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 4 in Gravenhurst. Two 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. My wife Sue and I have lived for more than 33 years on Ben Lake in Ward 4, where we raised our children David and Sarah.
I have been active in the local community for many years, serving as:
• the first School Council Chair at Muskoka Beechgrove Public School and a member of Gravenhurst High School Parent Council
• President of the Ryde Community Co-op, and as the Co-op’s Treasurer
• a leader in Scouts Canada, both in Ryde and in Gravenhurst
• a member of the Gravenhurst Library Board.
In 2006, I was fortunate to be a recipient of a Gravenhurst Volunteer Award.
More recently, I am a member of the Board of Directors of:
• Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre
• The Gravenhurst Chamber of Commerce
• The Gravenhurst Curling Club
I hold a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Biology from the University of Toronto. I worked for many years with the Province of Ontario, and for the past 25+ years I’ve operated Ryde Systems, a computer sales and support company.
I served two terms as the Gravenhurst Ward 4 Councillor from 2010 to 2018.
I was encouraged to run again by friends and neighbours in my community who recognized my previous contributions to Council and the need for a strong rural perspective on Council. My strong interest is in Planning issues. We are seeing significant growth in Gravenhurst, and we need to manage that growth, recognizing the need for more housing in our community, while protecting the environmental values we all share.
2. A lack of suitable housing continues to be a challenge for many in our community. It’s a problem so many communities are facing. This will require collaboration between all levels of government, home builders and other groups to find solutions. In short, we need to encourage more housing to be built to lessen the demand and look at innovative solutions (like accessory apartments in existing homes, for example) for increasing the housing stock. I’d like to see a Muskoka-wide housing roundtable with representatives from local and District government, the building industry and other businesses, and provincial and federal representatives to develop new ideas and possible solutions to the problem. It’s a big one.
The impact of inflation on Gravenhurst’s 2023 budget is significant, and it will take some work to examine the budget and look for ways to stave off a large increase in taxes, at a time when many are feeling the pinch in their household budget. We will need to examine which services are truly essential, and which we might reduce, at least temporarily, to hold the line on a tax increase. All of Council will need to work together with Staff on this, one of the first orders of business for the new Council.
Building a Sustainable Community: The Gravenhurst Strategic Plan recognizes that in order to build a quality lifestyle community, we must address and balance all of our community’s assets: environmental, economic, social and cultural. These principles must always guide Council decisions, to maintain and enhance our community.
3. Along with the great natural environment we have here in Gravenhurst, the sense of community here is one of our biggest assets. Having volunteers who step up to help whenever needed makes such a difference. I’ve seen that throughout my own years of community service, and during my time with the various organizations, I have been a part of. I have met many wonderful people who enhance our hometown, and Gravenhurst is a better place thanks to the many volunteers our there serving our community. As a Town, we must continue to collaborate with and support our many vital community groups.
1. I decided to run because I believe that our health and well being depends largely on the conditions in the communities where we grow, work and play. The recent past has highlighted global and local disparities resulting in homelessness, drug abuse, and mental health challenges. I also believe it is time we respond to climate change and other environmental challenges with the urgency required to create change.
I have worked as a division manager for the largest AV company in Toronto, The Adcom Presentation Group. I have managed the Northern Ontario Division of Burns Security Wells Fargo. I have owned and operated my own advertising and recording business Project Sound. I have also co-written seven albums for major labels including BMG.
I grew up in Gravenhurst, the only place I’ve ever considered home. The job nearest to my heart was Manager of the Gravenhurst Opera House. I was responsible for programing, strategic planning, hiring and scheduling, managing technical development, rentals and capital and operating budgets. I also developed events such as Trillium Court Dinner Theatre for local theatre groups
and Starquest, an annual talent series (primarily for youth). I have also sat on several committees including The Gravenhurst Winter Carnival Committee.
I am familiar with municipal operations and can navigate this system effectively to achieve my goals and especially your goals. I am also familiar with the previous vigour and vitality of this community and believe that, working together with staff,councillors and citizens, I can help re-store Gravenhurst to it’s former good health.
2. The toughest challenges facing this community are:
a) affordable housing
b) economic development
c) drug abuse
d) mental health
Affordable housing should be addressed as part of our vision for economic development. It is my belief that we should be expanding beyond the tourism industry to attract year round sustainable, green industries. Green, of course, to maintain the natural state and health of our uniquely beautiful environment.
Our global community experienced many challenges during the pandemic. The root of many of these challenges was reliability on a tenuous and complex supply chain. This lack of self sufficiency creates vulnerabilities in communities globally and locally. Self sufficiency should begin at the local level. Small locally owned businesses are the backbone of self sufficiency and economic health.
Locally owned small business and good paying jobs are one of the elements we need to address affordable housing. The other is strong supportive municipal policy and bylaws that encourage the construction of affordable housing and alternative housing such as tiny homes. A bylaw review and a review of our municiple government structure to control or reduce costs and tax increases should be undertaken.
A strong healthy economy will go along way to mitigating mental health and drug abuse issues, but of course much more is required. We have to invest financially in programs and activities that bring our youth together and send the message that they are important and they belong to this community. Minor Hockey and our local dance studio Just 4 Kicks are great examples of this.
3. What I cherish most about this community is the connection I feel to the people here. Because traditionally in Gravenhurst, community has been important, we gather and share a few laughs and stories at events like Music on the Barge, The Gravenhurst Winter Carnival, regattas on our lakes and in places like the Gravenhurst Opera House, our parks, the Wharf and Downtown in our shops and family restaurants…the list goes on. My point is that in Gravenhurst we gather alot and we build relationships with our neighbors. We get to know each other, we build friendships and relationships and this is the foundation for a great quality of life and a very strong community. With this strength we help each other and we support each other. With this strength we face our challenges and overcome them.
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!