Pictured on left, Deputy mayor candidate Brad Pinch talked very passionately about giving the farmers of the community a voice so that they can speak their opinions and issues to the council. Pictured on right,  Allan Armstrong stood up to tell the audience that he is in full support of alternative energy options as long as they are well thought out.      Glover photos

CHESTERVILLE – Despite the difficult traffic outside the Chesterville Legion, the second of three municipal election North Dundas debates brought in a big crowd to bring up issues about farming protection, energy conservation and future plans if North Dundas County is ever struck with a natural disaster like last week’s storm.

Right out of the gate, deputy mayor candidate Brad Pinch and councillor candidate Theresa Bergeron were asked about their support of the pre-consultation with the local federation of agriculture and agriculture advisory committee and how they would contribute if elected.

Pinch said that he would like to improve on how he and the rest of the council listen to what the farmers in the community need.

“Part of that is actually allowing them to be a single voice, that is, putting a communication together, bring it to council and listen to what it is they have to say,” he said. “And more than that, I think making a decision without having those individuals who are going to be directly affected, that would be to our detriment. Right now, we haven’t taken the time to look at how well we can get this information back and utilize it, in fact, we sort of half-listen and I think we really need to spend more time listening to what’s happening.”

Theresa Bergeron talked about the fact that the Dundas Federation of Agriculture should be made aware of any issues within the farming community before anything happens at council and the problems with the minimum distance rules for owning farmland.

“I think that when issues come up before council that affect the farming community, or weird bylaws, the Dundas Federation of Agriculture should know before council does anything,” she said. “One of the main issues with farming today is the issue of the minimum distance rules for owning farmland. If someone is applying for a lot in the middle of farm country, that does make an issue for any farm that wants to expand because they may not be allowed to because of residential homes within so many feet, and these are rules that the province has sent forth so many years ago.”

A certain Dundas resident, noticing all the wind turbines and solar panels in the area, wanted to know the deputy mayor candidates’ stance on energy conservation and alternative options.

Allan Armstrong, admitting that there is a twist to it now that the Green Energy Act has been repealed, stands in support of any other green energy to be used.

“I absolutely do stand in support of alternative energy matters but it’s got to be well thought out and it’s got to be more of a say for what’s going to be happening in the backyards of North Dundas,” he said.

Brad Pinch gave a deep cut to the community of Chesterville saying that the township of Russell is more ahead of the curb on this issue than they are.

“We actually have a company here that builds a retro-fit for a Zamboni. Now, that doesn’t sound like very much until you understand that the average Zamboni goes through 600,000 litres of water and uses the amount of energy equivalent to 72 cars in order to heat that water in between periods,” he said. “That’s a huge amount of energy and the way that the company here has been working really well has been trying to approach this council without any luck. What they do is actually melt the ice that comes off and they put it back down on the ice, there is no electricity being used, they’re using the machine to do everything. The retro-fit can happen anywhere and in fact, Russell is buying the first one, not us and the company is right here. If we don’t keep our eyes open as a community and look for places where we can conserve, then we will all fail.”

After the recent storm that had three tornadoes rampage thorough western Ottawa, the mayoral candidates were asked what measures they’d use to better prepare North Dundas County for such a disaster.

Tony Fraser assured the community that an emergency committee is in place in case of any big emergencies and they familiarize themselves with the resources available and run scenarios of disasters that could be a danger to Stormont Dundas and Glengarry.

“We talk about such things as where we’ll be evacuated, who will be called in, where people will congregate and how we will cloth, feed and provide bedding for people to sleep,” he said. “We work with the Red Cross and other organizations along that line and we do need plans, so we are prepared.”

Gerry Boyce stated that the emergency committee meets at least twice a year and has at least 25 people within it from all over the county documenting everything that needs to be done to ensure residents are safe.

“There must be 25 people around the table from Cornwall, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, a fire department representative, there’s at least one or two from each group there,” he said. “We have everything documented, we know where all the emergency facilities are, where all the generators are and where evacuation places will be including the Winchester and Chesterville Arenas, we have them all set up now.”

The next municipal election debate is set for Mon., Oct. 1 at the Joel Steele Community Centre in Winchester.