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 we asked two different questions: one for the mayor and deputy mayor candidates; and one for councillor candidates.
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.
Question for mayor and deputy mayor candidates
If elected, the mayor and deputy mayor will automatically become a member of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry council. In the current term, the SDG council set a strategic plan with four guiding principles and five strategic priorities. If you support this strategic plan, explain how your experience and skill set lend to advancing that plan further? If you do not support the plan, what would you do differently?
I look forward to ensuring that our priorities at the County Council level are met as we work towards the achievement of the SDG strategic plan.
The current plan clearly states what the action plans are. I would work towards better communicating them to our residents, and adding measurable goals to evaluate progress.
I have experience in bringing people together to achieve a common goal. I have been involved in successful strategic alliances and have collaborated to find common ground and solutions. I have the skill set to help execute this plan: experience in recruitment, team development, communication, and strategic planning.
As a parent of two Seaway graduates, I know the importance of having strong local schools. I also know there’s work to be done to enhance our health care services to ensure that no person in South Dundas gets left behind.
These are serious issues and they require our immediate attention. But it’s amazing what can be accomplished if we work together to find solutions instead of concentrating only on the problems.
The mission of this “strategic plan” which was drawn up in 2019 is to create better communities. I can’t imagine any of the current targeted candidates not supporting this mission. However, to really comment on this plan, one would need to know what our council of the day has implemented specific to South Dundas.
Overall, the strategic plan is very positive. I am more interested in the last page – “Deliverables for Strategic Priorities”. A lot of the items listed have been concerns of many previous councils.
Continuing on what is deemed priorities for South Dundas will most definitely be my direction with the new council.
I bring three terms of council to the table, along with sitting on boards and committees too numerous to mention over the last 35+ years. This gives me the knowledge and experience to lead.
While I do have some concerns on the deliverables, my focus is what is best for South Dundas. I am here to represent you. I am ready to lead a new council and make a difference.
The role of county councillor is not the same as it was decades ago. We absolutely need a strong consistent experienced voice at this table, for any discussion and budget allocation.
Our concerns in South Dundas and the priorities of our residents are evident throughout the strategic plan.
For example, prior to this term, we weren’t included in county conversations about rural education. We have a stronger argument now with five additional municipalities supporting this concern, especially at Provincial delegations, instead of being pitted against each other when talking about school closures.
A regional waste management strategy will be tabled shortly, looking at how partnerships could impact the cost and efficiencies of garbage collection.
Our businesses have been able to benefit from the regional incentive programs.
We are united for our long-term care facilities and the shortage of housing.
As Mayor I will build on my experience and the work I have done, using these past four years of relationship building and knowledge of County government to continue working for the benefit of South Dundas.
Deputy Mayoral candidates
If elected as Deputy Mayor I would support the strategic plan. Sitting on council for four years, residents have been my number one priority. Education in rural areas is important for the community and ensuring our development in the upcoming future. If schools close then it will devastate our area. We need the educational system.
For the last four years we have partnered with South Stormont on doctor recruitment, we (South Stormont and South Dundas) have each received one doctor.
Health care is very important in rural areas and it’s hard to recruit country doctors: most like going to the cities for higher wages, and funding is not available.
If elected I would be one voice of two for South Dundas at the County level.
Marc St. Pierre
I have reviewed the United County Council Strategic Plan and in principle support the plan, although with the understanding that I view this plan as being a “live” document. The Strategic Plan will require a continuous update to target the current needs of the United County and specifically South Dundas.
With leadership experience in land development, I understand community building, the importance of creating land opportunities for affordable housing, and the need for rural schools.
Rural school retention along with the proper programming is hugely crucial for small rural communities to be sustainable. During our term of council, alongside that of the Mayor, I became an advocate of rural school retention by hosting the “Save Seaway” rally, the presentations to the Accommodation Review Committee. Together with Council and staff, we created a plan to invest $30,000 to implement Code Heroes here in South Dundas.
As mentioned at the All-Candidates meeting, problem-solving, listening and working well with others, leadership, and resourcefulness are the skills and qualities I offer South Dundas at the United County Council.
I agree with The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Strategic Plan. The Plan’s mission is to build better communities, along with its vision to be a progressive regional government. The Strategic Plan’s four guiding principles mirror my campaign platform. I’d like to highlight principle two: “no municipality gets left behind.”
This is just as important on a Counties level as it is at our municipal level. Simply: representation for the entire community. Not just population centres.
Regarding the five Strategic Priorities: Service Delivery, Rural Schools, Leveraging Partnerships to Improve Healthcare, Community Sustainability and Communication; supporting each of these principles will result in a healthy, vibrant and economically prosperous SDG.
My entire working career, whether it has been entry level jobs, real estate, and now health care, has been based on service. Service to not only individuals but, for betterment of the community. I have a reputation for advocating on these levels in everything I do. I feel that it is time for me champion the needs of our municipality on a larger platform.
For those seeking one of the three councillor seats we asked: If elected, what is one project you want to accomplish? How will you do that?
I chose the slogan – Michael Burton for Community – for a reason. My focus will be to connect our communities.
In 20 years living here the biggest challenge is our community actually being ‘one.’ Ours is a vast diverse area. Often people do not know/understand other people living here in South Dundas. One of my goals is to help build that understanding.
I will work with municipal staff to understand their jobs and share information with the community. The urban part of our municipality should have a better understanding of the farming community and their needs and there should be more understanding between youth and seniors.
If we want to attract new businesses, better industry, housing etc. we must present a united force of understanding and caring people. I want to be that person who is approachable and can explain the daily workings of our area.
I’ve learned a lot in the past four years, especially in past few months, about my neighbours. I want to take that knowledge to make South Dundas a united community.
The Fire service, yes it’s a project.
If you have been keeping up with the news you will see that a recruitment and more importantly a retention problem exists not only here, but in Ontario, and for that matter across Canada. So we have a committee for doctor hiring, waterfront, recreation and so on, but the Fire Department is the largest sector of employees the township has, between 40 and 60 people at any one time. No committee! Given that I was a member for almost two decades I’ve seen many issues that relate directly to the retention issues. We are in an emergency crisis. This has been a vastly ignored issue, and if it continues then it will cost precious minutes when they are the most important. What is needed moving forward are signing incentives, promotions based on education, real leadership, personal connection, fair and ethical treatment for all members. Staffing is a problem, currently and in the future. This is a project that is easily brought forward, and fixed with little cost.
We have done a very good job of developing our waterfront lands in South Dundas. The next most valuable land in our area is the 32 km of highway 401 frontage that has been , for the most part, untouched. This is land that should be used for Industrial and Commercial development.
All the land in the Morrisburg Industrial Park is sold, and the next Industrial Park should be located along the 401 somewhere. There is value for an Industry or warehouse to have their building located within view of the 401, where travelers that pass by it, see it. (Its basically advertising for them).
The place to start would be at Bath Road in Iroquois, which is the road that goes to the old Caldwell Linen Mill. Extending that road along the 401 until it intersects with Brinston Road would be the first step.
If we look at the Counties Official Plan, some of that land is already zoned Industrial, but some is zoned rural. We need to work to get this changed.
Let’s get some new Industrial land serviced, and ready to sell.
Have you ever driven through small towns across the country and been impressed with the beauty, planning and continuity? From flags to flowerbeds to signage, they create a community with an obvious sense of pride. They offer a welcoming feel and a desire to go back.
Creating that same feel across South Dundas is my goal for the next four years. I will organize a committee with various stakeholders (municipal to volunteer) and create a Maintenance Plan for what is existing (round-a-bouts and malls, etc.) and a Beautification Plan across the villages that has continuity.
First impressions matter and we have a great starting point. I believe our physical appearance is one of the first steps needed to attract and retain residents and businesses which is key to our tax base.
A multi-purpose community/recreation centre tops the list of projects I’d like to help accomplish though I recognize that a project of this magnitude will exceed my term as councillor. The next four years would be a great time to begin laying the groundwork though.
One project I’d like to complete is to begin a program called Community Connections, which I hope will reconnect, rebuild and restrengthen, our community.
The first part of the program would be to develop a volunteer catalogue. Where people submit their name, interests, and availability into an online pool. We can then use it to help staff community events or build new groups recognizing common interests.
The second part would be to strengthen the community by re-investing in it.
To do this the municipality would use existing funds which community groups could apply to for projects such as a street scape beautification, historical restoration, or free children’s activities at an event- the money would be directly invested back into something the entire community could enjoy.
The last part would be to recognize and help people in the community. Everyone knows someone who has nothing but gives everything, and this program would look to recognize this where through a nomination, the municipality would recognize their actions and give back to them.
I plan to dedicate myself to geared to income and low income housing projects in South Dundas as well as housing for seniors.
More housing is definitely needed. I would like to attract developers to South Dundas using vacant municipal lands to make the area more attractive to developers and get the municipality actively involved in these projects.
I have had numerous discussions with South Dundas residents prior to and since I decided to run for council.
The key concerns I’m hearing include non accountability, residents are not being heard, and no responses to concerns /issues.
I myself have contacted the municipal office in the past on four separate occasions concerning the same issue. I never received a phone call or email back. I believe it is the municipality’s obligation to fulfill their job descriptions. If elected, it is my project to address all of these issues.
To accomplish this I will use all available tools at my disposal. I will work hard. I will voice the people’s ideas and opinions. I am committed to being the people’s voice.
I will propose online surveys pertaining to certain municipal aspects so as the people can contribute their ideas and concerns as well. I think it is time to let the people of South Dundas be heard!
If elected I will do the very best job possible to the very best of my ability.
Next week’s question…
Open Mic – Next week, candidates will be given 175 words of copy space courtesy of The Leader as a last opportunity to speak to the voters before the election is decided on October 24.
See the October 19, 2022 issue of The Leader for the question and their answers.
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