Selwyn election candidates field questions
Ron Black, candidate in three-way race for mayor, urges robust economic development
BRIDGENORTH — Candidates vying for positions on Selwyn council offered different views on the township’s top priority and how to address it during an allcandidates meeting hosted by business groups at Bridgenorth United Church on Wednesday night.
More than 200 attended the second of three events hosted by the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Bridgenorth Business Association and Lakefield Herald – a third was set for Douro-Dummer Township on Thursday night.
The meeting began with mayoral candidates Ron Black, Linda Marlene Eales and Andy Mitchell and Ennismore Ward incumbent Donna Ballantyne and challenger Brad Sinclair answering what the biggest issue will be in the next four years, in three minutes.
Managing the cost of growth for permanent residents is a top priority for Black, who spoke of a need for a robust economic development plan and identifying provincial and federal grants to decrease the overall tax burden.
Eales cited the housing issue as priority number one. She seeks an alternative model that works for “middle of the road seniors” and wants to advocate for more affordable housing. Money has already been spent on plans, so she wants to better facilitate them.
Mitchell said he wants to keep Selwyn a good place to live by maintaining the lowest tax rate in the county, protecting the natural environment, working with small business to create jobs and making sure the township serves all demographics.
Ballantyne said her main concern is related to the township being expected to maintain service levels with less financial support. The next council will have to lobby other levels of governments to make them aware of the impact of that, she said.
Sinclair said a lack of communication between council and constituents is the top priority, saying representation should be in touch, easy to message, approachable, understanding and modern in terms of technology. Improved communication would make the township stronger, he said.
Those already acclaimed were given 30 seconds to voice their top priorities, too.
Smith Ward Coun. Gerry Herron said new agriculture mapping released by the province has severed the economic development capabilities of the township. “We need more severances for people to build homes on the land that they were raised on.”
Lakefield Ward Coun. Anita Locke said long-term care beds are her top priority, highlighting an eight-year waiting list for those looking to secure them.
Sherry Senis, who will serve another term as deputy mayor, said creating a new Official Plan and updating zoning bylaws would be her top priority.
The candidates were also asked what they would do to cut carbon emissions.
Ballantyne pointed out the township has six solar installations and has changed arena and street lights over to more-efficient LED lighting.
Sinclair suggested a realignment of the minor hockey season to make sure ice is being put in arenas when the weather is actually cold.
Black said the township could invest in ground source heat for buildings on its larger properties, purchase electric vehicles for staff and capture methane from its landfill, pointing out that provincial funding is available for those efforts.
Eales called for a reduction in food waste and ensuring food is getting into the hands of those who need it, while Mitchell said the township can follow more of the ideas laid out in the Climate Change Action Plan created by Sustainable Peterborough.
The candidates were also asked what demonstrates they are the kind of people who won’t quit when they are faced with adversity.