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Candidates, voters meet in Stayner

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In Clearview
Oct 13th, 2010
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Vanderkruys and Jelinski say time for change, Ferguson and Savage stand behind decisions
Michael Gennings Simcoe.com Oct 13, 2010
STAYNER – Candidates for Clearview council and voters came together in Stayner last Wednesday night.

The occasion was an all candidates meeting, hosted by The Stayner Sun and the Stayner Chamber of Commerce.
About 140 people attended the event, held at the Stayner Community Centre.
During the first part of the night, candidates and voters had a chance to chat one-on-one. Candidates met with voters at tables set up around the room. At each table there was also the opportunity to pick up election literature and check out campaign posters.
After an hour, the second portion of the meeting began. It involved the mayoral and deputy mayoral candidates each making five-minute speeches about why they are running.
The deputy mayoral candidates, in alphabetical order, spoke first.
Eric Jelinski, a Sunnidale Corners-area resident and relative newcomer to Clearview, told the audience that Clearview Township needs change.
The retired Ontario Hydro engineer – who now teaches engineering at Georgian College and the University of Toronto – said he aims to convince the next council to cut wasteful municipal spending.
He said spending needs to get under control or else taxes will rise. A theme he expressed on several occasions is that Clearview needs to start living within its means.
Jelinski said the Stayner-Wasaga sewer agreement – which will ultimately result in Stayner wastewater being sent through a pipeline to Wasaga Beach and then treated at that municipality’s treatment facility – is unwarranted and will cost taxpayers. He said there is still a lot of capacity at the Stayner sewage treatment plant and referred to past studies that say so.
Alicia Savage, the township’s current deputy mayor and a resident of Stayner, was next at the microphone.
“I have a lot I need to say and not nearly enough time to say it,” she said.
Savage said Jelinski’s message about out of control spending, rising township debt and the Stayner-Wasaga sewage agreement is nothing but fear mongering and she encouraged voters to get the correct information.
Savage, managing editor of the Stayner Sun from 1993 to 2003, said the township’s debt is nowhere near its capacity.
She added the Stayner sewage treatment plant is at 85 per cent capacity and so the Stayner-Wasaga sewage agreement is an appropriate solution – one that will allow for residential, commercial and industrial growth in the community. She said the arrangement with Wasaga will be far cheaper than building a new system and noted it will be funded through a user pay formula and not paid for through property taxes.
Savage said Jelinski was cherry-picking information to make his arguments.
She added Jelinski and his supporters are trying to shut development down in the community.
If elected to a second term, Savage said she’d provide a voice for the future – a future that would mean a vibrant township.
Mayor Ken Ferguson then spoke, telling the audience he has been busy campaigning.
Ferguson, a Nottawa-area farmer who also owns a welding business, touched on his background and his strengths. A life-long resident of the community, Ferguson has been mayor the last four years, was deputy mayor for a three-year term and a councillor for Ward 1 for nine years.
He said he is experienced and wants only the best for Clearview.
Ferguson compared the municipal election to the television show Survivor, saying the candidates are like a tribe, the jury is comparable to voters, there are alliances and there is misinformation being spread.
He said residents must take into account all the information they are hearing and decide fact from fiction before they vote.
Ferguson said he brings honesty and integrity to the job and added he is not beholden to special interest groups.
“This is about Clearview as a whole,” he said. “It is Clearview’s time.”
If elected to a second term as mayor, Ferguson promised to see that a long-term financial plan is put together for the township and he said there would be increased communication between the municipality and residents, although he did not share specifics about how this would be achieved.
“Please don’t put out my flame,” he said, making another reference to Survivor. “I honestly believe I have another four years to give.”
Mayoral candidate Chris Vanderkruys was the last to speak.
The life-long Brentwood resident, who works as a fundraiser, marketer and public relations specialist for the Barrie Public Library, told the audience he has no hidden agendas.
He added that as mayor he would work to ensure the township’s sustainability.
Vanderkruys said he would also work towards removing the “walls of our villages” and build a closer-knit municipality.
As mayor he would only be one voice, which is why he’d also work to build relations between other members of council and the community, he said.
Vanderkruys said that if elected he’d like to see more residents involved in the decision-making process and added he’d work towards establishing better communication between township officials and locals.
“I would like to see town hall meetings twice a year at each area in the township – this is something I’d look at doing,” he said.
Effective communication is one of the biggest challenges facing Clearview as it grows, he said.
He said there must always be proper public consultation before decisions that impact the community are made.
And, he said, there needs to be more accountability on the part of council members.
The first question following the five-minute remarks from candidates was directed to deputy mayoral candidate Alicia Savage. A voter from Nottawa wanted to know why most of the “main priorities” in her election brochure were related to Stayner and what she supported for the surrounding communities.
Savage said that as deputy mayor she’s worked hard to represent the entire municipality and defended her main priorities – downtown revitalization in Stayner, a new library branch in Stayner and servicing for Stayner – as key to the community’s success. As an example of her efforts to help other parts of the township, Savage said she’s working to establish a library reciprocal agreement between Clearview and Collingwood, an agreement that would be of particular benefit to people living in Nottawa. 
“I’m not ignoring the rest of the municipality,” she said.
Savage was also pressed on at least two occasions during the night for her position on the possible erection of industrial wind turbines in the community. At least one company wants to erect turbines just outside Stayner, on the south side of County Road 91. Several residents have expressed concerns about what these turbines will do to property values and possibly people’s health.
Savage said while she doesn’t support industrial wind turbines the township has no control over them because the province has taken on that authority under the Green Energy Act.
“We need to stay focused on the things we can do,” she said. “The things we can control.”
She added the current council has passed a resolution that was sent to Queen’s Park calling for a moratorium on wind turbines until the impact they have on people’s health is better understood.
Another voter pressed Savage on sewage capacity at the Stayner sewage treatment plant.
She responded by saying professionals identified the plant’s limited capacity and that an environmental assessment identified the Stayner-Wasaga sewer agreement as a viable solution.
“It’s critical we address this problem for the things we want to do,” she said. “We’ll be able to service our industrial and commercial lands. That’s what this is about – it’s not about a merger with Stayner and Wasaga Beach.”
Jelinski said officials must look at water that’s infiltrating the Stayner sewage system, saying it’s contributing to the capacity problem.
The questions continued, including one from Stayner resident Joy Burkholder. She wanted to know why council has been so focused the last few months on trying to give members a raise in pay. She reminded current council members they were elected and not hired.
Ferguson responded to the question, agreeing the job is not a full-time paid position but pointing out he probably puts in more than 40 hours a week as mayor.
He said council was examining the pay raise issue because he wanted to have a policy in place that would determine how often elected officials would have their remuneration adjusted. He said he wanted to avoid situations like in the past, when retroactive wages were approved. He said on the surface these past retroactive increases looked large but they were really a case of council playing catch-up.
In looking at the remuneration issue, he noted council investigated another municipality’s wage policy for elected officials. He added an independent committee also reviewed the issue. Ultimately, however, council could not reach an agreement on the specifics of a policy and to date there has been no adjustment in pay.
Ferguson also fielded questions about why people weren’t on the voters’ list. He said the list was based on information obtained from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and that if someone wasn’t on the list they should contact the township office.
“I met four people in Creemore today who weren’t on the list so it’s something we need to look at,” Vanderkruys said.
Stayner resident John Squire asked Vanderkruys and Jelinski how many county council meetings they had attended before deciding to run for office. Simcoe County mayors and deputy mayors attend county council once a month and sit on county committees as well. The county handles an array of responsibilities, including social services and ambulance service.
Vanderkruys said he’d not been to any meetings but had read the minutes and talked to others who were present.
Jelinski said he too has not attended any county meetings.
He said he foresees major changes in terms of municipal representation at the county and so there was no value in going to sessions of the current county council.
“It’s going to be like a fresh start,” he said, adding moments later: “We’re going to do things a lot different.”
And so it went, questions and answers.
Afterwards, candidates and voters again mingled, exchanging ideas for several minutes. But gradually the room emptied and all that was left was empty coffee cups and the odd piece of campaign literature.
lection Day is Oct. 25.

 

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