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 A /Ward 1. Four candidates have come forward and two 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 am a full time resident and have been for 22 years. I am a lakefront property owner and I own and operate Lakeside Bala a lovely waterfront restaurant on Bala Bay Lake Muskoka. In my earlier career prior to moving to Muskoka, I spent 15 years in the technology industry with SynOptics and Cisco Systems in sales and sales management offering solutions to large corporations.
I have entered the race as a candidate for a ward A council position to assist in trying to direct and affect change to address the issues within the Township of Muskoka Lakes. I am running on a balance approach to hopefully serve and address the needs of all constituents across the Township of Muskoka Lakes and my ward A community.
2. In my opinion, the three significant challenges within the Township of Muskoka Lakes
Is the complete lack of any housing for people to live and work in Muskoka Lakes.
The economic impact that the lack of housing has on the community at large.
To ensure that council and the taxpayers understand the ramifications of the proposed new official plan and to assist in it being a balanced approach for all.
The solutions to housing can be provided by paving the way to ensure urban development for housing is attractive to developers and that all housing projects in the urban areas are expedited by council and the district to address this chronic need. There are many municipalities that are providing 3d printed solutions to address this issue which should be considered along with other potential solutions.
3. The slogan “once discovered, never forgotten” is very appropriate for Muskoka. Muskoka is unparalleled in its beauty, and clean water. It is a cherished area that all want to preserve for now and future generations. In ward A, I believe the communities of Bala, Torrance, the Moon River, Walker’s Point, Bar lochan and Six Mile are great communities with a wonderful community spirit where neighbours help and care about neighbours.
Mary Ellen McIntyre
1. For all of my working life I have worked as a lawyer. I have worked as an advocate for individuals through advocacy in the legal system and for and with community groups, people who have come together to address identified needs within the community. Through my work with the Legal Clinic I came to know many of the communities that make up life in Muskoka.
I am an advocate. I am putting my name forward to offer my advocacy skills to my constituents so we can advocate together for change. If you are looking for an advocate for your vision of Muskoka I am your candidate.
The shortage of housing, particularly affordable housing, is reaching a crisis point in our communities, province, country and across the world. Of particular concern are those who are the most vulnerable because of disability, mental health of addiction issues, those receiving social assistance. The unfortunate impact of lack of housing on the vulnerable include homelessness or having to live in substandard housing. On the other hand lack of housing also impacts our ability to bring both individuals and families to Muskoka for employment opportunities. Housing is a human right. Adequate, affordable housing is necessary to ensure safe, healthy communities.
We are living in a world in which daily we are seeing the catastrophic effects of global warming while also being conscious of how lucky we are to be living in a healthy environment. The effects of global warming are affecting us now with high winds which affect infrastructure and can cause power outages, flash floods and road washouts, The question for the world and for our communities is whether we are able to balance the competing interests and move forward to ensure we continue to enjoy a healthy environment.
Internet Band Width
It is understood that in a country like Canada there will be variations in our ability to access reliable internet. While our world was shut down for Covid the Province of Ontario introduced the “Digitalization of Ontario”. This means that all interactions with Ontario government programs will be done through digital access. This makes it a priority for our Township to ensure re;iable access to internet for everyone.
Ontario has passed legislation to ensure addressability for all those in Ontario. Funding was offered to communities to ensure accessibility. Yet there seem to be variations between communities as to how accessible the community actually is. It is time to ensure all communities are accessible to all.
3. My grandparents built my cottage on Walker’s Point the year I was born and it has been my happy place since then, at first as a cottager, then as a tenant then homeowner. I cherish my childhood memories of summer at the cottage and the cottage friends I knew only in the summer. The neighbours who all knew each other and came together in times of crisis and at times of celebration. Respect and courtesy. While there have been changes since that time I believe we are starting to work together to make things happen, to make things better, to make a difference. As an informed, caring community, I believe we can come up with initiatives and policy changes so our communities grown stronger, safer, cleaner and with a future we can all be proud of.
I am running to be your Councillor for Ward A of the Township of Muskoka Lakes because of my commitment to community and my commitment to the environment. There are many issues that need to be addressed but they all lead to the fact that I want my children and my grandchildren to know the Muskoka I grew up in with clean water and communities with neighbours who know each other and work together for informed caring communities.
1. My family came to Muskoka as cottagers 42+ years ago and have never stopped loving it here since. In 2021 I became the third generation of my family to buy a home in Muskoka. This is something I am immensely proud of, but it did not come easy. We are now living in a time where ordinary life is becoming less and less affordable. We face challenges every day that require new and creative solutions. I am running for Township Councillor in Muskoka Lakes because I want to be the voice of change and the voice of the next generation in our community. As TML finishes reviewing its strategic master plan, the next council will be tasked with modifying, creating, and implementing bylaws to support this plan. It is critical that the council be comprised of individuals such as myself, who are ready and willing to ENGAGE and SUPPORT our community on this new path forward.
2. At present, The Township of Muskoka Lakes faces great economic and environmental challenges.
On the economic side we are constantly playing a game of chicken and the egg between the need for more workers and more affordable housing in order to attract more workers. You can’t have one without the other, and it is hard to make them both happen simultaneously. To move forward the township needs to consult, advocate, and lobby for more affordable housing from all levels of business and government.
Environmentally we need to continue to press forward with our strategic plan to implement green policies and practices across the township that protect the beauty and the ecosystem of the Muskoka Lakes without overburdening the taxpayer of today or tomorrow. We need to create a system that encourages sustainable development and shoreline protection as much as possible
3. I truly believe that every single person in Muskoka Lakes wants to see this place be preserved, and successful! We are a renowned community across the country, know for our great hospitality to visitors and each other. When you walk into a store in town you are never just a number, people remember your name even if you haven’t been around in a while. It is great to be a part of a community that builds houses, cares about the environment, and always helps one another.
The Zavitz name has a 110 year 7 generational presence on Torrance Bay in the Ward A locale, a primary driver in my interest to seek re-election for the Councillor position in this 2022 Municipal election. Our 4 children, along with their partners and 4 grandchildren take every opportunity to visit and spend time with my wife Chris and I in Muskoka Lakes as a family.
These last 4 years on Council have been a whirlwind, as a member of the Planning Committee, Chair of the General & Finance Committee and Council Representative on the Economic Development Committee and importantly, Chair of the Budget process annually. Habitat For Humanity #BalaBuild is an excellent Community Initiative I am proud to be a part of. Learning, understanding, comprehending…a challenging cross-section of flooding, Covid, Minett Development, The Official Plan and a myriad of Master Plans to name a few has set a course for future generations to enjoy all this place can offer its visitors and most importantly, our Taxpaying Residents.
Particularly, some of my proudest moments during this term of Council were raising my hand YAY when the right thing was called for and NAY when, well, it wasn’t! These are weighty decisions, arrived at through reams of intelligence, background, research and Staff intel. Likely the most illuminating role a Councillor plays is one of ‘bridge to the community’ where taxpayer engagement, recognition and acknowledgement is paramount. I make every effort to respond when constituents call, text and email. Vital to our communicative link is always establishing and maintaining relationships with your Public…that was, is and will remain my mantra.
Standing ready to serve these next 4 years, I remain vigilant to our water, our environment and our way of life here in the Township. But, that will not be enough…many pressures are upon us which will require intelligent, thoughtful dialogue and consideration. Staff Housing, Development pressures, Short Term Rentals and Township infrastructure challenges will combine with Budget concerns to confound those tasked with a way forward. I am up to this challenge of change and look forward to the continuous improvement mindset now entrenched with Staff and Council…working together.
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