As part of Doppler’s ongoing coverage of the upcoming municipal elections we reached out to all of the candidates running for election in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes.
Today we look at the candidates for Mayor in Bracebridge. Three candidates have come forward and one will be elected.
We posed the following three questions to each of the candidates:
1. Can you tell us about yourself and why you’ve decided to run for office?
2. What are the biggest challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way(s) to address them?
3. What do you cherish most about this community?
All candidates were given the same amount of time and the same word count for answers. Answers over the word count have been shortened by Doppler.
The municipal election takes place on October 24, 2022. You can find more information on voter eligibility, how to vote and candidate information here.
1. Paul is married has five children and four grand children. He has lived in Bracebridge for 40 years. Born in Parry Sound, Paul was one of eight children and was raised with strong family values. His father was Chief Administrator for 33 years for the Town of Parry Sound. Paul started his first sporting goods business in Carlton Place, Ontario. During his time in Carlton Place, he was appointed by council to chair Parks and Rec. where he was directly responsible for long term policy planning, personnel development and establishing and administering annual budgets.
Portfolio of businesses owned and operated were Video flicks – four Campbell Sports stores – Muskoka Trophy, and The Factory Store. Paul currently owns JAC Property Management Services, The Ice Cream Shoppe, The Burger Shop, Homestyle Café, Maple Lane Farms, D.L.H. Leasing LTD, and Braebell Developments. These businesses employ between 30 to 50 staff depending on the time of year.
Paul served as Chairman of the Audit Committee for the Parry Sound Muskoka Credit Union where he received training in money management, financial risk management, personnel management as well as analyzing and understanding financial statements. Paul has been a Business Improvement Association member for over 30 years and sat as BIA Chairman for 4 years. He was a Director for the Town of Bracebridge Economic Development Committee for many years. Paul managed the Muskoka Branch of Ontario Special Olympics for six years.
I decided run for mayor because I believe that I have the skills and experience to deal with the complicated issues that the future will bring. This includes lack of housing, high levels of taxation and regulations, lack of commercial growth and overall proper management of the town.
2. The biggest challenges in our municipality are to manage the residential growth and to make sure that there are proper services, water sewer, and to keep the town safe with fire and police.
The best ways to address these challenges is to encourage businesses to relocate to Bracebridge, and to enter back into the workforce here. Managing
the town through zoning laws and regulations can encourage growth, as well as working with the private sector. My goal is to establish rentals and housing that the average person will be able to afford with reasonable costs. I will encourage entrepreneurs to start small service businesses to serve the many people that have retired here in Bracebridge. As we build our workforce, the larger businesses will act in accordance with the smaller ones and there will be a chain of positive events that will promote growth, which in return will all make for a better Bracebridge.
3. I cherish the small town atmosphere, I believe it’s a great town to raise a family. As mayor, my priorities will be to preserve and protect this atmosphere.
1. I have served the residents of Bracebridge as Councillor, District Councillor, Deputy Mayor and now Mayor for the past 12 years. During this time I’ve leaned on my broad municipal experience to provide leadership on many fronts and helped guide Council through many challenges, crises, and opportunities. I’ve developed important and ongoing relationships with municipal, provincial and federal leaders, the local business community, volunteer organizations and citizens from all walks of life.
On day one of the new term of council there will be no hesitation on my part to carry on my duties as Mayor and be fully engaged and connected ensuring that issues that are important to the residents of Bracebridge; like affordable housing, healthcare, climate action, active transportation and a vibrant business community that offers living wages remain in focus.
I will continue to bring energy and strong leadership to a new Council that will oversee the completion of the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre, the largest infrastructure project this town has seen in a generation and the continued managed growth of a community that is both dynamic and ever-changing.
2. All small communities across the province struggle with increasing the supply of affordable housing. Bracebridge is no different. We must engage all stakeholders on real action to bring more affordable rental units online now. That will include rent incentives that provide rental assurance for landlords who offer affordable rental units and increasing rent supplements to reduce rental costs. Further we will continue to advocate the provincial government for increased funding and flexibility and implement the innovative solutions developed by the Muskoka Housing Task Force.
I am proud that we were the first to declare a climate emergency and further pleased that we will soon have our first climate action plan that will set our GHG reduction goals with clear direction on adaptation and mitigation strategies. It will be imperative that a new council move forward on the implementation of this plan and continue to show leadership on real climate action.
Bracebridge should be a place for all residents to live work and play. Like many small communities however, there are those who have been marginalized. Whether it is due to employment, housing, mobility, health or social isolation. We need to continue to focus on services, programming and policies that break down barriers and attracting and fostering employment that provides families with living wages. We must continue supporting transitional housing that meets the needs of all residents and to build on public transit and active transportation initiatives that connects neighbourhoods. Finally, we will need to continue to invest in long term care, home care and doctor recruitment and provide recreational and social programs with a focus on engaging youth and seniors.
3. I have witnessed first-hand the way that Bracebridge pulls together in times of emergency and crisis. Both the 2013 and 2019 flood events proved quite visibly that this community will stand shoulder to shoulder with their neighbour.
As we emerge from a pandemic that has changed all our lives, we need to refocus and build on our shared sense of community and community support. Bracebridge will celebrate 150 years as an incorporated town in 2025. This will be an exciting opportunity for residents to learn more about our local history, to develop a deeper understanding of Bracebridge and Muskoka, to engage our youth and to allow all residents an opportunity to show their civic pride which has always been the hallmark of Bracebridge, a town that is truly the heart of Muskoka
1. I decided to run after repeatedly seeing the current politicians ignore the serious issues facing Bracebridge and Muskoka. Fellow residents’ concerns about developments that pose a threat to the environment and well being of Bracebridge residents are repeatedly ignored. Local business concerns fall on deaf ears. Residents seem unwelcome at the Town Hall. The Town is run by a small clique of politicians who continually vote against residents’ interests. This clique are in favour of massive developments promoted by outside speculators.
I first came to Muskoka as a child in the early 1960s. I loved Muskoka at first sight; the trees, forest, lakes, rivers and streams, the plant life and abundant wildlife.
My wife and I have a hobby farm and manage a significant forest in Bracebridge to preserve it for future generations. SAVE DON’T PAVE.
As as entrepreneur and business person I bring considerable experience in getting things done.
2. The Town needs an urgent review of governance, bidding and tendering, budgeting and taxation. I would immediately establish a blue ribbon panel and regular Town Hall meetings with residents, cottage and business associations.
Will Bracebridge become just another massive suburb? The next elected Town Council will be making this decision through the new Official Plan and Zoning By-law. Real public discussion must take place, not the current ‘legal’ minimum.
• Stopping the proposed Mega Quarry – a health and safety disaster, a major threat to our air and water quality.
• Review Muskoka Royale – provincially significant wetland should not be targeted for urban growth
• Protecting our watershed – Establish a Muskoka Conservation Authority
• End clearcutting of trees – Protect and Preserve our heritage and natural beauty
• Freeze Water and Sewer rates which are the highest in Ontario and set to go up again
• ROLLBACK Council’s self approved 17%-20% pay raise.
• Transparent budgeting and taxation
• Halt the reckless borrowing – Bracebridge faces a debt crisis
Building a Sustainable Economy
• Development approvals should match existing infrastructure
• Limit suburban type sprawl
• 4 to 5 story height limit on new buildings
• No to subdivisions around shorelines
• New subdivisions must respect the natural landscape, no clearcutting
• Preserve our historic buildings – establish Municipal Heritage designation committee.
• Build housing that local residents and especially our young people can afford to buy or rent
Muskoka solutions for maintaining and enhancing health services.
Creating a year round economy with real jobs – Let’s develop a startup technology hub
3. I cherish the small town neighbourly atmosphere, its history, the pure air and water, the natural beauty, peace and tranquility of our beloved Town all of which needs to be preserved for us and future generations.
We are a hardworking community of individuals and families who care about and look after each other. We have the pioneering spirit. We are a can do community.
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