures for the next four years, based on what is needed to be done, what would like to be done and what can be held off for a future time.”
(KM): “In May of 2015, this council sat down and we did prioritize what was needed. There is a difference between spending and there’s a difference between investing. There is a difference between needs and between wants. What we have coming along with the Rec Park, which has received amazing support from this community, was long over due. I know some people don’t agree with the money that was invested into it. I think once you see what happens with the outcomes, I think you will be impressed. These same people were probably the ones who complained about the Rec Centre [YMCA] as well, and we have seen how successful it is. You have to have Recreation Facilities to draw people. When it comes to infrastructure, I agree with John, that we have to look at our downtown. However, after the tornado, we had a number of businesses on the square that lost their businesses because of work being done. We have to be cognitive of that. I know this council was criticized because we did a crack and seal approach to prolong the life of the streets. $2,500 to take care of something and prolong the life of one of our major assets, is a far cry from the four of five million it would cost to rip up the square and work on infrastructure. The waterfront remains a high priority and is one of the gems that we have. We have a unique situation in this town because we have an industrial market but we also have a recreational market. Goderich has become a destination of those who want to share in what we have to offer here. It was a problem this summer, with parking issues down there. This next council needs to take a look at what we need to do to enforce those bylaws. Just so you know, there were $8M in capital expenses this past year and $800,000 in taxation.”
Question 3: What in your background and experience makes you the best candidate to significantly create economic development in Goderich?
(DY): “I’m not a business owner, nor have I ever owned a business, but I shop and spend money in local businesses. I think I know what people want in this town. One of the things we need to look at in economic development in this town is one of the key drivers in our modern economy – culture and heritage economy. People will come to Goderich if we maintain our integrity and have things that will entice people. I think I’m the best person to guide a new economy where we could emphasize things like modern industry, IT, a social and cultural economy. I would reach out to the BIA and the Chamber. I’m going to listen to their advice, act on it and coordinate a strategy to see some economic development.”
(KM): “I’m proud to say that our County has taken on a great leadership role on this, along with our town. We now have an Economic Development Department right in the heart of downtown Goderich. Economic Development is much more than just heritage. We have been known as a senior’s community or seasonal community, and we need to focus on what we can do year round to draw people here. Not only visitors but also businesses. Over the last four years we have had substantial increases in industrial business and residential development. In the last four years we introduced a hotel, and we have the expansion of the medical clinic. We have a 29-unit residential development coming to the Victoria Public School property and 12 will be affordable housing. It’s an ongoing thing, it will never stop. We had those changes and it’s working.”
(JG): “The Huron County Economic Development Board was established and spearheaded by myself a couple months prior to the last election. I play an active and proactive role in bringing fibreoptics to downtown and farmland. My biggest thing right now is how to get Goderich moving again. As far as I’m concerned, it’s moving with the small businesses. Of course, we can always have our hands out and arms open if there was an opportunity to attract businesses to Goderich. Our real opportunity is to be with new business and young entrepreneurs that we can attract to Goderich. We have the hub, the lifestyle and we can attract.” Question 4: Given lack of women candidates in this election, what concrete steps will you take to attract more female candidates in the next four years? (KM): “This question came up last week and there is something far more than diversity than just women candidates. Diversity is all walks of life. The newcomers who come here to be Canadian citizens deserve to have representation as well. The more diverse council, the better. I’m going to share a story with you. Two ladies who I thought would have a lot to contribute to our council, I approached and asked them if they would run. You know what their answer was? Not on their life. They said that with social media and the environment of the way politics are run today, there is no way they would put them selves or their families through that. I understand what they are talking about. In the last four years, I have gone through a living hell. I have stood up for what I believe in, and I will go back to the Gay Pride Crosswalk. I have never hidden the fact that I am gay. There’s diversity on your council right now. But I stood up for what I believed in and for what is best for this community. It’s not exclusivity, it’s inclusivity. Why does the gay community have to separate them selves from everyone else? And when you say why aren’t more women on council? Then run! Do what I did, and run and get elected. Do your job and do it well and hopefully you will be re-elected. How do we encourage more women to run for council? Support them. Encourage them. Don’t beat them up when they put their names forward. We have so many people out there who have so much to offer this town. It’s a tough job, you lose friends, you lose business, but in the end it’s worthwhile because you’re standing up for what you believe in, and doing what you think is best for the whole community, with no personal agendas.”
(JG): “It’s all about engaging people, getting them onto committees, getting them involved in the community, giving them a taste of being a community builder. There is no way there shouldn’t be more ladies on council. We need their voice. Diversity, I don’t have a problem with it. I look back on my own experience. I know when I look at my kids today and see the partners they have chosen, I know we have generations of people who understand diversity and I’m proud of that. Diversity makes our country and myself stronger.
(DY): “I don’t think you’ll see a lot of daylight between us on how we perceive diversity and inclusivity. It’s something that is really important and strengthens the community. You have to reach out and engage communities that maybe haven’t been listened to before, or maybe haven’t been invited to the table before. It is a cause of concern, that only one of the 12 candidates running for council this year is a female. How do you overcome that? How do we encourage more people from diverse communities to run for council? Well, you get them to serve on committees and serve the town in some capacity. Maybe when they get acclimatized to it, maybe they can do it. I’m not a big believer of politics via social media, but maybe the town has to reach out and ask people to serve. In the long run, we will be stronger and better for it.” Question 5: Employers are having a difficult time finding labour. What strategies would you pursue to alleviate this issue?
(JG): “This has really been the base of my entire campaign. Where we see, we are on the cusp of a crisis when it comes to attracting youth to our communities to fill the jobs that we need. For some reason, those who come to our communities will stay for six months and leave. We have to repatriate those kids who have left and have a strategy to get them back to our community. We have to build a community that is inclusive to THEM, not us. The downtown doesn’t have to be built to suit our needs at 60 or 70 years old. We need to build the town centre and change the channel on the character, to have them engaged and attracted. It’s a new world and we need to change the channel a little bit. We have to create that community.”
(DY): “One of Huron County’s greatest exports is their youth. I know a lot of them want to come back. Inserting an economic development strategy has to be an employment develop plan as well. As part of economic studies, it’s a bigger package than just a labour shortage. We have to market the town aggressively. We have all the assets here in Goderich to bring people here. It won’t happen over night. Once again, you have to have a marketing plan to bring professionals back. Once we do that, we will see an improvement in labour shortage.”
(KM): “Not only am I a Mayor, but also a local business owner. I employ a lot of people, and I support local businesses and support local suppliers. In the last four years [council] created 467 jobs here in Goderich, but we can’t fill those positions. Employers are looking. One of the problems we have is we have no place to house the people who come to this community. We have a housing shortage. Property values have gone up. John mentioned he has three kids and I am just wondering when they are coming back? We are doing what we need to do to attract young families. The Rec Park is a great facility, the Rec Centre is a great facility. We are bringing conferences here with a new hotel and conference centre. It doesn’t happen overnight, as David said. But we have a lot more than we had
four years ago and a lot more to come. My platform is simple – keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working. Why go back to where we were?” Question 6: As the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are both Goderich’s representatives on Huron County Council, what do you see as priorities of the county for the next four years?
(DY): “The county is like the town on a large scale. You want to make sure the infrastructure is in place, that housing and social services are working and functioning properly, and that you have an economic development scheme. At county level, what benefits one community, benefits all. You’re assigning someone to look after the town’s interest and the county’s interest. It would help us in the long run.”
(KM): “David you’re bang on. It’s called working together. What’s good for Huron County is good for Goderich [and vice versa]. Four years ago I campaigned to have a closer relationship with Huron County and we have achieved it. One thing is being at the table. It’s being there, it’s showing an interest and listening and working with people. We have so much support from Huron County and other municipalities, because we are at the table working with them. The County administration offices are right here in Goderich. It’s called working together on like-minded goals. I’m proud of relationships we built and am looking forward to working with the new council at County level as well.”
(JG): “Eight years at County Council and I was very involved in Economic Development, to being a Chair of Board of Health. The whole idea and my focus at the time was for fibre-optics and connectivity. I worked aggressively for the County. It’s about working together as a team – what’s good for Goderich is good for Huron County. It’s important that we all work together. I look forward to the opportunity to be part of that process, to move Goderich forward but also the County forward.” Question 7: Are you in favour of putting the ice back into Memorial Arena, or building a second ice pad at the Maitland Recreation
Centre? How would you direct the Town to pay for it?
(KM): “I’m in favour of looking into it. It came as a rather large surprise recently to make that decision to take the ice out. We were only one of three arenas in Canada that still had the ammonia system in there. We did a study back in 2016 about the life of the arena, whether the ice at Memorial was coming to an end. There was no way we were going to risk the health and safety, so a decision had to be made. Back in 2002, when the Rec Centre was built, there was an opportunity to build a second ice pad. Unfortunately I wish back then, it was done by the council of the day, because it would be a lot cheaper than how much it will be now. I’m not opposed to it, but we have to know what it’s going to cost and we have to know the benefits, and how much usage it will get. I can’t give a definitive answer here tonight. All I can tell you is that I am in favour of it if it is affordable and benefitting the community.”
(DY): “We have to see what future ice usage would be before we commit to a second ice pad. It’s looking like at Memorial Arena, the ice going back in there with the ammonia system is just a non-starter. We would have to do a study about future ice usage, but there is not way anyone can commit to a second ice surface at this particular time.”
(JG): “It’s unfortunate that this happened but it’s not something we didn’t see coming. When we originally designed the building, the Rec Centre, it is designed to have a practice pad attached to it. The capacity is there. The pipes are laid and footprint is there. It’s all ready to go. We are going to have to move forward. The YMCA stated, I spoke with the staff, that there is no way that we can go without a second ice pad. The capacity is there. We have to move on. How fast we can move on, and how we will do it, are the questions. We have to take a second look at all of the reports and do some investigating. I’m hearing today from the YMCA staff, that the capacity is there and we will need a second ice pad. We will have to find a way to look at that and see if it’s a viable opportunity for this community.” Question 8: The Asset Management Corporation currently grades our infrastructure as a D. Can you explain what that means and how to improve it? (DY): “I’m not sure what that means either. I would need to read that report. A ‘D’ doesn’t sound good. It’s one of those things that we would need to sit down with a priority and planning session and determine what’s critical and what can be delayed.”
(JG): “I understand that report. The way that I look at it, and yes it’s a ‘D’, but the hard thing about it, is we are going on about the age of the surfaces, not the impact to the surfaces, which are two different things. There are ways to find out the longevity of these surfaces. Bottom line is, some of our roads in our community are in bad shape. We have to deal with it and chase the money with the province. We may have to reprioritize how we operate the finances and how we operate the overall system of municipal government in order to take care of some of these assets before they get worse. They won’t get better at this rate. I look forward to the challenge to do that over the next four years.”
(KM): “I’m aware of the report and of the ‘D’ rating. John is right. The rating is based on primarily the age of the asset. Any government funding coming from the province is attached to a municipality having an asset management plan. Goderich in the last couple of years has grown ahead of other municipalities with our asset management plan. We have one street that was a ‘C’ rating and all we did was a simple topcoat and you can change the rating from a ‘C’ to a ‘B’. One thing included in the report is the fact the airport runway is included. As we know, the airport runway needs some attention and we are working
on it. When we look at South Harbour Road and trucks are coming along all the time – that’s one of the priorities we have to do. Hopefully the province comes into partnership with that. With the few second I have left, I want to mention how impressed I am with the questions tonight. Those of you who were here on Wednesday night were a little disappointed with the questions. You have great questions tonight and are covering issues that have value to this municipality.” Question 9: What is your outlook for the Goderich beach, going forward with development and revenue generation?
(JG): “The re-development can be, should be and would be paid for by the revenue generated by the Goderich Port Management Corporation. I sit on that Board. I understand it, I know the infrastructure. Our harbour is in good shape on the commercial side. There is extra money that now can flow over to the public and recreational side. Yes, we need to rebuild both North and South Roads, but we also need to rebuild a lifestyle conducive to the lakeshore. It’s an attractive asset to the demographic we want to attract to our community. It’s important to start that project. There is opportunity for revenue. There is no reason why you couldn’t have small kiosks against the bank, to allow merchants from downtown to have small kiosks at the beach, or renting bicycles. There are lots of small entrepreneurial opportunities all along the lakeshore. I think it’s a great asset, and let’s get going.”
(DY): “The waterfront is our last great asset that hasn’t been fully developed to it’s full potential – environmentally, culturally, economically – we have to have a plan that will see our waterfront become the best destination choice for tourists, boaters, fishermen and the people in town. As far as revenue generation, I don’t think you could ever make a profit off the beach. I think we should reconstitute the Environmental Committee because they were a wealth of good information and help to assist the waterfront.”
(KM): “John mentioned the Goderich Port Management and I agree full heartedly that we should be taking a look at some of the funding coming from there. We have been negotiating with Port Management for three years over the governance issue and that’s going to flow over into the next council. I’m proud of what we have done with the waterfront. We have the masterplan, which we are slowly working on, and as funds become available we will. We have refurbished the washrooms, we have replaced the stairs and we have the two new accessibility mats. We also have parking issues down there. We are trying to work with Compass Minerals, with fishermen. When you talk about revenue generation, we already have a few businesses down there and I look forward to other business ideas. Just keep moving forward and make the waterfront something to be proud of.”
Question 10: What can be done to make a full range of housing options available to meet the range of needs of our citizens?
(KM): “This is a difficult one. When I moved here in 2008 I had a hard time finding housing. When I was sitting down with Minister of Infrastructure, they understand because we aren’t alone. It’s everywhere. We need to provide housing. I mention the units going in the south end of town – are they going to affordable? We are doing our best on this one. It’s approaching developers and looking for an incentive, not looking for handouts, but incentives to make it affordable for them to build these units. We need more housing. It’s not an overnight solution, but if we keep working at it, eventually we will get there.”
(JG): “Residential development is a problem. Simply put, there is a lot of red tape to development everywhere, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. We need to be progressive in our nature and the status quo is not an option anymore. We need to create a framework in order to work with the developers to move this forward. Goderich is stagnant, so there must be something wrong with our system. We need to have a close look at it and build relationships with developers. I worked on Nelson Street Project for affordable housing with the County. We need to do more of that. We have to loosen up the red tape and build partnerships.”
(DY): “Housing is an issue, but we are limited by the size of our town. We do have to
work and form those partnerships with developers. We need to work with provincial agencies, which will allow us to act on the housing shortage, especially for affordable housing. I taught in Clinton, and I can’t tell you how many people have moved from Goderich to Clinton over the years because they can’t afford the housing in town here. It’s something we need to move forward on, but we can’t do it alone.” Question 11: If elected Mayor, would you be in support of A) Reinstating the Environmental Committee and B) Would you be in favour of working towards a form of bylaw on single use plastics (bags/water bottles)?
(KM): “The Environmental Committee is something we are interested in reinstating. I sit on the Great Lakes Initiative and the environment on the Great Lakes is more important than ever because of Trump’s cuts when it comes to the health of the Great Lakes. Pat and I have a small town down in Mexico that we have fallen in love with and we went out on the water a few times and helped remove straws from dolphins and sea turtles. We came back here and introduced the ‘Last Straw’ policy at our restaurant – now you don’t get a straw unless you ask for one, and if you get one, it’s paper. I’m pleased to say most establishments in town are doing that. I’m in favour of moving to paper bags from plastic bags. It’s time we took a look at our environment.”
(DY): “As last chair of the Environment Committee, I want to say how important I think it is that we reconstitute it. The Committee worked really well on a variety of issues from the Great Lakes water system, to helping alleviate the overflow of storm management at the old water treatment centre. I am definitely in favour of reconstituting the Environmental Committee, maybe under new terms or reference or more aggressive terms of reference. I would be in favour with some sort of phased in elimination of plastic bags. As custodians of a large section of the lakeshore, we really do have an obligation, a duty, to protect the ecosystem here and that’s one important step.”
(JG): “Absolutely in regards to the Environmental Committee, but I would take it one step further – they need to play a more significant role. They need to be part of the system, whether development or municipal projects. In regards to the bag issue, I’m all for it and work towards what Bayfield has done in their community with the bottles. There are lots of opportunities when it comes to the environment. We can either follow or we can lead. I’d much rather lead. We need to address it now. We need to be a little more proactive.” Question 12: Hydro rates are set to increase, how can we alleviate this cost on homeowners and how would you improve on this? (DY): “I’m not sure what we can do as terms of with Erie Thames and bringing down Hydro rates. It seems to be that we have lost part of the control over our local utility system. I’m not sure there is much that we can do, other than investigate what Erie Thames is doing and put the pressure on Erie Thames to limit what rate our increases are. It’s a pressing issue that needs to be addressed.”
(JG): “It’s unfortunate that hydro rates are going up, but it’s across the province and country. It’s regulated by the Ontario Energy Board and we aren’t going to have an awful lot to say about that. We do have an investment now in Erie Thames and we do have an asset, but as far as our rate of consumption and overall price, is going to be based on us and how we deal with it in our homes and in our businesses. It’s about being proactive along that line.”
(KM): “When this council took a look at merging with Erie Thames, we did so because the writing was on the wall. The government is forcing you to either merge or sell. There is no way we would ever sell to Hydro One – we didn’t see that as a good deal. We partnered with Erie Thames for a reason, and they provided the support we need. Hydro rates are regulated by the Energy Board but we are with a good partner and will do Goderich well. We are share holders. We will not be operated by the government solely and we have a say. It was a smart move and I defend that move. You won’t see a substantial change because of the arrangement we have with Erie Thames. They are very cognitive of the fact that we want to keep our rates where they are or as close as they can.”
David Yates: “Politics is the art of the apostle. As my wife and I have raised three children in Goderich, we know how much it has to offer and promise. My platform is very simple – we need to hold the line on taxes without compromising the quality of our town’s services; any expenditures of taxpayers money must have a proven benefit to the entire town; next Mayor and Council needs to pause, regroup and take stock of our future priorities. I hope that we finally take action on the waterfront development. A plan that will address some of the problems we faced on the beach this summer. More than that, there should be a plan to make our beachfront one of the finest in the province in recreation and marine transportation and heritage component that allows us to have a peaceful co-existence of recreation and industry. We must reconstitute the Environmental Committee and ensure that all of our growth is not just economically, but environmentally. We have special duties of custodians of the lakeshore to do what we can to preserve our ecosystem, which is under increasing stress. Of course a key component for an economic strategy has to be a point of development. Meaningful jobs and liveable wages and we need to find new and creative ways to market the town so our kids return and find meaningful work.
We need to attract newcomers to our shores and ensure seniors have continued access to health and recreational facilities. We have to plan for business that is the right fit for our town. We have to explore the possibility of recruiting midsized IT based industries for example. Cultural industry is becoming an increasingly important pillar of the local economy. Preservation of our town’s heritage, its architecture, waterfront and people, will be an important part of our development. We can’t turn our town into a museum. We have to accommodate change rather than take away from our heritage. In short, I’m a sucker for a great idea. As part of a team with consultation with the town’s citizens, as Winston Churchill once said, ”We can move forward together“. The world is becoming a far more complex place for the ideas of just one person to tackle it alone. Moving forward together is the only way that we can get things done. Does that mean we will be free of conflict, and disagreement? Absolutely not. Which is why it is so vitally important that the next Mayor has the temperament, the empathy and the steadfastness to engage with the broadest coalition of citizens. I can be persuaded, but not pushed. Of the three levels of government, municipal government is the closest to the people. There is a perception that Town Hall is an intimidating place. I heard it over and over that people are reluctant to approach their municipal leaders. The wall between the people and elected officials is one of the walls I would like to break down. Does that mean everyone gets what they want and everyone is happy? Of course not. But, it does mean that if we want to make the most of our substantial capital in this town, everyone needs to feel that this is their council that represents them. That’s the pledge I make tonight. I’m not beholden to any interest group, nor do I take donations for my campaign. There are few who know this town’s soul better than I do. I spent a good part of just over a decade writing about
Goderich, Huron County and it’s history. I understand as much about this town as almost anybody and feel that I can carry it’s story into the next four year chapter. I said at the beginning, and I say again, I will be Mayor for all of Goderich.”
Kevin Morrison: “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure serving as your Mayor for the past four years. My campaign slogan four years ago was ‘It’s time for change’ and I truly believe it was time for change. I’m proud of the accomplishments that we achieved working together. There are no individuals who will succeed if they work alone. Just to reiterate again, we have worked hard. Taxes have been of great importance and you have had minimal tax increases. When I take a look at 2015 after a full year with this Council, our budget surplus was over $462,000. In 2016 over $327,000, and last year $476,000. We are healthy when it comes to our financial situation in this community. Our reserve funds and balances have over $4.2M more than when this Council took office. We are proud of what we could accomplish without going to taxpayers and have been fiscally responsible. My commitment to you is we will continue to. I do understand the struggles you are going through because I not only live here, but operate a business here as well. In 2014, when you voted for change, I want to point out some of those accomplishments. We have seen a substantial increase in industrial and residential development and will continue to do so. We have a long-awaited revitalization of Goderich Rec Park taking place in just a few short months. We have a much needed expansion to Maitland Valley Medical Centre coming in at an investment of $1.56M, instead of previous council’s vision of over $5M. We had a 4-5acre expansion to the Goderich Harbour Wharf. We are introducing 12 affordable housing units within a 29 housing development. We introduced a transparent and accountable council. Senior management and elected officials’ expenses are now posted for you to see online on a quarterly basis – that is open and transparent government. Our council meetings are now streaming on the Internet. We engaged our youth to become more involved in decision-making process that affect them and our future. I want to thank Councillor Bazinet for taking on that role. He has done amazing things with our youth here. We listen and we act upon what we hear. We had a closer relationship with the County of Huron and I’m pleased to represent this town. We are committed to the health of our Great Lakes and are actively involved in initiatives. Proven results over the past four years make Goderich a destination. A destination place for visitors, who sometimes choose to live here. I’m a strong supporter of our seniors community, and services offered for their needs. We have so much to offer in this community. Fiscal responsibility, we have done it. It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve you as Mayor and I ask for one more term, to continue on with a vision that we started four years ago. As I said, proven leadership, and we will keep doing what we’re doing because it’s working. Why would you want to go back to where we were? Thank you!”
John Grace: “Thank you to Huron Chamber, Engage Goderich and to Rotaract. Straight to my platform and it’s taxes. One of the most difficult things to talk about and it affects everyone in this room. I am committed to fight to hold the tax line, and holding the tax rate can be achieved in three ways: By increasing the tax base through expansion of residential and commercial development ; By cutting the cloth to fit and realign the cost of expenditures to meet today’s economic and social environments; Implement cost-effective business practices and explore opportunities for shared services and other potential initiatives. The demographic shift is a challenge across Ontario. The youth are migrating out of rural communities and into larger centres.
We need to attract those youth back to our community – they are our future. We have to put the resources into a sustainable, long-term strategy and be welcoming and inclusive just like we did years ago when we attracted the doctors into our community. We need to invest in our youth. Residential and commercial development is simply a problem. The process is difficult at most times, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s about being not only progressive but also proactive. The status quo is not an option any more folks. It’s about breaking that framework for positive engagement and building the partnerships that we need with developers. The realtors have spoke and loud and clear. We have to have residential development in order to move this community forward in any way. I have a long history in business and economic development and I know how to use partnerships. I have the drive, I have the leadership and I have the capability to get it done. Infrastructure, roads, waterfront and the downtown core – we absolutely need a plan. We need to prioritize and create budgets to meet those goals. The downtown core is critical to us moving forward – it has to be vibrant and full of energy and we can attract youth back. We have to get it going. Make Goderich a destination all across Ontario. In conclusion, this election is about leadership, character, experience and commitment. I am the best candidate for the Mayor of Goderich. Vote John Grace for Mayor and let’s do it together. Thank you!”
The 2018 Municipal Electoin will be convenient and accessible to all voters. Votes will be cast by Internet and telephone only. There will be no polling locations. Voting will be available via Internet and telephone from Oct. 11 at 9am until Oct. 22 at 8pm. Contact the Voting Help Centre at Goderich Town Hall for questions, to ensure you are registered to vote or for assistance in voting: 57 West Street; (519) 524-8344; firstname.lastname@example.org