It was a considerable attendance last Thursday night at the Storrington Centre as the Battersea Loughborough Lake Association hosted a meet the candidates event for residents to ask questions of the three Mayoralty candidates (incumbent Ron Vandewal, Coun. Mark Schjerning and Phil Archambault), three of the four candidates for Loughborough Councilor (incumbent Ross Sutherland, Fran Willis and Randy Ruttan; candidate Farrah Soaft did not attend) in the October South Frontenac election.
Storrington Coun. Ron Sleeth and Norm Roberts were acclaimed but were at the table anyway.
The format was a little different from may such forums as the lake association provided candidates with three questions beforehand and asked them to answer two of them.
The first question was on the importance of clean water and if the candidate would support a mandatory septic inspection program.
Vandewal said he did not support mandatory septic inspection at this time, preferring an education program. Archambault did support it and advocated a “guaranteed loan program” to help homeowners affected.
Ruttan said he could not support such a program. “I believe that’s not our mandate, it’s the Health Unit’s.” he said.
Sutherland said they could work towards it but advocated starting with pumping tanks and making capital available to homeowners for system replacement.
The second question was about the feedback lake associations could give regarding lakeside developments and not surprisingly, the candidates who chose to answer the question (Sutherland, Ruttan, Willis and Schjerning) were all in favour of association feedback.
The third question referred to things lakeside property owners could do on their properties (ie docks, vegetation control) and specifically asked if the South Frontenac rules and regulation were vague and poorly communicated.
“Surprises should never happen,” said Schjerning.
“Each case is site specific but docks are either provincial or federal,” said Willis.
“We need some common sense and emails need to be answered,” said Archambault.
“The rules can feel complex but it’s usually a once-in-a-lifetime thing for most people,” said Vandewal. “But can it be better? Of course. We’ve got a new person in place moving forward.”
The forum was then opened up to questions from the floor which ranged from communication issues, to funding for arts programs to potential farm runoff.
When the talk turned towards cows in the water, most candidates agreed that while that had been a concern years ago, most farmers had used government programs to fence off their properties at the waterline, or in many cases, simply gotten out of the business.
“There have been rules in place for many years,” said Vandewal. “And like most residents, most farmers do the right thing.
“When I was young, there were plenty of farms with cows around Loughborough Lake but now I think there are none.”
Sleeth said he thought the question might pertain to a particular incident that he knew of and said “much of the funding that was available has disappeared (and) I’m trying to find something to help in once case.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the evening came when someone asked the candidates what they brought to the table. While most used the question as an opportunity to reiterate their strong suits, Vandewal started talking about his father (who was Reeve at one time) and with his voice shaking somewhat said: “This municipality has meant the world to me.”