3Candidate’s Responses to BSRA Questions
What is the biggest single challenge facing Bluewater in the year to come?
Over the next four years?
Bill Dowson: The biggest challenge is to keep Bluewater moving forward, keeping it a place that people want to come and live, making it a friendly home atmostphere for people in Bluewater. Over the next four years, more of the same, we continue to hope that there are monies available to us to upgrade our infrastructure all across the municipality so that we can accommodate the people that will want to come.
Paul Klopp: I see the financial challenges created by downloading. The government of Ontario has to be shown that that forcing the Municipal Tax system to continue to bear costs such as policing and ambulance service is not sustainable. Historically, those costs have been paid for totally by the provincial tax system. Roads and Infrastructure costs were partially shared between the municipalities and the province. Now we are being made more and more responsible for them. These experiments are not working. Leadership at the Municipal level will need a two pronged approach.
1. In the year to come, set priorities and start making cuts. For example, we know that next year will bring approximately a 5 % increase on our taxes for the police budget alone. What do we give up or cut to pay for that? Councillor Raises? Staff Positions? As Mayor, everything will be on the table to be reviewed and choices made.
2. Over the next four years, I will work with upper level governments to ensure adequate levels of funding for our infrastructure. The province has to step up to the plate so that we don’t lose economic stability in Rural Ontario. After 15 years of downloading, my challenge is to start getting this turned around.
Tyler Hessel: Our biggest challenge will be to develop a plan and 10 year vision. Grow our economy to ensure that we are financially stable. This will be a challenge because we want to listen to and consider the needs of residents, but also envision the kind of future growth that Bluewater will need to continue to evolve as a community, and that is something we have not done in the past. Taxpayers deserve to know that their money is being put to good use now and in the future.
Longer term, our challenge will be implementing that plan for infrastructure growth and service delivery. We want Bluewater to evolve as a community and grow with its residents, meeting their needs each year and ensuring that we are equipped to do so in the future, both service-wise and financially. We have to start with council, I made a motion to eliminate a council seat at Bluewater. We need to find other ways to save. (i.e. less meetings)
Cindy Moyer: Pervasive influence from a distant government forcing urban-centric ideologies on rural Ontario. Queen’s Park is over regulating and not listening. As a result, we have wind turbine development, higher taxes (due to provincial downloading) and an amalgamated municipality that is not unified. The biggest challenge over the next one to four years is to arrest further wind turbine development.
Jim Fergusson: The biggest challenge will be to continue to deliver the services the Municipality provides at an affordable cost to the residents. Identified increases to police cost, rising energy prices and inadequate provincial funding will put upward pressure on all the areas of Municipal operations. Efficiencies alone will not realize enough cost savings to offset these increases so the Council will need to explore other options in order to continue to meet our residents needs and expectations.
Pete Walden: The biggest single challenge facing Bluewater in the year to come is co-operation and communication amongst all areas and social organisations with our municipal council.
What one thing are you most proud of in Bluewater?
Bill Dowson: The way people have pulled together over the last four years, the way council has pulled together especially working together more cohesively in the last four years compared to over the last 14.
Paul Klopp: I am most proud of the Optimism of our People. Our rural roots of resilience keep us working to fix the problems we are thrown. We work within the parameters we are given, while at the same time striving to improve conditions for the next generation. Take for example our small businesses, like our meat processors. They have been thrown red tape over and over again, yet they continue to create jobs and produce high quality products.
Tyler Hessel: I am most proud of our Communities In Bloom program because it brings together the whole community. I have been involved with Communities In Bloom for several years, and I am always amazed at the support we receive from the community, and how everyone takes pride in making Bluewater beautiful. It really showcases how proud residents are to live in such a fantastic community, and that community spirit is one of the things that makes Bluewater so special.
Cindy Moyer: Its unique beauty and potential in its diversity.
Jim Fergusson: Thats easy we just received our second consecutive 5 blooms award from Communities in Bloom. This Municipal wide program brings all areas of the Municipality together under one common goal.
Pete Walden: I am very proud of Jan Purvis – more that I respect Jan for including me. Oh yes, I am proud of our community groups with genuine heart and concern for Bluewater. I am also proud of Mayor Dowson for committing to his belief in our community.
In one sentence – what is your vision for Bluewater?
Bill Dowson: My vision is to make sure that a good solid infrastructure is in place and that we can welcome more permanent residents to Bluewater to ensure a solid financial base.
Paul Klopp: My vision is to help build a Municipality where we can all live, work and play because our local costs are managed and economic strength is gained through collaboration with the Province, the County and our neighbouring municipalities to make us a vibrant community.
Tyler Hessel: My vision for Bluewater is a functional community that listens to residents’ needs and has a plan in place to meet those needs in the present but also in years to come.
Cindy Moyer: A unified and prosperous community to which people from other areas want to move because it is the ideal place to live, work and play.
Jim Fergusson: My vision benefits every resident of Bluewater regardless of where you live I want my Municipality to be well led – well financially managed and well planned and positioned for the future.
Pete Walden: My vision for Bluewater is a united, diverse municipality working positively to provide equal basic services for all residents.
What is your position on the Green Energy Act?
Bill Dowson: I am not in favour of the Green Energy Act as it has been presented to the Municipality by the Provincial Government.
Paul Klopp: Please keep in mind that this is a Provincial Act. Yes, the province has a responsibility to set leadership for stewardship of our resources for the future. If I had been given a chance to help write the bill, since the need for energy is something none of us can avoid, I would have said that any green energy proposals should have been financed cooperatively at cost, not to be run by for-profit private companies which ultimately means we all have to pay higher costs.
Tyler Hessel: I support the idea of renewable energy and energy conservation, however I believe that implementation of this act needs to be considered very carefully in order to fully benefit residents without negatively impacting their lives in any way. (i.e. the negative impact wind turbines have brought to Bluewater) I think that the current implementation could have been better handled to allow for energy conservation without negatively impacting Bluewater residents or their property.
Cindy Moyer: I think it’s in conflict with the Municipal Act which established that municipalities could protect the property, health, safety and well-being of the people. If the GEA negates that long-standing obligation then Queen’s Park has removed the essential purpose of municipal government. I don’t believe that was the intent. A potential resolution is for Bluewater to spearhead a multi-municipal Declaratory Relief to answer once and for all if the authority given municipalities to protect was expressly removed by the GEA. If it was not, then a court ruling will be made and in the interim a stay on further development.
Jim Fergusson: The Green Energy Act is flawed in the fact it takes away local Municipal input into the planning process for electricity generating installations. Residents through their Municipality need to have a say in how they want to see their areas develop.
Pete Walden:The Green Energy Act is and act written by urban liberal MPP’s who openly display little or no concern for rural communities.
Do you or any member of your extended family, including in laws etc, own land or do you or your family members or business partners stand to profit from the wind turbine companies setting up business in the Municipality of Bluewater?
Bill Dowson: Having had some conversation with a lawyer, I have been advised that because of the contract we signed 7 or 8 years ago, I could be putting myself in a liability situation in responding to this question. And further, if myself or my family are pursued with this line of questioning I am to contact my lawyer and he will send the appropriate notices to the people enquiring.
Paul Klopp: Yes. My son and I purchased a farm in 2007 which had a pre-existing lease. At present, the company that owns the lease has no plans to build.
Tyler Hessel:Neither my family nor my wife’s family have any vested interest in wind turbines, nor do we gain any financial benefit from them. In fact, members of my family are severely impacted by the location of some new turbines. During wind turbine discussions within the existing council, it is a fact that I chaired most meetings as I am the only council member with no conflict of interest in the issue.
Cindy Moyer: Absolutely – no!
Jim Fergusson: NO not in any way
Pete Walden: No
What steps can be taken to approve Bluewater’s annual budget in a more timely fashion?
Bill Dowson: We can always start earlier with our budget, that is an option but you can still run into barriers with County and School Boards and other parties who have a December 31st deadline for their operations. This is information that we need to order to move forward with the annual budget. We have the same problem at the County level.
Paul Klopp: Each year in December, we set a schedule for the budget meetings with a goal to have it done as soon as possible. From my observation, what has been allowed to happen is that we change the dates to accommodate each Councillor who wants to go on a holiday or does something else other than attend a pre-scheduled budget meeting. As Mayor, as long as there is a quorum, the meetings will go ahead as planned. This has not been a staff problem; it has been a Councillor problem.
Tyler Hessel: By formulating a 4-year plan for Bluewater, we will be able to better anticipate how the annual budget will need to be allocated, and foresee the challenges and potential costs associated with planned growth, provision, and maintenance of Bluewater facilities and services. Having a plan in place along with a 10 year vision for Bluewater’s future will allow council to know in advance where Bluewater’s funds need to go, instead of starting from scratch each year, and will also allow residents to better understand where their tax dollars are going, creating transparency within municipal government. Bluewater residents deserve to know that their future needs can and will be met, and developing a focused plan now will ensure that Bluewater council will be able to deliver a budget that is well planned and in a more efficient time frame. This will help us communicate better with the taxpayers of Bluewater.
Cindy Moyer: Begin the budget planning phase earlier. Adjust the deadline for Department Heads to submit budgetary projections to the CAO. Ensure RFP’s and RFQ’s are out and submissions are in before the deadline. Mandate that all budgets be published by November 30th of the year preceding the budget.
Jim Fergusson: The simple answer would be to start earlier and have spending priorities set ahead of time. To accomplish that objective Bluewater needs a strategic financial plan to identify capital and operating costs for the next 10 years with regular reviews. This plan would identify priorities and form the basis for the budget thereby speeding up the process How those costs would be paid could then be determined and a long term stable tax rate established
Pete Walden: Start the budget process in September. Meet in day-long meetings. Create a 10 – year budget (strategic) plan to follow annually with checks and balances required. Require work-around adjustments be made as soon as the 10 – year plan is off track. THIS IS FOR ESSENTIAL BASIC SERVICES not want lists.
For incumbents – how many Council meetings have you missed since January 1st, 2014? For new candidates – how many Council meetings have you attended since January 1st, 2014?
Bill Dowson (incumbent): I stand to be corrected, but to my recollection I have not missed a council meeting since January 2014.
Paul Klopp (incumbent): One.
Tyler Hessel (incumbent):I have only missed one council meeting since January, and that was due to illness. During my eight years on council I have only missed three meetings.
Cindy Moyer (new candidate): I have attended four council meetings since registering as a candidate.
Jim Fergusson (new candidate): I didn’t keep track but I attended all but 1 budget meeting and most council meetings so I’ve attended approximately 20.
Pete Walden (new): Two meetings this year for the Varna Water Committee. If elected, I will be away one or two weeks at the most annually.
What do you feel has been lacking in the current council and what do you believe you can bring to it in order to improve council’s performance?
Bill Dowson: Sometimes Councillors try to protect their ward when a decision could be a benefit of all Bluewater not just their ward. My role will continue to be to encourage cooperation and decisions based on the benefit of the whole Municipality of Bluewater. I have a strong belief until every Councillor is accountable to every tax payer this condition will be there.
Paul Klopp: Preparation for Meetings. All Councillors need to read and absorb and research if necessary the material that is on the agenda. As Mayor, I will expect each Councillor to do as I have done as Deputy Mayor and will continue to do as Mayor. On each issue, I expect each Councillor to examine the problem and speak to their wards to find out both sides of the issues. Discussions will be held in the open at Council Meetings with agendas prepared well ahead of time so that the public will have sufficient advance notice.
Tyler HesselI think the biggest problem we have faced as a council in the past is the fact that we have been reacting to the issues that we encounter. We must be planning for the future and I feel a 4 year plan for Bluewater, with a 10 year vision behind it is imperative. This allows council to confer with Bluewater residents regarding the changes they hope to see in the future, and examine the services and facilities already in place in Bluewater, to form a plan of how Bluewater funds will need to be distributed over the coming years to ensure that Bluewater continues to grow and thrive as a community. Bluewater needs to optimize services which will help to hold the line on costs. I am a resident and a small business owner in Bluewater, with a young family. The future of my family and all residents of Bluewater is dependent upon good local governance. My family ties to the farming community and business community allow me to better understand the needs of Bluewater families and residents, and also those of business owners and agricultural workers. I believe that all of these perspectives and connections give me a unique insight into the diverse needs of Bluewater residents
Cindy Moyer: 1. Procedure: There is a lack of understanding as to the crucial role procedure (following it) plays in municipal business. Procedure is the rule book that everyone is to follow. I have studied Roberts Rules of Order, Bourinot’s Rules, the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and read Procedure By-laws of municipalities. I was invited to make a public presentation to Central Huron council on their procedure by-law and make recommendations on behalf of constituents. I have also pointed out to our council issues with meeting protocol.
2. Leadership: There is a lack of strong leadership at Bluewater council and subsequently we have become a reactive municipality instead of a proactive one. As a result, we have experienced increased pressure from provincially-driven policy making that is not respectful of our collective interests and rights. I have a proven track record of taking on provincial and municipal government in the defence of your private property rights and I’ve done it on my own time and dime because I am a person who will step up.
3. Empowerment: I’m hearing from people that they do not feel empowered to make decisions or affect change at the local level and I think that’s a shame. I also hear private enterprise is being stifled by over regulation (zoning, planning, conservation authority. They have an important role to play but there is a happy medium). Our strength is us: our experience, knowledge and passion for the community we live and work in is our greatest resource and we need to put it to use. How? As I’ve suggested since beginning my campaign, via the creation of committees of council (planning, environment, economic development, heritage) remunerated by stipend)) to address issues that affect us as individuals, wards and as a municipality.
4. Knowledge: I believe there is a lack of knowledge of the lawful aspect of municipal council and as a result there is too much reliance on others for advice and counsel. Confidence is a by-product of knowledge and if we know what our powers are, we can better utilize them to get what it is we want and need. I have a keen interest in law and as the President of the Huron-Perth Landowners Association, it was necessary for me to learn as much as possible in my role. As a direct result, my acquired knowledge has garnered me the respect of professionals in this field. I will contribute my knowledge to empower the council.
5. Fairness: Over 60% of the tax burden in Bluewater is carried by residents west of highway 21. Bluewater has control over the mill rate and residential is being charged the same rate, even if there is a lack of municipal services. As in other municipalities’, I think mill rates should be based on services. Revenue shortfalls can be recovered through budgeting efficiencies such as productivity incentive programs and attrition at the County level.
Jim Fergusson: There is a serious lack of leadership on council. I bring the ability to see the big picture and bring people together. I also know how to read a financial statements and spend smart.
Pete Walden:More co-operative listening communication is always needed. Sharing values from all of our diverse groups is essential – we are NOT all that different!
What Bluewater community groups or committees have you been part of in the recent past?
Bill Dowson: I have managed to attend all committee meetings in Bluewater, the Heritage Committee, Communities in Blooms, Committee of Economic Development and also includes Agricultural Fairs, meetings, Annual meetings etc. this includes many that did not include the per diem. As you are aware I have attended many of your BSRA meetings and the BRA meetings. Also I have attended many committee meetings and Council meetings at the County level representing Bluewater.
Paul Klopp: · Member of Branch 468 (Hensall) Legion
· Zurich Agricultural Society
· Chairman, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
· Director Huron County Federation of Agriculture
· Zurich Bean Festival
· Has-Beans Hockey Club
· Member St. Joseph Historical Society
Tyler Hessel: I currently serve with the Huron County Council Committee of the Whole, County Health Board, Skills Gap Committee, Huron Manufacturing Association, the Bayfield and Area Chamber of Commerce, the Huron County Food Bank, the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association, Communities in Bloom, the Past Chair Huron County Library Board, past president of the Bayfield Optimist, past vice president of BRA and a member Pioneer Park Association. I have also volunteered my time as a minor hockey goalie coach, helped Bayfield Marina and beach become certified as a Blue Flag facility, and helped promote Huron county as a destination for wine tourism.
Cindy Moyer: Huron-Perth Landowners Association, Pioneer Park Association.
Jim Fergusson: Current vice-chair Bluewater Blooms Committee, Current chair Friends of Bayfield Library, President and Chair Huron Business Development Corp, member Huron Economic Development Partnership, member Bayfield Historical Society, member river valley trail association, member Pioneer Park Association.
Pete Walden: Currently sit on the Varna Water Committee. Past Bluewater Rec Committee Chair, Bayfield Soccer Association Board member and referee & trainer.Organizer of several annual Stanley Canoe Rallies – until shut down by a disinterested council
Do you support the new requirements in the Lakeshore Residential Zone (LR1) in Draft 3 of the Zoning By-law?
Bill Dowson: Yes.
Paul Klopp: It is actually a recommendation, not a requirement, which is now going to the public as part of our overall zoning bylaw review. My job is to listen to what the public is saying. I await the results of the discussions which are currently being held because I firmly believe that when we are asking the people for their opinion, we should wait until they have formed their answers. Armed with that information, I look forward to having the debate at Council, making a decision, and abiding by that decision.
Tyler Hessel: Yes I do support the new LR1 zoning change
Cindy Moyer: No, I feel this was a government-driven plan rather than community-driven. The people of the Lakeshore should decide first what they want/need for their own community and then planning should take place.
Jim Fergusson: Yes
Pete Walden: I have the LR1 section 17 September 2, 2014 in front of me and it appears reasonable. I will have to sit with planners and residents to properly assess this draft by-law
INTERVIEWS WITH BLUEWATER CANDIDATES FOR THE POSITIONS OF MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR
Three BSRA Board Members (Sue Haskett, Keith Locking and Jan Purvis) met with each candidate for approximately 45 minutes and asked them all the same set of questions which mainly focused on: updating Bluewater’s Official Plan, the value of a revised Noise By-law, specific tax saving measures, how to avoid non-productive splits in Council, their view of ratepayer groups like BSRA and BRA, support for water quality testing, support for the road grant program and comfort level with new communication technologies (e.g. paperless meetings, smart phones, etc.)
Summaries of the interviews with the mayoral candidates follow:
* When work begins on redoing the Official Plan will depend on Council’s decision – but will likely be in January. The OP provides Council with a road map for the future.
* A revision of the Noise By-law is appropriate. Whatever changes are made must be applicable to all industrial operations in Bluewater.
* There is no simple answer to how to reduce taxes. Some services could be cut if the public is prepared to accept that. Infrastructure must be maintained but could, for example, cut back on road maintenance like gravel applications.
* To improve Council cohesion, need to educate Councillors about all areas of Bluewater. To improve the public’s view of Bluewater, could organize open houses on the shoreline and on various farm operations.
* Ratepayer organizations need to do a better job of representing their members.
* Supports the water quality testing program but wants to see more actions designed to create change. Feels the program makes the public more aware of how their actions can affect water quality in streams and gullies.
* Supports the road grant program.
* Communicates using a Blackberry
* Work on the Official Plan needs to begin as soon as possible. Then the Draft Zoning By-law can be finalized. Having an up-to-date OP ties into developing a long-term budget plan and doing a full services review. Good planning helps municipalities avoid repeating mistakes.
* Revising the Bluewater Noise By-law is timely and will give Bluewater a legal framework if there are noise complaints about wind turbines. Supports the creation of a reserve to deal with IWT issues. Wants to see IWTs taxed in the same way other industrial entities are taxed.
* To reduce taxes, do a thorough review of Bluewater garbage policies – do we go to a “clear-bag” approach like the one in Bayfield? Hold 2 rather than 3 Council meetings a month. Hold fewer budget meetings. Combine some services with other municipalities. Look for ways to combine job responsibilities in Bluewater.
* Council needs to work as a team and the Mayor needs to consult Councillors
* Appreciates that BSRA monitors Council meetings
* Supports water quality testing and would like to see introduction of a septic inspection program
* Supports the road grant program
* Comfortable with modern technology. Uses his tablet at Council meetings.
* Ready to begin work on revising/updating the Official Plan as soon as possible. It will take about a year to complete the work. His follow-up message indicated the process can start now.
* Developing a revised Bluewater Noise By-law is timely. Wants to hear all sides of the debate before there is a decision on final wording
* To begin to reduce taxes, freeze wages now, reduce some programs and/or share services with the county, set a local example of tax reduction to help convince the province to upload some services
* To avoid Council dissension, lead by example and deal with facts
* Ratepayer organizations are a good way to get public input. More public input needed at the Council table – but how that would work needs to be clearly outlined
* Supports the water quality testing program but always looking for less expensive ways to do it
* Supports the road grant program
* Comfortable with modern technologies, particularly the smart phone
* The mayor can initiate ideas for Council to consider but after that he/she is one person who listens to all the input and debate before casting his one vote (among nine) to make a Council decision
* The amending process for the Official Plan should begin now. Wants and needs should be identified and then the plan can be adopted.
* Before dealing with a Noise By-law, there needs to be legal clarity about whether the
Green Energy Act trumps the Municipal Act. Bluewater could take a lead in getting a court decision on this legal question.
* The first step in tax reduction is to have staff find efficiencies. Should also investigate setting up a tiered mill rate to address perceived lack of services in some parts of Bluewater. Ratepayers should also appeal their assessments with MPAC.
* The head of Council needs to develop a team approach with Council members.
* Ratepayer groups are essential and there should be more of them.
* At first Cindy did not know what the road grant was, but after we explained the history, she said she was in favour of it.
* Supports the water quality testing program. Lake Huron is an important resource in Bluewater.
* Comfortable with modern technology.
* Sees Bluewater’s strengths as: tourism, a strong agricultural/industrial area and a retirement location
Summaries of the interviews with the deputy-mayoral candidates follow:
* Work needs to begin on Official Plan update
* Agrees that a Bluewater Noise By-Law is appropriate as a way to address IWT noise complaints. Would discuss a vibrancy fund with Nextera if it were offered but any acceptance would depend on the terms of the agreement.
* Taxes can be reduced if efficiencies are found. This requires a full services review. Some services can be shared with other municipalities or the county to reduce duplication of efforts. A 10-year plan which would span the life of two Councils would keep the focus on long-range planning rather than the reactive short-term decisions being made by Council
* As Deputy Mayor, would work collaboratively with whomever is Mayor
* Grassroots input from BSRA and other ratepayer groups is important
* Supports continuation of the water quality testing program. Bluewater needs an Environmental Plan – particularly with respect to the long-term requirements for sewage treatment
* Supports the road grant program
* Comfortable with modern communication technology
* It is difficult for a Council to implement necessary long range planning. It gets derailed as a Council becomes focussed on everyday short-term issues.
* Work on the Official Plan should be a priority with Council
* Supports the development of a revised Noise By-law
* To reduce Bluewater taxes, need to look at ways to control wages of employees. Also need to address ensuring that MPAC assessment values are current
* Council can be cohesive if they have identified and agreed upon system-wide goals
* Groups like BSRA are beneficial in a community. They provide a monitoring role but they need to accurately reflect their members’ views. They help Council understand issues.
* Supports water quality testing as we need empirical data but need to continue to look for ways to improve the situation.
* Supports the road grant program and also the road assumption policy
* Comfortable with modern computer technologies. Uses a Blackberry
The candidates present their platforms at the BSRA meeting August 23rd.
Links to the Bluewater election candidates
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