The candidates speak: Barrie Ward 4
Simcoe.com October 18 2010
The Topic sent a list of five questions to all of the candidates for Bradford West Gwillimbury council and asked them to respond via e-mail.
The candidates were given 200 words to respond to each question.
Here are the responses of Ward 4 candidates Meade Helman and Carl Hordyk.
1. Public transit is an issue that has been raised by many candidates and members of the public during this campaign. Do you support a public transit system in Bradford West Gwillimbury and if so, what form should it take?
Helman: I think transit is a difficult problem that is going to require a creative solution.
Given the 275,000 square meters of additional space that is required in the downtown corridor, we have to start planning for transit now.
We need an effective way of moving folks around to eliminate congestion and the need for all those folks to have cars.
A transit plan has to be in place before the building starts.
The transit system should start small and grow as the development takes place.
The proposed study is really an exercise in justifying not building transit, with questions about taxes and fees.
Instead, the study should ask what can be done to get the thousands people that are coming here to use the system and how do we best serve the needs of folks living here now.
We also need to help seniors and others without cars now.
Taxis aren’t the solution.
CHATS provides service for seniors for a $10 charge.
The people at CHATS tell me that for seniors on a fixed income, or no income, that is not affordable.
Hordyk: I have been at the door of every resident of Ward 4 twice now.
Public transportation has not been a major issue with them.
The residents of Ward 4 are quite used to looking after their own transportation needs because of the geographic reality of the area.
However, I do understand Bradford has grown to the point that public transportation is needed and I am eagerly awaiting the transit feasibility study that is due next year.
I would like the town to begin a pilot project for public transportation.
I think we should approach the large retailers, restaurants and banks and ask them to partner with us to provide a mini bus service that would run Tuesdays and Thursdays for at least six hours each day.
I would suggest a positive message ad campaign be put together that gives credit to any business that supports this bus.
I would want local politicians and key members of the community to ride on this bus to encourage others to use it and to publicize its existence.
I would ask for volunteer drivers to expand the service from 12 hours per week.
2. How would you keep taxes under control in Bradford West Gwillimbury?
Helman: Controlling taxes is a matter of controlling how you spend money.
Each expenditure must be reviewed to determine if it is necessary and that the chosen option is the best option.
If something can be accomplished through the private sector, let them do it, with the town controlling the outcome.
For example, there is a lot of discussion of moving the town hall downtown to spur business development.
First, we have to ask: is this the best choice to get people living downtown and spending money there?
Then we need to look at costs.
Downtown land will have to be expropriated, buildings demolished and parking lots developed. That is all very expensive.
Instead, the town has land for a new town hall on a green field site: use it.
Construction there will be far less expensive than downtown.
Allow a developer to build a showpiece residential tower near the GO station to draw people to live in the downtown.
This would generate development fees and taxes and add a concentrated number of people that would draw business and other development.
Hordyk: The best way to control taxes is through a two-part plan.
First, control spending.
Be fiscally responsible, mainly through oversight.
Make sure council is alert and aware of what is going on with the budget.
Second, diversify the tax base.
Bring more commercial and industrial lands online that will pay the larger taxes.
A modern, mid-size light industrial plant will pay taxes roughly equivalent to 30 houses like mine or 60, 100-acre farms.
A commercial or industrial plant will also pay large development charges and will not require the same services from our town budget like garbage collection or recycling.
Also, these plants will not send children to school or require parks or libraries or sidewalks.
As a final bonus, these plants and businesses will provide jobs for people.
Maybe local people will then be able to pay for their own taxes or maybe commuters will spend some of their money here while visiting.
This two-part plan will allow the average citizen to be able to afford to pay the taxes without suffering undue burdens.
3. What steps would you take to help make Bradford West Gwillimbury more environmentally-friendly?
Helman: The first step would be to lobby Simcoe County to have them improve the current waste program.
For example, the county could fix the composting facilities so all the compostable material goes to compost all the time, instead of to landfill sometimes.
It could expand the blue box program so all plastic packaging is recycled. I think most of my one bag of garbage each week is plastic bags and packaging.
Yard waste should not be a twice a year exercise and there needs to be a more rational way of dealing with large items and non-household garbage.
I think another thing the town should look at is creating a park along the banks of the river.
It could clean up the shoreline, add landscaping, benches, play areas, and facilities for concessions like kayak and canoe rentals and maybe even a snack bar.
Not only would this make the town a bit greener; it would be a tremendous asset for attracting people downtown.
As the town reviews its plan, emphasis should be given to design that eliminates the need for so many cars.
Hordyk: I would concentrate on the human side of the equation.
I am very glad we have an active recycling program and a one bag limit, but I think our priority now needs to be the greening of mind and body.
I want to see the walking trails and bike paths expanded and used by as many people as possible.
I would like to see the paths link the different areas of our town to allow people to use different forms of transportation, such as walking and bicycling, to get exercise and appreciate the beauty of nature and the outdoors.
Right now, the trails are very limited, but I would support the implementation of the trails master plan.
Clearly, the newer subdivisions have incorporated trails through the green space of storm water management ponds and other areas.
I think using the trails will make for a more environmentally-friendly population, which will in turn make BWG greener.
4. How will you balance the concerns of rural, Bradford and Bond Head residents?
Helman: This is an important issue in Ward 4.
Most living outside the boundaries of Bradford feel neglected.
Surprisingly, many people in the ward living in Bradford seem to have a similar feeling of being ignored in favour of development.
It is important to listen to the people in the ward and convey their concerns to council and not favour one area.
Residents need to be informed of the hows and whys of things being done.
We have to think of BWG as one community and consider how actions in one area affect other areas.
For example, the arterial road is important to ease congestion in Bradford, but how does that affect farms along 5th Line? Was there another solution that would work for the farms as well?
Council needs to act on things that concern the entire community first.
For example, I hear concerns in Bradford about historic downtown buildings, in rural areas about unique barns and farmhouses and in Bond Head about heritage homes.
We need a heritage policy that will address concerns in all areas of our town.
Hordyk: First of all, we need to stop accepting the idea of separate areas within our town.
Yes, Bond Head is an area with distinction.
Yes, urban Bradford has differences from rural areas, but the marsh is different from highland farms and Professor Day Drive is different from Mills Court.
We will in time accept our town as one entity and the sooner we begin doing that, the better.
I grew up in rural West Gwillimbury and now that area is Innisfil.
Things change. Times change. People change.
I now live in Bond Head. I do not want to think in terms of “them and us”. I want to be united.
So I will represent all of my constituents (if elected) in a fair way.
I will understand that every person needs to have a voice and I will listen to that voice.
What I will not do is allow people to live in the past. We are one town and everyone is a citizen.
5. Another issue that has been raised frequently in this campaign is the possibility of a family health centre in Bradford West Gwillimbury. While health care is a provincial responsibility, many municipalities take an active role in bringing health services to their communities. What would you do to improve health services in Bradford West Gwillimbury?
Helman: The first thing we need is more doctors, but then again, so do most communities.
We must find ways to attract new doctors to come here and set up shop.
Council has resolved to go forward with a medical centre in the old library, even though the province has declined to participate.
This is a good first step.
My family doctor shares his office with a number of other family doctors.
The office is in a building that has a blood test facility, an imaging lab, an urgent care clinic, sports therapy and pharmacy that only dispenses prescriptions.
It is a one-stop shop for medical services.
We should develop something similar for Bradford that could include: a blood test clinic that we can get in and out of in less than three hours; an imaging lab; a facility that sells medical equipment, including things like CPAP machines, hospital beds, etc.; a diabetes support centre; a sports injury clinic; and an urgent care clinic.
We should also take advantage of any outreach programs from local hospitals.
Hordyk: I would keep trying to get provincial approval for the health centre in our town.
Clearly, we have been overlooked by the provincial government. We must attempt to get their attention.
I think our next step should be a letter writing campaign that comes from our citizens.
I believe that if we can get our voters motivated enough to send letters (with a positive message but demanding some help) to the premier and cabinet, then we might get some action.
It is certainly worth a try. I would suggest hundreds of letters coming in from one town would make our provincial government take a second look.
It would also serve to get our people involved, which is always a good idea.
I will be more than happy to draft a letter (that has council’s approval on content) and have it published in the local papers.
People could then cut out the letter, sign it and mail it to the premier of Ontario.