KAWARTHA LAKES-Ward Six is in the centre/southern portion on the City of Kawartha Lakes. It includes the villages of Dunsford, Downeyville and Omemee. According to the final 2014 voters list there are 8012 electors in Ward Six.
The boundaries are as follows:
North – South Boundary of Wards 2 and 3
East – Municipal Boundary from south boundary of Ward 2 to Lot 23 Concession 12 Emily
South – along Pigeon Lake to all lands lying west of Lot 10 Concessions 3, 4 and 5 and north of Lots 1 to 9 Concession 2 Emily to Pigeon River to Hogsback Road, south to Lot 25 Concession 14 Manvers and all lands north of Concession 13 Manvers; east ½ of Lot 1 to 28 Concession 8 Ops and east ½ Lot 18 Concession 14 Manvers
West – East Boundary of Wards 5 and 7
There are seven candidates who are hoping to become your council representative. Ron Ashmore, Jeffery Farquhar, Gerard Jilesen, Mary Ann Martin, Emily Nigro, Al Robb and Pat Warren.
We asked each candidate the same three questions.
1)What are the top three issues in your ward?
2)If elected what would you do about these issues?
3)A Facebook poll we conducted found that the majority of residents (who answered the poll)would prefer better roads over lower taxes. Would you increase taxes to fix our roads?
The responses are posted in the order in which they were received.
- What are the top three issues in your ward?Ward 6 constituents tell me bad roads, high taxes and wasteful, inefficient and disrespectful government administration are the three most important issues.They express frustration with what they view as a misuse of human resources and tax dollars to patch roads repeatedly instead of fixing them properly.
They think high taxes would not be necessary if the City quit growing our debt. They want their tax dollars managed more prudently.
Ward 6 constituents recognize ineffective leadership, not city staff, is responsible for the poor customer service they experience. They want a mayor and councilors who will lead by example and provide clear administrative direction.
- If elected, what would you do about these issues?As Ward 6 councillor, I will put my constituents first and advocate tirelessly for their needs and interests at City Hall.Ward 6 residents, like residents in the rest of the City, need a prosperous and secure lifestyle. They need reliable infrastructure, reasonable taxes, and business growth and development that will create jobs and attract youth and investment.
But we can’t provide that without a real change in our direction.
This report https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/sites/default/files/2018-03/ontario by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business cites a December of 2016 survey that found small businesses feel Kawartha Lakes is hostile to development.
49.0 percent of the Kawartha Lakes business owners surveyed described taxes as unfair. 53.6 percent felt bylaws and regulations were unduly punitive. 60.8 percent said spending was undisciplined. And a whopping 68.6 percent said the City did not understand the realities of running a small business.
Kawartha Lakes recently lost Nordia and Crayola to its ethic of insularity that believes higher taxes and more debt can stop the bleeding.
It can’t. We need to change direction.
The City of Kawartha Lakes must create a culture of openness that welcomes diversity and embraces change.
I will work hard with council to find the efficiencies we need to stop growing our debt and I will advocate for a development-friendly administration that welcomes business. I will work hard to reduce red tape and create incentives to attract business investment to our community. For example, we can reduce the price of industrial land, lower water rates and offer competitive business taxes.
And I will make resolutions to lower the farm MPAC assessments, to create a Kawartha Lakes Savings Bond to raise capital, and to stabilize tax increases to the rate of inflation.
Prosperity won’t come to us. We must go out into the world and aggressively recruit it.
3. A Facebook poll we conducted found that the majority of residents would prefer better roads over lower taxes. Would you increase taxes to fix our roads?
That https://www.kawartha411.ca poll found that 54% of those polled (600 respondents) wanted better roads and 46% wanted lower taxes. That tells me residents do not want to sacrifice lower taxes for roads or vice versa.
Before I raise taxes for any reason, I will work really hard to find efficiencies, streamline productivity, and raise revenue.
For example, I will work with council to develop our quarries. Currently, we hire out to patch our roads. If we develop our quarries, we can hire in to provide a permanent fix.
I will make smart choices that will benefit Ward 6 constituents, embrace the City’s rich diversity, and invite prosperity into our community. I will help create the change we need.
1. Infrastructure Renewal
Within the City there are approximately 2700 lane kms. of roads. Of that, approximately 431 km is found within the newly created ward 6. This equates too roughly 16% of the City’s road network. This network is made of a combination of gravel, Tar and chip and asphalt surfaces, not to mention the multitude of bridges, large culverts and water / waste water systems the City has to manage with its limited resources. All of these pieces of municipal infrastructure are aging and must be maintained and replaced at a high cost.
2. Development/ Job Creation
There is an issue with the streamlining of Development applications for large and small business that has yet to be tackled in the City, even after the completion and recommendations of the development review task force initiated by the City. Without a streamlined process, large and small business will not want to locate to Ward 6 or the City as a whole. This equates to jobs and opportunities lost.
3. Taxes and Debt repayment
The City’s 2018 operating and capital budget was estimated at over $220,000,000 for operating and $35,000,000 for capital expenditures. The City’s 2017 year end statement shows the City’s long term debt to be $115,000,000, which has almost doubled in 4 yrs. As well the Development Charge fund is not keeping up with what is being debited against it, meaning the City is borrowing more against it then what is actually being collected for development. In 2017 the City had a deficit in the DC fund of approximately $21 million dollars. The City’s longer term plan has taxes to increase almost 25% from 2019 to 2023 this would put a large pressure on fixed income residents of Ward 6 and the City as a whole.
What I plan to do about these issues
If elected I would ensure that the City’s infrastructure was managed based on an equitable plan relevant to the amount of infrastructure located in Ward 6, but also based on an asset management plan set forth for the whole City. Infrastructure priorities I see for Ward 6 are the investment in resurfacing of lakefront communities and hamlets, the resurfacing of Pigeon Lake road (CKL 17) as well as the revitalization of the Village of Omemee.
In order be able to achieve and afford this we need to look at the City’s current yearly operating expenses and capital forecasting. We need firstly to find savings and efficiencies in the $220,000,000 operating budget, even a 2% efficiency would equate to $4.4 million, which could be used towards roads and bridges. I would also lobby the Provincial government for a more equitable share of infrastructure funding based on the City’s geographical size and infrastructure size. I would also lobby the provincial government to increase the Aggregate royalties that the City receives to the amount that had been agreed upon by the Ontario Municipalities and Aggregate producers which could be used towards upgrading roads like Pigeon Lake (CKL 17) or bridges like the Mill pond bridge in Omemee. I would also seek to obtain grants from the Province like the connecting link grant for Hwy 7 through Omemee. This would be used towards revitalizing Omemmee’s downtown core.
When it comes to Development and Jobs I feel that the City needs to review and revamp how it does business with treating large and small business owners who wish to open up in Ward 6 and the City. There needs to be a better streamlined process that helps and encourages these businesses to get established. Without these new business and growth the City cannot increase its tax base and would be forced to increase taxes. The City needs to insure development charges are at sustainable rates to help support infrastructure growth and at the same time not be too high as to deter growth. Also by actively seeking out business sectors to get a better understanding of their needs to grow and develop, to be able to put a plan in place to cultivate and fill those needs in the CKL as well as in Ward 6. In Ward 6 we have great economic potential in our agricultural and lakefront communities, with the new consolidate zoning by-law being brought forward by the City for property uses we need to ensure that property rights of residents of Ward 6 and the City are respected as well as that the proper uses are in place to promote such economic strengths in this region.
As to question of whether I would increase taxes to fix roads.
Firstly I would look for efficiencies within the City’s current operations to find additional funds for roads and bridges and then I would lobby the Provincial and Federal governments for a fair share of infrastructure funds. After that I would look at one time tax levies to help expedite the improvement of the infrastructure in Ward 6 and the City.
Ward 6 has three major issues facing residents: residential / commercial taxes, road conditions and lakefront dock issues. I do not believe that raising taxes would be of any benefit to residents in Ward 6, to support road betterment or anything else. Many residents are already struggling with high property taxes, and raising them further will only make long term matters worse.
It appears that the high taxation rates, high administration fees and primary service neglect are due to the significant debt owing in CKL. This debt needs to be addressed in order to overcome these other matters.
The CKL budget needs to be cut and focused towards primary services such as road maintenance and debt retirement. Each Ward Councillor should control a budget for their respective ward to ensure correct oversight is in place to manage local finances. Road conditions in Ward 6 are horrible and serve as a testimony of second class treatment by former CKL Councillors. I have also seen first hand the excessive fees charged for waterfront docking and demonstrates poor treatment of residents. These fees need to be re-evaluated with the goal of reducing them to more appropriate levels.
My biggest challenge will be to convince the other seven Councillors that it is time to prioritize spending, cut budgets, freeze taxes, implement council oversight on spending. It is time to stop treating rural residents like they are second class citizens.
An important issue in Ward 6 is the downtown revitalization initiative.
Kawartha Lakes is a jewel with access to an abundance of fresh water lakes, unique villages and natural beauty. It’s time to share the hidden treasures of the Kawartha Lakes with the rest of the world and build a sustainable economy for all our citizens to enjoy. For instance, look at Omemee’s Coronation Hall with its’ great acoustics. It is a wonderful asset which should be showcased and supported. With such a rich musical history we could make Omemee a wonderful music hub and anchor destination of the Kawarthas.
The downtown has many issues that need to be remedied. There has been a good start to the process but much more needs to be addressed with storefronts and bylaw issues. I want to see Omemee become a destination not a drive by.
There is a strong core of volunteers who help the village thrive. In particular, there is the Omemee Unites Committee that includes many committees in the village They have joined forces to help Omemee’s downtown revitalization become a reality.
If elected I will continue to participate on this committee along with others to help the village become a destination.
Downtown revitalization can be achieved by Community Improvement Plan dollars (CIP). This could help downtown Omemee with façade improvements. We also need to help anchor stores remain in the downtown core to remain economically healthy.
The doctor shortage is an issue in Ward 6. Omemee and Bobcaygeon have great medical centres but Omemee has only one physician, Bobcaygeon needs doctors as well. Also, we have to be prepared for physician retirements that are coming down the road.
Not only does the lack of doctors affect health outcomes, it affects economic development in the area.
The Kawartha Lakes Health Care Initiative is working hard to fill the need in both villages. I sit on this board so I have the knowledge needed to help with the process to attract and retain doctors in the community.
Agriculture is COKL’s largest industry and is the main economic driver in Ward 6.
Farmers are integral to our healthy economy. Not only do they feed us, they are stewards of the land. While Kawartha Lakes works hard retaining farm land we must develop a strategy to retain those already working in agriculture and cultivate the next generation of farmers. With rising land prices, it’s important to develop an entry point for new farmers and support their efforts to grow the food we need.
I would reach out to the farming community to get direction on the best approach to make the agricultural industry sustainable over time. With input, we could develop policies that help us maintain our present farms but also consider other farming models based on their land needs. This can be investigated in the coming years when the Official Plan needs reviewing.
The current council has budgeted 82 million for roads over the next 5 years with 4.5 million more dollars targeted for the worst gravel roads. I believe that this amount should help with the infrastructure deficit. That being said, the road conditions in many areas of the city are very bad and it may be wise to redirect some of this money immediately to roads. There is a road needs study which should be followed, the worst roads get done first. I would like to see money spent on a road being resurfaced rather than money spent on patch jobs. Some roads are all patches.
If elected I will strive to get the best value from each tax dollar spent.
Three issues facing Ward 6 are attracting new jobs and business to are Ward6 and the City. We need to work together as a single municipality to bring employment and businesses here. This can only happen by understanding the roadblocks and removing them to make it easier for the businesses to locate here. The second challenge is to make sure that the tax dollars being collected are being spent wisely to benefit all the residents or Ward 6 and the entire City of Kawartha Lakes we need the tax base to run programs and the municipality but make sure its being spent appropriately .The third challenge is getting information to our residents in a way that is accessible to them.We need to talk and connect with residents, be open and accessible to them, via phone, meetings or internet ,feedback is important.
If elected on October 22 as councillor of Ward 6 I would take the time to educate myself with how our tax dollars are being spent. It is easy to be critical looking from outside, but important to ask the questions and look at what we are collecting for taxes and how its being spent and accounted for.
To help understand the challenges of the business community, I would like to meet with local business leaders and get their feedback, as well as Economic Development staff to understand the programs and services the City provides to support them ,and see what other ways we can assist them to grow and bring other businesses here, more businesses means more job and tax base.
The third concern is better communication between residents and City Hall ,it isn’t always about knocking on doors and attending meetings at election time, it is important to be open and accessible to the residents continue to talk and listen to feedback and input, ideas and challenges.
Our role as elected officials is to make decisions that we feel support the overall needs of the City of Kawartha Lakes. But is important to recognize that our residents have invaluable information and knowledge, and we need to talk and work with the residents. This is not us versus them if we are going to be successful in the future we need to work together, as a small business owner listening and talking is how I would work with the residents.
There is no question we need to invest more money into our roads. There are more than 3,000 kms of roads in Kawartha Lakes which takes a lot of money to maintain, manage and improve. I don’t think it is as simple as raising taxes we need to look at programs, services and spending across the entire City and determine if we are spending the money in the right places. It may mean we can improve or invest more in our roads without raising taxes, improving our roads would entertain more businesses and people to our City and make it safer for the residents