SBP Can­di­dates Meet­ing

Wiarton Echo - - FRONT PAGE - ZOE KESSLER Ed­i­tor

Over 180 peo­ple packed the Sauble Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre for the first pub­lic all can­di­dates meet­ing for the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula on Sept. 2.

Thir­teen of 14 coun­cil can­di­dates at­tended the event, hosted by the Sauble Beach Res­i­den­tial Property Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, with only coun­cil­lor can­di­date Don Standen ab­sent.

Michael Lemme, a can­di­date for trustee for the Bruce Grey Catholic District School and Jane Thom­son, the in­cum­bent and ac­claimed school Trustee for Blue­wa­ter District School Board also at­tended.

The meet­ing got off to a rocky start when a front-row au­di­ence mem­ber protested a re­quest from MC Ken Frook that the au­di­ence hold its ap­plause un­til all can­di­dates had spo­ken.

In spite of this, au­di­ence mem­bers for the most part lis­tened at­ten­tively through­out the rest of the nearly three­hour meet­ing.

The five may­oral can­di­dates - in­cum­bent Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son, in­cum­bent Coun­cil­lor Ana Vukovic, Lois Keays, Neil Richard­son and John Sch­nurr gave short open­ing re­marks, fol­lowed by the two can­di­dates for deputy mayor - in­cum­bent Deputy Mayor Jay Kirk­land and chal­lenger Jeff Leonard.

Six of the town’s seven coun­cil­lor can­di­dates gave their open­ing re­marks be­fore writ­ten ques­tions from un­named mem­bers of the au­di­ence were posed to the can­di­dates, cov­er­ing a wide va­ri­ety of top­ics.

When asked if they sup­ported tourism and fes­ti­val events, most can­di­dates agreed coun­cil should be sup­port­ive and en­cour­ag­ing, with Kirk­land call­ing for coun­cil to steer vol­un­teers.

Jack­son said the Wiar­ton Wil­lie Fes­ti­val was a “money maker” for the town. “We could do the same thing with Sand­fest,” she said.

In­cum­bent Coun­cil­lor Paul McKen­zie said he sup­ported fes­ti­vals as they “bring the whole com­mu­nity to­gether.”

Caleb Hull, a coun­cil­lor can­di­date, thought some events should be ex­panded to two days - such as the Wil­fred Camp­bell Po­etry Fes­ti­val. Fel­low coun­cil­lor can­di­date Ann Marie Had­cock said she’d like to fo­cus on fes­ti­vals in the shoul­der sea­son to in­crease rev­enues to lo­cal busi­nesses. She’d also like to the see the town’s fu­ture eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer write grant ap­pli­ca­tions for fes­ti­val and events fund­ing.

Kathy Durst, who is run­ning for coun­cil­lor, sug­gested sport tourism could be de­vel­oped, with the town host­ing tour­na­ments.

Vukovic said ef­fec­tive beach and garbage man­age­ment plans have to be in place be­fore events and fes­ti­vals are added.

Can­di­dates agreed the town should not hire some­one to man­age events and fes­ti­vals.

“Let’s de­velop the re­sources we have,” coun­cil­lor can­di­date Terry Bell said.

A ques­tion about bar­be­cues on the beach led to gen­eral agree­ment that they should not be al­lowed.

Bell, a former OPP of­fi­cer, called for more po­lice pres­ence at the beach to en­force the rules, espe­cially given the beach re­ceives up to 100,000 vis­i­tors. The town was “lucky” no tragic in­ci­dents oc­curred over the sum­mer, he said.

Leonard sug­gested a shut­tle trol­ley to move vis­i­tors to the beach area would keep them from car­ry­ing their own food down to the beach and en­cour­age pa­tron­age at lo­cal restau­rants.

Jack­son said the beach’s paid park­ing brings in $250,000 an­nu­ally and cov­ers beach main­te­nance. With­out it, taxes would in­crease 2-3 per cent ev­ery year, she said.

Many can­di­dates called for food trucks to be al­lowed in Sauble Beach - al­beit with vary­ing opin­ions on the de­tails. Leonard called for an “ex­or­bi­tant li­cense fee to food trucks” and Sch­nurr said, “The restau­ra­teurs needed to be looked to first” if food trucks were al­lowed as they’ve made in­vest­ments in the com­mu­nity.

When asked about the im­pact of the coun­cil com­ple­ment be­ing de­creased from nine to the cur­rent five mem­bers, in­cum­bent Coun. Vukovic said she didn’t see a dif­fer­ence. Other in­cum­bents Deputy Mayor Kirk­land, Coun. Paul McKen­zie and Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son - agreed the former nine-mem­ber coun­cil had been frus­trat­ing and un­wieldy. The change had en­abled coun­cil to make de­ci­sions more quickly while hav­ing a “more ful­some dis­cus­sion,” as Jack­son de­scribed it.

Sch­nurr said coun­cil should have “at least seven mem­bers.”

Other top­ics in­cluded the West Road ex­pan­sion (which is un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the county) and the town’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.

“We’re in an in­cred­i­ble fi­nan­cial po­si­tion,” Jack­son said, adding the town is au­dited ev­ery four years and “has $3-mil­lion in un­com­mit­ted re­serves.”

“That’s peanuts,” Vukovic said about the re­serve amount, adding $440,000 to date had been spent on land claims and rak­ing the beach. The town has also cre­ated six new - but un­nec­es­sary in her opin­ion town staff po­si­tions she said.

An au­di­ence mem­ber asked about the former Sauble Beach amuse­ment park and the former Wiar­ton Food­land lo­ca­tion - two large va­cant prop­er­ties in the town.

Tyler Olm­stead, a coun­cil­lor can­di­date, said th­ese prop­er­ties were pri­vately owned, but ide­ally he’d like to see a de­vel­oper bring in an­other long-term care home.

May­oral can­di­date Lois Keays said the town needed to de­velop and uti­lize in­cen­tives to en­cour­age new de­vel­op­ers.

The may­oral can­di­dates were asked about the sta­tus of the court case re­gard­ing the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula and the Sauble Beach land claim.

“We are in the lit­i­ga­tion of a life­time,” Jack­son said, adding she be­lieved the town was “close to go­ing to court.”

Chal­lenger Sch­nurr said he didn’t know how to answer the ques­tion - call­ing for more in­for­ma­tion to be shared with res­i­dents as “it is a claim we are in­volved in,” he said.

Lemme and Thom­son were asked about what sex ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum their boards would fol­low.

Thom­son said the Blue­wa­ter District School Board would dis­cuss this at their first board meet­ing on Tues­day (Sept. 4).

“It’s an evolv­ing con­ver­sa­tion, so we’re go­ing to have to watch and see how that goes,” she said.

Lemme said his board was in­structed by the Min­istry to fol­low the draft cur­ricu­lum that was pro­duced in 2010, adding the Catholic faith was in­cor­po­rated into all sub­jects and would be in this one too.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about how the can­di­dates would re­duce the town’s le­gal ex­penses, Keays said coun­cil should avoid lit­i­ga­tion in the first place.

Sch­nurr, who said he was the first para­le­gal in On­tario, said, “we’re go­ing to get sued and we’re go­ing to get sued reg­u­larly. We need an in­house coun­cil more than we need a CAO.”

To­ward the end of the ques­tion pe­riod - the uniden­ti­fied front row au­di­ence mem­ber who protested at the meet­ing’s start, once again spoke out. As he be­gan, an­other male au­di­ence mem­ber yelled, “Kick him out!”

An ob­scen­ity was fired back in re­sponse and the dis­rup­tive au­di­ence mem­ber was asked sev­eral times by the MC to leave, which he fi­nally did with­out fur­ther in­ci­dent.

Can­di­dates gave their clos­ing re­marks - with about half the orig­i­nal au­di­ence in at­ten­dance.

At press time, all can­di­date meet­ings for the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula can­di­dates were sched­uled for Sat., Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at Colpoy’s Bay Women’s In­sti­tute Hall in Colpoy’s Bay, hosted by the Mal­lory Beach Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and on Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. at Penin­sula Shores District School in Wiar­ton, hosted by the Wiar­ton & District Cham­ber of Com­merce. The mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion is Oct. 22.

ZOE KESSLER/WIAR­TON ECHO

Mu­nic­i­pal can­di­dates for the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula at­tended the first pub­lic all can­di­dates meet­ing at the Sauble Beach Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Sauble Beach on Sept. 2. From left to right (top): in­cum­bent Deputy Mayor Jay Kirk­land (stand­ing for Deputy Mayor); Jeff Leonard (run­ning for Deputy Mayor); in­cum­bent Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son (stand­ing for Mayor); may­oral can­di­dates Lois Keays, Neil Richard­son, John Sch­nurr and in­cum­bent Coun­cil­lor Ana Vukovic (stand­ing). Front row: Michael Lemme (left, run­ning for Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board Trustee); Coun­cil­lor can­di­dates Terry Bell, Kathy Durst, in­cum­bent Coun. Paul McKen­zie, Tyler Olm­stead, Ann Marie Had­cock and Caleb Hull; in­cum­bent Blue­wa­ter District School Board Trustee Jane Thom­son (ac­claimed). Ab­sent: Don Standen (coun­cil­lor can­di­date).

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