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07-Oct-2018

Ask a Grey Highlands candidate


Ask a Grey Highlands candidate

 

South Grey News reached out to Grey Highlands municipal candidates with questions from you, our readers. Here are their answers.

For more information about election dates and voting in the Municipality of Grey Highlands, visit https://www.greyhighlands.ca/en/municipal-government/elections.aspx

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Mayoral candidate Paul McQueen did not respond to our request.

TERRY MOKRIY; grey highlands

TERRY MOKRIY - Mayoral candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: All of our current development projects are in varying stages of completion. I would argue that one major project has received County approval and that the others are being processed. We, in Grey Highlands, must be certain that we work closely with our developers and that we monitor development to ensure that its impact is positive and that development reflects our rural community values. Uncontrolled development, like the current “bed-room community” developments in Shelburne, have added much to local coffers but little to community interaction and local business prosperity and should set an example of how not to pursue development in Grey Highlands.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?

A: The Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation holds that housing is affordable (attainable) when it consumes no more than 30% of a household's gross, pre-tax income. Council recently finalized the new Official Plan. The Comprehensive Zoning By-law dates back to October 2004. The first steps Council must take is to review the entire Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw with an eye to updating and to allowing a wide range of housing types. Affordable housing for all needs to be accommodated whether it is first time young family “tiny houses”; or mid-sized accommodation geared to senior living; or accommodation for those who wish alternate housing such as rentals, condos, and land lease.

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: I believe that economic development is important but it cannot be dependent upon either bringing in new business or encouraging our existing businesses. There needs to be a blending of both. We can not tell existing landlords how to run their businesses but we can develop strategies and provide incentives which will help them to succeed. My Business Position Paper states, “We need to assist businesses in their daily struggles to compete. That assistance should take the form of information resources, fiscal incentives, as well as human resource support.” Improvement projects which focus on façades, signage, accessibility, building revitalization, and guidelines for streetscape and building design  are all important pieces of the puzzle.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: I believe that Council must ensure the maximum benefit, to the tax payer, for each and every Municipal dollar spent. We need to streamline, and to make more efficient, the way in which Council and the Municipality does business. We need to review and to improve customer service and the services we provide. We need to do this with an eye on keeping taxes down.

In my “Business Position Paper” I state, “We also need to respond to change and to adapt our marketing, products and services.” Through a comprehensive branding and marketing plan, we would be able to attract new residents, businesses and tourists who are all looking for a quality of life and work unique to Grey Highlands and, by moving here, would be adding to the economy.

The new developments are potentially injecting $9 million into Grey Highlands’ economy. I would suggest that we need to quickly embark on an industrial and commercial land inventory and to develop Community Improvement Plans and funding agreements with and for all of our rural communities

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: As I stated in previous paragraphs, unbridled development can, and often does, lead to socio economic, and health and well being consequences. Council’s job is to ensure that all development reflects our community heritage, lifestyle, and values. Council must make certain that all growth is positive and that Council works, proactively, to address and to mitigate any  potential difficulties arising from change. We can ensure maximum benefits only if we take the lead, call the shots, and stand up for our communities.

DEPUTY MAYOR CANDIDATES

AAKASH DESAI; grey highlands

AAKASH DESAI - Deputy Mayor candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: The municipality has co-operated with the developers who have approached them with projects. The Tim Hortons, the new Foodland, Devonleigh Homes, and Stonebrook are where the municipality had direct communication with the developers and are where we see movement forward. Ridgeview, on the other hand, the land lease development, was a Markdale Golf & Country Club project. They were unable to reach a revised agreement despite the best efforts of the municipal staff to mediate an agreement. I have no concerns with the municipality’s co-operation with new projects.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?

A: At the start of the next term we will complete a comprehensive zoning by-law review. We need to ensure that zoning by-laws make it possible to have tiny home development, add in-law suites and allow for other housing types. One of the things we will need to consider is whether we want to allow buildings higher than 3 storeys in Grey Highlands. Multi-storey buildings allow for smaller and more affordable accommodations and can provide a stepping stone for people saving up for a bigger investment or looking to downsize. 

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: There are a variety of actions we can take to make our downtowns healthier and more vibrant. If elected Deputy Mayor I would take the following actions:

First, I would continue to support municipal staff in their ongoing endeavour to complete the Community Improvement Plans for all the downtowns in Grey Highlands, the goal being to build a downtown that is sustainable by making them vibrant, viable, and visibly pleasing. One of the issues that we will need to address is the issue of parking in our downtowns. Adequate parking for residents and tourists is essential to a healthy downtown.

Second, I would implement a façade improvement program where the municipality would match funds with local downtown business owners to improve their storefront. This would give each downtown a unique identity and becomes a driving force in building sustainable downtowns.

Third, I would introduce the Re-New It program to Grey Highlands. This program is already in place in nearby municipalities. The goal is to fill empty storefronts by allotting them to people who bring forward a viable business plan. It offers affordable rent on a monthly rolling basis with the aim of signing a long-term lease. In most cases a long-term lease was signed in 6 months or less.

Finally, I would invest in a plan to establish an industrial park to attract industry to Grey Highlands. The goal would be to increase the commercial tax base, thereby minimizing the tax burden on residential ratepayers.

To run an effective revitalisation campaign, we need to be able to attract new business, to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts at the same time. We need to ensure the revitalisation of existing assets while we look at projecting what our needs will be, what new infrastructure will be needed and when we will need it. 

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: I am running for Deputy Mayor because I want to make Grey Highlands a municipal model of sustainable development. My first step would be to make sure that the Municipality follows the recommendations of the asset management plan and builds up an asset management reserve. This would safeguard the municipality against sudden tax hikes due to unforeseen breakdown in infrastructure, such as collapsed bridges. Next, I would promote the establishment of an industrial park. Being able to expand our industrial tax base would take the burden off the residential and agricultural tax payers. Finally, I would ensure timely investments in our capital infrastructure to ensure that Grey Highlands is always ready to host development.  

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: With the approximately 500 new homes coming to Markdale, we will need to make certain capital investments to support them. The water tower in Markdale is one of the key investments that council has already started on. 

One of my criticisms of the current council was its decision to not follow the recommendations of the development charges study. Council decided in a 4-3 vote to keep the development charges to 65% of what the study recommended and spread the increase to that over 5 years. I would have liked to see council vote in favour of going to 100% of what the study recommended. 

The principal of development charges is that the current tax base should not have to bear the burden of capital costs to support new development. With the way council voted, the 35% that it chose to forego will now have to come from the general tax levy. This is not sustainable, and it is definitely not fiscally responsible, especially when you consider that council also voted 4-3 to take $150,000 from reserves to fund operations with the goal of lowering the overall tax rate.

STEWART HALLIDAY - Deputy Mayor candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold, long-term hold, or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: There is no concern. Our number one priority is economic development. The following housing projects have moved quickly through the municipal planning process.

a) Stonebrooke developments phase 1&2 - Markdale 133 town houses. Site plan approved. 
b) Devonleigh Homes - Markdale 393 singles and townhouses. Draft County Approval

We now have a total 526 homes approved. All in the process of being designed and then built. 

Two projects that failed to move forward, A Place to Grow and Ridgeview Lane, planned at the Markdale Golf and Curling Club but developers and the Club failed to come to a satisfactory purchasing agreement for land. The property that was zoned for Ridgeview Lanes has finally been sold by the Club. The new developer is now working on plans to build town homes on this land. We are working hard to make development happen and I support our current strategy.

The Beavercrest School has just been approved by the school board. Now we are waiting for the new provincial government to reorganize before receiving capital funding. They stated they won’t be doing anything until after November 8.

The hospital, nothing has been holding it back. We have been going through the steps, which take a long time, and have almost reached the end. The design has been approved, architectural specs are being written. Then capital approval is required from the Ministry. The shovels will hopefully be in the ground late 2019.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?

A: The majority of builders are in business to make a return on their investment. The cost of infrastructure increases every year so they want to build homes that give them the best return. Most new homes scheduled to date will have a starting price of at least $300,000. Your gross family income would need to be close to $100,000 to carry a standard mortgage. This is a higher income than most younger families can earn. So there is a definite need for entry to mid-level pricing.

All levels of government recognize this challenge and many new ideas are being developed. The Federal Government has a national housing strategy and is favouring loans to builders that focus on affordable rental homes/apartments. 

We are looking for developers that are interested in this type of development. Our new Community Improvement Plans will also provide possible incentives such as to offset municipal planning fees, building and sign permit fees, and deferring of development charges.

We will also investigate public and private partnerships. This are no guarantees but rest assured we recognize the need as the lack of this type of housing is preventing our industries from growing and our workforce from increasing. I support our direction. 

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: Most Council discussions to date focus on both new builds and rehabilitation. We purchased the former FoodTown lands from Sobey's and plan to work with the community to develop plans for this land. For sustainable businesses and most importantly new downtown apartments. You need people living close to shopping so that a healthy and vibrant community can evolve. 

We also purchased the small plaza next to the TD Bank so that this building can continue to serve as our Markdale Seniors Centre. But at the same time we can control future development in this area.

Our Community Improvement Plans will provide funds for some downtown revitalization projects. The combination of new residential subdivisions and downtown apartments will provide consumers for sustainable business development. I support what we are doing.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: I don't think this statement reflects the reality of our Municipal finances. We have moved forward cautiously with our annual but fiscally responsible budgets and have kept all our budget key indicators at best practice levels. Our residential tax rates are set to encourage development and we feel that our decisions in this area reflect good financial management. 

Our working capital reserve is over $1 million and we have built up substantial reserves for water and waste water systems. We have over $500,000 in asset replacement reserves plus many other smaller but dedicated reserves such as new park development. 

Our development charges will bring in close to $ 4.5 million for the new developments now in the approval process. This plus the new tax revenue from the new homes will allow us to manage projects that will improve the health and vibrancy of our municipality.

As budget chair for the last eight years I am very pleased with our financial status.

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: New growth and economic development is our #1 priority and we are pleased with the results to date. Increasing the population is all a part of our new, well planned growth. It will allow for more revenue to small businesses, increasing financial security, and help to sustain community facilities. A larger tax assessment will also provide funds to develop new four season amenities such as in-town community trails, maybe a splash pad, develop our roads, and allow us to proceed to expand trails in the Kimberley forest area. We are not short of ideas but to maximize community benefits we will definitely look to the public for input. I supported our growth plans.

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Council candidate Paul Allen did not respond to our request.

TOM ALLWOOD; grey highlands

TOM ALLWOOD - Council candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: Development in Markdale is happening now. Council and staff in the Municipality of Grey Highlands have stated that economic development is their number one priority. All development projects require planning reports that include; a Stormwater/Drainage report, a Functional Servicing report, an Archaeological Stage 1 report, an Environmental Impact study, a Traffic Impact Study and the payment of fees and deposits for any official plan amendment, zoning by-law amendment, and site plan approval. This process needs to be thorough and expeditious. The Municipality’s contract planner was available one day a week which did not help. The Municipality now has a full time Planner which will expedite the process. 

The new Foodland Store, StoneBrook Developments Phase 1 and Phase 11, the Devonleigh 393 home development, and Tim Hortons are well into the site plan approval at both the Grey Highlands and Grey County level. The Ridgeview Lane project property has been approved for severance and the project known as Dimakos subdivision has been given a one-year extension. As a councilor in Grey Highland I would commit to working with staff and ratepayers to promote economic development in Grey Highlands.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?

A: There is a shortage of all types of housing in Grey Highlands. Just talk to any of the realtors. Especially affordable, accessible housing for seniors and attainable mixed housing types suitable for working young people and their families. I would look at amending our zoning by-laws to provide for the type of density that would accommodate attainable, affordable mixed housing types for seniors and young working families. Allow this mix of smaller lots and smaller accessible housing, townhomes, lofts and condominiums in the villages and settlements of Grey Highlands. On services where available and as in fill in the communities that do not have full services. Have this new housing built to complement our Heritage downtowns and promote a walkable Village lifestyle integrated into our existing communities.

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: In any rural community the main streets and downtowns should be the heart and soul of our villages and settlements. It was that way in the past. Our main streets reflect that Heritage. While they may be suffering at the moment they are a huge part of the village life style that will attract new residents to Grey Highlands. Developers know this, and the Municipality should work with them to preserve and invest in our rural heritage, that village lifestyle. Establish and fund a Downtown Revitalizations program and attract the type of businesses that will add to this.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: If elected the three steps I would take to put our Municipality on a firm financial footing are: 1. Continue to promote economic development in Grey Highlands. Current development will generate $9 million in fees; 2. Be part of a team that makes sure the needs of our ratepayers, businesses and infrastructure are budgeted for appropriately; 3. Be fiscally responsible in managing that budget.

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: People are the life blood of our communities. Responsible growth and the resulting increase in population will provide labour and customers for businesses in Grey Highlands. It will provide more ratepayers. We should have this new housing built to complement our heritage downtowns, promote a walkable village lifestyle and integrate it into our existing communities. The increased population and tax base will give us the opportunity to continue to support and enhance our municipal recreational facilities and programs; keep our schools open; and save our long term care facility, Grey Gables.

Wayne Balon and Libby Howell did not respond to our request.

cathy little; grey highlands

CATHY LITTLE - Council candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: All projects are on track. I know at times it seems there’s a lot of talk and not much action. This is a communication problem as much as anything but there are some factors that contribute to delays: 1) MGH human and financial resources have limits. 2) Day-to-day MGH operations are increasingly time-consuming and expensive. 3) Being open and transparent takes time. 4) Emergencies such as saving Beavercrest and Grey Gables become priorities. 5) Progress depends on timetables of all contributors and partners, not just Council.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years? 

A: Housing, employment, business, and amenities are interdependent. Our new Economic Development Director is undertaking Community Improvement Plans and providing professional recommendations on the comprehensive integration of all these factors. Some options for affordable housing are: County loans currently available for homeowners creating secondary units, incentives for development of second level space in downtowns, MGH inventory of “shovel-ready” municipal land and circulation of Requests For Proposals to Affordable Housing investors/developers.

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts.

A: A Healthy Communities framework would ensure that these areas include welcoming public spaces, parks and green space, connecting routes and features for pedestrian and cyclist travel, and accessibility. MGH is working on Community Improvement Plans for our settlement areas with funding from the Rural Economic Development grant. MGH has funding for Downtown Revitalization. Council designated funding in the 2018 budget for Main Street improvement and Façade Improvement Programs. Cultural heritage preservation incentives that improve historic buildings and streetscapes are beneficial. These initiatives will rely on community input and participation. Best practices in other successful villages and towns have demonstrated that the presence of a community champion leading the way accelerates positive change and concurrent growth of community pride. Both strategies mentioned in the question are important.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: 1) Continue to refine the MGH Asset Management Plan, providing an increasingly accurate estimation of costs and timelines for asset replacement. 2) Keep building reserves in order to budget responsibly and effectively for asset replacement. 3) We need to help retain our current businesses and attract and encourage new businesses to provide a variety of employment opportunities. Recruitment, supporting the Chamber of Commerce, investigating local opportunities for social enterprises, expanding high speed internet service and natural gas services, making our villages more and more attractive and inviting places to work, and learn, live and play. 

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: Markdale, on water and wastewater services and as the only primary settlement area in Grey Highlands is the focus of growth. Approved and proposed subdivisions are in excess of 500 new housing units, but build-out will take time. It is important to preserve, and build on our existing amenities to keep Markdale a vibrant complete community that people call home, not just a place to sleep. More people shopping, living and opening businesses downtown will be a good thing. Increased revenue from a larger tax base will benefit all of Grey Highlands. Development charges get applied locally for increased servicing costs. Our other villages are secondary or tertiary and growth is limited mostly to infilling so change will not be on the same scale. 

Regardless of scale, we all would benefit from envisioning the future we want for Grey Highlands and working together on the development of a framework for decisions on policy, programs and services that will create the healthy communities where we choose to live, now and in the future. Council can only do this effectively with the help of Grey Highlanders. 

I would like to see MGH develop a program for assisting and empowering community volunteers in preserving and showcasing the unique characteristics and local charm of our villages and surrounding areas. If we could do this collaboratively and recapture the Grey Highlands Canada 150 feeling, that would be something to aspire to, in my opinion. 

DANE NIELSON; grey highlands

DANE NIELSON - Council candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects? 

A: I feel there has been a perception in the past that Grey Highlands was closed for business. However with the hiring of a new full time planner and economic development officer things are changing at the municipal office. I would continue to change that perception and let people know Grey Highlands is open for business and encourage new growth and development.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years? 

A: Current by-laws have handcuffed developers and this needs to change. We need to be able to build smaller homes. We need to be able to build 2nd unit dwellings on lands to provide housing for our parents. We need to look outside the current box we have put ourselves in and be open to creative housing ideas that are already working all over the world.

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? 

A: As the council and municipality put an emphasis on growth and development the businesses will become more successful. Council cannot dictate what stores to open, but it can and should provide an encouraging place to do business. 

Q: Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts? 

A: Both are equally important. As we build and grow the existing store fronts will be filled with new businesses. Then we will need to build new locations for more growth.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: The financial health of our community is very important. We cannot waste what little revenue our municipality brings in. But we must also invest in our community to grow and become more sustainable. By encouraging growth we will be able to spread the tax burden out among more residents. We need to place money in reserves and not use them to cover operational shortfalls but rather have that money there for major infrastructure improvements that will be needed in the future.

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: The new developments will provide a larger tax base to support the municipality. It will provide more people that shop and support our local stores. It will bring new people to Grey Highlands that may want to create a new local store. The new houses can provide housing for our workforce so that the jobs that are available can be filled. The development charges that appear to be $9 million over the next couple of years will be able to support the infrastructure we need in Grey Highlands. As we grow so do our opportunities. 

How can we maximize benefits to our communities? Having Markdale grow brings in new tax revenue for our municipality. That revenue can be spread out to provide better services to all of Grey Highlands. Also by staying ahead of the growth we can encourage the right types of developments to come to Grey Highlands.  

LYNN SILVERTON; grey highlands

LYNN SILVERTON - Council candidate

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: Once the developer gets permission and zoning changes, he/she gets the architects, engineers and other construction type businesses involved. It takes time for them to create plans, artist renditions etc. for public meetings and council approvals.

Site plans, roads, hydro, water, waste water requirements and their plans too take time. Two years is in fact a very fast turn around and due to the cooperation and efforts of our municipal staff, none of these developments are on hold. You will see construction begin this year.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?

A: We have encouraged and assisted these aforementioned developments because of these mentioned needs and I have asked them when presenting, about affordable and accessible housing. I have been assured this will be included. The developments have various housing types and costs.

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful? Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: We have a downtowns revitalization plan and grants for owners are being investigated. This will make a big difference. We have an Economic Development Officer now on board that we haven’t had before with excellent credentials and, she hit the ground running. We can do both new business and help existing business.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: Of all the municipalities in Grey County and beyond, our financial situation is really quite firm. In fact, we were turned down for a grant because we didn’t owe enough! I will continue to encourage developments, tourism and businesses.

When Grey Highlands has more attractive areas and reasonably priced housing, businesses will do better. Every angle will be explored to keep our property taxes down. Currently, in Ontario, we are third from the bottom in one category of a research study and second from the bottom in another category.

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: Although our infrastructure maintenance costs will go up a little, there will be many more properties to help with costs through property taxes. The developments may be in Markdale, but all communities of Grey Highlands will benefit fiscally.

Also, we would be in a higher population category to receive more annual provincial and federal funding and an extra vote at County Council.

DANIELLE VALIQUETTE; grey highlands

DANIELLE VALIQUETTE - Council candidate 

Q: Two years ago there were five emerging development projects in Markdale and now it looks like all of those are either put on a hold long-term hold or canceled. Is there a concern with the municipality's cooperation with new projects?

A: The municipality has hired a new CAO and has created an Official Plan. I am encouraged by these steps, as well as the recent development approvals. Stonebrook Phase 1 & 2 is approved for development, while Phase 3 & 4 is currently in the planning process. Additionally, Devonleigh Homes is approved for construction. I am excited about the growth coming to Grey Highlands. I believe Grey Highlands to be on the cusp of economic growth, and I hope I have the opportunity to help guide it.

Q: The critical need for affordable and mid-level housing in the area has been recognized as a factor in workforce shortage and retention. What can be done to resolve this issue and bring affordable housing to Grey Highlands over the next two years?  

A: The simplified answer to attainable housing is to allow smaller homes and allow more of them per acre. Over the next two years, council needs to implement by-laws and policies that support homes that are a smaller square footage. Additionally, I would like to work towards allowing garden homes or tiny homes on existing homesteads allowing for aging parents to live close to their children and remain independent longer. 

Q: What should be done to make our streets and downtowns healthier and more successful?

A: Some of Grey Highlands’ downtowns are not as healthy and successful as their potential. We look to our downtowns and main streets to provide the identity of the area, and I believe there are some small-term and medium-term actions that could start our main streets off on the right path again, so-to-speak. The municipality needs to create sustainable parking plans, encourage more artisans, as well as work with building owners to determine creative ways of getting businesses in the empty storefronts and staying there. 

Q: Is it more important to attract new business or to rehabilitate, expand and better utilize our existing storefronts?

A: We need new homes and buildings for the estimated incoming growth. This said, there is also the opportunity to redevelop, as well as to infill with mixed-use opportunities in Markdale. The municipality can work with businesses to improve historic commercial buildings through the façade improvement loan programs. Downtowns can be improved with improved parking for both cars and bicycles. I am interested to see what the outcome of the public consultations are regarding developing the northwest corner Highway 10 & Grey Road 12 in Markdale.

Q: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

A: The municipality can move away from being so dependent on tax revenue nor reserves by:

1. Maintaining a budget increase of just above inflation; 2. Taking advantage of monies that often result when a federal election is about to be called; 3. Managing money gained because of new development.

Q: What are the implications of the new housing developments and subsequent increase in population? How can we maximize benefits to our communities?

A: New development does mean pressure on local services and infrastructure. Additionally, a greater housing supply may mean lower or slowing house prices for a period of time.  However, when growth is managed correctly, there could likely be increased property values, new infrastructure, longer term improvements in affordability across the housing market, spending and investment in local shops and services, investment in the local area arising from development fees.  

We can maximize benefits to our communities by listening. Council candidates have talked a lot about “engagement” over the last few weeks. I believe that council has to find create ways that meet the communities needs and not the other way around. More town halls and ones that include our youth are great ideas, but we should also utilize technology including streaming council meetings. 

Editor's note: Each of the emails to municipal candidates were sent in the same manner however some went to Spam and are being discovered late. We will extend the time allotted for candidates to respond and update the articles as time allows. We can be reached at news@southgreynews.ca. 


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Anonymous commented on 07-Oct-2018 11:23 AM1 out of 5 stars
Where's the other candidates?

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