SAUGEEN SHORES ELECTION 2018

election 2018

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

Mike Myatt is running for Vice-Deputy Mayor in Saugeen Shores. Here are his 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?

Borrowing to 100% borrowing capacity is obviously very risky as emergencies can and do happen whether it be for water/sewer emergencies, building mechanical failures or natural disasters. As outlined by staff in a 2018 budget presentation, the available debt room in 2017 was about $42 Million with 25% of this amount reserved for emergency purposes, 30% to be fund rate funded services (water, sewer, landfill) and up to 45% for tax funded services. As you can see by these numbers above, this leaves about $19 Million to fund projects like the Police Building, Pool replacement, Ball Complex, Southampton Town Hall, Bridge Replacements, and other projects as they arise. Borrowing to a 70-75% level would be a consideration for me depending on project necessity and affordability.

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

I have stated publicly at Council Meetings that I support the continuation of the North Shore Railway and I will continue to support it if a lease agreement can be negotiated that’s fair to both our residents and operator. Currently a lease agreement does not exist between the Town of Saugeen Shores and past leasee for the North Shore Railway. I would like to see proposals from entrepreneurs who are willing to make significant investments in our waterfront and if their proposal includes train operations, I am willing to listen.

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?

I have no interest in forcing those will active leases to close. I do however support businesses that are willing to invest in our waterfront and make investments in their buildings.

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

Roundabouts have proven to result in traffic calming and the incoming Council needs to ensure that land developers consider all options when planning for subdivisions. Policing presence with the use of portable speed sign and radar officer enforcement provides for a reminder to drivers to slow down. The Town has experimented with “speed bumps” in our Tourist Camps with some success. Winter snow removal obviously plays havoc with speed bumps so any installation needs to be carefully looked at.

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

I am in favour of a YMCA coming to Saugeen Shores but only if the funding model makes sense to our taxpayers. There also needs to be a commitment from YMCA officials that our Saugeen Shores Life Saving Club is not only preserved but enhanced. There is potential for a YMCA operated facility to save our taxpayers up to $10 Million over a 20 year period as a YMCA facility must operate on a break even basis. Regardless of which model we choose, an indoor walking track designed for seniors is high on my priority list, and your next Council must be diligent with lobbying all levels of Government for Recreation Infrastructure Funding to help lower construction costs.

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? (http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf)

There is a quote in the 525 page Truth and Reconciliation report; “The relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals people is not a mutually respectful one”, “but we believe we are getting there". The Town of Saugeen Shores I believe has a very good relationship with our neighbours Saugeen First Nation (SFN). In 2004 Saugeen Shores and SFN signed an agreement to extend water services to SFN; Saugeen Shores has always welcomed SFN into our Parks and Recreation services, the Southampton Bridge has just been renamed Zgaa-biig-ni-gan meaning “from one end to the other we are connected” referring to the history of the two communities; GC Houston Public School and Saugeen District Secondary School have long been jointly used by SFN and Saugeen Shores residents and the list goes on. I can only offer this... Let’s continue to move forward from the past in a way that continues to foster relationships between our neighbours at Saugeen First Nations and Saugeen Shores.

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?

This is one of my campaign platform discussion points and if elected, I will do whatever I can to bring more affordable housing and geared to income housing to Saugeen Shores. Doing nothing is no longer an option as attracting new service related businesses will be very difficult if affordable housing needs are not met. Serious negotiations need to take place between the Province of Ontario, Bruce County and Saugeen Shores Council in regards to affordable accommodations. In the first six months, your new Council and staff, needs to hold a forum with local contractors, Bruce County officials, our MPP and MP to discuss a strategy to address this important question. Perhaps a home grown Housing Strategy needs to be created in the short term.

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

As outlined in previous question, our incoming Council needs to be very proactive with lobbying various levels of Government for partnership funding to create affordable accommodations.

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

Housing prices are on the rise and for some seniors, affordable housing has become “out of reach”. Land developers need to be made aware that housing prices need to be affordable to all income brackets and while the responsibility for geared to income housing may be the responsibility of Bruce County, land developers must also do their part to ensure that retired seniors are able to remain in Saugeen Shores with home prices that are affordable.

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

The incoming Council needs to place the topic of affordable housing and geared to income housing at the top of their list as a high priority. As I campaign from door to door and business to business I hear a constant theme... "We are having trouble attracting labor." Attracting fewer low to middle income families is not an option as local businesses simply cannot survive without a strong labour market. A recent survey of businesses across Ontario discovered that 39% of businesses are experiencing labour shortages. Council in partnership with Bruce County and local developers need to find ways to lower our housing costs to allow low to middle income families to stay in Saugeen Shores. Perhaps it’s time for a home grown solution similar to the 1980s Rotary housing development.

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

With the recent $13 Billion announcement for the refurbishing of six units at Bruce Power, new housing and corresponding population growth is inevitable, in fact, our population is projected to grow to over 18,000 over the next ten years. New houses are going to be built, and while the majority of housing development will occur west of Highway 21 over the next 20 years, some growth to the east will occur due to housing demands. In terms of protecting local farm from development, any future boundary changes that extend beyond our urban centre need to be considered carefully by our incoming Council.

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?

With our population projected to grow by more than 4,000 over the next 10 years, expansion to our water treatment facility will be a necessity. Many residents were bewildered when a full water ban was issued this past July, but please consider these facts. The “average” daily consumption for water over a 12 months period in Saugeen Shores is 5,500 cubic metres. Our water treatment facility currently has the capacity to produce close to 11,250 cubic metres of water on a daily basis. During the month of July when lawn and garden watering was in full force, our water usage reached a very dangerous 10,800 cubic meters of daily use but also consider that a water line accident on the east side of Port Elgin did occur during this same time period.

Producing 11,250 cubic metres on a daily basis is achieved through the use of 4 trains of membrane filters that determine how fast we can make water at the plant. We are currently sitting at 69% of the total population of these four trains. I am in favour of supporting bringing the membrane closer to 80-85% populated. When a full membrane expansion is completed, this will bring our plant capacity to 14,5000 cubic metres per day, and although this daily production will not be required until the year 2032 using our current population growth projections, Council needs to plan for this future use. In summary, Saugeen Shores is in a very positive position in terms of water purification and we have the potential for future expansion, an expansion that I certainly will be supporting if elected as your Vice-Deputy Mayor.

Other Deputy Mayor candidates (two elected):

See: Taun Frosst; Ask a Candidate

Saugeen Shores Hub gave each of the candidates equal opportunity to respond but has not heard back from Vice Deputy Mayor candidate Jim Stark. If we do prior to voting opening October 12 we will update accordingly as time allows.

We also did not hear back from Deputy Mayor candidates Diane Huber and Don Matheson but again, will update as per above.