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 Bracebridge Ward/ Ward 1 in Bracebridge. Five 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. I grew up in Bracebridge and I have also lived in Toronto, North Bay, Calgary and Ottawa. I went to Monck Public School and BMLSS (the original). My boys attended the new facility. It has truly been a gift to live and raise my family in Bracebridge.
I love to be involved in my community. Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to volunteer with a number of organizations that have worked hard to improve and enhance the experience of those they serve. I have found the teamwork required for Board work to be challenging yet particularly rewarding. I enjoy the prospect of researching an issue, weighing different views and opinions and the discussion and debate that eventually can lead to consensus. I believe I have valuable insights to offer and a variety of life experiences from which draw.
Municipal governance has long been an interest but until recently I didn’t feel I could make the time commitment required for the expectations of the role. My two sons are now grown and leading lives of their own and I am fortunate to be at a point in my career to be able to organize my work to accommodate council meeting schedules and preparation time required.
2. In general, our municipality faces the same challenges as our greater society: climate change, affordable housing, food security, aging population, fiscal pressures and an over-burdened healthcare system. I think the biggest challenges moving forward will be to consider all these factors in the decision making of the future as they are all inextricably linked. Municipalities have these huge challenges, but great opportunities too, because municipal governments are on the front line and can make such a difference in our day-to-day lives.
For example, there has been an affordable housing deficit in Bracebridge for decades which has been exacerbated by the pandemic and accompanying steep increases in local housing prices. The inventory of rental units remains low leaving few options for those seeking affordable places to live. The relocation of the arena to the Multi-Use Community Centre leaves a large urban footprint that could be developed into affordable and very central housing. This has already been identified as an option in the Bracebridge Downtown Master Plan but it can and should be made a priority. Partnerships and cooperation with other levels of government would also be required. Creative solutions including concepts like senior co-housing or mulit-generational living schemes could help lessen pressure in other areas like health care and childcare as well.
3. I never fail to appreciate how fortunate we are to live in the quintessential Canada, the land of rocks, lakes and trees full of beautiful spaces and places to walk (or snowshoe) quite literally on our doorsteps and in every season. However, it is the people, the kindnesses, the heritage, the shared values and social interactions that create the community that I most treasure. I want to help continue to expand this notion of community through all the challenges that come our way.
Christian McEachran Morin
1. As a local, I’ve grown up in Muskoka over the past 20 years, and consider it a privilege to call it my home. Though I may be relatively young, I’ve experienced Muskoka from many angles. On the industry side, I’ve worked jobs hospitality, construction, and administration in the area. On the recreation side, I’ve gone hunting, fishing, swimming, and enjoyed the nature that Muskoka has to offer. I am deeply concerned that the global climate crisis will cause harm to Muskoka’s natural environment, and by extension, the hospitality industry that Muskoka’s economy relies on. I’ve signed petitions and decreased my personal waste production, but I feel it’s not enough. I would like to contribute to positive environmental change in a more impactful manner, and by stepping up for a seat on Bracebridge’s council, I would hope to effect policy change that ensures Muskoka environment is protected for all to enjoy. As a secondary reason, I would like to see more youth representation in politics. There aren’t many candidates at any political level that are experiencing the housing crisis, or the environmental crisis the same way that youth are today. I would like to offer a voice to that demographic and encourage others like myself to get involved. Our future will not change for the better if we don’t make it change ourselves.
2. The biggest challenge our municipality faces is the same challenge that faces the world right now. We have reached the point where environmental action is no longer a “nice-to-do” thing. It’s now a “need-to-do”, but the powers that be seem content to continue as-is. There is no sense of urgency with much of our leadership. Bracebridge declared a climate emergency on July 8th, 2021, and decided it would develop a Climate Action Plan, but no additional funds were dedicated to that plan in the 2022 budget. Without re-allocating resources toward environment focused initiatives, how can we expect to change anything? At its heart, the challenge is not in getting people to see the problematic outcomes of climate change, it’s in upending the status-quo and getting our community on-board with not just the idea of change, but the reality of it. Change can be overwhelming. It can take away what we know and are comfortable with, but it’s necessary. If we don’t guide the change now, mother nature will do it for us, without first considering our feelings on the matter. This isn’t a problem that can be solved with a top-down solution dictated to the general public. The best way to address this hesitancy for change is to listen to the community, and engage everyone in developing a solution.
3. What I cherish most about our community is its sense of belonging. Bracebridge feels like a welcoming place, with the support of your friends and neighbours and the freedom to be yourself. I remember taking my bass guitar to Precision Music years ago when I was novice player, thinking it was broken because the knobs didn’t work the way the way I expected them to. After Keith looked at it and found there was nothing wrong with it, he took the time to explain to me how the knobs were supposed to work and I came out of that experience having learned something. There was no judgement, I wasn’t made to feel awkward for not knowing something simple, and I never got the impression that it had been a waste of his time (though I did feel quietly embarrassed for myself). Living in other parts of Ontario I’ve never felt as welcome as I do right here at home.
1. My name is Dave Stickel, a candidate currently running for a Town Council position in the Bracebridge Ward 1 in this year’s municipal elections. My wife Jill and I have two children who currently attend our local high school. Our family has been heavily involved in our local hockey and dance club. Both our children continue to compete at a competitive level, and volunteer their time towards their respective passions locally. We have been living in Muskoka for the majority of our lives, and have made Bracebridge our home for the past 23 years.
After graduating from college in Hamilton Ontario, I returned to Muskoka to work as a Provincial Offences Officer ( By-Law Enforcement ) for the town of Gravenhurst. This type of work has provided me with a good understanding of local municipal government, and the challenges to the enforcement side of municipal by-laws.
For the past 25 years I’ve been employed as a Correctional Officer for the Correctional Services Canada working in our Federal Penitentiary System. During my career I’ve had the honor of serving on the Emergency Response Team (ERT) as a member, and 5 years as a Team Leader / Instructor for the ERT. More recently I’ve acted as an Ambassador for the Correctional Services Canada (CSC) serving our local community and surrounding area through supervising the Community Service Volunteer Group (CSVG). The CSVG is a unique program to CSC, and our local community for over 50 years. It is composed of a team of approved inmates and myself performing various meaningful tasks and providing manual labour for all our not- for- profit organizations. It has been an honor working for our local Royal Canadian Legions, building homes for Habitat for Humanity, and supporting our local food banks to name a few. Working in this capacity has given me a good understanding of the needs in our community, and it has provided me with a passion to further serve my community in a role with town council.
2. The biggest challenges in our municipality that I see is the need for sustainable economic growth, and finding that balance where we protect our natural environment. Encouraging employers with good paying jobs to settle in Bracebridge, so that young families can afford to live and prosper in our community. Exploring affordable housing options is also key so that raising families in our community can become a reality. We need to work together for a good balanced approach to our economic growth and the necessity of protecting our lakes, rivers, ponds and overall watershed. Future growth will depend on our ability to protect our natural environment, in the way we have all come to enjoy. This will ensure future generations the ability to prosper, and continue making our community a wonderful place for it’s residents and visitors alike.
3. What I cherish most about our community is our natural surroundings, and the generosity and sincerity of all residents. The large number of people that come out to our local events is a true testament to our sense of community here in Bracebridge. From the ” Muskoka wave” as we pass each other in our vehicles, to the polite encounters on our streets, most people can only dream of living in such a community. I have always felt very fortunate to call Bracebridge home, and the ability to raise my family in such a safe and wonderful setting. Often I will see the private jets flying into our airport, and the traffic on hwy 11 most weekends and think to myself of how fortunate we all are to be living here year round. The visitors to our region come from all over the world to experience our natural beauty, our lakes, rivers and forests all located in our backyards. Muskoka is truly a world class destination, and it has been a privilege to be a part of our community here Bracebridge.
1. Affordable housing is on my radar. Last year alone, the average house in Muskoka increased 21% leaving the dream of home ownership out of reach for many and driving rent through the roof. Great work has been done with a practical roadmap to building a livable and affordable community where everyone has a great place to live. I would like to help bring those issues into action to address the housing crisis especially for first time home buyers. If each new housing or condo development included 20% affordable units, municipalities need to be allowed to offer incentives for developers to build affordable units. We need to support tiny homes, secondary suites, laneway housing, and other new and innovative approaches to housing and look at our zoning by-laws to allow greater flexibility.
As a caring society we need to have more options and alternatives for elder care without having to move to an institutional setting where this pandemic has proven deadly for many who lived in private for-profit long terms care facilities. There are many great examples of how we can do better when it comes to supporting seniors and people with disabilities in our community.
We all understand we need clean air and water, soil and food to keep us healthy and prosperous. We need to start working on finding solid solutions to the climate emergency. We need greater recognition and work with organizations in our community who are doing good work to protect Muskoka’s environment. Our health and livelihoods depend on it.
2. I believe the biggest challenges in our municipality is to have closer scrutiny on development. The Muskoka Lumber Community Centre is underway along with a new hospital to build in Bracebridge. There are residential subdivisions and condos slated for construction along with expansion of a local quarry and a future waterfront development at the downtown Rona site. There needs to be a limit on urban sprawl.
Input from the community resulted in the 2018-2028 Community Based Strategic Plan for the Town of Bracebridge as a guide to determine where it wants to go and what type of community Bracebridge will be in the future. Strategic themes include a modern and prosperous economy, environmental stewardship, creative and considerate planning, community wellness and cultural vitality, governance and civic engagement.
I would like to see environmental stewardship at the core of every decision made at the council table and to reinstate the Environment Committee and create a Municipal Heritage Committee to protect Woodchester Villa and other historical buildings and parks in Bracebridge now and into the future.
3. Bracebridge is a friendly and close-knit community where citizens care about their neighbours and help out when help is needed. It is a community with heart and I would like to give back to a town that has given so much to my family over the years. There will be much to be accomplished with exciting projects for the Town in the next four years all the while protecting the lakes, rivers, forests and the air we breathe! I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to work for you!
1. I am getting to an age when I have the time to spend on representing my community so I’ve put my name forward. I feel like I’m in excellent company with the other candidates in this same race.
In years past, I have volunteered with many community organizations such as the fall fair, Lakeland Little Theatre Group, hockey support while my children played as they were growing up, the cancer society, the Lions Club, our hospital fundraisers and Christmas Party, people who needed support in getting their income tax submissions up to date and more. I’m approachable and non-judgmental to the best of my ability and people can trust that I will do my best to help them. This is my time to commit to our Town Council if the people decide they want me to be there. I’m a quick learner, technologically savvy, and I would like to be of service.
2. There are challenges in trying to live and work here full time. The weather dictates how busy our merchants are and just when the people who spend their lives here would like to enjoy all that Muskoka has to offer we need to commit to the business that is generated in the peak tourist season. During COVID some were able to apply for an income to sustain themselves while they enjoyed Muskoka like tourists. Now that COVID is winding down, we find ourselves without enough workers to support businesses in peak seasons. We need to concentrate on the shoulder seasons to encourage visitors to come so we have a steady income all year.
I think our Muskoka Towns should host events during April and November. Those are the slowest months here. If events took place over an entire month, the planning would spill over into March and May and October and December. The flags up along Memorial Park say “CREATE”. I can visualize writers, actors, musicians, painters and singers coming to “CREATE”. Maybe to compete as we celebrate them and their craft. It takes planning, but it is a building block that would be worthwhile.
Housing is a problem all over the country. I believe the federal and provincial governments need to partner with the municipalities to help build more of it. Habitat for Humanity does an amazing job providing housing for people at an affordable cost. Maybe we should look at their housing models?
3. The water, the fall colours, the beauty in winter, the people who often need so much but give to others anyway. My children live here, my grandchildren are growing up here. We have some amazing young people trying to carve a living here in this beautiful part of the world.
We have an electricity generation company that has spawned Lakeland High Speed Internet. And we have the Northern Ontario School of Medicine that has given us some of the brightest new doctors. Put those together and we’re destined for an amazing future.
We live in a generous and caring community. There is so much to celebrate!
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