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 Ward 1 in Gravenhurst. 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. Tell us about yourself and why you’ve decided to run for office? I am a mother of two children and an entrepreneur, owning and operating 3 businesses in Gravenhurst. I’m a Real Estate Broker with Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka, a Land Planning Facilitator with Muskoka Planning and Permits and a Title Searcher; I also have a full-time job within the District of Muskoka. I’m a musician and an artist and love my hometown. My children are grown now and were born here; have lived here all their lives just as I have. The challenges our town faces, my children and I face as well. I think this is instrumental in understanding the needs of our residents. I am a strong advocate no matter what subject I am championing. I’m passionate, committed, motivated and experienced; I feel that I can make a positive difference in how we succeed as a diverse and celebrated community mindful of the beautiful environment we are so lucky to be a part of.
2. A) Address our affordable housing crisis and foster attainable housing. Work with all facets of government to think out of the box to fulfill the desperate need for housing first, possibly including smaller lots in rural areas, tiny homes and cubicles to shelter homeless until transition can be made to house permanently, attain food permanently, and that makes it possible to enter the job market. Fight to reintroduce rent control.
B) Raise awareness of Mental Health challenges and champion for Mental Health Care in our municipality. The lack of mental health support here is staggering and the needs are overwhelming. We need to attract more psychotherapists, any psychiatrists and psychologists and discover more ways to work with hospitals, police and area supports to put a solid mental health support system in place.
C) Protect the Environment and provide better preparedness for climate emergencies without increasing the budget through raised taxes. Revisit our state of climate emergency declaration. Are we on the road to using cheaper renewables? Town electric vehicles, Solar Powered Lights / LED throughout buildings, Mix salt with beets for road safety. Other cities such as Laval and Cowansville in Quebec, and Toronto have used their own mixtures of beet juice and salt. This mixture is not only more eco-friendly, causing less damage to the environment, infrastructure, and personal property, but is also more cost effective.
3. After everything is said and done, we are all family. We are all fighting for the same thing. Our livelihood, our businesses, feeding and clothing our children, our families and our children’s friends and their families, and hoping to have enough money left over to do some little things for ourselves as well. The reality of community and support for one another is real and thrives in our town. That is what I cherish the most. That and walking / driving down the street, waving and honking every minute because someone is honking and waving to me
1. I would like to be the voice of the people of Ward 1. I live in Ward 1, and it is important to me to represent the Ward I live in. I see it as neighbours listening to neighbours and channeling that information to move our remarkable town in a positive direction. I have a neighbour with a saying “Its the Phillip’s Street way”. What he refers to is neighbours helping neighbours. It is a perfect representation of what all of Ward 1 could be. As a small business owner, I meet people from all over our great town, and a common concern is they feel like they have no voice.
2. If you drive through Gravenhurst, it becomes apparent very quickly several of our town’s issues. We need to support the downtown businesses instead of simply growing to the south. We need to attract business which will strengthen our off-season work force. We have lots of people migrating to towns like ours, as I have. We need businesses to support “buying locally” instead of sending people away to make purchases. We need responsible development going forward. We need to attract and retain workers especially for areas of our town such as retirement residences. We need to work harder on improving infrastructure.
We should all feel safe in our town. I hear people tell me they were harassed by someone looking for money. I hear, “I don’t feel comfortable at the park at night.” We need to do a better job of keeping our town safe. When the power goes out for hours on end and it is extremely cold outside, we need emergency plans in place to make sure everyone feels they are not alone. We need safe and affordable housing. This is not an easy task. However, as a voter in Ward 1 there has been no communication as to why the development has taken so long on the south end of town that was supposed to be finished by now.
We need to continue working on programs that improve residents’ lives most. Whether this is attracting support workers for our retirement residences. Assistance programs for families that are struggling to make ends meet every week.
3. Simply put I love this town. We moved here a year and a half ago to find the home we purchased was destroyed. Our neighbours have been so amazingly supportive as we rebuilt our home. We have a town so incredibly rich in history. From Swede town, to Steam ships at the wharf, to the POW Camp on Lake Muskoka, to Dr. Bethune and so many more, this is truly a unique town. We live in a very diverse town but a common thread that runs through it is that it is a very proud town.
1. I have been a resident of Gravenhurst for 45 years. Grew up in Toronto but spent my summers on Sparrow Lake where we have a family cottage. I originally trained and worked as a nurse at Toronto General Hospital , then travelled and met my husband Tony overseas and ended up living in Gravenhurst. We owned and ran Gravenhurst Pharmacy for 29 years. I attended Georgian College and received my diploma in goldsmithing. I had my own business for 15 years – Penny Varney Jewellery Gallery and Gifts. I started the Gravenhurst Highschool Breakfast program, I started Gravenhurst Womens Centre, I started The Arts at the Albion co-op gallery.I entered politics at the Municipal level in 2018 wanting to contribute further to the community.
2. The biggest challenges this year will be the budget with elevating expenses on materials and construction and maintenance. Affordable housing is a huge issue across the country and this is going to be a slow process because of the lack of infrastructure In Gravenhurst close to the the town. Environment is another huge issue across the world but we can do our part through community programs and asking developers to give back to our town by supplying green space around their construction sites like bike trails, park land and absolute water protection.
3. What I cherish most about my town is the community feeling and the number of people who volunteer in areas where it is needed.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!