Q Do you favour the concept of an amalgamated single-tier government for Haliburton County. What would be the advantages of such a system be, or, conversely, what are the disadvantages of maintaining the existing two tier system?
A At this point, I would not favor the concept of a single tier system. Most residents believe service levels are too low now and tax dollars are being wasted. I would start by making our Township Council more accountable for the service levels and dollars spent. I would recommend to Council that the present Council be reduced by one or more members. This would initially reduce our taxpayer costs for local government . I would also recommend that Councillors be elected at large so they represent the people of the community and look after the interests of all, not just their ward.
A single tier system is intended to eliminate duplication of services between the upper and lower tier governments. I believe we should review which functions are at which level. For example, the waste management function and the landfills should be transferred to the upper tier level.
I would start at the local level by reviewing the way we do business to streamline the process and eliminate costly delays and unnecessary costs.
In addition, each area municipality and the County must fully understand their infrastructure, the state of this and their needs. This must be completed first at each level for everyone to understand the true benefits and costs of a single tier system over a two tier system.
Q Is the County’s tourism strategy working? What are its strong points and weaknesses? Is anything that could be done differently to attract more people to the Haliburton Highlands?
A In these economic times, it is difficult to measure success. Issues which are happening Federally and Provincially have an impact to what happens locally and certainly, with the tourism business of our area. The tourism strategy is working but the state of the economy affects it tremendously.
The Township is hiring a Economic Development, Destination Marketing Officer. This position should help locally and should work cooperatively at the County Level.
I believe we need to attract more residents that would retire in the area. This may start with Tourism but becomes the point of destination.
A review of the tourism strategy should occur on an annual basis and determine that we reaching the international, national, provincial and local markets. Strategies must change to keep in tune with the changing communication systems.
Q The County is currently in the process of strengthening its shoreline protection bylaw. What provisions or restrictions should be included to adequately protect the health of the County’s lakes?
A I believe that we need to strengthen this bylaw. Focus should change to the point of offering reforestation/replanting along lake shores, public or private and a continued greater effort afforded to septic retrofits, particularly those within the 30 m. zone.
While we introduce tighter controls, we must also mindful that if someone is purchasing a new property they have some rights of ownership. Let us not make the bylaw or restrictions, so difficult that a new property owner cannot enjoy the lake also.
To do this, we must remain open to consultation and if the Bylaw needs amendments, let us understand this and implement without long delays.
Q The issue of short term rentals of private cottages continues to be a topic of discussion in the community. Should Municipalities be implementing control measures on short term rentals; why or why not? What does the framework for control of short term rentals look like?
A I would suggest that we may want to investigate how big is the problem. This can be completed by on line surveys, discussions with Cottagers Associations, etc. We should try to obtain the full public input on the subject.
If we are find that this is increasing, then we may need to act on it by putting in place zoning provisions and licensing to control it. This would be mean introducing possible zoning previsions for this use and a permitting process to ensure compliance.For example, if cottages are being rented over 10 % of the summer period, I would propose to put forward a separate zoning category, possibly a type of seasonal.The zoning would set out the terms of the license and the requirements of the Municipality.
Q The County has been working toward a public transportation plan, which has not yet been produced. Do you think the County should offer a public transportation service; why or why not? What would a transportation system look like?
A On this point, I am not sure if there has been any study completed of need versus costs. This would be a starting point. The County is a large geographic area and the costs to deliver such a service would be high.
In our changing world, systems can be offered which might include services, through Uber, dial-a ride, a neighbour to neighbour ride service. For the seniors of the Community, and particularly those who cannot drive, I believe we need to offer a service them whether it be getting them to appointments, or otherwise. This should be a service funded at multiple levels of government which would include Locally, at the County Level and Provincially.