Wendy Procter – 15 years on the job
In 1999, Wendy Procter of Sharbot Lake was appointed by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) to fill a vacancy. She has since run for the position four times and each time she was acclaimed.
This time, however, there will be a vote, and this provides her an opportunity to talk about her history with the board and her view of the job of trustee.
“Catholic education has always been an important part of my life. I really care about it, and my commitment hasn't wavered over the years,” she said.
She first became involved with the board in the early 1990s when she was working with others to found St. James Major Catholic School in Sharbot Lake, which opened in 1992.
As trustee, ensuring busing for high school students in the southern half of Frontenac County to Regiopolis in Kingston, and from the northern portion of the county to St. John's High School in Perth, even though it is a neighbouring board, has been a priority.
“My main focus is to make sure that Catholic students in our area can attend a Catholic school,” she said.
Most of the work of trustees is on developing policies and directives which guide the board; to focus on student achievement, with what needs to be done board-wide, and to bring the concerns of their schools and communities to the board.
“Since the board covers a vast area, every trustee has their own diverse issues. The board listens and acts on the information the trustees bring forward” she said.
She enjoys the meetings and feels it is important work that Catholic schools do, in both urban and rural areas.
When asked about the future of Catholic education she said, “This question has been asked since the system was formed over 160 years ago. History has shown that Catholic schools provide quality education and academic excellence. Over the next four years I intend to continue to advocate for quality Catholic education in our rural communities.”
Jodi Cameron – ensuring rural success
Jodi Cameron is running for trustee of the Algonquin Lakeshore Catholic School Board as an extension of her enthusiastic commitment to the St. Patrick’s School Parent Council, which she has been a member of for several years.
She has a daughter at St. Pat's and a son who is now in his first year at Regiopolis High School in Kingston,
“I joined the parent council to advocate for my kids, and it turns out to be one of the best things I have ever done,” she said.
She has been the treasurer for the Council for three years, a position she dropped when she put her name in for trustee this September. Although she joined the race for trustee near the deadline date for nominations, the decision came about after a summer of reflection.
Cameron works in Kingston for a heraldry company that produces coats of arms and other products, and since her children are now older she felt it was time to take the step of running for trustee
As the parent of a child who needed technological help in school because of dyslexia, she feels that as a matter of fairness rural schools need the same equipment and Internet access as urban schools. She sees the trustee as having a role in ensuring that those resources remain in place in the future.
“The fair distribution of resources is always an issue, whether it is smart boards or teacher student-ratio,” she said, “and as well there is a priority for me to see that the Catholic education system continues to be supported in Ontario,” she said.
Another issue that she sees as becoming more relevant is busing. The ALDCSB is a partner in Tri-board busing and as such is connected to the dispute between Tri-board and its local bus contractors who have taken it to court to block a new hiring process.
“Independent operators are small business people in our community. They’re our neighbours and are parents themselves. I’m not in favour of a policy that puts them at a disadvantage,” she said.
Kirby Thompson – taking a good look at the issues
Kirby Thompson grew up in Griffith, and spent most of his working years at a job in Arnprior, commuting to work from his home in Renfrew.
The idea of serving on Council came from talks with his father-in-law who was on a rural township council for several terms.
A couple of years ago, with his wife Bonnie, he purchased his in-laws’ home in Denbigh when they moved to Belleville. He knows the area well, not only because he is from Griffith but also because it is his wife's family's home.
“It was easy to move here because we are comfortable in the area,” he said. “I have lots of roots here; my mother was even a teacher in Denbigh at one time.”
He decided to run for Council because he has the time and the interest as well.
“One group that I know something about is the cottage population. I've talked to a lot of cottage owners and I know they feel that the burden of taxation falls on them and it makes it difficult for them to remain in the township,” he said.
He added that the lack of commercial activity means that the township is unable to make life easier for residential ratepayers.
“We have Bon Echo Park, which is a draw to the township, and if we can open up to more than one season we would have a chance to attract visitors,” he said.
He said that if elected, he will take on the issues as they come.
“I know that taxes are the biggest thing, and that certain roads need fixing, but I can't make any promises. Once I get on Council I can have a serous look at all the roads. I will also have to work with the other councilors. There's lots of stuff going. I'd have to see what can be done to deal with all the issues,” he said.
Alice Madigan – bring back a thriving community
Alice Madigan remembers that when she was young, Denbigh and the surrounding area was thriving.
“There was always something going on. It was a thriving community back then,” she said.
Madigan was raised at Slate Falls, near Denbigh. She left the area and moved to different parts of the province, eventually settling in Carleton Place. She worked as a materials manager and at other jobs in the financial sector. In 1991, with her husband, she purchased a cottage back at Slate Falls.
Sadly, her husband died in 2007 and in 2010 she moved back to Slate Falls on a permanent basis. She joined the Denbigh Recreation Committee, and is still an active member. When the emergency services department of Lennox and Addington recommended cutting service in Denbigh, she became chair of the group that sprang up to oppose the cut from a 24 hour to a 12 hour a day service. The group, which still exists, is called the Denbigh Ambulance Network.
“We did what we could, and we are not happy about the outcome. We are still worried about losing everything but we also know that we really need a 24/7 ambulance because of the distances involved,” she said.
She is also concerned about the state of the local economy and would like the township to do whatever it can to attract and maintain businesses.
In her view, one of the major flaws of the current council boils down to communication.
“What I've heard from people is that they never know what's going on with the council. That's a big thing. I would work on improving communication, actually allowing the community to have a say in decisions that will impact them,” she said.
She said it is easy to make promises but one councilor can only do their best to listen and learn and serve the community.
“It's not that important what I think about the issues, it's how I represent the concerns of others that really counts,” she said.
Eythel Grant – long serving councilor seeking a return
Before losing out in the 2010 election Eythel Grant had been on Council for 27 years, going back well into pre-amalgamation days in Denbigh township.
He said that he enjoys serving on Council and this summer when he saw that no one seemed to be coming forward he decided to run once again.
“I think when I put my name in, Alice Madigan was the only who had come forward, and then two others came in so we now have an election race,” he said.
He is a lifelong resident of Denbigh ward and spent his working career with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and apart from stints in places like Dryden and other far-flung locations he worked at Bon Echo Park as a fire officer for 25 years until his retirement.
Even though he did not sit on Council for the last four years, he said that he thinks “Council has done a good job; all in all a pretty good job, although of course there are a few issues where I didn't 100% agree with their decision.”
One decision he did not agree was the acceptance of a 12-hour ambulance in place of a 24-hour ambulance service in Denbigh.
“I'm not sure they shouldn't have stuck to their guns instead of accepting a lesser service,” he said.
Another issue he would like to see resolved as soon as possible is the Denbigh waste site.
“My understanding is that it is ready to be opened but the final decision has been slow. There must be a way to get that open soon. My concern is that it won't get opened before the Vennachar site is full and we will end up having to pay closure costs, which are higher than operating costs,” he said.
The other item he mentioned was Bridge Street In Denbigh, which he said is in terrible shape.
“It's getting so rough there that it needs to be improved. I don't think they'll go for it right away but maybe during this term of Council we can get it done,” he said.
One project that was in the works while he was on council has come to fruition, the re-purposing of the former Denbigh school.
Tony Fritsch – retaining businesses a priority
It took a long time for Tony Fritsch to decide to run for a second term as ward 1 councilor. He only brought in his nomination in early September.
“The reason I took a long time to consider is I know how much work is involved. It's a bit of a mindset. I was sitting on the fence through most of the summer. I finally came to the conclusion that I wanted to commit another four years to the township,” he said.
He thinks that the township has some “pretty large challenges in front of it.”
He notes that the township has grown little over the last 10 years and low growth is projected over the next 20 years.
“Our priority is to retain the businesses we have and if possible encourage new ones. We do that now, and whenever we get a chance we connect businesses with our business advisor from the county. But the reality is that we will be facing increased costs in a community that is not growing. It only means the burden on the existing taxpayers will grow.”
A couple of the ward 1 issues that are on people’s minds are the future of the ambulance service and the Denbigh waste site.
The ambulance service was cut from 24 hours to 12 hours per day, and he thinks there will be more pressure coming from the County, once the new County Council is in place.
“I expect the ambulance will come to the table again over the next year or so, and we will be in for another fight,” he said. “As far as the Denbigh waste site is concerned, the community has been waiting for a long time for it to re-open and the ministry keeps delaying. The ministry hinted earlier this year that they may be re-opening it later in the year, so we'll see,” he said.
One of Fritsch's major efforts over the last four years has been the redevelopment of the former Denbigh school into a multi-use municipal building, which he said is now about 2/3 complete.
“I and many others have put a lot of time and work into that complex, and I don’t really consider that to be part of my council responsibilities. I do that as a volunteer, even though I report to Council on an ongoing basis. I suppose it will be a few years before that is all wrapped up. It has been a complicated process and expensive, but the building is an asset to the community now and will be more of an asset when completed,” he said.
Henry Hogg – Long-serving reeve seeks another term
In the 16-year history of Addington Highlands Township there has only been one term, 2004-2006, when Henry Hogg has not been the reeve. He took a break from Council to focus on his school bus business during those years.
Other than that, even going back 15 years before amalgamation, Hogg has been a fixture in local politics, and in on three occasions, 2003, 2010 and 2011, he was the warden of Lennox & Addington County.
During most of these years he was also running a marina, a bus company, or both. Now that he has sold off his businesses, Hogg is enjoying his retirement from the business world by devoting more time to family and the township.
“I enjoy being reeve, and there are projects that I would like to see brought to completion, but of course that is always going to be the case,” he said. “I would like to get the fire hall in Northbrook finished, and I would like to see how we can work collectively to deal with the entire policing issue. I think there are some pieces missing from the way it has been rolled out. For example, what about calls on Crown Land? Are they separated out from the billing? I don't think the province has taken into account our seasonal nature and the fact that we have no commercial base to draw upon to pay these extra costs, but we need to work with others in the same position to seek any remedy from the increased billing,” he said.
While the township is predominantly residential, Hogg would like to see the township go further in promoting itself for commercial development.
“I would like to look at all the permit and planning fees we charge for re-zoning and Official Plan amendments when an investor wants to bring in a commercial development. Maybe there is a way to make it easier, and cheaper, to start up a business in the township,” he said.
He thinks that the township is efficiently managed by the township office staff and said that succession planning has been a priority over the last year or so, which will ensure a smooth transition when pending staffing changes take place.
Among the priorities in the coming term will be to deal with succession planning in the public works department.
“I think we are under control and I think our expenses are fair. We do a pretty good job on the roads, and try to keep taxes down as much as we can. Over the years we have fully amalgamated the two former townships that came together to create the new township. Waste management and roads department practices are uniform throughout the township. That is not to say there aren't issues of concern in each ward, but we do a good job of working together,” he said.
Among issues that will come up early in the next term will be what to do with the current Northbrook fire hall when it is no longer needed, and how to keep the budget in line, given increased costs and very slow growth.
“We don't have much control over some of the larger issues that always seem to be thrown our way from the province, such as policing, or from some other source. The best we can do is to prepare and be ready to deal with circumstances that are out of our control; to run our operations, work hard at the county and keep things moving forward,” he said.
Gerald Bray – a new broom
Gerald Bray has been a full-time resident of Addington Highlands for two years, but he first started visiting the township back in 1967, and has been visiting a family cottage in the township ever since.
He was a group leader at General Motors in Oshawa and when he retired after 30 years, he purchased a home on Highway 41 and the Mississippi River, where he has lived with his wife since 2012.
One of the skills he brought to Addington Highlands was that of fund raising, which he developed as a United Way volunteer at GM.
“We raised over $500,000, through the United Way, for Sick Children’s Hospital in just a few years,” he said.
Since moving to the township he has been involved in fund raising for the Flinton Library and the Land O'Lakes Community Services Food Bank as well.
“I've always been involved in the communities where I live,” he said. “I love this area and I’d love to see things done to improve it so I feel I have to dig in and do some of it myself.”
While living near Oshawa, he was active in local politics in the village of Solina, in the Township of Clarington, where he served on the community and park boards.
One of his concerns is with the state of the waste sites in Addington Highlands.
“I think the Mackavoy and Vennachar sites could be closed, and the Denbigh site re-opened as a state of the art site with a hazardous Waste Depot and other features, and we should keep up and upgrade the site at Kaladar,” he said.
He is also concerned about the disconnect between the township and its residents on Weslemkoon Lake, and thinks building a new road might be a solution.
“There is no road to the south shore of Ashby Lake, and if one were built and eventually extended to Weslemkoon - it would be a 5 or 10-year project for sure - that would be good for the people on the lake and the township as a whole,” he said.
He said that the township has been running on “an even keel” as far as he can tell, “but it is time for a new spark, some new enthusiasm,” and that's what he intends to bring to Council.
“It's more than just council, I want to be there for the people. A lot of my work is foot work, getting out with the seniors, working with the food bank, hearing people's concerns. If we need something like a toy mountain for kids to have Christmas presents, I would jump into that. I would get to know the people better and make a difference,” he said.
He also would like to promote more community involvement and economic development, perhaps by bringing more festivals to the township.
“I have talked to a number of families who think we need a boost in that way, and a way to bring up the summer season even more,” he said.
He is aware that he is new to local politics and is facing a long-term incumbent. He said he would have sought a deputy reeve position first if that were a stand-alone position in the township, but said that he is bringing a fresh way to look at budget problems and township services that residents deserve a chance to consider.
“There are possibilities to promote ourselves, and promote our township that have not been explored. I'd like to see us do that,” he said.