Candidates field questions at Sandy Cove
Bruce Hain Simcoe.com Oct 06, 2010
INNISFIL -Candidates steered clear of controversy and avoided any pointed personal criticism of their opponents during a Ward 6 debate at Sandy Cove Acres last Friday.
Politeness and decorum was the norm as all six candidates — mayoral hopefuls Gord Wauchope and Barbara Baguley; deputy mayor candidates Dan Davidson and Bill Van Berkel and Ward 6 candidates Roy Bridge and Maria Baier — turned down opportunities to offer rebuttals to their opponent’s speech. Davidson, who has spoken about the town’s “Old Boys Club” at other meetings, refrained from bringing it up again.
“I feel I can represent Ward 6 better as a deputy mayor,” the current Ward 6 councillor said. “I will amend many town policies written decades ago and I want new councillors to be able to speak out at council without intimidation.”
Van Berkel stressed his number of years on Innisfil council.
“I will be a full-time Deputy Mayor,” Van Berkel said, “and I will take a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting Lake Simcoe.”
He added, “My number one issue is local jobs. We need well-planned resorts that bring jobs. My agenda isn’t hidden. With Bill Van Berkel, what you see is what you get.”
Maria Baier stated, “I can’t sit quietly on the sidelines when it comes to my community. I feel compelled to protect our lakes and forests and growth must be planned thoughtfully. I’m very concerned about the lack of transparency at council.”
Roy Bridge of Ward 6 promised a “six pledge” platform if elected dealing with local concerns such as public transportation and protection of Lake Simcoe. A retired municipal law enforcement officer for the Town of Innisfil, he also played the “full-time” card in his speech.
As always, the Sandy Covers, along with people who travelled to the meeting, had a number of questions.
Debbie Bisbee of Big Bay Point asked Bridge if he would be travelling south during the winter, leaving the Ward 6 seat vacant for an extended period of time.
Bridge said he and his wife do go south most winters, but he would never be absent for a “lengthy period of time.”
Wauchope was asked why he initially supported the controversial Site 41 dump in Tay Township.
“I did a lot of research and found it was a safe and friendly way to get rid of garbage,” Wauchope replied. Simcoe County council eventually bowed to public pressure and Site 41 was defeated.
“There will never be another dump in Simcoe County,” Wauchope added.
Resident Paul Johnston asked Baguley why she voted against development along the Hwy. 400 in the past when all candidates agree Innisfil’s future prosperity is linked to industrial and commercial development along that corridor.
“I voted against a large septic system being placed on Hwy. 400,” Baguley replied. “Environmental standards must be met with any new development.”
Alison Weller said, “Mr. Bridge. You have been in close connection with one of the developers. What’s your response?”
“I’m not denying it,” Bridge answered. “I know them and I’ve talked to them. I’m in agreement with Big Bay Point Resort and will continue to help them as long as they follow environmental standards.”
Baguley was asked if she had any “allegiances” to other candidates, particularly Davidson.
“No, I’m not aligned with Dan (Davidson),” she replied. “I believe every candidate should be independent and be free to make their own decisions.”
Resident Jean Spence said, “I am incensed when I hear people say all Big Bay Pointers are wealthy. That is not true. I put this question to Gord Wauchope, Roy Bridge and Bill Van Berkel. Would you make your list of campaign contributors public?”
Wauchope replied for the group saying he and all other candidates must file their campaign expenses reports by March 2011.
An unidentified member of the audience called out, “That might be too late.”
Al Gilchrist said he was surprised that a portion of the proposed Mika development (formerly known as Avalon) on the southeast corner of Lockhart Road and the 25th Sideroad is now being sought for high-density housing.
“I thought this development was designated a senior’s area,” Gilchrist said. “How can council be sitting there letting this turn into a subdivision?”
Van Berkel replied, “It has gone to the (OMB) Ontario Municipal Board. It’s very sad. Mr. (Rod) Rice took it to the OMB. When we say ‘No’, developers take it to the OMB and our (council’s) decision is overturned.”
Returning to the Hwy. 400 development zone issue, Wauchope added, “Any costs have to be shared by the developers, the federal and provincial governments and the municipality. If developers don’t come up with some money, that land will sit there for some time.”
Moderator John Bicknell told the crowd he was pleased with the debate.
“We had a huge turnout, a great meeting,” Bicknell said. “This shows the spirit of Sandy Coves Acres