Are you looking for a job?
Beaver Valley Handmade Market
Fall Photo Contest - 2018

07-Oct-2018

Ask a Southgate candidate


Ask a Southgate candidate

 

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

For information about election dates and voting in the Township of Southgate, visit www.southgate.ca/content/southgate-votes-2018.

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

MIKE SCARR; southgate

MIKE SCARR - Mayoral candidate

Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality? Do we have enough options? If not, what will you do to increase or improve those options?

A: The primary mode of transportation within and outside the Township is the family car, and therefore most families have two vehicles.

Currently the Saugeen Mobility & Regional Transit, and Movin’GB are available for people with medical  appointments. A free Highway 10 public service operates twice daily from Owen Sound to Shelburne. The fourth service operated by Grey County Home and Support Services but funding ended in March of 2018.

I believe that until local population grows substantially, the demand for a public service will be very low, not to mention unfeasible.

The commitment to Southgate taxpayers is that if elected, we will conduct a feasibility study, with residents’ input, for having a public transportation service.

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 housing developments will strain the existing water and sewer facilities as evidenced by the Municipality’s CAO attempting to cancel existing water and sewer allotments for projects that have not yet moved forward. Property owners will face substantial water cost increases, if a new water tower and an enlarged sewage treatment plant are required to meet the needs of these developments. The cost of building these facilities will be in the millions of dollars. If the new Council does not understand how to finance these projects, the cost will be borne by tax increases.

Increased town population will create an increased demand on all educational and recreational town facilities. Increased population would increase demand on our limited medical services. While one would hope that increased population would increase local shopping, statistics show that most new residents commuting to work, do their shopping en route, where prices are lower, and variety is greater. Statistics also show that commuting residents do create a slight increase in business for local takeout food service establishments.

Q: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

A: Zoning is determined by the Provincial Planning Act, the Township Official Plan, and the County Official Plan. The one zoning change that I would make would be to cancel the shops on farms provision, which was foisted upon rural municipalities by provincial planners because it is simply poor planning. Past provincial planners have a legacy of poor planning decisions. They do not understand rural communities. Whether it be a Mennonite or non-Mennonite on farm shop, it belongs in an industrial park. Because of this planning, we now have heavy transport trucks travelling along all township roads creating damage and potholes with no way of knowing whether the increased taxation from these properties will in fact cover the cost of maintaining these rural roads. These shops should have been in our industrial park, which trucks could access with one road only. These shops are departments of industrial factories, not the home shop for some bonus income for a hard-working farmer under the home industry provisions that now exist. 

Q: How important is transparency in our local government and what steps, if any, would you take to make our government more transparent and accountable? 

A: The Ontario Municipal Act states that Council’s most important responsibility is to represent the best interests of the people who elected them. This can only be accomplished by conducting the people's business in an open and transparent way. As a taxpayer, one should be able to ask questions about any matter that is discussed in open forum by Council. As Mayor, I will ask Council to support a motion to restore question period at the end of each Council meeting. Question period will allow members of the press to ask questions, followed by members of the audience to ask questions on any matter that was discussed during the Council meeting. The present members of council are opposed to having question period. If Council does not support a question period at the end of each meeting, I will entertain questions from both the press and the public on agenda items. If I am unable to answer a question, I will commit to the questioner to obtain an answer for them within the next two days.

I submit that in the past many items that may not have needed to be discussed in closed session were. As per the Municipal Act the Mayor is the CEO of the community, and together with Council they set the plans and priorities for staff overseen by the CAO to conduct municipal business. Therefore, as CEO of the township, I will review every closed session agenda item to determine the validity of it being placed there.

Mayoral candidate John Woodbury did not respond to our request.

DEPUTY MAYOR CANDIDATES

Deputy Mayor candidate Brian Milne did not respond to our request.

CAROL WATSON; southgate

CAROL WATSON - Deputy Mayor candidate

Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality? Do we have enough options? If not, what will you do to increase or improve those options?

A: Saugeen Mobility is the only company listed under Taxi and Mobility Services in the 2017/18 Southgate Community Guide. Transportation needs to be kept affordable. Grey County Council extended the Highway 10 Owen Sound to Shelburne service route until the end of 2018 or until a decision is made by the Province on the County's Community Transportation Fund - Municipal Stream application. Movin’GB is a support service which provides rides to non-emergency medical appointments, shopping, banking and various social activities and programs. As Deputy Mayor attending County Council meetings, I would support both services at the County level.

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 housing development in the Township of Southgate will bring growth to the tax assessment base while the increase in population may affect our school accommodation needs and recreation facilities usage. The development may pose problems with water and wastewater capacity and although water and sewer are paid by users in Dundalk, the cost must remain affordable. I would hope that with the increased population, more store fronts would be opened to meet the needs of the growing community. Southgate’s Economic Development Officer would be busy supporting new businesses.

Q: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

A: I would suggest that the Township of Southgate include regulations for smaller dwellings then the current Zoning By-law allows. The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 93 m2 and the distinction is made between small (between 37 m2 and 93 m2) and tiny houses (less than 37 m2 with some as small as 7.4 m2). If this was included in Southgate’s Zoning By-law, land owners wishing to build a smaller house would not have to go through the zoning by-law amendment process.

Q: How important is transparency in our local government and what steps, if any, would you take to make our government more transparent and accountable?

A: Transparency is very important as local municipal government is the closest to the people. Council must be open and accountable to the ratepayers and although the Municipal Act provides exceptions to hold meetings in Closed Session, Council should only go into closed occasional to deal with certain matters. Once in Closed Session, Council should only receive information or give direction to staff and must be mindful to only discuss the issue(s) which they went into closed for and not anything further. All motions must be presented in Open Session. I would encourage staff avoid requesting to go into closed session to keep as much Southgate business as they can in open session.

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Council candidates Guy Belcourt, Saveria Caruso, Ned Cursio and Terry Da Silva did not respond to our request.

BARBARA DOBREEN; southgate

BARBARA DOBREEN - Council candidate

Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality? Do we have enough options? If not, what will you do to increase or improve those options?

A: Local transit within Southgate or along the highway corridors is limited or non-existent. Southgate Council and staff have been actively advocating to provincial ministries to expand the GO service north beyond the GTA. 

In the meantime, a pilot program that provides a shuttle from Owen Sound to Shelburne was implemented and is receiving tremendous use. As well, Southgate, in collaboration with the County and housing developers, was successful in its application that would see funding for a 5-year pilot service to Orangeville. Unfortunately, the funds are on hold pending the new provincial government’s line-by-line audit. We are hopeful this will be resolved by the end of the year.

The results of these pilots will be of benefit as we work to convince the province to transportation outside of the GTA a priority.

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

Q: With growth comes challenges as well as opportunity. Health services, recreation, shopping, library, emergency services, water and wastewater and traffic all need to be considered and planned for.

A: Southgate has been working closely with the South East Grey Community Health Centre to bring much needed health services, programming and education to Dundalk. In addition, Southgate Administration, Library and Recreation staff are collaborating with the SEGCHC to ensure programming and services are enhanced rather than duplicated.

A highway bypass to the Eco Park is within reach which will reduce industrial and commercial truck traffic through Dundalk; a new well is expected to be on-line by the new year; and wastewater technologies and efficiencies and are being explored before investing in a sewage treatment plant.

Walking trails through and around new development are being planned to connect the new homes with downtown and schools and new recreation programs are already being introduced. Developers are also listening to the needs of Seniors and talks are underway to incorporate senior housing alternatives into a future building phase.

Southgate is poised to tackle the challenges and leverage the growth to pursue funding opportunities.

Q: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

A: I believe the zoning codes, in general, are reasonable as they allow the municipality to manage growth/development with some flexibility to consider opportunities that could bring employment and expand the tax base. Staff have already begun a review of the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw and invite public input.

However, applicants are frustrated by the costs and the time it takes to get through the process. We need to consider ways to lessen the red tape where possible and evaluate the fees so they are reasonable while ensuring full cost recovery – development must pay for development.

One thing I have heard is concern that EP and Hazard land designations may revert to residential taxation rates when a farm changes hands. If the majority of the land is being farmed, I would advocate that these restricted lands be taxed at the agricultural rate, much like a managed forest designation.

Q: How important is transparency in our local government and what steps, if any, would you take to make our government more transparent and accountable?

A: Transparency at every level of government is essential, right down to how each member at the council table goes about fulfilling their elected responsibilities. Southgate took immediate steps to bring back open forum (question period) at the beginning of a meeting to allow a platform for residents to speak to items on the agenda or of concern to them in general. With Council’s support, staff also worked to implement video recordings of all Council meetings and continue to make more information readily available on the website and through social media. Keeping up with technology is key but it can also come at a financial cost. However, staff continually look for low-cost solutions to make searching for information more user friendly. 

JIM FREW - Council candidate

Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality?  Do we have enough options?  If not, what will you do to increase or improve those options?

A: Transportation is lacking in Southgate. The main transportation corridors are highways 10 and 6, running north/south. For those requiring assisted transportation services, Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit has specialized vehicles servicing Southgate and offers services to those meeting their eligibility requirements. I do not predict any major government-funded public transportation investments for Southgate in the near future unless they are initiated from the private sector. A growing community and population base will attract such enterprises.

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 rapid growth anticipated in Dundalk with 800 plus new homes built and being built is putting a strain on the existing infrastructure, especially the sewage lagoon. Planning and budgeting needs to be immediate. A new water treatment plant for Dundalk and gas service township-wide would be a benefit for attracting and supporting further growth. Additionally, increased demand from a growing population could result in greater availability of high-speed internet, senior and children’s resources, and medical services throughout the township along with other essential services. 

Q: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be, and why?

A: My change in the zoning code would be to eliminate transport trailers and shipping containers as accessory buildings. The units are a permanent blight in our community and a source of annoyance for neighbours.   

Q: How important is transparency in our local government and what steps, if any, would you take to make our government more transparent and accountable?

A: Transparency is key to the success of Southgate, as with any government. Over the years, the township has worked hard to strive for a culture of openness and accessibility. I’m grateful for the excellent work of our CAO and Clerk, who are always at the forefront of providing information and updates to the press and the township website. 

I believe the community benefits overall from public engagement with their local government. For those who wish to follow council business more closely, I encourage you to attend any of the meetings open to the public. There is also a procedure for residents to make a presentation to council. The proceedings of all regular meetings are publicly available on the township website. During the past term of council, I supported the introduction of video recordings of all public meetings which are also available on the website.  

The business of operating local government also requires the appropriate protection of confidential information, and this trust must be respected. 

Council candidates Eric Lapointe, Jason Rice and Michael Sherson did not respond to our request.

MARTIN SHIPSTON; southgate

MARTIN SHIPSTON - Council candidate

Q: How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality?  Do we have enough options?  If not, what will you do to increase or improve those options.

A: I think there are a lot of diverse ways to get around in this county and area, with cabs, private transit companies, chartering buses for group events. So we are mobile. Unfortunately the bus companies like Greyhound disappeared years ago, but hopefully in time because of development there will be hook-ups to Go transit, even if just a run from Owen Sound. I think also perhaps a subsidized transit for the elderly (especially in the winter) to keep them going would be something to look at.

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 new housing it means taking a look at infrastructure, sewage, recreation, etc. Big ticket items that need to be kept up and improved over time. But there is the bigger tax base so if wisely used, this can be attained. Implications that are not monetary in nature is the fact that it will, especially in Dundalk, bring diversity and more opportunities possible for businesses, lifestyles, culture and the arts.

Q: If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be, and why?

A: As we all know zoning bylaws control the use of land in any community. From commercial to agricultural and residential, to environment and wetlands the list goes on. These areas will be new to me if elected, but I think the regulations are a good baseline to start from. However, perhaps a little more autonomy could be given to 3rd tier governments as they know what they need in their specific areas. Grey County is a large area, with a diverse environment, geography, demographic, work force, etc. A base line with more autonomy would serve specific areas better.

Q: How important is transparency in our local government and what steps, if any, would you take to make our government more transparent and accountable?

A: Transparency in Government is a good thing, and I personally believe our Township has done a good job in achieving this goal, through the website, delegations, online council sessions to be viewed, and just being accessible. Is their room for improvement? Of course, but that can apply to almost anything, including myself.

Editor's note: Each of the municipal candidates running for Southgate Council were given equal opportunity to respond to the Ask a Candidate questions. Anyone who didn't respond can reach us at news@southgreynews.ca before voting opens October 12 and responses will be added as time allows. 


Subscribe for FREE to get the latest local news delivered to your email box.

 

South Grey News Comment Policy: Comments must be appropriate, respectful and relational to the article. Anonymous comments will not be approved. Comments containing profanity, offensive material or personal attacks will not be permitted. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments without notice. Updated 16/10/2018.

Comment


No Very




experience grey highlands
experience grey highlands
South Grey News Subscribe
The Food Map
Explore Grey Highlands
ColourPix Tower Ad
Cathy Little election ad - 2018
Bargain Centre 2
Danielle Valliquette
Alone Together Again
Lynn Silverton election ad
Hutchinsons Family Auto
Re-elect Stewart Halliday
Tom Allwood
Bernards Ad July 31
Flesherton Farmers Market
Mullin's Pet Supply
Grey Bruce Women's House