Candidate Q&A - Algonquin Highlands
The Minden Times sent the following questions to candidates for Algonquin Highlands council.
1. Provide an introduction to yourself. (This could be about how you came to the area, your hobbies and interests, family life, education, accomplishments.)
2. What is the most important issue facing Algonquin Highlands today? As a council member, how would you address that issue?
3. Algonquin Highlands is a municipality with few settlement areas, with Carnarvon located in Minden Hills, and half of Dorset located in Lake of Bays township. Given the lack of towns and villages within the municipality, how can councillors go about fostering economic development throughout the township?
4. As more people retire to what have been their seasonal residences, they expect certain services and some of the conveniences of home to be available – reliable internet, for example. How can the township go about helping to ensure these services exist?
5. Explain how climate change is impacting Algonquin Highlands, and what council can do to help mitigate its effects.
Below are the responses from Ward 1 and 3 candidates. Ward 2 councillors – Lisa Barry and Liz Danielsen – were acclaimed. Mayor Carol Moffatt was acclaimed, but has chosen to also answer the questions.
The municipal election is Oct. 22. Contact your local municipality for questions and details about voting.
David Lawson - Candidate, Councillor Ward 1
1. My name is David Lawson. My grandfather first built in the Dorset area in 1948, my father built his own place in 1957, I moved here full time in 1999. After 40 years working for Xerox I am now retired, looking for ways to give back to the community. I joined the Dorset Lions Club 2 years ago and am now a director with them. I enjoy fishing and working with wood.
2. Affordable housing is an issue not just in Algonquin Highlands but in all areas. I feel that all levels of government has to work with private developers to help resolve the problem, organizations like Habitat for Humanity play a key role in this objective.
3. Economic development is not based on how many settlement areas are present in an area. With today’s economy more people are working from home or their cottages so the best thing to do is to encourage companies like Highland Internet to grow. I know that there are now 3 different companies with antennas on the Dorset lookout tower for internet and increased cell phone coverage.
4. As more people retire to what have been their seasonal residences, they expect certain services and some of the conveniences of home to be available - reliable internet, for example. How can we go about helping to ensure these services exist. This question is linked to question 3 where the same services are required for both. Additionally places like the Health Hub in Dorset have become a necessary part of the community.
5. Climate change is causing our weather to be a little more extreme: sometimes more rain, sometimes drier, the winters seem to be getting warmer, we have to make sure that decisions that are made are environmentally sound, and look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
Julia Shortreed - Candidate, Councillor Ward 1
1. My name is Julie Shortreed and I am running for council in Sherborne Ward 1 Algonquin Highlands. I grew up as a cottager and moved to Dorset in 1988 where I have lived since. I just retired from Scotiabank after 35 years where I was a small business manager. Now that I am retired I have the time and energy to give back to my community and feel that my career has given me the experience I need to be on council.
2 & 3. After talking to numerous residents and business owners I feel that the lack of affordable housing in this township is a need that must be addressed. Without affordable housing our economic development will slow down unless we find a way to bring and keep the younger workforce in this area. Therefore it is imperative to work with our neighbouring Townships to be successful in this area as well as other initiatives that will benefit everyone.
4. Technology is changing the world rapidly and we need to support the Eastern Ontario Regional Network initiative that has all three levels of government contributing millions of dollars to increase cell towers in our area which in turn will give everyone the chance to have internet where they live, work and play.
5. Lastly climate change is something that will always need to be addressed, Mother Nature is what brings a lot of people to Algonquin Highlands and keeps our economy going strong. We need to protect what we have for now and in the future.
Jennifer Dailloux - Candidate, Councillor Ward 3
1. My family and I came to Algonquin Highlands permanently in 2014 as the new owner-operators of the Wolf Den Nature Retreat at Oxtongue Lake - a business and a community that we simply love. We host families and outdoors groups on their way into or out of Algonquin Park, and it’s amazing to share in their excitement as they discover how beautiful our corner of the world is. I’ve been camping up here my whole life and have always felt that my heart belonged in this area.
Our move marked quite a departure from my professional career, however. For 17 years I was a humanitarian and policy advocate overseas, focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of aid to war-torn and developing countries such as Afghanistan, Peru and Sudan. It was an extraordinary career, and it allowed me to build up certain skill sets that I feel are pretty relevant to council work. I have devoted hundreds of hours to consulting with communities. I have managed multi-million dollar budgets that combine immediate service delivery with long-term strategic goals and emergency reserves. I have investigated problems that can only be addressed through advocacy to higher tiers of government, and have undertaken that advocacy. While the context in Haliburton might look vastly different to the countries I’ve worked in in the past, these skills are part and parcel of what our Algonquin Highlands councillors do every day of the week.
2. The environment, first and foremost. And not only because the environment is important in-and-of itself (which it very much is), but because unlike most modern human settlements every element of life in Algonquin Highlands hinges upon it. This is quintessential Canadian cottage country. Our dreams are here. Our peaceful summers are here. Our ability to reboot our minds from hectic city life depends on our ability to escape here, to the quiet, the loons, the chipmunks, the perfect air, the feeling we get when we dip our toes into the lake for the first time each summer. The abundance of this environment is why our community - and therefore our economy - exists. The majority of our local businesses are cottager-dependent. Grocery stores, cafes, water and septic businesses, contractors, real estate agents, outfitters, firewood suppliers…. Can you name one local business in AH whose bottom line would not be impacted by something as seemingly ‘simple’ as a persistent blue-green algae bloom in our lakes? I can’t.
So - what to do? We have to keep the protection of the environment front and centre in all municipal decisions. Zoning & bylaw changes, resource allocations, economic development plans - the works - should pass the environmental protection test before being approved. Will it help, or will it harm? Additional measures to protect the environment, such as creating incentives for shoreline naturalization, should be very seriously considered and implemented where possible. Thankfully, our Environment & Stewardship Committee is active and dedicated to help guide council along in this regard.
3. The bulk of our township’s economy does not function along a ‘downtown core’ model. Instead, we have a healthy number of local businesses (contractors, tradespeople, other services) dotted around our lakes, and a thriving resort community up at Oxtongue Lake, where I live. And when I say local, I really mean LOCAL. Family-owned businesses and sole proprietorships far outstrip the presence of large companies whose profits are siphoned out of our economy, and hurray for that! I think most people would agree that while attracting new business is good, we’re not trying to urbanize AH here. For me, the more important question is how we can extend the high season of our permanent businesses, boost their low season, and thereby increase job security. This keeps resources circulating locally on a more sustainable basis. Step #1 is to advocate for cell phone and internet services in our seriously under-serviced area, which I’ve heard many people say would have a direct impact on their ability to bring work up and stay at the cottage longer than they currently do. Increased days means more trips in to Robinson’s and our local farmers markets, more services needed, more products desired. And the difference between every other weekend at the cottage and a month at the cottage could mean more improvements to cottage structures, more driveways re-surfaced, more gardens planted. And that means that greater financial stability for our local businesses, better job security, and theoretically, a more attractive economic setting to draw new businesses and services to the area.
4. The call for engaging proactively with the major cell phone and internet providers in an effort to extend their coverage around AH is clear. While providing coverage is not the mandate of the municipality itself, safety and security and economic development both are, and both would receive a clear boost in our township with improved connectivity to the outside world. The municipality has already worked hard to secure the commitment of major companies and that experience has often been frustrating, although the fruits of those efforts are now starting be reaped: in September’s council meeting alone, submissions came in from both Bell and Rogers to put up new towers.
Line-of-sight issues are a significant and legitimate concern for some cottagers and residents. I think extra effort should go into making sure that all possible sites for towers are clearly evaluated, that those evaluations be made public, and that reasonable measures be seriously considered if and when alternate locations are identified which are better for property owners but come at a known cost.
Internet is only one service that retirees (and young families, and just about anyone else who is contemplating a move to AH) would look for, however. A permanent doctor would also be high up on the ‘pros’ list. Ensuring we don’t lose any more rural schools is critical if we want to retain young families. These services, like the internet, lie outside of the direct jurisdiction of the township. But to keep our community thriving, municipalities have to roll up their sleeves and engage in creative problem solving when those opportunities present themselves.
5. Climate change rears its ugly head in AH in immediate and highly localized ways, such as hotter summers, more extreme weather patterns (like September’s windstorm and last spring’s flooding), and a heightened risk of the nightmare we all share: forest fires. But we’re also impacted through our interconnectedness with global stresses. Food prices in our local stores increase as foreign and national harvests fail to thrive, for example.
Local communities can make a difference in a thousand small ways. We must become more conscious of the materials we use to build, the technologies we employ to keep our homes, cottages and vehicles energy efficient, and the distance our food has travelled. We must become conscientious and principled consumers. Each time we ‘buy local’ and ‘buy better’, we reduce our individual carbon footprint. How council can incentivize these better consumer choices is an exciting conversation, and an essential one.
The most exciting initiative we have in Algonquin Highlands to this end has got to be Harvest Haliburton. HH focuses on strengthening local food systems in our county: from seed distribution to local food production, consumption, and even green waste management. By keeping our food sources as local as possible we’re bolstering our community resilience and diminishing our collective carbon footprint. This is precisely the kind of endeavour that council can – and does – support.
Where climate change is concerned, it’s the sum of many small measures that counts, and council can encourage, evoke, sponsor and celebrate these measures in countless ways.
Brian Lynch - Candidate, Councillor Ward 3
1. My wife and I relocated to our current home on Livingstone Lake Rd. in 1999. I am retired from a career in both the profit and not for profit sectors that gave me experience in finance, HR and building and property management.
2. There are numerous issues facing the township today. The pristine nature of our landscape is what brings folks to the area. As such it must be maintained. We are addressing the issue in many ways. First with our septic inspection issue but also with our new official plan which gives protection to wetlands and shorelines. It is difficult at times to see our planning process which supports our efforts to be in conflict with the province which supersedes our sphere of authority.
3. The largest issue that we hear about is the lack of affordable housing and the lack of rental housing in the township. How to tackle this is difficult and in the next four years we will have to work with the County and the province to work toward solutions.
4. Reliable internet is probably cited as a major complaint by more people than any other issue. We have encouraged telecommunications companies to spend their capital dollars in Algonquin Highlands. We have seen some progress in this area and have been assured that more service is coming soon.
5. Climate change is and will impact our communities in the coming years. For that reason we will be examining our infrastructure to see that any improvements take into account the effects of severe weather. We will be looking at improvements to flood mapping as we look at infrastructure and other building projects. We will also need to consider wetlands and how they aid us in flood mitigation.
Carol Moffatt - Mayor, Acclaimed
Note: Carol Moffatt was acclaimed as mayor of Algonquin Highlands. She’s chosen to answer the following questions sent to candidates.
1. I was born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario, grew up as a 3rd generation cottager on Beech Lake, and have been a permanent resident at downtown Boshkung since 1991.
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and an Honours diploma in Print & Broadcast Journalism.
I’m a photographer, historian and passionate supporter of the Haliburton Highlands. I’ve worked in journalism, advertising, tourism marketing and communications. I’ve had the privilege of extensive travel and am smitten with remote photography adventures.
I helped my husband run two businesses for almost 20 years, an electrical contracting company and a commercial diving business; and together we bought, renovated, leased, and operated two local restaurants between 1991 and 2001.
I’ve had the honour of meeting amazing people and learning more than I could have imagined about the Haliburton Highlands (and beyond) through volunteering with numerous organizations involved in literacy, trails, tourism, economic development, community radio, heritage and much more. I’m most proud to have started the Stanhope Museum and for being responsible for the restoration of the Hawk Lake Log Chute and the creation of its interpretive park.
I’m entering my fourth term on council and my third as Mayor. I’ve been elected County Warden twice by my peers, in each of 2013 and 2016.
2. The 2016 census tells us that growth in Haliburton County is greater than the provincial average. Seasonal folks are spending more time at, or retiring to, the cottage and with that, there’s an understandable shift in perspectives about priorities and necessities. Some want to preserve the cottage feeling of their generational experiences while others want to more, faster, better. As a cottager-turned-resident, I certainly understand both perspectives.
To me, the biggest issues aren’t roads or dump hours, they’re foundational: what does high speed look like; what’s the future of our landfills; are we on the right track regarding lake health, shorelines and species at risk; are regulations and enforcement services adequate; how will new firefighting regulations affect us; what about short term rentals; and what should be our approach on economic development in a township with only half of a town and a variety of hamlets. This doesn’t even include the non-municipal portfolios of health care, housing, workforce gaps, and keeping our aging population safe and socialized.
I believe Algonquin Highlands is at an exciting crossroads where some big discussions need to be held about what the municipality will be in the future.
In light of all this, some difficult (and probably unpopular) discussions will need to be held about shorelines, lawns, waterfront use, rentals, recycling, naturalization and other issues that have the potential to damage our lake systems and thus, our economy, our lifestyle, our ability to attract people and business - and just about everything we value.
These discussions are likely to be contentious because where some see good stewardship and progressive thinking, others see meddling and over-management. This is especially true around decisions where increased services or government involvement mean more rules and enforcement, which in turn means increased staff, costs … and taxes.
Good governance requires ongoing evaluation of our collective value position as a community. Doing this involves continued public education about how municipal government works; about the weight and challenge of operational resources, timelines and costs; and how upper levels of government fit into the mix of decision-making.
To stay ahead of all this, councils needs to be informed, engaged, strategic, patient and prepared. The role has changed drastically since I was first elected and it’s now (or should be considered) a much bigger job than it ever was.
In the bigger picture, there’s increasing public interest an evaluation of a single tier government. I’ve been researching this for several years and am confident with what I would bring to that analysis. Based on conversations I’ve had with folks, it’s highly misunderstood so there would need to be a clearer understanding of how it works; of the pros and cons; the gains and losses.
As Mayor, I look forward to participating in all these discussions and will remain as attentive to the changing landscape as I can. I’ll continue to foster fulsome council discussions; to liaise with lake associations and community groups; and to encourage a broader public involvement.
3. Economic development has to be handled differently in AH because it only has part of Carnarvon and half of Dorset. However, small entrepreneurial business is alive and well in AH, and the municipality is supportive of those efforts through such organizations as the County’s Tourism Department, the HCDC, the Lake of Bays Economic Development Committee, the Dorset Community Partnership and the Hillside-Oxtongue Lake-Dwight (HOLD) cooperative.
I acquired permission from the province to include the Lake of Bays side of Dorset in the development of the AH Cultural Plan which has numerous action items attached to economic development, and the community-based Cultural Resources Committee continues to wind its way through that large and opportunity-filled report.
A business park at Stanhope Airport is in progress, although it’s a slow process because council committed to small, incremental growth there, which continues to be successful.
There are always opportunities to foster or support small business and I do believe we could do a better job on this but for a lack of municipal resources to oversee and assist.
We’ve occasionally chatted about creating an AH Economic Development Committee however, I firmly believe that role belongs at the County level to take advantage of the bigger picture, collaboration, and related opportunities. I’ve raised this during County budget discussions for the last few years and will do so again this time around.
4. Answered this in Question 2.
5. Climate change and its impacts weave themselves into all manner of community management including fleet management, capital purchases, healthy lakes, building requirements, greenhouse gas emissions, emergency management, water levels, flooding and its associated problems, and more. It needs special attention and relationships.
AH supported the Love Your Lakes program and the enhanced shoreline preservation bylaw; the Disaster Mitigation funding for LiDar watershed mapping, and in 2017 created a new Environment & Stewardship committee. AH continues to make energy-efficient capital investments.
AH was the first municipality in the County of Haliburton to commit to a lids-off septic inspection program, and had previously undertaken an inspection program when the Health Unit was still responsible for septics. Year One of the 5-year program is coming to a close and we look forward to the results.
Our working relationship with TSW through the Upper Trent Watershed Management Partnership (UTWMP), of which I’m co-chair, is paramount, since our “new normal” of water level fluctuations creates additional challenges that reach out into community and municipal management.
The recent discovery of a blue-green algae bloom in AH as well as other municipalities within and outside the county borders should be a warning bell to all.
There’s much to do in this rather overwhelming portfolio and I’ll be asking the new council to review the municipality’s role and direction on it.