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?
Firstly, I would like to apply my expertise in securing funds and partnerships for the whole of the municipality’s benefit. Working together with the Funding & Grants Research Analyst to obtain and report on granted funds would allow me to support others through my extensive experience and international certification as a fundraiser.
Secondly, I’m a passionate advocate for the implementation of the four IDEA principles: inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in everything the municipality does. This should begin with mandatory training for all elected and employed municipal representatives. Therefore, I look forward to being involved, on or off council, learning about how we can create safer, more inclusive environments for all residents of North Grenville.
Inclusion starts with representation. Getting more voices asking critical questions is a priority for me. I would explore how to create more liaison relationships, not only for transparency and engagement in decision-making processes, but also for succession planning.
What do you bring to Council that hasn’t been there previously?
I’m proud of my 12 years of experience as a professional fundraiser. It has gifted me with the opportunity to hone my skills as a motivator, facilitator, and communicator. All of these will support my work as a Councillor. While I can’t speak for whether anyone has had similar experience on North Grenville Council in the past, I know that asking critical questions, listening, and facilitating creative solutions will aid in supporting North Grenville’s reputation as a caring community that gets things done.
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?
I do feel that the Municipality should play a role in moderating a select few Social Media channels. Without a ‘go-to’ moderator, assumptions become belief very quickly, especially when emotions and integrity are at play. This arena is one that would greatly benefit from the IDEA framework I noted previously. I have noted the toxicity in several regional Facebook groups. At the time, I chose to mute or leave those groups. It’s my hope that in future, those who want to engage with the municipality on any of its channels find what they want, engage how they want, and leave the (online) space with a good feeling.
Do you think more can be done to involve the community in the affairs of Council and being part of the decision-making process?
Social Media Ambassadors (volunteers) would be an incredible addition to our wonderful municipal communications staff. I do understand that training and monitoring volunteers can be stressful and an extra burden, but without engaging those interested in helping to increase awareness of our programs, services, and announcements, we will only be able to reach those of our residents who are on Facebook, read the paper, or visit the NG website. I would like to explore a multi-level, accessible communications plan that includes options for folks to ‘opt-in’ for text message notifications for a variety of topics, such as natural disaster warnings, swimming program registration, council meeting agenda topics, and more. This would provide for more ways for our communities to engage with staff and Council.
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?
Infrastructure: Affordable housing needs to stay a priority, as is the work of Council in making alternative housing solutions possible, including becoming a tiny home destination for builders and homeowners. In order for this to be encouraged and sustainable, the infrastructure needs to exist to make it easy for developers to invest here. Having an economic development plan ready for when the County Road 43 project is complete would give us a better chance to successfully create and maintain a rural, yet commercial business-friendly boulevard which will be essential to the sustainable growth and tourism in our beautiful municipality.
Economic Development: We need to be a destination for investment by job-creating companies that also support tourism to our quaint downtown cores full of interesting products, services, and restaurants. I also want to support existing local businesses who need help with making their location or online services as accessible as possible.
Environmental Sustainability: Emergency preparedness, generator loan programs, municipal building codes, and respite or financial relief to those affected should all be considered to help prevent personal disaster when mother nature has other plans. On the topic of prevention, there is much more we can do as a municipality to reduce our carbon footprint. I would like to see collaborative solutions like a community compost pile – or several! This would help dramatically with yard waste being diverted from the landfill, as it can serve another whole purpose to feed our gardens.