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Saugeen Shores Hub reached out to readers and came up with the following questions for your municipal candidates.

Jami Smith is running for Port Elgin Ward Councillor in Saugeen Shores. Here are her answers.

1) All municipalities have borrowing limits for debt. Given the many projects either underway or proposed what is the maximum percentage of borrowing capacity you are willing to commit to?

Debt is one of several capital financial strategies available to municipal governments. If managed appropriately, it can serve the community well to fund long-term capital needs. Provincial Legislation exists to ensure debt and obligation limits are maintained.

In order to meet the needs of our growing community, some debt must be incurred. However, we must do so in a way that does not place unnecessary burden on the tax base.

We are seeing new development at an unprecedented rate. We must strategically invest in our capital infrastructure to provide either financial gains or add significant value to our community members.

2) What are your views or proposals for the future of the Port Elgin and North Shore Railway?

The Waterfront in Saugeen Shores is a tremendous asset to our community. The North Shore Railway has had a long standing and cherished heritage in Port Elgin. I believe this property should be used in a way that adds value to the community membership. I would fully support the inclusion of a train in that vision.

3) What, if any, assurances can you give business owners and their staff that local businesses will not be targeted for closure should the Town choose to repurpose their property in the future?

Simply put, the Town of Saugeen Shores must enter into any business contracts in good faith, with the expectation that any and all counterparts will do the same.

4) What calming measures can be implemented to reduce excessive vehicle speeds in busy Saugeen Shores neighbourhoods?

Our Saugeen Shores Police Services consists of a dedicated group of individuals who serve and protect us each and every day.

In the era of technological advancements, we have an opportunity to pursue data sources like speed cameras, currently in use by other law enforcements, to help determine the most severely impacted areas in our community. We must continue focused patrols in those areas where evidence suggests excessive speeding to be an issue.

I have heard countless times from community members that excessive speed is a problem. Speeding is one of the top contributing factors to fatal crashes. Driving any speed in excess of the posted limit is illegal and dangerous. I fully support equipping our police force with the tools necessary to ensure the safety of the citizens in our community.

5) What is your position on a YMCA coming to Saugeen Shores?

An aquatic facility is necessary in Saugeen Shores. The municipality must commit to finding the right strategic partners(s) to provide the best possible solution to our residents. A solution which leverages grants, capital funding from higher levels of government, sponsorship and grassroots fundraising to provide a facility that meets the needs of its user groups and provides accessible services for all income levels.

Personally, I do not believe the YMCA partnership is in the best interests of our community.

We talk often about the assets in Saugeen Shores, I believe our biggest asset is our people. The people who have built this community to be the desirable community which ranks us 14th in Canada as a best place to live. These people include the small business owners who operate our existing fitness facilities in Saugeen Shores, the aquatic instructors and participants of Breakers Swim Team and internationally renowned Saugeen Shores Lifesaving Club. All of whom could be negatively impacted by the implementation of a YMCA partnership.

This is a very complex issue, which deserves more than the allowable characters to fully address. Particularly since we have not yet received the results from the Memorandum of Understanding with the YMCA or the most recent feasibility study.

6) What specific actions would you take to meet the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Report, especially as they relate to Saugeen Ojibway Nation?

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation has a significant number of members living within Saugeen Shores. The Saugeen Reserve is a valued neighbour. While many of the recommendations put forth in the Truth and Reconciliation Report are targeted at higher tiers of government, I personally believe it is important to understand and respect our national Aboriginal Heritage and Rights.

The history of Saugeen Shores has been greatly influenced by our First Nations and Metis people. I believe it is of the utmost importance, that we as a community are respectful of all people.

7) With businesses closing their doors or reducing their hours because they can't find enough staff, what can be done to create affordable accommodations for service workers or lower income residents in Saugeen Shores?

The first step to making progress in affordable housing is a commitment to get it done! I believe that our municipal government has a role and responsibility in ensuring that our community members can live in a safe and affordable home.

There are many strategies ranging from simple inclusionary zoning requirements, which enforce diversification of residential areas to include mixed-income communities, to more cutting edge strategies like the “Whistler Model” which saw a significant number of properties developed and made available specifically to local employees with much success.

Ultimately, the Federal Government of Canada has made a commitment with the “Let’s Talk Housing” Initiative. We are not the first community to experience this situation, and should use other successful implementations as models for our community. Later this year, the National Housing Conference will be held in Ottawa. I hope representatives from our council will consider attending to gain further knowledge on this critical issue.

Smith answered Questions 8 and 9 with the same answer:

8) What can be done to create affordable housing for younger, first time home buyers as well as retirees in Saugeen Shores?

9) What can be done to create affordable housing for retired seniors in Saugeen Shores?

A significant portion of our population growth is attributed to folks who are making the decision to relocate to Saugeen Shores in their retirement years. Similarly, we want our existing citizens to continue to enjoy this community through their retirement. The lack of affordable housing has made this endeavor challenging.

Saugeen Shores Council must develop immediate strategies to progress affordable housing options. Initially this should include providing additional incentives in the form of cost reduction or rebates for developers who continue to diversify our residential areas. Furthermore, working with the Count of Bruce to facilitate the various demographical needs of our growing population.

10) With fewer low to middle income families coming to Saugeen Shores, what can be done to help local businesses stay afloat.

In talking with local business owners, one of the challenges they experience is the lack of available labour resources. This lack of human capital can partially be attributed to the affordable housing situation addressed in the previous questions.

However, a successful strategy for attracting, retaining and gaining workers into our community must include; strategic relationships with the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and the BIAs to understand the specific needs of our business owners. As well as continued emphasis on recreational programming and services which make Saugeen Shores a desirable place to live. A comprehensive and accessible information hub to promote available jobs, careers and entrepreneurial opportunities. Continued improvements to our transportation plan, which include; safe bike-routes and car-sharing options. Ultimately, we need to work together to implement innovative strategies that promote Saugeen Shores as inclusive community for newcomers.

11) As the town grows and new developments happen, how might you protect local farm land from development pressure?

Agriculture is widely recognized as one of the economic drivers in Saugeen Shores. I believe we must work with the County of Bruce to maintain consideration for the existing provincial guidelines and legislative requirements to appropriately manage and protect both our agricultural and environmentally protected lands.

12) With all the new development and the ever growing population in Saugeen Shores would you agree there is a need for an expansion to our water treatment facility and would you support action being taken toward this?

We need to leverage our data sources and growth projections to analyze the capacity and life expectancy of all our existing municipal assets (water treatment facility included). I support action being taken to ensure all infrastructure is adequately triaged and plans are put in place to expand or develop appropriately.

Other Port Elgin Ward candidates (two elected):

See: Kristan Shrider; Ask a Candidate

Paul Seaman; Ask a Candidate

Saugeen Shores Hub gave each of the candidates equal opportunity to respond but has not heard back from Port Elgin Ward candidate Dianne Mini Jacques. If we do prior to voting opening October 12 we will update accordingly as time allows.