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 Macaulay Ward in Bracebridge. 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. Whenever I return to Bracebridge from another community, I am always struck by how beautiful our town is, and I am proud to call this home. I have lived in Bracebridge for over 25 years, and have been very fortunate to be able to return here after attending university and college, to start a career and raise a family. I say fortunate, because I understand how hard it is for families to find work in their respective fields in Muskoka, as well as provide opportunities for our children to stay when they grow and enter the workforce. As Bracebridge continues to grow, supporting a workforce that will allow all parts of the town’s economy to flourish will be a challenge, one that will take creative solutions and input from the entire community. I am well aware that elected officials and town staff work incredibly hard to address challenges faced by the community, however I feel we can do more to engage the residents of Bracebridge in decisions, and provide them with a voice, so they can provide meaningful feedback on the direction the town is headed. I want to be the conduit that allows the people of Bracebridge to shape what their community looks like in the near term, and for years to come.
2. While our population may not be large, we have a diversity of needs that will pose challenges for municipal staff. The significant number of seasonal residents will have different needs than those who call Bracebridge home year round – although the needs of both are equally important. The economy of Bracebridge is made up heavily of public service, tourism service, and trades, among many other fields, and Bracebridge will need to find ways to encourage current residents to enter into needed fields, or attract new residents to fulfill these positions by providing affordable housing, access to services, and opportunities for all residents to speak – and be heard.
As the world rebounds from the massive spending brought on by the pandemic, there will be tough decisions made at all levels of government as we return to sustainable spending. The residents of Bracebridge need to have a voice in directing staff on what our priorities are, whether they be economic, environmental, housing, healthcare, or any combination of the above. We also need to decide on how large or fast we want Bracebridge to grow, and what that growth looks like.
There is no easy solution to these challenges, but it starts with listening, and providing each resident the opportunity to voice their concerns and share their fresh ideas. The best way to thrive together is to work together. My job, if elected, would be to provide a path for us to do so.
3. As stated above, anytime I return to Bracebridge from a trip to another town, I am so impressed by how beautiful our town is. No matter what way I enter town, I am met with beautiful landscapes, a wonderful downtown core, incredible eateries and shops, along with an impressive selection of town services. More importantly, each time I travel through town, I see the amazing people of Bracebridge. I’ve enjoyed seeing some of my highschool alumni remain in Bracebridge and raise families of their own. I often see past teachers, or employees from local shops who have long since retired, and I get the feeling that the torch has been passed on to the next generation of Bracebridge Residents to continue making this community special. I’ve seen the generosity of the people in Bracebridge, through involvement with fundraisers and community events, and I’ve also seen the benefits of some of this generosity, as many continue to struggle and need a helping hand. The scenery in Bracebridge is beautiful, but it’s the people that truly make this town something to be proud of. If, through this campaign and role as Councilor, I can help residents of Bracebridge feel as proud as I do about our incredible town, I will have accomplished my goal. My slogan for this campaign is “Vibrant, safe, beautiful, responsible,” and I hope to work with as many members of the community as I can to ensure we can achieve that vision together.
1. My name is Andrew Struthers, I have lived in Bracebridge for 13 years, and prior to that was a cottager in the Bracebridge area my entire life. With a business in Bracebridge employing 28 people, and 4 generations living here, I am firmly invested in making Bracebridge the best place to live possible. 4 years ago I took the leap to represent Macaulay and have enjoyed learning, listening, and helping residents in all areas of Bracebridge with their issues.
Unfortunately, a lot of my term 1 objectives were delayed due to COVID and I look to the residents of Bracebridge to give me the opportunity to continue these projects. From our Transportation Masterplan and Downtown Masterplan to the Muskoka Lumber Community Center, we have a lot on the go that needs experienced people around the council table to guide in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner.
Our beautiful town has so much to offer, but we need to make sure we keep our great friendly small town safe, beautiful, and friendly. We need to listen to the residents to see what they want the future of Bracebridge to be, and we need to make sure we can achieve these items while keeping taxes from rising, so we can all afford to enjoy Muskoka.
With my experience running a business for over 20 years, I believe I can continue to provide guidance in all these areas for the next 4 years.
2. Bracebridge will have many challenges in the next 4 years. We have some of the largest infrastructure projects in town history underway with the MLCC, which will make managing our cashflow critical. Well budgeted and planned, this will still be a challenge to finish on time and under budget. Our downtown masterplan needs more public consultation and will also be a costly endeavour to integrate the waterfront into our Manitoba Street area. This will require public / private partnerships to keep the burden off the taxpayer. The new hospitals need fundraising and continued advocacy for the province to take on more of the total cost. Towns like Bracebridge cannot afford 40% of the bill!
All levels of Government also need to be constantly working together to address our housing issues, making sure everyone can afford a roof over their head and heat in the winter.
All this needs to be done with an environmental focus to protect our water, forests, trails, and everything else we love about Bracebridge.
3. It’s hard to limit the list of what I cherish about Bracebridge to the word limit for this article!
– My niece and nephew can safely walk to school
– I can wave to cars passing by and they wave back
– People smile as they walk down the streets
– I’m minutes from clean water to swim, trails to hike or cross-country ski
– We have amazing restaurants with friendly owners
– Our local stores care and if they don’t have what you are looking for, they will find it or tell you where to go.
– Our hospital is amazing, with nurses and doctors that go above and beyond.
– We have clean air, clean water, lots of trees, and we can see the stars at night.
The list goes on and on. I often think we forget how truly lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place. Being able to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the beauty. That’s what I cherish.
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!