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 race for Mayor of Muskoka Lakes Township. Two candidates are running for the position and one will be elected.
We posed the following three questions to each of the candidates:
1. 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 am re-running as Mayor to ensure every voice in Muskoka is heard, not just those represented by associations. Often over the past decade, the pendulum has swung from far left to far right. 4 years ago I ran as a Balanced Leader and thankfully I have been successful to fulfill that mandate. There continues however to be a real threat from Large associations to manipulate council, even soliciting people to run for specific positions to ensure the associations voice is the only voice heard. This is not appropriate for Municipal Government. It is our job and duty as elected officials to consider all perspectives, including those that don’t vote for us – not just the loudest voice.
2. Our largest challenge continues to be inappropriate development and protection of the natural environment. Thankfully, we have made monumental strides over the past term of council to increase our bylaw efforts and to ensure property owners and contractors “follow the rules”. Though we have made significant headway, our job is not yet done. Communication and education continue to be the cornerstone of good governance, as well as tweaks and updates to our complex bylaws to ensure compliance as well as that our bylaws are actually solving the problem they were intended to solve.
3. I have been in Muskoka for 56 years, I have owned homes both in rural Muskoka and on the waterfront where I now live 365 days a year. This truly is a unique community with a variety of social and economic needs, representing an extreme diversity in people. Just as my parent’s cherished this amazing place, I too share their passion for family and enjoyment of all things Muskoka. Most important for me, is that with my son and his wife, now third generation living and working in Muskoka, I am blessed to introduce the fourth generation of my family to this exceptional community thru my almost four year old grandson. From boat rides in the summer to hikes across the frozen lake in the winter, it is my goal to protect and enhance all things Muskoka for generations to come.
1. I am a retired lawyer, business leader and entrepreneur. I have been a cottager on Lake Joseph for 23 years and, since 2015, have lived during the “off season” in Port Carling. My wife, a 6th generation native of Port Carling, and I have a 15 year-old daughter who attends BMLSS. I have served on Township Council as Councillor, Ward C, for one term. I also serve the community in various volunteer positions: as Chairman of the Board of the Friends of the Muskoka Watershed; as President of the Port Carling Lion’s Club; on the Fundraising and Build Committees of the Habitat for Humanity Bala Build; and as a Director of the Township of Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce.
My initial decision to run for council four years ago was primarily motivated by two main issues: the need to protect the environment of TML from threats posed by overdevelopment and other stressors, and the need to make economic opportunity and attainable housing available for permanent residents.
2. After one term as a Township Councillor I am now seeking the office of Mayor.
There are four main challenges faced by the Township which my platform addresses with proposed action plans (see www.peterkelley.ca for more details) and which will be my primary goals over the next four years:
a.) above all else we must protect the environment from the threats posed by overdevelopment, excessive tree clearing, site alteration, hardscaping and other stressors. These concerns are magnified as the value of waterfront property in the Township soars, and as does the typical building size, complexity and cost. The environment is everything in our Township- it’s our tradition, our culture and our economy. It is also our future. As such I am proposing a Century Plan for the Environment. This will be a 100-year plan to measure and record the markers of health and sustainability for the five or six key ecosystems most at risk, to monitor and record the results of the testing over time and, upon the discovery of a deterioration in the health of any of the monitored ecosystems, to have a predetermined plan to address the problem quickly and begin remediation immediately of any damage already done. I believe that the creation and execution of such a plan would be most effective if done in conjunction with the dozen or so other municipalities which border on the Muskoka River Watershed, as well as the provincial government, and I would attempt to recruit each into the project.
3. There are two answers to the question “what do I cherish most about this community?”
The first is from my perspective as a cottager, which I have been since 1999. This sentiment is perhaps the most common one among the seasonal residents, yet it’s also the one most difficult to reduce to writing. I cherish the natural beauty of our Township’s landscape…the exposed Precambrian granite, the trees of various species, the fresh, clear water and the opportunity to occasionally encounter “exotic” wildlife- like eagles, moose, bears and large turtles. This is a challenging environment in which to live yet the foundation of it all, the Precambrian shield, has remained relatively unchanged for over 1 billion years.
The second is from my perspective as a permanent resident, which I have been since 2015. I cherish the sense of community I feel from among those who live here year-round. As I said above, this is a challenging environment in which to live yet strong community values, a sense that neighbors look after each other and the comfort that comes from simple social interactions that occur on a regular basis makes this a pretty terrific community to call home.
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