The Times is committed to fair and equal opportunities for all candidates, and in this issue we have published the last selection of articles by candidates for both Mayor and Councillor positions. To ensure fairness, we had Mary-Anne Leang, of the law firm of Jansen Law, to arrange the order in which the articles would appear and to vet the contents.
In the interests of fair play, we have not edited this in any way.
Questions for Candidates for Councillor:
What are your top three priorities for the coming four years of Council? How do they differ from the last four years?
Control North Grenville’s growth. As the community grows, so does the need for infrastructure such as public transportation, hotels, and water treatment facilities. We will ensure that the values and goals of our strategic plan are respected. For example, when developers ask to build a new subdivision, their documented building plans must align with our long-term objectives, and they must be held accountable to follow those plans.
Maintain a small-town feel. Build bridges over gaps resulting from contentious issues. We want a community where it’s safe to clearly and respectfully express views and concerns.
Increase health care. As the population grows and ages, the need for increased health care providers is essential. We must attract health-care providers and their families to North Grenville. Working together with upper levels of government, we need to create an environment that is welcoming.
What do you bring to Council that hasn’t been there previously?
I bring more than 40 years of experience as a chartered accountant, reviewing and administering budget processes and controls. I analyze financial statements to spot potential issues and to identify positive actions to pursue.
When recruited in the high tech industry, I was identified as someone who had been “around the block” a few times, bringing my diverse experience to the table. One example of this is my eventually becoming CFO of March Networks, leading a team of experts and negotiating million dollar contracts. Repeatedly I have started new ventures with no direct experience and have progressed to a high level of competency in that field.
Another example, of which I am proud is my award-winning leadership of Lowe Martin Printing, having begun my journey there knowing nothing about printing. It was my ability to listen, learn and lead industry experts that enabled us to be named one of Canada’s 50 top managed companies.
Social media has become toxic locally, especially over the past year. Do you think Council has a role in creating a more civil atmosphere generally? If so, how would you go about it?
Council has a role in creating a positive atmosphere in the community, discouraging toxic comments online and in person. Criticism is useful when accompanied by logical, feasible alternatives and solutions. We can work together, despite differences of opinion, in a safe, respectful atmosphere where we build a better community for all.
Do you think more can be done to involve the community in the affairs of Council and being part of the decision-making process?
Council has been excellent at transparency and open communication, but I would love to see more involvement from the community. The public can access Council meetings in person or online. I encourage anyone who wants their voice heard to come forward and make a presentation in order to further improve North Grenville.
The biggest challenge of public consultation is that, because people have different opinions, some inevitably will feel disappointed when the process is over. I think we should aim to find common ground so that everyone feels heard and respected even if they don’t get 100% of what they were asking.
How do you think the future development in North Grenville – infrastructure, economic, environmental – should be directed? What new initiatives need to be undertaken in those areas?
It’s important that future development aligns with the 10-year strategic plan that was created through a combination of senior management workshops, a community survey, public consultation and discussions with community focus groups. I’d work diligently to ensure that North Grenville grows while respecting the environment and budget and keeps the feel of a small town.
Infrastructure: We need to encourage developers to provide open recreational space for prospective homeowners. Our community should continue growing with appropriate amenities such as sidewalks, bicycle paths and playgrounds.
From a commercial perspective, we must also have the infrastructure that encourages businesses to come to NG, for example, public transportation, water treatment facilities
Economic: By maintaining and improving the quality of life in North Grenville, we encourage businesses to expand into our area, creating better paying jobs, full-time employment and a more stable tax base. For example, the board of directors of the Kemptville Campus is researching the possibility of developing a medical research facility. Attracting different industries, such as high-tech, also will contribute to our economic growth.
NG is ideally located. We are located on a 4-lane expressway and are in proximity to an international airport, and a huge economic market across the border.
Environmental: We need to support projects that encourage environmental sustainability. For example, an educational centre for future forestation at the Ferguson Forest will develop a model forest of the future including trees and natural resources that survive in our environment. Also, the Council has been working with Kemptville College to accommodate training for trades that are required in environmental industries.