My Platform

Prince Edward County is a place with diverse people and needs.  My promise is that I will represent everyone in the County and their needs.  Council must first and foremost remember that their duty is to those who call this wonderful place home.  I firmly believe all decisions should be made not just with the immediate needs in mind, but with future generations in mind too.  We cannot sacrifice the future for the present.

Do I have all the answers?  No, but I do hope that by being open to hearing from everyone and having had the unique opportunities I have had – like being a part of large business, small business, and self-employed or having lived in a city and witnessed the downfall when the immediate needs were placed over the needs of the people that made that place what it was – will help me work with others to solve some of the problems facing the County today.  The County is changing and how it changes will be dependent on who we have representing us.

I believe the key role of a successful councilor is to be able to take in the many ideas from the people of the County and find creative ways to bring it all together to make the County a better place.  I have spent 15 years working in this capacity.  I have worked on budgets big and small, I have had to pull together ideas from people with different views, or even end-goals, to create something everyone involved was happy with.  I am ready to stand up for all residents to help navigate the County through this period of change and into a sustainable future the next generations can enjoy too.

This section will be updated continually so please keep an eye out here or join us on Facebook to receive updates when we have added a new section.

Click HERE for an interview in the Wellington Times

Click HERE to view my profile in the Prince Edward County Arts Council

Click HERE for an all candidates Q&A from InQuinte


Cogeco Candidate Profile Video


This is my campaign flyer that includes more ideas for the County. Click on the image to enlarge.

Campaign Topics – Updated Oct 10th

I support getting rid of geographic wards and instead creating Council spots to represent specific demographics along with at-large members.

There is a lot of talk about how to best ensure that all individuals are represented on Council.  This election season has seen an increase in diversity in candidates, but it is still a far cry from what the County needs. I believe the 15 seats should instead include specific seats for those who will focus on representing the needs of specific demographics or areas, such as farming, environmental concerns, youth (e.g., an under-30 seat), families, business owners, tourism, retirees, non-profits, and wineries (these areas would be up for debate) while the remaining seats were at-large seats.  Individuals would vote for one or two demographic seats and then rank the at-large seats.

Of note, there is nothing in the provincial laws that require Municipalities to use wards for elections.  The County is far more similar across wards than other municipalities and thus the artificial divisions fail to offer anything substantive to Council.  Moving towards actual representation of the individuals that call the County home is one way to ensure that all people feel they are being appropriately considered in Council.

I support a levy on all short-term accommodations.
I support a full review of why current bylaws are not effective in addressing concerns of residents (e.g., noise) and review how they are enforced.
I support proof of commercial insurance for those renting more than 10 weeks a year, with high fines if caught operating without this (and should be something that has to be provided yearly to AirBnB).
I support an “absentee owner” tax for homes that are used primarily for AirBnb and not long-term rentals. 

I know the current Council has a strategy for handling short-term accommodations.  I do not agree with this as a long-term solution as I find that the idea of licensing only is a way to increase bureaucracy without adding much-needed money to the County.  I believe the main issues with STAs are: noise and bylaw violations, safety concerns for renters, “dark neighbourhoods”, and money to the County to help fund things like roads which are used by the people staying in AirBnBs. The Council proposal aims to address the first three in the long-run, but does little to cover the last and I don’t believe more bureaucracy is ever the most efficient use of finances.  My platform is as follows (based on the concerns listed above):

  • For noise and bylaw violations, we have rules on the books, the issue is why they aren’t being enforced or why they are repeatedly violated. I believe a full review is in order and likely would support tougher fines for repeat offenders that would provide a real deterrent to renting to large groups that are often the source of such complains.
  • While I appreciate safety concerns for renters, I believe this is an issue for insurance and to be handled by AirBnb and the individual renters. Part of the agreement of individuals using AirBnb is that they accept a level of risk or sue the individual renting.  To this end, I would want to work with AirBnb to ensure all renters have Commercial Insurance if using the property as a rental for more than 10 or 12 weeks a year with high fines for anyone violating this.
  • Dark neighbourhoods are a real problem in terms of luring new families, safety (with the increases of other petty crime taking place in dark homes over winter), and the general atmosphere of the County in the off-season. Homes that are only rentals also impact long-term housing as they take available homes off the market for those who want to live in the County.  I believe that an additional “absentee owner” tax for those using properties for STAs is an appropriate response without legislating what people can do with their own property.
  • Finally, licensing would provide money, but all funds would simply cover the act of licensing and review and not provide the County with much-needed funds. In the long-term plan of Council, this could also become an issue as fewer locations are licensed and thus either jobs may need to be cut or prices raised in order to keep the system afloat.  AirBnB has offered a 4% levy to be paid by renters and though I believe that is low and the cost should be made by the owners so as not to make properties seem undesirable, it is a first step in negotiating much-needed funds from the primary platform of users.

We must also be clear that solving the short-term accommodation issue does not solve long-term housing or affordable housing problems. These are different issues, with short-term accommodations contributing to the problems, but not being the sole cause or fix.

I support resume and job interview training programs in schools.

This is a crucial issue for the County moving forward and I have already listened to Employment Ontario and local business leaders on this matter. One of the common concerns mentioned is that our younger, local generation lacks the appropriate skills to even get a job, with many unaware of how to even write a resume. I believe it is imperative that the County create resume and job interview training programs in schools. We cannot have our young people finish high school and not have these basic skills, which impedes their entry into the local workforce.

I support the efforts of groups like the PEC Innovation Centre which promotes home-grown technology that has to remain in the County and would consider funding grants for those who are bringing new sectors (outside tourism) to the County with full-time, year-round jobs.

I also believe that we need to keep County-owned properties in the County’s hands to use as incentives for new businesses. For example, I support the efforts to save the old Picton Fire Hall.

I support strategic development to increase the tax base in order to provide greater funding for much of the County’s needs.  This includes financing water upgrades for areas where development is slated.

Long-term housing is one of the three areas of housing that requires Council attention (the others being short-term housing and affordable housing).  Some of the primary issues facing development in the County are: having to bring supplies further, high costs of tapping into the municipal water supply, permit challenges, and labour shortages.

I believe we need more long-term housing for families moving to the County which means affordable and in locations desirable for newcomers, which often means the more populated areas of Wellington and Picton (new developments outside these areas would require the County to look into investing in public transit and I do not believe the County has the funds in the budget for such a proposal at the moment).  I will not support any development that is out of character for the County (see the proposed development by Barker and Jasper Streets), and require new builds to maintain the heritage status and charm of the County.  People are getting away from high-density cities and this is something that must be respected and as such, high-density builds need to be strategic to meet the affordable housing needs (see Affordable Housing).

I believe the County needs to accept the start-up costs of fixing water supplies to allow slated developments to move forward and work to reduce the costs of tapping into the municipal water supply with the knowing that more users will increase overall revenue.  I also firmly believe that we must cut the red tape that is required for developers.  I respect the role of the planning department in ensuring that developers meet environmental and heritage elements, but problems getting permits on time and small things that can cause longer-term problems need to be addressed to ensure developments go as smoothly as possible.

Affordable Housing

I support development of affordable housing units in the County in higher-density locations.

Affordable housing is not only an issue of rental housing, but of purchasing as well.  For renting, I believe that we need to incorporate affordable housing units into larger developments, particularly higher-density ones.  Incorporation of units helps to keep the County diversified and avoids known issues with specific “low-income housing” initiatives as those in the affordable housing units are forced to abide by the rules of the housing unit more generally and are also afforded the same respect and care given to others where they live.  With respect to higher-density builds, including smaller apartment buildings in larger developments is one route, or to build higher-density apartments in areas where such a development would fit within the landscape (e.g., on Bridge Street where the old strip mall is).

I support a short-term approach of “unpaving” and moving to compressed gravel on many roads to lower current road maintenance costs.
I support a longer-term approach of instilling tolls at the bridges into town with exemptions for residents.

Roads are crumbling from overuse, and our tax base is too small to fund repairs on its own. I believe that in the short-term the County cannot rely upon the Provincial Government to provide additional funding and that we need to find ways to be self-sufficient in the area of infrastructure.  In the short-term I believe that “unpaving” and using compressed gravel on the roads is the best solution to fixing many of the crumbling roads.  Gravel is easier to maintain and far superior to driving on dangerous potholes.  Just this year my family blew a tire on a local road and had damage to the car and rims.  To learn more, here is a recent article on the topic: https://www.wired.com/2016/07/cash-strapped-towns-un-paving-roads-cant-afford-fix/.

In the long-run, I support implementing a toll for bridges into the County – with exemptions for residents – to provide a more stable source for road repair and maintenance.  I know this idea has been discussed before and met with concern over costs to local and tourists choosing to go elsewhere.  With respect to locals, I fully support a pass for those who live in the County as our tax dollars are already going towards road maintenance – it’s just not enough.  With respect to tourism, I would say this is a misguided fear.  A toll of $3 or $4 entering the County would not be much for a family coming for a week or even a weekend.  If you look at areas in the United States that have implemented this toll, they provide much-needed funds for roads and high tourist areas have not been affected.  From a practical perspective, implementing it in the winter provides time for it to be something people are used to before high season in the summer.

I support the immediate purchase of snow plows and to train individuals to use them to address the 2018-2019 winter.
I support a longer-term plan to integrate snow removal into a service provided by the County only.

I believe that any essential service that can be done by the County should be done by the County to avoid the very issue we are facing this year with exorbitant quotes for snow removal that simply cannot be met with the current budget.  Although four routes have been contracted out for eight years (meaning the next Council will have no say in this), there are six routes remaining.  I believe the County needs to purchase snow plows (most likely older ones at our current budget and these are available between $50,000 and $100,000 each, used) and hire staff to run them this year and/or contract out smaller routes to locals who want to earn some more money this year while working for the County and have the current equipment to plow the roads as needed.

Regardless, the County needs a longer-term plan to ensure snow removal is covered by the County.  Large trucks can be used for both summer infrastructure projects and snow removal, but newer ones can run over $250,000 each and thus must be worked into the budget.  If used trucks are purchased then they can be used over the course of several years, allowing some of the snow removal budget to be put aside and saved for the purchase of new trucks for long-term planning.  These can be purchased one at a time and used for routes that we find require newer equipment.

I support County assistance for local initiatives that keep schools open.
I support first right of refusal for the County to buy unused school buildings.

Although school issues are primarily the domain of the School Board, I vow to support outside-the-box initiatives, like the County Food Hub, to help keep local schools sustainable and open for the families in the area.  I also vow to support efforts to provide the first right of refusal to buy closed properties to the County at a fair rate before selling them on the open market.  After all, it is the County’s tax payers who have been providing much of the funding through municipal taxes.

I support the efforts of ‘Save Picton Bay’ and would vote against Picton Terminal’s right to continue acting as a non-conforming entity and to ensure they abide by the rules and regulations that protect Picton Bay from pollution and to keep our drinking water safe.

What has been seen by many as a battle of jobs versus the environment isn’t quite like that.  Picton Terminal, a business that runs just north of Picton on highway 49, was grandfathered in to certain bylaws for the County; however, it has been since the bylaws have been enacted that Picton Terminals has ramped up operations that violate these rules.  In just a few years we have seen the disastrous effects of their mismanagement and disregard for the well-being of Picton Bay.  We have salt pouring into the freshwater bay, posing a health hazard to the marine life and our very own drinking water.  They were recently fined for violating the Environmental Protection Act through the presence of hazardous materials in a neighbour’s home.  A majority of previous Council voted not to take on Picton Terminals, but notable in those who voted in the minority was current mayoral candidate and previous South Marysburgh council member Steve Ferguson.  I support his vote and would vote the same.  You can read more about Save Picton Bay here.

I support a discount in property taxes for farmers.
I support discounts for those who agree to not rezone farm land and keep it available for future farmers.

 

Prince Edward County MUST retain our current number of farms. The entire economy and landscape would change if we lost them. I disagree with the decision to simply offer grant programs to young farmers – despite the fact they do help many young farmers in the County – and instead support lowering the tax ration for all farmers. I don’t think it is fair or reasonable to put any local farmers in a position where they need to partition their land, rezone, and sell in order to cover higher taxes.

I would also support the implementation of a program which would give farmers a further discount on their property taxes under the stipulation that the land cannot be re-zoned as anything but farmland prior to selling (similar to the one in place for people who own protected land on Black River). This would ensure that our farmlands would remain active and available to young farmers when older farmers retire.

I support a regulated system, like the LCBO, for the sale of legal marijuana.
I support strict bylaws regarding the production of marijuana for commercial sale.

 

Legalized Marijuana is coming (whether we like it or not) and the County needs to be prepared. I would like to see a limit on the number of licences available to sellers, a minimum distance from sellers and schools, additional municipal taxation (with funds going to our health care services which need more funding), by-laws limiting hours of operation and signage, and promote educational programs for schools or through the ROC to address issues of increased use and potential abuse.
With respect to production, individuals will be given the legal right to produce for their own use, but not for re-sell. I believe it should be a very small amount (less than what will currently be allowed). If someone is growing with the intent to provide it for sale, we need regulations to ensure that the product is of high quality and safe for consumption. In addition, larger-scale production of marijuana has risks associated with the growing process that need to be strongly regulated and home production should be banned. For example, grow-ops are regularly associated with mold, spores, and fungus which puts the air quality for the building and surrounding areas at-risk; individuals need to know how to properly use the irrigation and lighting tools safely to reduce the risk of fires or other hazards. Finally, ensuring that criminal activity and access by minors is avoided, we need inspections and rules that prohibit the larger-scale production in areas easily accessed by minors and stiff fines for any violation of these rules.