(First written September 14, 2018 – L.Lorraine Payette)
(Gananoque, ON) In order to make sure that everyone is as well informed as possible prior to the election, All Candidates Nights will be held by both the Chamber of Commerce (September 26 (council) and 27 (mayoral)) and the Rotary Club (October 3 (mayoral) and 10 (council). Fourteen candidates are running for six council positions in Gananoque. To give each of them an opportunity to be heard, each will be given a small space here. They are Dave Anderson, Adrian Haird, Matt Harper, Joe Jansen, Mike Kench, Allison McNaught, Ian Miller, Dennis O’Connor, David Osmond, Cheryl Lynn Pretsell, Art Thivierge, Harold Tulk, and Anne Warren. No response was received from candidate Terry Ferguson, but we will happily give equal time when we receive his information.
Dave Anderson has quietly been around Gananoque for a long time. He has 35 years of experience in the Canadian Forces, working his way u through the ranks to become a senior officer, learning both leadership and how to work collaboratively. He has watched what happens here and participated at different levels in trying to make the Town a better place.
“I have been behind the scenes in Gananoque politics for eight years, on the Economic Development Committee, the Heritage Committee and the Police Services Board,” he said. “I want to put my political experience to use at the Council table. I have a broad range of ideas to make Gananoque an even more prosperous and liveable town. We are on the cusp of important changes and we need an approachable, creative, effective Town Council. Vote for me and I will listen to you.”
A 40 year old father of two boys, Adrian Haird has lived his entire life in Gananoque and plans to remain here. He is currently employed with the Federal Government as a Correctional Officer at Joyceville Institution and has been there for the past 16 years.
“I love the town of Gananoque and am very interested in becoming a council member in order to help the continued development and growth of our wonderful town,” said Haird. “I’m sure there are numerous issues and ideas that people talk about – what they would like to see get done – and I look forward to learning about all those issues/ideas and seeing what we can do to make them a reality.
“If anyone notices me out and about and would like to stop and ask any questions feel free to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have. If I don’t know the answer or information you’re looking for, I will certainly do my best to find the answer and get the information back to you.”
Matt Harper is ready to examine and help with any issues that residents bring to him.
“Some of the planks in my platform include a strong desire to be involved in the decision making process with fair consideration for all parties involved,” he said. “I would like to see more done with parks and recreations such as a larger recreation complex with two ice pads and a swimming pool, to increase programs for seniors as well as utilize the shuttle bus and create better working relationships with TLTI. I am someone who is always striving for a better environment for all.”
He is experienced at working in groups, solving problems and taking on leadership roles. Born and raised in Gananoque, he feels familiar with the area and its potential as a town. Having served on the Economic Development Advisory Committee for the last 4 years, he sees operational issues and how resources could be more efficiently managed.
Joe Jansen comes to the table with 8 years of experience as a councillor under his belt. He feels encouraged by the positive changes he has seen in the community during that time.
“Prior to 2010, Gananoque was a Town with a reputation of being closed to developers, new employers and stifled internal growth of our current industry,” he said. “The last eight years have seen a slow gentle growth of our industry, new businesses and residential infill development of our Brownfields. Housing starts are up with very high residential demand and in turn a substantial lack of housing stock and rental units. If re-elected I will ensure Council fosters further residential infill development and new rental units. Encouraging business growth and expansion will continue to be at the forefront.”
Mike Kench is a native Gananoquean and believes he has a good feel for what the people in this community want and need.
“I grew up in the local schools, I participated in local sports and events, and I have been a business owner for the past 4 years at Gananoque Fitness,” said Kench. “I have watched the town evolve from a little manufacturing town to now more of a small business/tourist town and I have many ideas on how to maximize our potential. My overall guiding principal is to make Gananoque an enjoyable/prosperous place to live and visit. I would like to make the people in this community feel heard when they speak. I believe there is plenty of room for improvement from what is currently being offered.”
He interested in understanding the waterfront developments currently underway, learning more about empty storefronts on King Streetas well as parking offered throughout town, coming up with a plan for the brownfield properties. He wants to learn more about the partnership with the surrounding township and how to better serve localpeople by sharing resources, parks and community buildings to ensure that children have opportunities for inexpensive and unstructured play, and a way to foster the growth of small businesses to allow people a better opportunity to stay in the area without having to move away from friends and family to earn a living.
“I’m running for a place on Council Because I love the town,” said Allison McNaught. “I want to see and help it succeed and thrive in all its constructive projects.
She would like to see more support given to the Food Bank and Gananoque and District Humane Society, helping to better support the hungry as well as homeless animals. She sees an untapped potential in the Town, and would like to see a fully equipped recreation centre with a year-round pool, seniors’ centre and exercise facility, drawing on the Eastern Ontario Development Fund to assist with costs. She would also like to see expansion of the bicycle lanes.
“For as long as I can remember I have called Gananoque home and I’ve grown up day-dreaming about ways that the town could develop in both the short and long term to best benefit people that call it home as well as those who come to work and visit,” said Ian Miller. “I want to help ensure that Gananoque has a bright, vibrant, and sustainable future.”
He would like to see a solution to the traffic chaos that comes with 401 closures; a small short-term shelter for those in need of homes; a community workshop and tool lending library to teach skills like woodworking, programming, robotics, and advanced fabrication to help make the local labour force competitive globally; cross-town cycling routes connecting Pine Street with King Street on each end; improved traffic management linking Lowertown to the rest of Gananoque; and a revitalization plan to bring people back to the downtown core.
Businessman Dennis O’Connor believes that social services need to be strengthened to help the most vulnerable residents.
“The people of Gananoque are kind and believe in helping one another,” he said. “We need to improve the Food Bank, day care and services for the elderly; improve employment opportunities for our young year round not just seasonally; improve relations with the BIA and Town Hall. An improved Main Street benefits all. It’s a matter of civic pride.”
There are many issues in the town that he feels are important, especially “a much more open process on change and accountability for our tax dollars.”
David Osmond worked for the provincial government with a focus on employment and economic development programs for much of his professional career. He has acquired valuable experience in managing public funds and working on regional and provincial working groups and has gained significant management and leadership experience.
“I want to help restore the trust and respect of council and I am confident that I can be an asset to our Town Hall if elected,” he said. “I love the idea of being able to contribute to a community that has been such a big part of my life. I also believe I have been lucky to enough to gain professional skills and experience that will allow me to be a successful, reliable and professional member of council.”
He believes that residents of Gan should be “proud of what is happening and happy with the direction the town is going.” To do this, some challenging decisions will need to occur and with this will come opposing opinions and feedback. He wants “to make Gan’s governing body leaders in communication, transparency and respect.”
“Council needs to work closely with, empower and support the town’s economic development team to create and focus on new initiatives. Council must be the community leader when it comes to economic growth. We need to step outside the silo of seeking out new business to come here and hoping this will make Gan better. We are already an amazing little town and I believe we must continue to make improvements to services and facilities while simultaneously seeking new business so they will see Gananoque as a great place to move an already existing company or come here to start a new business.
“If I had to pick one tangible item off my wish list, I would love to look back at my time as a counselor and know I was part of a team that was able to bring an Aquatic/Recreation facility to Gananoque. A municipal and or YMCA multi-sport complex with a pool, gym and indoor track enjoyed year round by all ages. I understand this is a big-ticket item with challenges and hurdles but with the right leadership, support and momentum, it may be possible. Others municipalities have found a way so I believe Gan can as well.”
“The most important reason for my run for council is that I do not feel our residents are being listened to,” said Cheryl Lynn Pretsell. “Going forward, council must respect the voices of the people who elect us to represent them.”
She supports the idea of “a public transit system created to make traveling to Kingston and Brockville possible for appointments, work and attending College,” truly affordable housing for those on lower incomes, and revitalization of the downtown core creating jobs and making a positive year-round impression on tourists.
Art Thivierge works part time at the Arthur Child Heritage Museum, sits on the Heritage and Artifacts Oversight Committees, volunteers for the Christmas Kettle campaign and the Thousand Islands Playhouse. He wants to hear what the voters have to say and learn about their concerns, making their issues his own.
“I believe that to get things done you need to cooperate and respect other people’s opinions,” he said. “I understand that formulating public policy involves consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and that policy development must take into account the legal framework, the environment, accessibility, affordability, heritage, and the impacts on all constituents, especially on those not targeted by the policy.”
Harold Tulk is a retired public servant with 44 years experience as a Professional Fire Chief, Emergency Medical Services Director, and the Director of Emergency Planning as well as being involved with research and development of Public Safety Services during employment by the Province of Ontario with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.
“I believe we need elected people who have a sense of duty to our citizens who encourage and promote the theme that ‘Council is elected to serve the needs of the community and not the community servicing the needs of Council and Town Hall,’” he said. “I would hope to bring my experience in municipal planning and policy development to the Council Table to enhance relationships between the community and council. I would also like to assist with the development of an Asset Management Plan which includes an Infrastructure analysis and a long range financial plan which ensures we maintain our assets. This will guarantee we will sustain our quality of life in Gananoque at a reasonable cost to our taxpayers.”
He believes in providing “an environment where business opportunities are abundant and are encouraged to grow and also ensure that our citizens’ essential needs are fulfilled.
“Responsible local government does not need to be so complex that the needs of our community is lost in local governance rules and bureaucratic processes. Our local community is a creature of the Province of Ontario and exists to serve the needs and circumstances of our citizens. We need to place emphasis on responsible governance that ensures we service the needs of our town and its citizens.”
Anne Warren is perhaps the most experienced candidate on the slate with education and work experience all aimed at leadership and public service. Strategic planning is an important priority for her as are “Financial Planning and Budgeting for the numerous projects requiring attention while keeping property taxes at acceptable levels… (Her) third campaign priority is Economic Renewal – positioning Gananoque to attract new business, and examining all potential avenues for economic growth while striving to maintain our existing businesses.”
While differing in many ways, most of the candidates seem to agree that infrastructure, water and sewers, and needs of seniors, youth and the financially less advantaged are very high priority issues in need of attention.
Candidates are using as many means as possible to get the word out, including social media and personally conducted meetings. Please check local ads and social media for times and locations of these all important meet and greets. Take the time to study the issues, learn about the people who are running, and vote from an educated perspective. By doing this, you will be an important part of the changes you which to see in your local government.