SOUTH DUNDAS – This week, The Leader continues our weekly Question of the Week series in an effort to help inform readers about the candidates seeking election to South Dundas municipal council.
This week’s question – Growing South Dundas – According to Statistics Canada, South Dundas’ population is rapidly aging. In order to support existing municipal needs and not download the financial burden to existing citizens, the municipality needs to grow. If elected, what will you do to address the need for population growth in South Dundas?
All local election candidates were given the questions with a deadline and were limited to approximately 175 words for their response. Only responses received by the deadline given to candidates are published. The Leader reserves the right to edit responses for journalistic-style and word count. Questions were determined by the editorial staff of the newspaper. This seven week series will continue up to the October 24 election. Responses are grouped by the elected office the candidates seek, and listed in alphabetical order by last name.
As the demographics of our municipality continue to change, rapid action is required to diversify the population, boost our local economy, and relieve the financial burden on the taxpayers of South Dundas. We need increased growth in housing and living options. We need to create housing availability. We need to smartly utilize the land and infrastructure we have available.
I will support accelerated timelines for faster housing starts, take away any obstacles to housing development and create more options to attract young families and businesses. I will also promote innovative housing solutions for seniors and retired residents and support tenants and landlords to create more options.
The plans in Asset Management, Recreation and Community Improvement are all critical paths forward in creating the infrastructure for a growing community. I will work to prioritize these community improvements, as we look to better our school catchment, recreational facilities and health care options. I will also work with provincial and federal governments to ensure we have sufficient flexibility to achieve population growth in South Dundas.
Common-sense tells us growth requires people, housing and jobs. Another component of growth are doctors, dentists, etc., that need to be attracted here.
If elected as your next mayor, I would lead council to bring forward the existing South Dundas Community Improvement Plan. We need to review the strategy and determine what is working and what isn’t. Over the past years, what stages are we at in bringing in new small and medium sized businesses. Ensure active solicitation for companies who would be interested in relocating to our area is still ongoing. Determine what lands are available and who would develop and build. Brainstorm with local building contractors as we have many. What can we do to assist in housing development?
Maintaining recreation facilities and programs with the possibility of looking towards public, private partnership in larger facilities. Council members would be encouraged to bring ideas forward and have an active role in moving forward.
Let’s not reinvent the wheel. A Community Improvement Plan exists so let’s work with it, updating and realigning where necessary.
Four years ago, both tourism and economic development were not a priority and seen as items that would take care of themselves. I proposed and sat on both the Economic Development and Tourism committees. Much groundwork has been done this term of council by these committee members. I have also worked hard on doctor recruitment and rural education committees, as these are top on the list for folks when considering a community. We need an environment where the seeds of investment can grow, where we are welcoming to new residents and new ideas. Growth should pay for growth; this means working with investors. This also includes strengthening processes making it easier to grow and thrive. We need to be aggressive when promoting South Dundas and we also need to work with partners. Leaders need to be passionate about all of our community and as mayor I will continue to work tirelessly to promote, invite and connect with individuals, companies and businesses to consider South Dundas as the best place to invest, live and grow.
Deputy Mayoral candidates
If elected for deputy mayor I will support rural education at the county level for current and future residents of South Dundas.
I will still sit on committees to bring Doctor recruitment and Nurse practitioners for this area.
In my last four years of sitting on council I helped renegotiate the contract for Dutch Meadows so growth paid for growth (which wasn’t the case before).
I have spoken on recreation for all ages.
I sit on the DBIA as Council representative and speak strongly not only on present businesses but new and upcoming businesses to be established. I will support heritage in SD&G. I strongly support economic development for all businesses that have been brought into South Dundas and future businesses as well. Sitting on South Dundas Council has been like being an ambassador.
Marc St. Pierre
Council and staff, working together, must aggressively address the population rate and look to attract new people and businesses to South Dundas, through the creation of developable land opportunities for residential, commercial, and industrial growth.
A review of the Official Plan will provide the tools to confirm current land designations and identify specific areas throughout South Dundas to target for growth opportunities. Also, council and staff should be working alongside with businesses, developers, and current landowners in pursuing the development of the existing designated properties and the creation of new land development opportunities.
Costs required to make infrastructure improvements and expansion are typically the burden of developers, however, the municipality needs to ensure that those charges are balanced, do not inhibit potential growth, and protects the interests of the current businesses and residents, to not increase tax bills.
Increasing development opportunities throughout South Dundas will result in growth in the creation of job opportunities and increase the tax base.
This important initiative should be a priority for council and staff over the next four years.
As deputy mayor, economic development is my top priority. Economic development not only adds significantly to the tax base, it also adds jobs to the community. Adding employment opportunities attract families who will want to make South Dundas their home.
Along with employment, these families will need a place to live. Prioritizing housing – particularly affordable housing for our workforce and seniors, must be a focus.
It is essential to support these agendas through council and work with the pertinent departments within the township office to move these plans forward. I have no doubt this will benefit our community and make South Dundas the place to live, work and raise a family in Eastern Ontario.
In my business I often meet people coming to South Dundas, looking to relocate or start businesses. They tell me that we need more social programs, mental health resources, and activities for youth and seniors. We cannot lose our schools, and have our children bussed to outside communities. We must increase our tax base by attracting home developers to address the rental property shortage. I want to work with municipal staff to build resources to grow our community. Families wanting to settle here need family doctors. There needs to be after-school programs including art and music for youth whose parents commute. Programs for seniors could also happen here. Our taxpayers are overburdened just to maintain what we have so we need to bring more tax dollars in by attracting more housing development. Now is the time to take a hard look at what we want our community to grow into in the next generation. Setting up proper programs and infrastructure will guarantee that we maintain the authenticity of our community but also allow us to grow.
This is the question of all questions, right! So we all like to complain that people come here on the weekends from out of town and use our beaches, go to the flea market and participate in our recreational sports, but then they leave.
Why? What are we missing; industry, affordable housing or careers? Are we doing enough as a municipally to draw people in?
If elected, I would do my best to support affordable housing, job creation, and more recreational needs.
South Dundas needs to make a pivotal stance/change in the next few years.
Do we become a retirement community and remain at status quo, or do we need to widen our gaze?
I believe we need to invest ways to bring young vibrant families to join our community. If elected, I would start by reviewing the housing permit process and search for available municipal land. I would also like to look at the possibility for future friendly industry plans.
There are two key components to population growth. The first is to attract new residents. For this, we need to offer good high-speed internet, schools for their children, good health care, recreational activities and good paying employment opportunities.
I have previously stated my position on the importance of providing a variety of recreational opportunities for our residents of all age groups for all seasons, and pursuing a multi-sport recreational facility and a swimming pool.
I will also push for improvements to our current high-speed internet availability, and for our local schools to stay open and viable. I attended Seaway District High School, and I’d like that to be an option for my children.
If elected, I will work hard to attract more industry to our area. We have easy access to major highways and a lot of land that could be developed. All of this will help to keep our current generation of young adults here, which is the second component to population growth.
Growing a municipality’s population leads in a lot of ways back to last week’s question on infrastructure.
We need proper amenities to attract newcomers to South Dundas, which of course takes money.
The provincial and federal governments both offer programs to support community growth, however as with any government, they will make it as difficult as possible to apply and move through that process.
If elected, I would pledge to track down any programs available to us and make sure we have the best chance possible in securing funds. With these funds we could kick start our growth and begin to market South Dundas as a growing community looking for new, fresh faces, to join in on the lifestyle we enjoy here.
In addition to infrastructure, council will need to work together to address shortages in our local medical field so that folks coming into South Dundas will have access to a family doctor.
Affordable housing, maintaining our streetscape and waterfronts aesthetics, and more senior housing are all considerations for council.
Growth is important in South Dundas to enhance and develop the services we currently offer.
Growth can be achieved in many ways, but good governance and leadership are key in stimulating and encouraging growth.
To get a better understanding of current development trends it may benefit us to reach out to existing developers to understand challenges and be present at conferences for land development and real estate to promote our community.
I also think that working with the communities realtors will help us understand what people from other areas are looking for and what is stopping them from investing.
One thing I am certain of is growth will have its challenges including the upfront capital investment required for land and infrastructure and growth alone should not be considered a fix for funding shortfalls for an aging and shrinking population.
Consideration needs to be given to our existing population and I think it’s important to work with the community to determine how best we can keep people here, otherwise growth will not amount to anything.
To address South Dundas’ aging population within our community, we need to first address an issue, not only in South Dundas, but across Ontario – affordable housing.
We need to have geared to income housing and low income housing.
The Ontario government in the next 10 years is providing funding for 1.5 million new homes. We should be looking into all Provincial and Federal grants that pertains to our housing needs.
Also, I would look at utilizing vacant municipal properties that would be suitable for housing projects in our municipality, with the municipality being involved in those projects. By having affordable housing in our municipality, this would allow the aging population to sell their homes and move into affordable housing projects. This in return opens a market for young families to buy homes in our municipality. This would start to address our population growth needs in South Dundas, without putting a financial burden on our citizens.
To address the growth of South Dundas I believe we need to attract more businesses, more occupation, and more housing which in turn will generate more tax dollars.
If elected I would investigate attracting new businesses to South Dundas with a business incentive.
Planning and using available resources is key concerning the growth of South Dundas. Therefore I would investigate any Provincial and Federal resources to obtain more affordable housing to South Dundas as well as investigating partnerships with housing corporations.
Growth is very important for any municipality to thrive.
In closing, I believe the growth of South Dundas needs to be approached with an open mind to investment concerning any and all growth for the future to relieve burden on the taxpayers.
Next week’s question…
Thinking green – Depending on perspective, thinking green can mean something different to different people. Candidates will outline an environmental issue of importance to them and discuss.
See the October 5, 2022 issue of The Leader for the question and their answers.
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