The Township of Addington Highlands awarded the Community Builder Awards at the Township’s Annual Christmas Dinner on November 23, 2018.
The Committee added new categories to the list of awards this year and named a Sportsperson of the Year and Emerging Youth Leader.
Joel Hasler was presented with the Sportsperson of the Year Award, this award is to recognize an individual who has dedicated their time to sport in our community. These are individuals have demonstrated leadership, encouraged sport ethics and fair play and contributed to improving sport opportunities in the community. These individuals are positive role models or have made exceptional contributions within the sporting community.
Avery Cuddy was presented with the Emerging Youth Leader Award, this award is to recognize an individual who has been a positive role model, who demonstrates strong leadership qualities and who has contributed to the community individually or as part of a team. Individuals who inspire volunteerism in others through their own initiative, enthusiasm and commitment.
The Township of Addington Highlands thanks all those who help build a better Community and congratulates this year’s recipients.
Three of the four Frontenac County Mayors were acclaimed back into office for a new term (Dennis Doyle – Frontenac Islands – 3rd term, Frances Smith, Central Frontenac – 2nd term, and Ron Higgins – North Frontenac – 2nd term) and the fourth, South Frontenac’s Ron Vandewal won re-election for a second term.
They will form the bedrock of the council, but in all likelihood they will be joined by four new members. Natalie Nossal, the 2nd Frontenac Islands rep on the council, did not seek re-election. She will most likely be replaced on county council by Bruce Higgs. Higgs received the most votes in ward 1 (Howe Island) this time around. In Frontenac Islands, the top vote getting councillor from the ward where the mayor does not reside is offered the 2nd county position. Since Dennis Doyle is from Wolfe Islands, it is Higgs position if he wants it. After the 2014 election, newcomer Nossal finished first ahead of David Jones, who had been at the county table for four years. Jones promptly resigned from Frontenac Island Council and rode into the political sunset. Bruce Higgs was appointed to Frontenac Islands Council to take his place.
In South Frontenac John McDougall did not seek re-election. Tom Dewey was re-elected in Central Frontenac but he told the News he will not be seeking the second Central Frontenac position when the matter comes to the new Central Frontenac Council in early December. In North Frontenac John Inglis has also indicated he is unlikely to be seeking the county role again after spending 8 years on Frontenac County Council.
In terms of gender balance, there will be 7 women among the 30 members of Council (23%) in the 4 Frontenac Townships. Two of the four are approaching gender parity, Frontenac Islands (2 of 5 – 40%) and Central Frontenac (4 of 9 – 44%), while South Frontenac (1 of 9 -11%) and North Frontenac (0 of 7) drag the overall percentage down.
The 7 women are an increase over the 2014-2018 councils, however. There are only 6 women (20%) of the 30 council members in Frontenac County during the current four-year term.
While the political side of the council tables remains predominantly male, on the administrative side the situation is different. 3 of the 5 Chief Administrators in Frontenac County are women, and 3 of the 4 Treasurers (Frontenac Islands contracts out its financial services to Frontenac County) are women as well.
In terms of age, people in their 60’s and 70’s predominate on most councils. In Central Frontenac, however, there are at least four members of council who are not of retirement age, which is an exception when you look county wide.
It is more than likely, however, that once the makeup of Frontenac County Council is determined, that it will be entirely made up from the over 60 crowd. This is partly due to the overall demographics of the local councils, but also because it is very difficult for a full time worker to manage both township and county responsibilities.
In a close race, newcomer Nicki Gowdy was the top vote-getter in Hinchinbrooke (District 4) with 362 votes. Incumbent Brent Cameron was re-elected with 328 votes leaving current Coun. Phillip Smith to go down in defeat with 315 votes.
In Kennebec (District 4) both incumbents were re-elected with Cindy Kelsey receiving 410 votes and Tom Dewey receiving 404. Isaac Hale finished third with 289 votes.
In Olden District (Ward 2), Victor Heese was re-elected with 267 votes and Elwin Burke also won a seat at the table with 190 votes. Dan Cunningham was third with 175 votes and Bill Everett fourth with 171.
Mayor Frances Smith was acclaimed along with both Oso (District 3) candidates Sherry Whan and Bill MacDonald.
In the school board trustee elections, Limestone District School Board candidate Karen McGregor was acclaimed as was French Public School Board candidate Rachel Laforest.
In the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board race, Wendy Procter (328 votes, 70 in Central Frontenac) defeated Leslie Ford (228 votes, 42 in Central Frontenac).
In the French Catholic School Board race, Michel Charron (352 votes, 309 in Kingston, 40 in South Frontenac and 3 in Central Frontenac) defeated Diane Burns (165 votes, 149 in Kingston, 14 in South Frontenac and 2 in Central Frontenac).
While stoic, Phillip Smith expressed disappointment at being the only current Council member to go down in defeat (Coun. John Purdon is the only other current member not returning, having chosen not to run again).
“I am disappointed,” Smith said. “Nine years on Council and it was close.
“But that’s the way democracy works.”
On the other hand, defeated candidate Bill Everett was looking like a man who’d just dodged a bullet.
“I’m not sure I’m upset,” he said.
As for the winners, Gowdy had a grin from ear to ear.
“I’m excited, yeah,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the next four years.
“People wanted change and that’s what happened.”
Before the results were released, Cameron was philosophical, saying he was prepared to serve another four years but would accept the results if defeated.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to serve and I’m grateful for another four years,” he said. “I do have plans such as I’d like to see a Central Frontenac Chamber of Commerce, there’s a need to demystify the planning process, be more specific with contracts and we need work on Westport, Raymo and Echo Lake Roads.
“But I’m grateful tonight.”
Heese wasn’t sure he’d be returning to Council.
“I only had a concession speech prepared,” he said.
There were no speeches at all in fact. Once the results were announced, Oso Hall cleared out pretty quick (with several Council members heading to Dewey’s victory party at the Arden Legion).
“I’m fine,” said Burke. “But I did want to thank all the people who supported me.
“The other think I wanted to say is that I’m filled with tears and deeply touched.”
Even though she didn’t have to campaign, Mayor Smith was still excited and apprehensive for all the candidates.
“I woke up this morning thinking about this,” she said. “Having been there a number of times, I know how nervous everybody is.”
Whan echoed those sentiments.
“I’m grateful to be here and not have to worry,” she said. “Last time, I was shaking in my boots.”
Henry Hogg was not that surprised that his election margin was narrow this time around, or even that he lost one of the two wards to Alice Madigan, who has never held public office but has been active politically in Denbigh, and was a vocal opponent of a wind turbine proposal that was unpopular with many in the community.
Hogg led the debate on council, which resulted in the township supporting the project, based partly on the promise of the establishment of a community fund should wind turbines ever be erected in the township.
Hogg received 769 (54%) votes to Madigan’s 653 (46%). In ward 1, Madigan received over 100 more votes that Hogg, but he took ward 2 by a margin of over 200, leading to the overall victory and a 6th term as Reeve. In 2014 Hogg received 71% of the vote against Gerald Bray and in 2010 he was acclaimed.
“I was not surprised by the margin,” said Hogg, “I knew it would be close because of the wind turbines and other factors. But a win is a win, no matter what the margin is, and I am happy to keep serving the municipality. I once lost an election by 12 votes, so I know anything can happen.
Hogg said that the township will have to do what it can, with its limited resources, “to deal with the inevitable changes that are coming our way.”
He said that in this term of council, it will be necessary to at least start looking at new township office space.
“When we started out, there were only two people working out of the little office space we have in the basement of the Flinton Recreation Centre. We need something better for the staff we have working out of that office now,” he said.
Incumbents ruled the day in Ward 1. Tony Fritsch was comfortably returned for a third time with 531 votes and Kirby Thompson (378 votes) narrowly outpolled former road and waste superintendent Royce Rosenblath (343 votes).
Newcomer David Miles was the most popular candidate in Ward 2, receiving 450 votes. Helen Yanch finished second with a 405 and will also return to council. Bill Cox, who has served three terms on council, went down to defeat with 388 votes, 17 less than Yanch.
Because Reeve Hogg now lives in Ward 2, the councillor who receives the most votes in Ward 1, will become the Deputy Reeve and second AH rep to Lennox and Addington (L&A) County Council. Tony Fritsch will thus have the opportunity to become Deputy Reeve.
At the all candidates meeting that was held in Sydenham, Fran Willes got the biggest laugh of the evening when, during her opening remarks, she said “last time I lost by only 4 votes, so I’m playing on your sympathy here by asking you to vote for me this time.”
She could not have known at the time, no one could, that when the votes were counted this time around, in a computer server somewhere in Nova Scotia, she would be exactly 4 votes shy of winning once again. There is no word on who those 4 people are and if it was the same 4 this time around.
The last time she lost out 688-684 to Mark Schjerning, who went down to defeat in the mayoralty race this time around, and this time she lost 1079-1075 to Randy Ruttan. In 2018, as well as in 2014, Ross Sutherland led all vote getters in Loughborough District. This time he received 1647 votes. Farrah Soaft rounded out the field with 275 votes.
In the race for Mayor, Ron Vandewal was comfortably re-elected to a second term with 3,237 votes (48%), almost as many votes as the total of both his opponents when added together. Mark Schjerning received 2,164 votes (32%) and Phil Archambault 1,274 (19%).
It was a wide-open race in Portland District. The only incumbent, Brad Barbeau, had been appointed two years into the term, after the death of Bill Robinson. In this election, two new members were elected. Ray Leonard received the most votes by a fair margin (1,156) and Doug Morey was also elected (579). Tom Bruce finished in 3rd place (528), followed by Brad Barbeau (495) and Bruno Albano (222)
When contacted the day after the election, Vandewal said he was happy to have been re-elected.
“I felt all along that with two candidates opposing me, they would end up splitting the votes against me, and to a certain extent I think they did that,” he said.
He also said that he expects the township to continue in a similar path that it has been on, and that he would like to sit down with Council early in the new term to talk about the direction the township wants to go in, particularly as far as public works is concerned.
“I would like us to set a direction. What projects do we want to take on, and do we want to shift the emphasis towards roadside maintenance, which we sometimes neglect in favour of road construction,” he said.
There was some controversy in the run-up to the vote, about an ad that Ron Vandewal purchased on the Verona electronic sign that is operated by the Verona Community Association. Phil Archambault said he thought it might be improper because the operation of the VCA sign is subsidised by the township, which covers the sign’s electricity costs on behalf of the association.
Wayne Orr, Chief Administrative Officer for South Frontenac, responded in writing to a question about the propriety of Vandewal paying to use the sign.
He said, in part, “All candidates have the opportunity to use campaign advertising within the confines of their authorised spending limit. The choice of advertising (i.e. newspaper ads, social media, hand delivered flyers, mail outs, lawn signs, election billboards, etc.) rests entirely with the candidate. The township does place restrictions on the location of signs. In summary the VCA Electronic Sign is not a township asset under our control and as such the township is not in a position to intervene in this situation.”
Wayne Conway, of the VCA, said that Vandewal approached him about renting rotating space on the sign and was referred to the VCA website, which outlines the terms and the cost.
“He rented it for two weeks. We could have and would have accommodated other candidates but none came forward. Use of the sign is free for not-for-profit groups and we have spots available for businesses, at a fee, as well, to help us cover our costs.”
Archambault told the News that if the vote was close, he would consider lodging a complaint or taking legal action, but not if, as ended up happening, Vandewal won handily.
(Editors note - We reached out to Fran Willes before preparing this article, but she did not call back in time for this week’s paper. Back in 2014 and again in 2018, she raised concerns during the voting period about problems some residents have had accessing the online/telephone voting system that the township uses.)
The new Reeve of Tay Valley will be former Deputy Reeve Brian Campbell. He received 1581 votes. Former Deputy Reeve Susan Freeman was second with 1234 votes and incumbent Reeve Keteh Kerr finished a distant third with 597 votes.
In the race for Deputy Reeve, newcomer Barrie Crampton was elected with 2021 votes, and incumbent Councillor Judy Farrell received 1344.
In Sherbrooke ward, Roxanne Darling was re-elected with 483 votes, as was newcomer Rob Rainer with 455. Mark Burnham, another incumbent, is out with 327 votes.
In Bathurst ward, Fred Dobbie and Gene Richardson were elected with 828 votes and 769 votes respectively. Wayne Jordan had 735 votes.
The Burgess ward councillors are both new, Beverley Phillips with 616 votes and Mick Wicklum with 609. Incumbent Greg Hallam narrowly missed out with 585 votes and Doug Barr finished 4th with 365.
The election campaign was marked by a pitched battle between the majority of the sitting council and soon to be former Councillor Judy Farrell, who had been stripped of many of her council privileges after refusing to follow the recommendations of an investigator who found she had harassed members of township staff, a finding that she disputed. Two of the key figures in that dispute, Farrell and Reeve Kerr, both went down to defeat but Brian Campbell, an ally of Farrell’s on Council, was elected to be the new Reeve.
A planning dispute between the township and Robyn Mulcahy, the operator of the Blueberry Creek Nature Centre, also may have influenced the election. That dispute also involved Mulcahy’s husband, MP Scott Reid, who appeared before Council in September on her behalf, and also published a response to the release of a second investigators into Farrell’s actions, this one relating to her relationship with her fellow members of council.
Mulcahy put out a post card last week naming 8 candidates for various positions who she said were supportive of the school in its increasingly expensive legal challenge with the township. Of those, 5 were elected. However at least one of the 8 named said they had never indicated that they support the school’s position. That candidate, Wayne Jordan, was not elected.
Another, Roxanne Darling from the Maberly area, told the News a couple of weeks ago that she does not see herself on any side in the divided world of the soon to be former council/
One thing is certain, however. The new council will have a new look. 5 of the 8 current members on Council were either defeated or did not run for re-election. Only 3 members of the current council will be in in place after the changeover next month.
Henry Hogg graduated from the University of Waterloo as a Mechanical Engineer. With his wife, he operated two businesses in the township. He enjoys working with people and feels that his past business experience will continue to help provide prudent financial management of the municipality’s revenue and expenses.
He has served as a councilor and reeve for almost 30 years, including 17 years as reeve of Addington Highlands
Among his concerns for the future of Addington Highlands, is the lack of high speed internet and cell phone service in some parts of the township, which is hindering development.
Waste management has become a major cost. Ontario has introduced the Waste Free Ontario Act but implementation has been slow.
Another of his concerns is the $16 billion deficit at the provincial level. What this may mean for municipal grants is a concern. Almost half of our operating budget is made up of provincial transfers.
Another worry is voter apathy. With almost 50% of ratepayers being non-resident, it is difficult to connect with them. He attended 4 cottage association annual meetings to listen to their issues this past summer.
Recent cannabis production operations have appeared in our township. Regulation by Health Canada is very limited and with legalisation in effect, law enforcement is minimal. This leads to security concerns and environmental problems.
Alice Madigan says that since she chose to run for reeve she has been talking to
constituents from all parts of the township and the message she heard was consistent and overwhelming
“They want change,” 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.
She also teaches Sunday School and is a volunteer business manager for a children’s camp. Since her background is in business finances and management, she can provide a perspective on township finances if elected as reeve.
“I'm a very dedicated person with strong leadership skills who will serve the people honestly and diligently,” 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.
“I’d like to see something that connects with people that live here, to improve the way things are. Are we doing anything to improve things? Up in Carleton Place the streets always have flowers in the summer. I’d like to see if we could initiate something like that here, to make our neighbourhoods appealing.”
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.
“I will be working for the people to actually try and get the constituents more involved with their townships. There are lots of different ways of communicating. Why not ‘coffee time with the reeve’. My telephone and email address are always out there as well.”
After two terms on council, Tony Fritsch said that he “believes our township has made a lot of progress over the last 4 years, certainly there has been a lot of change, and I would like to continue to contribute in moving forward as a township.”
In addition to serving on council, he is involved in other community organisations, and feels being on council is a complement to those other efforts, and he likes to get involved in projects that help the community.
“Personally I enjoy the opportunity to take on new initiatives and that has been rewarding in my time on council thus far.”
One initiative that he has played a large role in, has been the development of the Addington Highlands Community Centre – Denbigh, which is located in the former Denbigh Public School. There has been an ongoing effort to construct a commercial kitchen in the building, after which time the township expects to close the nearby Denbigh Hall, cutting down on the facility costs and upkeep expenses that come with keeping two buildings open.
“We have run into problems because we cannot find a contractor who is willing to bid on the job. From what some local contractors have told me, they are busy, have a backlog of work and are not looking for any new work at this time.”
He said that a new council will likely try again in January to find bidders on the job, which is necessary in order for the township to be in a position to apply for a Trillium grant to fund the project.
One new possibility that he would like to pursue on behalf of the township if re-elected, is a para-medicine initiative for the Denbigh ambulance service.
“There is an opportunity to make use of the skills and training of the paramedics who work out of the Denbigh base while they are between calls. I thinks it’s something that would be of significant value to people in the community,” he said, adding that he has had some discussions with a small group of people about bringing this idea forward to Lennox and Addington County Council.
The ongoing concern about the lack of new business in Denbigh, which is making it difficult for the community to grow or even maintain its current population, is something he is keenly aware, but he does not think Council alone can reverse these trends.
“The best thing you can do is try and make it an inviting place. What was discussed at the all candidates meeting last week, was that we do need to support the businesses that are here. The township can do what it can to make businesses feel welcome, and we continue to do that. I remain optimistic, however, that over time there will be some growth in our region,” he said.
Royce Rosenblath has never sought office in Addington Highlands before, for a pretty good reason. He spent 29 years working in the Public Works department of the township and its precursor. By the time he retired, a couple of years ago, he had been the manager for roads and waste management, reporting directly to Council for most of his tenure.
“I feel that I can help the community out,” he said of his motivation to run for council, “since I worked there for that many years, I kind of know what’s going on from the inside.”
He is concerned that some new costs will be downloaded from the province to the county level, which will cause an increase in taxes for Addington Highlands residents, and says while there is nothing that to local township can do about that, they do need to look at all expenditures carefully.
In the Denbigh area, he says that the concerns are about cell and broadband service, which is sporadic, and the future viability of the community, which has been struggling for many years.
“I live on a hill, so I can get hub service from the Cloyne tower, but most people are using satellite, which is expensive and limited,” he said.
He does not think anyone seeking office should be making a lot of promises, and the best that Council can do, is to seek opportunities when they present themselves, while working hard to control spending. To that end he thinks it is time to come to terms with the fact the township is maintaining two halls in Denbigh.
“I know we are waiting until we have a commercial kitchen in the community centre before closing the Denbigh Hall, and it has been a problem finding someone to do the work, but we have spent a lot of money there, and we are still paying a lot of upkeep on two buildings that are standing side by side.”
He said that “when I got the voters list and saw that there are fewer than 500 permanent residents in the ward, and 1,600 seasonals, it brought home the difficulties that we face. It will not be easy to reverse that, but we need to try. But it will be slow. We need to keep what we have here and make sure that we don’t lose anymore.”
When he ran for Council in 2014, Kirby Thompson did not have a lot of municipal experience, and he has spent four years sort of learning the ropes.
“The first term it was all new to me, I feel I have a lot more experience now. We have worked pretty well together over the last four years. I think we can keep on the same pace that we are going, we have such a small tax base that we can’t do that much, but we do what we can with what we have.
Since I know more, I can contribute more over the next four years.”
At the start of the last term, the wind turbine issue came rushing at him, as it did to the rest of council, but as a councillor from Denbigh he felt a lot of pressure.
“People were very concerned, they were angry, and I felt the pressure for sure. I wondered what possessed me to run for council, to be honest. But when it was over I have been impressed by the fact that whatever divisions we had among members of council over the turbines, it did not stop us from working together. There doesn’t seem to have been any hard feelings at all,” he said.
In the next term of council, building an addition to the township office will be a major issue, in his view.
“There is not doubt we need it. We have a top-notch staff and they need a reasonable place to work out of, and we need space to store documents. But it will be contentious for sure,” he said.
The Denbigh dump site is another difficult issue.
“We do everything that the government asks and they come back and ask us to do it again. It is frustrating for Council and for the community in Denbigh, but we can only keep trying. One other thing that we might be able to expand is the Vennachar site, which would help us,” he said. “But the biggest thing that is going to happen in this term will be the closure of the Kaladar dump, which will happen.
The other issues at the north end of the township that are of concern continue to be the completion of the community centre, the need for better cell and Internet coverage, and maintaining local business.
With the exception of four years on the sidelines after he ran for reeve and lost in 2006. Bill Cox has been a fixture on Addington Highlands Council for 15 years, first being elected in 2003. He has served on Lennox and Addington County Council as well, and has been involved in a number of projects during that time. He played a role in the townships purchase and renovation of the building in Northbrook that houses the Lakelands Family Health Team.
He has also served for several years on the Joint Fire Board with North Frontenac that oversees the Kaladar-Barrie fire service, one of the few instances of a service that is operated by townships from different counties, He has chaired that board on several occasions, establishing a collegial working relationship with the councilors from North Frontenac on the board.
“The fire department is important to both townships. We are both so small that it helps for us to work together and save on administration costs,” he said.
He said that he is running for council again because he is “interested in what happens in the township. I think that for one more term I can do a good job for the people.”
One of the upcoming projects that interests him is the planned addition to the Flinton Recreation Centre to house a township office.
“The office is not nearly sufficient for our staff.” he said. “There are 4 people sharing one space and the CBO [Chief Building Official] is in an office that is no bigger than a postage stamp. Plus, we need to be accessible. We will try to rent out the basement space in the Flinton Hall where they are located now, or maybe we will use it for storage.”
One of the other pieces of business he would like the township to try to address, even it is only a matter of lobbying, is the lack of cell and Internet service in the middle and north ends of the township.
“There is a gap between the Harlowe Road and 506 and then from above Smart’s Marina all the way to Denbigh. That’s way too many people to be without service in these times. I know that EORN [Eastern Ontario Regional Network] is trying for another build out, but we need to work on them to pay attention to this area,” he said.
Finally, he thinks that Council needs to watch L&A County carefully to protect the Denbigh ambulance base.
“I don’t know why the county is so intent on closing it down, they don’t want us to have it. I have heard the voices against it but I have never heard any good reasons.”
David Myles was working in Nanticoke back in the mid nineteen nineties when he put in for a transfer to a remote supervisor job based in Kingston that offered him the opportunity to live in a rural setting and spend more time at home.
He jumped at the chance, and with his wife Debbie and their children, he moved to a hobby farm near Flinton. That was 24 years ago. David and Debbie now have five children, all living and working in Addington Highlands and vicinity.
Now that he is retired, he has some time available and he decided to put his name forward for Council.
As he said at the All candidates meeting in Flinton, he is not running as an opposition candidate.
“I think I’ve voted for every one at this table,” he said, looking around to the other candidates who were sitting around the table.
That being said, he said that from talking to some of his neighbours and some of the members of the road crews that people feel disconnected to some of the decisions that council makes.
“The township might benefit from a more bottom up approach rather than a controlling approach,” he said. “when someone comes up with an idea I don’t want to say ‘we can’t do it’, I’d rather say ‘how can we do it’,” he said.
He is a member of the Flinton Recreation Club, and has been involved with youth for a number of years, even running a boys club when his sons were younger. While doing that he was involved with operating a Zamboni that the Rec. club owned.
“Eventually the township made us stop using it because of liability to do with the rink, which is their property, and that was not a good outcome. With the limited number of volunteers we have, I would like to see the townships and local clubs working together better,” he said.
From the vantage point of his own property, he is aware of an issue that is just now coming to the attention of the township, the cannabis issue. There are at least two marijuana growing operations in the township that may have been approved by the federal government. But the government did not inform the township about them and they are just being revealed by neighbouring residents.
“I think there are some challenges from grow ops in the area, and if that becomes a trend they are definitely going to bring some change. I’d love to work on council on preserving the community that we in the face of this,” he said
Helen Yanch has served on council for the last twelve years, and is seeking a fourth term.
“It really is an interesting job, there is always something going on something new and different going on, along with the regular township services; roads and waste, fire services, libraries and maintaining our buildings. Over the past several years, council has made significant investments with the construction of the Northbrook Fire Hall, the purchase of the medical centre, and financial support for Pine Meadow Nursing Home. We try to get the best value for our tax dollars.
Over the past four years, along with her council role, she has also been deputy reeve and a member of Lennox and Addington County Council, a role she has enjoyed but which adds a significant extra responsibility and time commitment.
She is currently the chair of the accessibility committee at L&A Council, and that has given her a different perspective on a proposed renovation to the Flinton Recreation Centre in order to expand and update the township office, which is located in the bottom floor of the building.
“Our staff need better office space, not because we are planning to increase our numbers, but in order to give our people the space they need to do their jobs properly,” she said. “Also, from an accessibility point of view, we need our office to be fully accessible to the public.
Another initiative coming from the county that she is involved with, as member of the L&A Economic Development Committee, is a proposal for bike trails in the county forest, which is accessible from the Flinton Road, not far from Highway 41.
“Interesting bike trails are popular with cyclists from all over and this could be a help to our tourist industry, which is already very important to our business community,” she said. “I’m excited about this possibility.”
She said that one thing that the new council will have to deal with is the cannabis issue.
“Not only will the township be facing a decision, shortly after the new council takes office, about permitting a cannabis retail operation(s) to set up in Addington Highlands, but we are also trying to find out more about some of the growing operations that have already been established here without our knowledge or input. It is very difficult to get the information but we are working on it. As well, we need to develop our social media profile both on Facebook and Twitter to keep our residents informed of upcoming happenings within the township. There are always challenges to deal with as a member of council, and that makes it interesting.
Tom Dewey is seeking re-election in Kennebec for a third term because he enjoys being busy and contributing to the township and also because there are a couple of projects that he would like to see through to completion.
One of those is the septic rep-inspection program that has been a township priority and a priority for some of the lake associations that Dewey has been working with in Kennebec.
“The program is now established for certain lakes and I would like to see it get on the ground and running. I think we will be able to find a good balance between protecting the environment and not creating regulations that are difficult and expensive for some of our residents to deal with,” he said.
He is also keen to see the township develop a road needs study in order to priorities major roadwork on the townships extensive road network.
“Everybody knows about the roads in their own neighborhood that need work but not those in other corners of the township. If we get some good information and make a plan then everyone will know that we are doing the best we can with the money that we have available.”
Sitting on Council is one of the many activities that Tom, and his wife Shirley, are involved in. He is active with his lake association, his church, and the Arden Legion, and Shirley is an active volunteer at the Treasure Trunk among other things.
“I have always enjoyed being busy and working and I still feel good being active and involved,” he said, but he is still planning to cut back on his political responsibilities in the coming term, should he be re-elected.
“I don’t think I will return to Frontenac County Council,” he said, “unless there is no one who is willing to take it on. It has been an interesting job for four years, but it does take up a lot of time, and it is a long drive to the meetings.”
He is confident that the township is in good financial shape and that it has a more stable senior staff in place than it has in the recent past.
“We have a good staff and we got a lot done in the last four years of council. We’ve had a good run,” he said.
Isaac Hale was born and raised in Arden. He left to work with youth, for a number of years, and then returned with his wife Sue. They live in Arden with Isaac’s mother Sarah, of Arden Batik.
With Sue, he runs a market garden enterprise, Learning Curve, which sells locally and at the Sharbot Lake Farmers Market. He is a member of the executive of the Frontenac Addington Trappers Council.
He traces his interest in running for council to becoming a volunteer firefighter with the Arden Station of the Central Frontenac Fire Department five years ago.
“The fire service was my first experience working for the community as a whole, and I have learned a couple of things through that commitment,” he said. “One is that I really appreciate the community that I live in and see how worthwhile it is to be involved in keeping it going. Then other is that I think I have some skills and assets that may be of value.”
He decided to run for council because he thinks he can make a difference, and bring a new perspective.
“I think there are a lot of under-represented members of our community whose voices are not heard at the council table,” he said, and “I also think that council decision making is not as transparent as it could be.”
Still, he says that he would have a lot to learn about the way council operates, if elected.
“I know a lot about the township and the issues that matter to people from living here, and I bring that with me, but I have a lot to learn about the way council operates, but that is part of the appeal of running, to learn about what municipal government can and cannot do.”
One perspective that he does bring to the table is the sense that Central Frontenac should be looking at internally to solve its problems.
“There are elders in this community, I’m speaking of Arden, who bring a depth of knowledge that you can’t find elsewhere. Similarly, the township could be looking at promoting from within to fill management roles instead of always looking outside which has led to some problems for us. It starts with encouraging staff to think in those terms, to take on the training that is required, but in the long term it might solve some of the revolving door issues we have seen at the top in recent years.”
When Cindy Kelsey ran for Council 4 years ago, she saw it as being part of her other involvements in the local community.
She has been a fixture in the Kennebec community all her life. She helped her mother at the post office when she was a child, and later began working for Canada Post herself. For the past 10 years she has been the Post Master at the Arden Post Office, which is the hub of the local community on a day to day basis.
Cindy has also lived in all parts of Kennebec. Born and raised in Arden, she later bought a home in Elm Tree after getting married. The Kelseys have since moved to Henderson where her husband was raised. They have lived in Henderson for the past five years.
She said that she is running for second term in 2018 because she enjoys working with the council and the township staff and because there are a number of projects that are under development that she would like to see come to fruition.
“One of them is the septic-reinspection program. I think it is an important program, particularly for our lakes, and making sure it is done right and does not burden those who have limited resources is important as well,” she said.
She is also very keen to see that a road needs study is completed this coming year, and continues to be concerned about the state of the Henderson Road, which was something that she was concerned about when she came on council.
“I brought that road issue forward a number of times during the last term, and if I have to bring it up again I certainly will, because it remains a hazard for local residents. I’m confident that the roads need study will back that up,” she said.
The other big issue in front of council is the Official Plan update.
“We have started the process and it would be nice to see it through to the finish. It gives us more of a guideline about where we are headed as the township continues to grow,” she said.
In her first term on council, she attended a number of ROMA [Rural Ontario Municipal Association] conferences where she learned a lot about municipal matters and has been sitting on the policing committee as well. She thinks that in general, Central Frontenac is in good hands.
“I think we work very well together, the team that we have right now on council. There has been a good mix of experienced and newer members on council.”
Brent Cameron is seeking a second term on Council. He said that after one term he feel there is some “unfinished business that I would like to see through to its conclusion.”
One of his goals is items is to “foster the establishment a Central Frontenac Chamber of Commerce, run for and by local business. I think that if the business community spoke with a unified voice it would be helpful to both council and the businesses themselves.”
At the council table, he also wants to pursue changes in the way tenders are worded.
“I would like us to put performance qualifications in all our outside contracts. We need to be specific about what we expect done and we need to put penalties in place in case the job that is done does not meet those specifications.”
He would also like to see changes in the way planning processes are implemented for those who want to build in Central Frontenac.
“You know when you go to CAA, you can get a triptych, a map that had all the directions you need, all the detours along the route that you will be faced with, so you know what you are going to see and how long it will take you to get from point A to point B. I’d like to see along that for development services. If you are planning to sever off a lot, build a house or open a business, the entire process should be outlined in a check list. Not only would it streamline the process, it would also help our staff because a more informed applicant would result in a shorter, cheaper application process.”
There are also a number of roads in Hinchinbrooke ward that he thinks should be at or near the top of any list for roadwork when the townships undertakes a road needs study next year.
“Our section of the Westport Road, Echo Lake Road, and Raymo road all need work sooner than later,” he said.
He continues to be interested in the proposals coming from the committee that is trying to develop the former Hinchinbrooke Public School into a community centre.
“I can se it working well with a mix of public and private used. To my mind it is imperative that running a centre does not affect the tax rate in Central Frontenac. Any worthwhile, well considered proposal from a business or private group would be looked upon with great interest. Parham desperately needs it right now,” he said.
(Editors note - An incorrect version of this profile was published in the print version of the Frontenac News. The correct verson is below)
Nicki Gowdy has never sat on municipal council but it just might be in her blood. Her grandfather Bruce Kennedy was a council member, Deputy Reeve and Reeve of Hinchinbrooke Township and her Uncle Bill Snyder served on Council both in Hinchinbrooke and Central Frontenac for many years.
Although she has always followed township politics, Nicki has maintained a focus on the school system, as an active parent council member at Prince Charles Public School and Sydenham High School.
Until last year, that is, when she became aware of changes to the local fire service. Nicki began attending council meetings regularly. While attending meetings she felt there was a need for change around the horseshoe, deciding to run for council.
“There seems to be a pattern,” she said. “Council asks staff to do some research and bring back a report. No report comes back and Council doesn’t follow up,” she said.
She is also concerned about the impact of township spending on the tax rate that residents pay.
“I would like to see staff made accountable for tax dollars allocated in the budget. For example, we spent all this money on fire equipment over the last year or so in order to comply with legislation that, in the end, the provincial government is pulling back on. I think we need to do some more research before spending money that even some firefighters don’t want us to spend.”
She said that although she would be bringing a fresh outlook to the issues on council, “I also like the idea that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If I don’t understand something, I’m willing to learn and change my mind if necessary,” she said.
She cites the septic re-inspection program as an example.
“I was against it and the more I learned about it and educated myself, I realized it’s not a bad thing, we just need to ensure that it is well implemented and reviewed regularly,” she said.
Philip Smith has served on council three times, experienced both victory and defeat at the polls, as well as an appointment tinged with sadness. He was elected in 2006, and then lost to Heather Fox and Bill Snyder in 2010, only to be appointed to serve out the last eight months of the term after Bill Snyder died while in office in early 2014. Smith was then re-elected to council in the 2014 election.
After serving as Hinchinbrooke Councillor for 9 years, he said that he was motivated to run again because “once you get in it for a while, and have the opportunity to help people, there continues to be a draw to serve.”
He works in Sharbot Lake as the manager, Mortgage and Administrative Systems with Pillar Financial and is (once again) an officer with the Parham Fair committee, serving as treasurer for 2019.
Although he has been a critic of the controversial mandatory septic inspection program in Central Frontenac, he voted in favour of the bylaw enacting the program when it came to council last week.
“The program is focusing, at first, on the trout sensitive lakes, and there is an opportunity to continue to work on protections for residents who could face hardships from the program down the road. I see my role as continuing to bring those concerns to council,” he said.
One of the long-term issues that he thinks Council should start to consider in this term, is seeking a long term solution to waste management issues.
“Pretty soon, we will have only the Olden Site for all the township’s waste, and although there is life in that site [up to 30 years] we need to start planning for that now. We don’t want to end up 5 years from the end of that site with no plan in place except to pay whatever rate we can get from the commercial market to haul it somewhere,” he said.
He also sees the Official Plan update, which is about a year from completion, as something that the new council needs to focus on in the first year of its mandate. If elected once again, he is not likely to seek the second Central Frontenac position on Frontenac County Council.
“Council is a large commitment of time on its own, for me. I prefer to focus on the services that we need to provide in Central Frontenac,” he said.
Except for ten years when he lived in Westport, Elwyn Burke has spent all of his life in what is now Central Frontenac. Back in the 1990’s he served on the Olden Township Council, and was Reeve of that township for the last six years of its existence, ending in 1998.
He worked as a farmer for many years, and had owned a number of farms. He also hauled lumber to Mennonite country for 25 years. Now that he is retired, he said that he “has some time on his hands and is ready to provide my experience and knowledge on Central Frontenac Council.” He said that although he has been living on Clement Road for a few years he is running in Olden “because that is where I was before and I know many people who live there and it seemed like common sense to run there again.”
One of the concerns he has for the township is the state of the roads and he thinks the problems they face, especially the gravel roads, are pretty basic.
“The roads in Central Frontenac are not in the greatest shape. As I said at the all candidates meeting it’s pretty hard to grade the roads if you don’t have any gravel on them in the first place,” he said.
He is an old school election campaigner and said he has knocked on about 300 doors during this campaign, not only to be seen but also to hear the concerns of the residents.
“I can tell you something that is not a surprise to me, everybody complains about taxes,” he said. “A lot of those people are very unhappy about those school purchases. It looks as though there may be some more problems down the road with them since they are talking about tearing down and rebuilding them, and people are not happy about that either,” he said
He said that he is keeping an open mind about the direction the township is taking because he has been away from politics from a time, but that he is ready to look at the information that comes to council and will offer his opinion when he knows the facts.
“We just need to make sure that we don’t do things that the people don’t want us to do and don’t want to pay for,” he said.
He would like to see each ward get fair representation in dollars and cents.
Dan Cunningham has been a resident of Central Frontenac for about 10 years, when he moved to a house on the Thompson Road.
I’ve lived in most of Ontario and this is a jewel. I love living in the country he said.
He decided to run for council after being approached by some people who knew about his background as environment manager at Stanley Tools. After leaving Stanley Tools, Cunningham ran a furniture business in Glenburnie for 8 years.
“After meeting with some people, I realised there are some common concerns. I think I can help council a little bit with how they do business,” he said.
In his view, the township needs some shaking up in the way operations are organised.
“I have a vision for the township which I’m not sure is being respected. We can build a thriving community where environmental efforts work with and foster growth by promoting enviro-tourism.
“As far as waste management goes, we need to reduce waste streams that go into our waste sites. We need to do better and more diversion. There is a Real Deal store in Smiths Falls, where tons of construction and demolition stuff, doors and much more, are diverted from the waste stream and are available for a second use. That’s where I would like to see our energy spent, instead of on the mandatory inspection program. I would rather see us do something that is more helpful to our residents. And that store in Smiths Falls employs local people. It would help us, but the inspection program, which is not even a program at this point, will hurt us, for no good purpose.”
Part of the problem he sees with council, is a lack of engagement with the residents.
“Engagement does not come from have open council meetings and publishing agendas. You can do it by surveys, by putting out flyers, you can do it by telephone. There are many ways, but the key is to actively go out and try to do it, which this council hasn’t done,” he said.
He also believes that the principles of project management need to be implemented in the township in order to make it run efficiently.
“This is what I did at Stanley Tools and we saved a million dollars each year by using these principles,” he said.
He said that he is not political, but “I think there is room for improvement in the way Central Frontenac is run.”
Bill Everett has done a lot of things in his life, including serving in the Canadian military, but he is best known in Central Frontenac as the project manager of B.E.E. Sanitation, a company that offers garbage and recycling pickup in the township.
He first came to the area in 1983 and in 1995 he moved to a property on Bolton LAkes, off of the Bell Line Road in Olden District. He has run B.E.E. Sanitation for 15 years, and was a member of the township’s waste management committee that developed the recycling and clear bag waste protocols, a few years ago.
He decided to run for council earlier this year, and he wants to be clear that he is not running “out of any disrespect for anyone else, but sometimes new ideas are required. I think there are different things that might be done by the township.”
Not surprisingly, he has some ideas about the operation of the waste sites in the township, since, as he says, “he has been involved with the waste sites longer than anybody else in Central Frontenac.
“In general, we need to come up with measures that will extend the longevity of the two remaining sites, which will pretty soon be down to one,” he said.
Although he said he believes in the value of septic inspections, he said that as far he has seen, the septic pumpers tend to do an inspection when they do pump outs, “and they let their customers know what they need to do in order to save money down the road. I don’t mind the township getting involved, but I have problems if they want to make it a kind of whip-crack thing.”
He also knows that the township will be considering whether to permit cannabis sales early in its mandate, and said he was guardedly in favour, at the Olden District All Candidates meeting, but now he is not sure.
“I received a letter from Opseu President Warren (Smokey) Thomas that says that if a township says yes, they cannot say no in the future, but if they say no they can say yes later on, which is something to think about. Of course, OPSEU is the union for the LCBO employees so he may be saying that to make townships less likely to permit competition for their stores. Hopefully the Province will provide the townships with some good information before the decision needs to be made.”
In his 4 years on Council Victor Heese has learned a lot about the township and the way council operates.
“The past four years was very interesting for me, I enjoyed myself and it has been fun to find out how the township works. I have also really enjoyed meeting people,” he said.
He adds that he was able, as part of the 9 members of council, to get a few things done in the first four years.
“I thought I could go again and get a few more things done,” he says of his decision to seek re-election.
One thing that he worked on I hits first term which has not yet come together is a re-use centre which would logically be located at the Olden dump site, which will be the only township site in a few years.
“We set up a committee to look at it, but we have not been able to move forward because of the turnover of public works managers,” he said. “Each Public Works Manager comes in with different ideas, and it takes time for them the get into the job. Then they have a chance to start looking at a new project like this, and then they have been leaving, and we have to start all over again with someone new.”
He is planning to keep working on the re-use centre if re-elected, making sure that any re-use centre that is developed is designed as a complement to the Treasure Trunk, and that it has the volunteer support it needs to be able to operate on an ongoing basis.
“If a re-use centre hinders the Treasure Trunk in any way, I wouldn’t support it,” he said.
He has also been working on the septic re-inspection file as the committee chair. Council did not adopt the committee’s recommendations and came up with an alternative system.
“The system has been adopted, but it starts on only 5 lakes, and the future implementation is vague. I think we still have work to do informing the public that the re-inspections will not harm them, will not put them out of their homes,” he said.
This next term will be a challenge, he thinks, because there may be a shakeup coming from the provincial government.
“We need to be ready to deal with whatever comes our way from the province. It is clear that they hold all the power and we can only react, but we need to do what we can to be ready for what might be coming, which might be added costs.”
Leslie Ford is a one-time member of the Algonquin and Lakeshore District School Board. Her children were educated at Catholic Schools in Belleville, where she is originally from as well.
With their kids grown, Leslie and her husband have moved to the location of her family cottage on Chippego Lake in the Wilkinson Road District of Central Frontenac.
“We were up here every weekend when I was a kid and its great to live here full time now,” she said.
She has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years, in the public and private sectors and continues to commute to a job in that field after moving to the cottage.
She said she was motivated to run for the board out of support for the Catholic system.
“I think the school board is doing an incredible job already and we need to continue to advocate for Catholic education. The trustees vote on everything from who gets hired and who sits on board committees, to social justice issues, to providing funding for facility up-grades. Its a huge responsibility. I would like my constituents to know who I am and come to me if there are issues. I want people to know they could come to me for support,” she said.
She said that the Catholic schools in Frontenac County, St. Patrick’s (Harrowsmith) and St. James (Sharbot Lake) will be a focus for her if elected.
She also said that her expertise as a mental health practitioner may be valuable to the board as it faces the challenges of addressing mental health issues in the schools and within the school community.
“There has been lots of buzz about mental health, but the availability of services doesn’t match the awareness.
“I do lots of work for the public board as well. In both systems it’s an ongoing struggle, as the mental health issue is a family-based problem. It cannot be dealt with entirely at school, but the schools need the board to provide direction and resources so the schools can play their part.”
Wendy Procter has been the Frontenac County Trustee to the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board since 1999. She has been acclaimed to the position 4 times, and won a contested election in 2014.
“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.
“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.
“Questions have been asked since the Catholic system was formed over 160 years ago about whether we should be here, and 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.”
Over the years, she has been on most of the various committees of the board, and currently sits on the accessibility planning and facility enhancement committees.
Looking at the current and upcoming concerns of the board, mental health services are top of mind for her.
“One of the biggest challenges is mental health. We have to have more resources in places for that. And, of course there is a new government. They may make many changes that the board will need to address. And I’m always pushing for transportation to make sure all the kids get to the schools that they choose.”
She also said that a number of board members are retiring this year so there will be “at least 5 new trustees so if re-elected I will be able to provide continuity,” she said.
Roger Curtis taught business and science at Sydenham High School for 26 years and lived nearby. He got into a bit of hot water at times, because he was outspoken in his views about some of the changes in the way students were being taught.
Essentially, he holds that new techniques have not been shown to be effective.
“Direct instruction and repetitive practice works for learning mathematics. Discovery learning does not work to teach kids mathematics. Phonics works to teach reading and whole word approaches are less successful.”
He also took issue with the way students were graded.
“I wanted to be able to give a student a 0 if they had not completed any assignments and shown no grasp of the curriculum, but that was not allowed,” he said. “I was called to the board office by the superintendent of human resources. I was asked by a Superintendent, 'What’s wrong with the assessment and evaluation policy? I wrote it.' That's not what I would call a discussion.”
Now retired and living in rural Kingston south of Elginburg, he has put his name forward for school board trustee for South Frontenac, along with a group of like-minded candidates under the #TRUSTee hashtag.
All of the #TRUSTee candidates have committed to following three principles: “education first, accountability and transparency to the electorate, and commitment to the community.”
Curtis said that particularly in light of the changes that the new Ford government is planning to implement, the Limestone Board needs to take a stronger stand. Although the Limestone Board published a letter opposing the government ordered abandonment of the sex-ed curriculum, Curtis points out that they were the “18th out of 35 boards to do so. They waited until it looked like it would be safe to put out a letter, taking no leadership.”
He said that while he would make sure to be respectful and co-operative, he will not hesitate to express his views about education and will not be forced into supporting policies he opposes.
Soon to be former Trustee Dan Mahoney, has been severely censured by the board for some of the public statements he has made, and Curtis said “there is no need to act like Tom and be so rebellious, but that does not mean we stop thinking when we sit at the board table either.”
“A lot of the directives do come from the Province. But by demanding better, asking for evidence to support practices, insisting that the results be faced head on, and facing the reality that some of the results in EQAO and other international tests are showing us, the board can start to make a difference for its students,” he said.
“This board can hang its hat on innovation, it can be brave, it can be strong and stand up and be counted. It is completely within their power. That’s the direction I support.”
He said that the decision to seek the role of trustee stems from his commitment to education.
“Our board insists on teaching methods that are suspect or are less effective than they should be. And the problem is that you don’t get a do-over when it comes to education, there is only one chance for each student and we need to do better.
He said that his commitment to students in South Frontenac is strong, and that he only moved out of the township because his wife works in Kingston.
“For years she commuted so I didn’t have to. I had to return the favour when I retired
Suzanne Ruttan is running for re-election to a third term as trustee of the Limestone School Board.
“I’m still so proud so happy that my philosophy hasn’t changed after 8 years. I’m not jaded about it. I’m still enthusiastic for the system, and I’m really proud of the South Frontenac schools,” she said.
She lives “on beautiful Buck Lake” off Perth Road with her husband Randy, who is a retired school principal who worked for most of his career as an administrator in the neighbouring Upper Canada District School Board.
Over the last 8 years, she has become familiar with each of the schools in the township, and this has shown her that each of them has unique challenges.
“There are rural challenges in some locations, such as access to resources like child care, social services and transportation, and in some places Internet access is limited as well,” she said.
“In South Frontenac we are like a mirror of the entire society. We have all the demographic issues, all of the different community strengths and weaknesses. What I love about the Limestone Board and the schools in South Frontenac, is that I have never heard a school staff member accept second best for our students. Not once have I heard ‘oh well, that’s good enough’. People are always looking, our staff are always looking, how we can improve, how do we address this issue or that concern.”
Helping parents navigate through the system when they have an issue within the classroom or the school as a whole, is a major part of her job.
“I look at it as opening doors for people,” she said. “I don’t promise them I will deal with their problem. That is not the role of a trustee, but I can point them in the proper direction and follow up to make sure concerns have been addressed.”
She is committed to continuing that role in the future, as well as to “ensuring that all South Frontenac schools receive the resources that they require and are entitled to in order to meet the needs of the entire student population, and supporting Limestone District School Board staff and administration as they provide quality instruction to South Frontenac students.”
“I stick to my focus on the education of the students in the community where I live,” she said. “Where board-wide issues are concerned, I am one vote out of nine, and once a vote is taken I support the decision of the majority.”
She also wants people who are concerned about the potential for school closures, particularly Prince Charles Public School, to know that no school closures are planned or even on the horizon at this point.
“There is a consultant’s report on the board website that calls for it, but that report is not active anymore, the previous government put a halt to all school closures. And the new government will have their own plans. The board needs authorization to take that report off the site, and we don’t have that, but a good idea did get raised at the meeting in Verona. We could put a banner on the page with the report pointing out that the report is out-dated.”
Phil Archambault is new to municipal politics but he is not entirely new to elections and campaigns. Three years ago he ran as a Liberal in the newly created Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding and finished second to long serving Conservative MP Scott Reid.
A resident of Inverary for the last 7 years with his wife Melanie and their three children, he traces his motivation to run for mayor of South Frontenac to the response he received when he approached the township three years ago about speeding on his road.
“The cars drive too fast on my street, and myself and three other dads decided to do something about it. The township put a temporary speed bump on it, but when we asked them to bring it back the next year the public works manager said they only had three of them an they were bring used elsewhere in the township. We went to Council with a petition signed, but they were all being used elsewhere. I called the public works manager, and my local councilors, and e-mailed Wayne Orr, the CAO, and nobody returned my calls or e-mails,” he said, in a phone interview last week. “The safety of our children should be of upmost concern for the township.
During the campaign, he said that he has been hearing more about a lack of responsiveness from the township to resident concerns.
“When I have been going door to door campaigning, I find it seems to be a trend that staff do not respond to people. The best example of that is the North Shore Crescent/North Shore Road confusion that has been in the news.”
He said that in his professional life as a management consultant he has experience in improving service to the public.
I used to work at the CCAC [Community Care Access Centre] and when people called we would open a ticket, Maybe a system like that, so that you can track how well you are doing, would be an idea for South Frontenac. It only takes one person to manage it. Ok, it’s a salary, but if you improve your customer service and the public’s perception of the township, it would be worth it. I would love to look into to something like that.”
He would also work on ensuring there is public input on council decisions and township operations.
“In the healthcare sector there are patient representatives on every committee. We need that kind of thinking here as well, we could have a resident representative on committees” he said.
He also thinks that the township should look at recreation.
“A lot of young families are moving in with demands for splash pads, better parks. We can do a lot more.”
But he does not think the township should be free with its money either.
“I think things are mismanaged at the moment. When you have projects that go over budget by more than10% per cent all the time, for me it’s a big problem. When you have a $15 million roads budget and you go over like that, its five to six hundred thousand dollars. You can build 2 or 3 splash pads for that amount of money.”
He would also push the township to be more proactive when it comes to healthcare services.
“In Inverary there is a new pharmacy. I’d like to see if we could attract a physician to open a practice, to see how Council can support physicians in the area. You can apply for a FHO (Family Health Organisation) once you have three physicians. In Belleville they paid subsidies over five years and that ended up working for them.”
He also said that the township needs to be more active in helping bring improved Internet service to all corners of the township, among other initiatives he thinks are necessary, and should be the focus of the mayor.
“As we work on a new Official Plan for the next 20 years, we need to make some decisions about our future. We need to have a forward-thinking mayor to drive us forward. If Ron Vandewal comes back in without forward thinking it will be a missed opportunity. I really support growth, but we have to know where we want to have our subdivisions before we start promoting.”
If elected, Archambault said he would not renew his consulting contracts in the new year so he could focus on the mayor’s job. He would continue to help manage the spa business in Kingston, while his wife Melanie will continue to run it on a day to day basis.
As the longest serving member of South Frontenac Council, Ron Vandewal thought he knew what to expect when he sought and won election for Mayor in 2014.
“You think you know what its all about, but its not always what you expect. I guess the learning curve is how to actually manage the meetings and your own expectations, and how to deal with councils and other councillors. It’s a whole different kettle of fish, and of course every different council has is own dynamics based on who is at the table and what we are facing,” he said.
He also found dealing at the county level to be a challenge.
“It’s a whole different dynamic at the county level, partly because we all come from very different townships, and while 18,000 of the 28,000 people live in South Frontenac we only have 1/3 of the votes. Mostly that doesn’t matter because the county acts for all of us, but sometimes it does matter.”
In comparison to others, he does not like to make election promises, because he does not think they are always realistic.
“We don’t really know what we are going to be facing and if you promise a bunch of things you end up having to raise taxes to make them happen. I don’t even promise a fixed tax increase. The last time, I said I thought if we could aim for a 2% increase in our budget, plus growth, that would be a realistic goal, and we were able to get there. It keeps us in line with inflation, and we still have money in reserves and have been able to get some things done at the same time. We did some big road projects, and last year we built the first fire hall that has been built in the history of South Frontenac, without a big tax hike.”
Looking forward, he sees managing development as a key concern for the township.
“I have always been in favour of development. I think growth is good for the township, and we can all benefit. I have also always said that we need to get a process in place, between our planning and building departments, so there are no surprises later on. I hear from people who are making investments in our township, that we keep throwing roadblocks in front of them. And that has to change.”
After a long search, the township hired a manager of Development Services in September, Claire Dodds, and Vandewal is pinning his hopes on her to provide leadership. Her first job is to replace the township planner, since long serving planner Lindsay Mills retired in July.
“She has a bit of a clean slate, to set up the department in a new way. We are also going to upgrade our Official Plan [OP], so we have an opportunity to develop a clear process for anyone who wants to build in South Frontenac.”
He said that it would be better if someone who wants to develop a property, for a home or business, found out at the beginning of the process about all the costs involved, even it means they decide not to go forward.
“At least they would know what the costs are, what the timelines are, right from the start.”
Even though a couple of contentious developments have ended up being dealt with by the Ontario Municipal Board, Vandewal points out that the township is constantly growing.
“We have had 60 entrance permits [permits for driveways] just this year. It’s crazy. The only thing stopping it is that we don’t have the building lots. People want to move here but we don’t have locations for them to build. So we need to get this whole thing right. We can’t be in a hurry and we need to consult with the public as we go along.
As far as bringing the approval authority for plans of subdivision to the township from Frontenac County, he said “I think we probably should do that. The big focus should be on the OP update and setting up a fair system for everyone.”
As he has been going door to door during the campaign he has run into a number of people who are not interested in township politics and some that are, but he says there is a common denominator.
“When I ask people if they are satisfied with where they live, they say they are. How can you not be satisfied? When people take a step back and take a look where we live, they realise we’ve got it really good here.
“I’m pretty passionate about South Frontenac and I think I make a difference
You would think it would be enough for Mark Schjerning to serve as Chief of Emergency Services for Lennox and Addington County, sit as a township councilor, and maintain an active role, with his wife Kim, in the lives of their two children. On top of that he is active in the scouting movement and with the Sydenham Lake Association, where he is the past president.
But after one term on council, he feels not only ready but compelled to run for mayor.
“I think, between sitting on council for a term and being involved as a senior manager at the county level in L&A, I have the necessary experience for this position. The reason I am running is that I think we can do better. I think we could use more strategic leadership, more transparency and more accountability,” he said, in an interview last week.
While he is aware of the responsibilities that come with the mayor’s position, he is confident he can fulfill the role while maintaining his position in L&A.
“I think at a certain level we are in good shape in South Frontenac. If you look at the ledger sheet we are doing pretty well, and we have no debt. But there are other projects that need to be tackled and areas that need to have significant improvement and that is not happening.
“And not running into debt is not always a good thing. One of the reasons we haven’t been successful in seeking grants is that is we don’t have any debt. While decisions that we take are not made by any one individual, they are made by Council not just the head of council, and there has been a lack of vision. A lot of the things we have done over the past term have been projects that are brought forward by staff. Council plays a role but not an active one.”
Among the ideas for change that Schjerning might want to work on, is the development of a “township hub for recreation and services.”
“The county and the township and the Cataraqui Conservation Authority are talking about a combined office space. That might be an opportunity, if it is built in the right location, for the development of a hub. We could put in a pool, and arena or just an outdoor rink. Maybe a recreation centre for families and for seniors. Our residents travel to Kingston for these things and then shop there and eat in restaurants there. Why not keep them here to shop and eat in South Frontenac, supporting our own businesses.
“Realistically if you look at the five hamlets, Sydenham is kind of in the middle. Also, if we are going to include a pool, being on municipal water makes sense. You look at grants and at sponsorship and whatever is left over you finance it and you pay that off over time. And of course the school board is a natural partner. I believe ‘if you build it they will come,’ and a good investment will pay off in growth and a more vibrant economy in our township.”
Among the administrative changes he would like to bring about is a change in the way plans of subdivision are approved. Currently the approvals are a Frontenac County responsibility and the county has formed a planning advisory committee to oversee the process.
Schjerning is convinced that in order for the township to be responsive to public input and make sure the process is fair, those approvals need to be done by South Frontenac Council instead of Frontenac County Council.
“It does not make sense that five or six councilors from other townships can make decisions about developments that affect South Frontenac residents,’ he said.
At the same time, he thinks the township has been hindered by a tendency to not listen to the residents before making decisions. He cites an attempted Official Plan amendment enforcing a 30 metre setback bylaw in South Frontenac for waterfront properties with existing buildings on them.”
“The waterfront residents told Council this was not fair to them, and Council did not listen. It ended up costing those residents $60,000 and the township another $40,000 in legal costs at the OMB [Ontario Municipal Board] and the bylaw was thrown out. That was a waste.”
Schjerning also expressed concerns about overruns in public works projects, questioning some of the engineering contracts that missed details which ended up costing money.
Randy Ruttan’s roots at Buck Lake run deep. His family has been on the land for over 4 generations, going back to farmers who scratched out a living on the Canadian Shield on land that is now part of Frontenac Park.
When it came time for him to settle down and raise a family, it was easy to decide to make his home on Buck Lake.
He became a teacher and school administrator, spending much of his career as a secondary school principal in the Upper Canada District School Board, where he even returned for a couple of stints after his official retirement. All along he has kept his hand in at the High School where he says he had his best years, SHS. His football career as a Golden Eagle set him up for coaching and he was one of the founders of the Thousand Island Minor Football League and is currently coaching the Junior Golden Eagles back at Sydenham.
He brings his experience in strategic planning and budgeting at a school level to the municipal world.
“I have a decision making model that I have used for many years, looking at where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there, and looking at challenges and implementation. I bring that with me and since I am new to this I have no axe to grind, no favours to pay back. I bring my love for this place with me and an open mind. I am not aligned with any other candidates,” he said.
As far as the issues facing the township are concerned, he is concerned about the way new developments have been handled by the township and thinks the township needs to have the approval authority for subdivisions and plans of condominium, which is now done by Frontenac County.
But he also has a major concern about the processes that are in place within the township for building and development.
“There is no clear protocol when you go to do something. There should be a process, with all the steps along the way being spelled. That way people can make an informed decision when they start rather than being surprised later on. I think the township made a really good step hiring Claire Dodds as Director of Planning and Building, and she will need Council’s support.”
He also thinks that the township can do more in providing recreational opportunities and community services for families and seniors. But he also knows how long it takes to bring change about.
“I look long term, think big and act small. But we always need to move forward and improve,” he said.
Farrah Soaft is running for Council with a promise to bring a brand new point of view to the township. She is a young mother (her daughter Layla is one year old) who moved to Sydenham from Napanee just over a year ago and she said she has been so over-whelmed by the supportive community, the lifestyle and the surroundings that she wants to help out by serving on council.
She is returning to work after her maternity leave on a part time basis (she works as a registered nurse at Providence Care) so she has the time available to delve into township politics. Her husband Andrew works for Hydro One. She was born in Belleville, and grew up in Stirling, went to a rural High School in Madoc and studied nursing in Kingston in the St.Lawrence College - Laurention University program
I will bring the perspective of a young parent to council if I am elected. Maybe the township can be looking more at social issues for young families, such as daycare services, than they do now,” she said.
She is also concerned about taxation in the township and how it affects young families.
But mainly she is running out of appreciation for the quality of life she has found in Sydenham and out of a conviction that council could use a young voice.
I think it would be amazing to try to enhance Sydenham and Loughborough district, bring in maybe a fresher perspective,” she said.
Four years ago Ross Sutherland was the cycling candidate. He spent much of the summer of 2014 dropping his car off at one end of a long country road, then cycling up the road to knock on doors and campaign.
He was also making the transition from provincial politics, where he had been an NDP candidate and healthcare advocate, to the municipal scene.
During his first term in office, he has been active both on council and in the community. He was one of the driving forces behind “Tour de South Frontenac” cycling event and later, the Lakes and Trails Festival.
He has also been an outspoken critic of the planning and development process in the township, pushing for a more active role for council in making planning decisions.
One of his major goals for the next term is to see the township take over the responsibility for approving subdivisions and vacant land condominiums from Frontenac County.
“It’s more than just being the approving body. At one time the township did all the work and ran the public meetings and the county was just the approving body. Progressively they’ve taken over the process. For example, we passed an expanded notice program, giving people more time to comment, but the county vetoed it.”
The whole matter of planning, in Sutherland’s view, should flow from the Official Plan review that the township is set undertake.
We have the capability to manage the whole process. It should be a township process. The Official Plan needs to be rewritten in a substantial way in order to deal with the specific needs of South Frontenac,” he said. “There is a lot at stake when we deal with planning matters and we need to get it right. Even all of our infrastructure investments all flows from planning, and that determines what will happen twenty years from now.”
He also argues that the township needs to be more open to the public, and has fallen behind in the age of social media.
“It took four year of badgering, but we finally have a Facebook page, but it is only a one way page. What we need is more public feedback. Our new committee system also cuts off input before votes are taken,” he said.
Although he thinks the township can and should make sure that contracts for road construction and road maintenance are well managed, he said “I think it’s totally reasonable to spend more, as long as we are adding value for the taxpayers. There may even be some benefit to splash pads. I’m open to making improvements.”
Fran Willis said the “the biggest motivator (in addition to the obvious problems facing the township) for why I decided to run in this municipal election was the lack of planning knowledge of the majority of council members.
“I have found that the majority of the planning decisions Council has made are appalling. In my opinion, their decisions were not just poor planning decisions, they were just plain bad decisions.
She attended most of the council and committee of the whole meetings over this latest term of council, and said that listening to the debates and decisions were painful to hear.
“I knew many of Council’s planning decisions would clearly end up at the Ontario Municipal Board. For example the (majority) of Council’s decisions on the infamous “Housekeeping Amendment” that was in fact actually intended to eliminate a ‘property right’ of landowners within 30m of a water-body.
“This Bylaw was entirely contrary to the Provincial Planning Act. Fortunately, the Ontario Municipal Board decided against Council and decided in favour of the South Frontenac Waterfront Coalition. It cost the South Frontenac Waterfront Coalition approximately $60,000.00 to eliminate a bad Bylaw. I supported the South Frontenac Waterfront Coalition.”
Willis worked for many years as a legal assistant, and the work consisted of a great deal of municipal work and included land development issues as well. She brought that experience to a term on the South Frontenac Township Council between 2001 and 2003 when she served as the chair of the Committee of Adjustment for a time. She served two terms on Loughborough Township Council in the1990’s.
After leaving council she took a Master’s Planning degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Queen’s University.
“My professional planning experience could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars by eliminating any one of the cases that went to the Ontario Municipal Board over this council’s term,” she said.
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is now reorganised and called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
She points out that “the South Frontenac Planning Department is virtually non-existent. It must be rebuilt in order that planning decisions may, once again, be under a planner hired by the South Frontenac Township Council instead of a contracted planner from the County of Frontenac.”
While Loughborough residents may find planning difficult to understand, she does not, because of her experience and knowledge.
“I have time for council as I now work part-time from my home with flexible hours,” she said
Fran Willis has lived at Moon’s Corners near the Village of Sydenham for approximately 40 years with her husband John.
Bruno Albano, his wife Kim and their children, moved to South Frontenac from the Muskoka region in 2010. He was working in Corrections and was transferred to Kingston. After they arrived and got settled in they realised this was the community they wanted to live in. Bruno joined the Lions Club, has done some fundraising for various causes, including the Scouts, and has enjoyed being part of a community. He eventually moved onfrom Corrections and is now studying computer networking and technology and pursuing and spending a lot of time volunteering, while his wife continues to work full time in Kingston as the Clinical Director at Resolve Counselling Services.
His decision to run for Portland District Councilor was inspired by a town alderman he knew when he was a kid.
“He was the kid of person who was always there for people who needed something. I have never forgotten that.”
The main issue of concern in South Frontenac, as far as he can tell, is fiscal responsibility.
“When I hear about cost over-runs in construction projects, it makes me wonder how the tenders were designed. At Corrections, we always paid attention to the cost of projects. If there needed to be more work done than originally thought, it was the responsibility of the contractor.
He also has concerns about how waste is managed in the township.
“I know we can do more in regards to our recycling program, we need to pull up our socks a little bit. You put your stuff out in the recycling bin, and one week they don’t take something but the next week they do. We need more consistency in recycling, expanding having more and more different types of things that can be recycled. In Muskoka they have a really good blue bin and composting program, which we might be able to get going here. And in one of the dumps there is a bin where re-usable items are placed so things can be taken home, extending the life of the dump and the expense of recycling,” he said.
He also thinks overall efficiency within the roads department can be improved, as can communication.
“At the Perth Road All-Candidates meeting someone asked when their road was going to be re-done. The mayor said it was on the list for a year from now. That information should be on the township website but it isn’t. Someone else said they woke up one morning to find the road crew starting a project on their road. Everyone from that road was late for work that day. They should have all been informed in advance. These things can be done at minimal cost, but they make a difference for people.”
Ray Leonard worked for Portland and South Frontenac Townships for his entire career. He worked for 20 years for the Portland Township Public Works department, and another 20 for South Frontenac before retiring at the beginning of this year. Over that time he experienced how the township operates, from the inside out. The final three years of his career were spent overseeing maintenance for the entire South Frontenac township.
“Now I want to give back to the people,” he said of his decision to run for council.
While he thinks the township is well managed in general, he said that “nothing is that good that it can’t be better. I can see where we can save some money.”
For one thing, he would push for a stronger road maintenance program.
“Maintaining roads is much cheaper than rebuilding them,” he said.
One road that is beyond just maintaining is the busiest one in the township, Road 38, and Leonard said that the township needs to seek provincial funding focus to help cover the cost of rebuilding it.
“We also need to do more for our seniors, they did everything for us and we need to pay attention to their needs. We have to lobby for money for facilities for our seniors and for programs. The township has not done much in the past.”
But don’t look for him to support any large tax increases.
“We have to keep the taxes under control,” he said, “you have to separate the wants from the needs, and stick to the needs.”
While he supports development, he thinks the township needs to remember its roots as an agricultural community and that the environment is its greatest asset.
“I’m not opposed to building in the proper way, as long as it doesn’t affect anybody negatively. But we need to support our farm community in any way we can at the same time. I would bring that position to looking at the Official Plan.”
When it comes to the future of fire services in South Frontenac, there again Leonard has an inside view of how the department operates. He was a long time member of the fire department, working out of the Hartington fire station, including 15 years as an officer, and was one of 3 people who started up the fundraising fishing derby that the department runs every year.
When not spending time at hockey rinks and ball diamonds throughout the township and the region with his 8 grandchildren, he loves to hunt and fish.
Bradd Barbeau ran for Council in Portland District Brad Barbeau ran for council in Portland District in 2014 against two popular incumbents, the late Bill Robinson and John McDougall. Even though he finished third, predictably, in that election he introduced himself to Portland residents during the campaign. He also ended up putting himself in line for an appointment to council following the unfortunate death of Bill Robinson halfway through the term. Now, even through he still has never been elected to council, he is the veteran as a five way council race shapes up because John McDougall is not running this time.
He said he has learned a few things while sitting at the council table.
“I learned that things move slowly. You come in thinking you can change the world but in reality that’s not likely to happen. It took a little while, but once I began to understand, I am starting to see how I can work within the municipal system,” he said.
He said that during the election campaign he has heard about a lot of new things that people would like to see, new recreational facilities.
“We can do all that stuff but it would be more than a 2% increase on the tax bill. One of the things that I think we need to reconcile ourselves with is there are a lot of people moving north from the city, and they have a different set of needs and desires. A bunch of us could not understand why we should have a dog park. But people wanted one, and we want them staying in South Frontenac. We want them shopping at Gilmours and we want new stores to open up as well.
“People want other amenities as well, but we need to decide what we are. Is this Amherstiew? Are we a suburb or are we not a suburb. There needs to be some discernment about that. I think the Official Plan upgrade process will give us an opportunity to answer these kinds of questions.”
One of the other things he has learned is that “as district councilors we have to think also about the entire township, not just Portland in my case. When we make decisions, it is for the betterment of everyone.”
Although he sees the limitations of council more clearly now that he has been through the budget process, and has seen some of the contentiousness that comes along every once in a while, Barbeau still feels that he brings an important new perspective to council, that of someone who grew up in the township, moved away for education and job opportunities, and then moved back in order to raise a family.
Tom Bruce was drawn to South Frontenac by the rural lifestyle, reasonable tax rate, and location.
He had a home built on the Wilton Road about five years ago and has been enjoying life in South Frontenac ever since.
He served with the Canadian Armed Forces and is now an elementary school teacher in Amherstview. With his wife, Christy, who is also also ex-military, commuting to Bowmanville for work as a nuclear engineer, and two young boys Jacob and Josh, in school, he is already a pretty busy guy, but he said that time management is one of the skills that he has learned along the way.
Before running for council, he wanted to get more involved in the community, so he joined the board of the Harrowsmith S&A (Social and Athletic) Club, and volunteers with the Verona Community Association, and the Lions.
He is interested in politics and in community and wants to be on council to represent resident interests and improve the township, and said that in his dealing with the township thus far, whether it was building a home, and doing some renovations, or using township facilities, there have been no major hurdles placed in his way.
But there are issues that Council will need to address.
“A lot of our community members are aging, and we need to keep amenities available for them. Road 38 is going to be a big topic and the Official Plan re-write will be a very important process for Council and the community. We need to make sure that it keeps us governed properly,” he said.
He would like to see the township be more active in seeking grants for recreational facilities.
“In the long term I would love to see some kind of recreational centre like they have in Loyalist township. My in-laws go there for exercise classes and zoomba and it becomes a social thing for them. I don’t think facilities like that need to come out of the tax base, however, they come from searching for some grants. Last year I found about $40,00 in grants for my classroom. They are out there and I can sniff them out.”
As capable as he is at time management, one thing will have to go if Tom Bruce is elected to council.
“I have a small catering business that I run with a friend T-Square BBQ. He’s going have to run that himself.”
Doug Morey is another new generation politician seeking to enter South Frontenac Politics. He is a born and raised South Frontenac resident living very near to Hartington on Road 38. He works for Bell Canada, technically based in South Frontenac but says he ends up being drawn into Kingston just about every working day.
He is also the father of three young children, and taking on the time commitment to sit on council, if elected, is something he does without hesitation.
“You can live in a community or you can become part of a community and I want to be part of the community. That’s why I joined the Lion’s Club and have become part of the Portland Rec Committee as well. And if I can help by contributing to decisions that hopefully will make things better for South Frontenac residents, then I’m more than happy to put in the time and effort required,” he said.
One of the things that draws him to municipal politics is direct engagement with the people he hopes to represent, and the lack of political party affiliation at the municipal level.
“People need to understand that you have heard them. It is the ideal level of politics to get into because you don’t have to represent a party. You can speak from your own platform, but you still have the responsibility to keep an eye on what is going on and listen to other opinions before making a final decision on anything.”
Internet service is an issue that comes up at candidates meetings, and Morey says he might be able to bring some of his own expertise to the conversations.
“Certainly I am more aware of how things work and what the barriers are in rural areas, which might be helpful to Council, but most of the big decisions are made at a much broader level than a local township,” he said.
He thinks that members of council need to look at the needs of everyone in the township.
“We all have access to everything that the township does, if it is in Sydenham or Perth Road or Harrowsmith. That is why debates about the Official Plan are so important, because they create the basis on which we can open up the entire township to growth in a way that works for all of us.”
He also said that if elected, he will consider ways to communicate directly with residents, whether through a newsletter or some other means.
Quality of life for seniors and tax increases dominated the Portland all-candidates meeting last week in Verona.
In the seniors services debate, incumbent mayoralty candidate Ron Vandewal pointed to support of transportation services.
“We’ve given grants for transportation,” he said. “Maybe not all the money they’d like, but we try.”
“We do fund and support South Frontenac Community Services,” said mayoralty candidate Mark Schjerning. “I’d be supportive of increasing the support.”
Mayoralty candidate Phil Archambault said his background in health services would be a benefit in the recruitment of doctors and other health professionals to the area.
Incumbent candidate Brad Barbeau said there were plans in the works for a seniors facility in Verona.
As far as taxes went, candidate Bruno Albano was blunt.
“I don’t believe there should be an increase in taxes this time around,” he said.
Barbeau pointed out that Road 38 is going to need work and it would have to be paid for somehow.
Most of the other candidates were more or less resigned to the inevitability of taxes.
Vandewal said that feedback he’d received on the campaign trail indicated that most voters were OK with an annual increase of 2 per cent.
“We spent $15 million in public works
Schjerning pointed out that “50 per cent of our budget is roads” but he’d also like to see more recreation facilities which he suggested would attract younger families to the area.
“We spent $1.1 million on recreation last year,” said Vandewal.
Before the municipal candidates’ debate, Limestone District School Board trustee candidates Suzanne Ruttan (incumbent) and Roger Curtis faced questions from the audience.
Neither candidate seemed too keen on returning to the old sex education curriculum but the majority of their time was spent on why the Board’s web site still has Prince Charles School on a list of potential school closures.
Ruttan said “the Ministry of Education told us to put that up and hasn’t told us to take it down.”
Curtis used the line of questioning to say “we spend too much on computers and not enough on mental health.
“It’s time for this board to get rid of its ‘shiny things’ syndrome.”
I spent the better part of the last week talking to candidates for mayor and council in South Frontenac. The profiles that resulted from those conversations start on page 6 of this edition. I woud first like to thank all of the people I talked to. They were honest and forthright about where they think the township is going and the role that the township should be playing.
A couple of divisions emerged and depending on how the election pans out the township could be headed in a different direction.
One of the divisions is over spending. All of the candidates are committed to controlling spending on existing operations, while maintaining services, paving roads, and so onw. But a number thought that the township needs to respond to the current and likely future influx of young families seeking to raise families in the countryside. The traditional rural character of the township and its small hamlets might not. Where there are now a number of parks, ball diamonds and soccer fields, and an arena up at the top end of the township, some candidates are talking about splash pads, new recreation centres, even swimming pools.
As one candidate put it, and I’m paraphrazing, South Frontenac needs to decide if it is going to be ,ore suburban.
The is a big change from anything that has been seriously discussed in the past. Until now, the township has been steadily improving its roads, modernizing its parks and beaches, and essentially maintaining the same character as the township had 30 or 50 years ago. Some fancy houses have been built on and even off the water, and subdivisions have gone in here and there. But aside from the Frontenac Arena, which was built in pre-amalgamation days (1976) by 4 Frontenac townships working together, nothing else like it has even been seriously contemplated.
Since South Frontenac was created in 1998, with the exception of the Sydenham library, the only recreational infrastructure projects that have been completed have been enhancements to pre-existing facilities, notably Centennial Park in Harrowsmith and the Point Park in Sydenham.
The idea of building a recreation centre as an add-on to a potential new office complex, which is being floated by one mayoralty candidate and hinted at by another and also promoted by several council candidates, would be a big change. South Frontenac Council spent its first ten years figuring out how to amalgamate fully and its next ten implementing amalgamation and consolidating its public works infrastructure.
When this idea is combined with the realisation that tackling Road 38 is now a real priority for the township, budgeting is likely to become a more contentious, and costly, enterprise over the next four years.
The second issue of note during this election is the vigorous assertion, by a number of candidates, that the only way to solve the townships planning woes is to wrest responsibility for subdivision and plan of condominium approvals from Frontenac County. A change of that order may or may not solve some of the problems the township has been having, but it also seems to miss the point.
What everyone says they want is a transparent, rules based process. If there were an up to date Official Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw in place, good complete information from the planning department for developers large and small, and a chance for affected parties to air their concerns, presumably good decisions would follow that allow the township to grow while protecting community and environmental concerns. It would not matter who makes the final decision as long as all of these safeguards are in place.
The possible pitfall of setting up a made in South Frontenac process that inserts council into the mix in a big way via enhanced public meetings, is that politics could run roughshod over the rules.
Sometimes a fair and reasonable planning decision will run counter to the interests, perceived or real, of the neighbour down the road.
South Frontenac needs a planning process that is overseen by professionals under a set of rules that are debated and approved by Council.
Any other outcome will lead to a continuation of the tendency towards decisions being made by provincially appointed appeals tribunals overseen by people who have no connection to either South Frontenac or Frontenac County as a whole.
(Next week, we will focus on the elections in Addington Highlands and Central Frontenac. Candidate profiles of the 10 candidates for council in Central Frontenac, and the 6 candidates for council and 2 candidates for reeve in Addington Highlands, will be published. These profiles will be posted at Frontenacnews.ca as soon as they are completed, hopefully on Sunday the 14th or Monday the 15th.)