New con­tender for deputy mayor in North­ern Bruce Penin­sula

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - ZOE KESSLER Ed­i­tor

Deb­bie Myles says she’s been to nearly ev­ery coun­cil meet­ing for the past four years. Now, she’s ready to step up to work for change in North­ern Bruce Penin­sula. Myles hopes her fel­low res­i­dents will al­low her to do that by vot­ing for her in the Oct. 22 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

Myles, who is tak­ing her first run for a seat on mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, is up against in­cum­bent Pa­tri­cia Greig the only other con­tender for deputy mayor nom­i­nated at press time. While new to the po­lit­i­cal process, Myles - who is self-em­ployed in home im­prove­ment, pri­mar­ily paint­ing and tiling, has lived on the penin­sula for 40 years.

“I re­ally think we’re go­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion. We’re not look­ing af­ter the res­i­dents,” she said in an in­ter­view.

One of Myles’ pri­or­i­ties is get­ting a han­dle on tourism, she said, es­pe­cially in the face of the waste that’s cre­ated by the in­dus­try.

“I think we need to start look­ing at ways to gen­er­ate some rev­enue,” she said.

While she ac­knowl­edges the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s re­cently im­ple­mented paid park­ing as a way to off­set costs, the need for more park­ing, park­ing lots, wash­rooms and other in­fra­struc­ture and ameni­ties to ac­com­mo­date the in­flux of tourists re­mains, she said, adding she be­lieves the nec­es­sary fund­ing shouldn’t come from tax­pay­ers.

Myles said she doesn’t have any specifics to ad­dress the tourism sit­u­a­tion just yet.

“It’s go­ing to de­pend on who is elected,” she said.

“I don’t be­lieve our coun­cil has ever had a plan or a vi­sion. There has to be a di­rec­tion that we need to be go­ing.”

Myles said in­stead of re­act­ing to what­ever is­sue is front of coun­cil, she’d like to see a game plan over the long run. In some cases, she said, that roadmap is there but hasn’t yet been fol­lowed.

One ex­am­ple she cites is a parks and recre­ation plan for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“For the res­i­dents, I think we need more ac­cess to the wa­ter,” she said.

Myles said more ac­cess to boat launches and shore­line was men­tioned in a new eco­nomic devel­op­ment strat­egy, but hasn’t yet been im­ple­mented.

An ex­am­ple is a boat ramp near where she lives near Miller Lake.

“That’s been sit­ting there for 25 years with no dock,” she said, adding she’d like to see it fin­ished so it can be of use to res­i­dents. In­stead, she said, she and her neigh­bours have to drive to Lion’s Head to launch a boat.

“That’s an ex­am­ple of things that we need to put into the whole mu­nic­i­pal­ity. We need to start spread­ing things out and give the res­i­dents more ac­cess points so they can put a kayak in [for ex­am­ple].”

Myles said main­te­nance and li­a­bil­ity rea­sons were cited for not putting in a dock at the site.

“In my mind, ev­ery­thing in the penin­sula is a li­a­bil­ity, so I don’t see any rea­son not to open them, es­pe­cially when it’s in the mas­ter plan.”

Myles said her grand­par­ents built a cot­tage on the penin­sula in 1959, when she was only three, and she’s been com­ing up ever since. In 1976, she moved to the penin­sula per­ma­nently af­ter her mar­riage. She and her former hus­band, who was born in NBP, had three chil­dren to­gether, two of whom still live and work in the area.

“When I first came up here there were 12 gas sta­tions, more schools for the kids, two gro­cery stores... we’re go­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion and I’m not quite sure why. We’ve got more tourists than ever be­fore.”

Myles ac­knowl­edged that the change in how own­ers were us­ing their cot­tages was part of the prob­lem, with own­ers less of­ten us­ing cot­tages to ac­com­mo­date fam­ily mem­bers who work in the area.

Myles said it was im­por­tant to at­tract more young fam­i­lies to live in the area. This is an is­sue she hopes to get on coun­cil’s agenda for dis­cus­sion - which it needs more of, she said. Twice-a-month coun­cil meet­ings “for maybe two hours, some­times less,” is not enough she said, adding per­haps more spe­cial coun­cil meet­ings or adding items to the agenda might be a way to en­gen­der more much­needed dis­cus­sion.

If elected, Myles said con­stituents will be able to count on her to do her own re­search, dig into an is­sue to val­i­date in­for­ma­tion and get the facts straight rather than tak­ing things at face value.

“I will work to find an an­swer,” she said, adding, “there’s no room for er­ror.”

“I’m still learn­ing about coun­cil process,” she said.

Myles plans to at­tend cour­ses of­fered by AMO (As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of On­tario), in­clud­ing one on mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil ba­sics and an­other fo­cussing on fi­nances.

“The more I can learn, the bet­ter,” she said.

Al­though she may have to give up her own busi­ness to per­form her du­ties on coun­cil, Myles said she’s will­ing to do that.

“I think it de­serves it. The peo­ple who elect you de­serve it.”

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Deb­bie Myles, run­ning for deputy mayor in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, is look­ing for change in North­ern Bruce Penin­sula.

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