Candidates at the North Stormont all candidate meeting in Crysler were, from left, Alton Blair, Adrian Bugelli, Randy Douglas, Steve Densham, Carrie Curry, Roxanne Villeneuve, Donna Nielson and John Danaher. Sawyer Helmer photo
Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
CRYSLER – Stormont Federation of Agriculture (SFA), Moose Creek Chamber of Commerce and the Cysler Community Centre came together on the evening of Mon., Oct. 1 to organize an all candidates meeting for the upcoming election. With an acclaimed mayor and deputy mayor in Jim Wert and François Landry, respectively, the candidates meeting invited the six potential councillors to the stand. Joining them was English separate school board trustee nominee Donna Nielsen and English public school board trustee nominee John Danaher, their opposition, Karen McAllister for English separate and Marshall Wilson for English public, were not able to attend.
After a brief five-minute introduction from each candidate, past-president of the SFA and meeting moderator Alan Kruszel opened the floor to questions from the audience. Immediately questions flooded in covering the biggest concerns in North Stormont, including, the Moose Creek disposal site, wind turbines and energy projects, and growing the business community.
First up was the Moose Creek Green For Life (GFL) disposal site. Residents asked the candidates about their stance of future expansions to the site and plans to deal with the current issues of odour.
Incumbent Randy Douglas was quick to remind the audience that GFL contributes $500,000, equivalent to six per cent of the annual budget due to their $1 per ton contract. He added that GFL is a prominent employer in the area.
Carrie Curry used the opportunity to voice her plan to promote better use of the township’s recycling and compost programs as a way to reduce the amount of waste being delivered to the site.
Roxanne Villeneuve referenced the growing number of local homes that can be powered by collecting the methane gas from the site and onto the hydro grid. She offered the continuation of this method as a way of reducing gas and powering more residences in the area.
Questions then turned to the candidates’ plans for helping small businesses grow and attracting more businesses. Adrian Bugelli explained that working with higher levels of government was key, as a way of bringing more funds into the community. Steve Densham said collaboration between the businesses would play a vital role and suggested the option of the Moose Creek Chamber of Commerce expanding to all of North Stormont. He also referenced two per cent of the budget being spent on economic development and his desire to see more funds allocated.
Alton Blair said council would need to step up to find more grant opportunities for businesses. In particular, he mentioned the need to offer incentives to make North Stormont areas more visually attractive as a way of enticing new residents and therefore businesses.
Finally the meeting turned to the ongoing issue of the Nation Rise Wind Farm and the potential for other green energy projects in the community.
Each of the six candidates expressed their resistance to the wind project. Randy Douglas reasoned that despite his personal view being against the project, when approval was awarded, it was his responsibility to get the best deal for the residents. Should a similar situation arise in the future of North Stormont, Douglas said if the municipality holds power, he will always go with public opinion but if the municipality does not have power, he must do what is best in the circumstances.
Steve Densham was saddened by the upset and fracturing the project caused in the community. He continued that North Stormont needed to move on with more positive environmental options. For future projects Densham said he would be open to public consultations in the appropriate circumstances. He continued that he would like to take advantage of technology to get feedback from the residents.
Carrie Curry echoed Douglas in saying she would be an advocate for the community in lieu of the approvals and fight as a group to minimize the impact of the project. Currie was quick to say that if a similar project is presented again, she would do her best to “stop it in its tracks”.
Roxanne Villeneuve showed concern for the cost backing out of contracts could have on taxpayers around Ontario but remained firm saying she would do everything in her power to continue to fight. For the future, Villeneuve reaffirmed her plans to have open and transparent communication with the public.
Alton Blair reiterated his dismay in the project and assured that the best interest of the public would be considered in future endeavours.
Adrian Bugelli discredited the project and its affect on the community. He said there is a place for green energy but not wind energy. Bugelli recognized that frustrations lie in the public voice not being heard. For projects with a “massive impact”, he agreed the public should be consulted.
The meeting wrapped up after each candidate gave a brief closing statement and SFA president Theo Elshof thanked the significant number of audience members for participating in the democratic process. Polls open early on Oct. 17 until official voting day on Oct. 22.