IROQUOIS – “I’ve lived in South Dundas all my life. My parents have been here all their lives. I’m raising four kids here. So, I have pretty strong roots here,” Tom Smyth said. “I really have nothing but the best intentions to try and make South Dundas better. Make it a better place to hand over to my children whenever they become young adults.”

Smyth has submitted nomination papers to run for the position of councillor in the upcoming municipal election for the Municipality of South Dundas. A cash crop farmer, Smyth lives with his wife and four children, ages six to 13, in rural Iroquois on his family’s farm. Smyth is a director with the Dundas Federation of Agriculture. He also works as a driver for Kriska Transportation in Prescott.

“I’ve always wanted to run for council,” Smyth said. “Since I was in high school, it’s something that’s interested me. We’ve had two members, Mayor Steven Byvelds and Coun. Archie Mellan, [who are] both basically like the farm or rural representation for our area, [and who] said they’re not going to come back. So, I was thinking that now will be the perfect time for me to step forward and just try and fill that void there for the farm and rural representation.”

In the next term of council, Smyth said he’d like to see the installation of rural internet services, as well as a focus on finding ways to support small farms and businesses so they might thrive and encourage the next generation to stay in the area as adults. Right now, he said there seems to be a large gap in South Dundas’ population with young people leaving for post-secondary education and not returning until retirement.

“As soon as you hit that age demographic from about 18 to 50, it just drops right down, and then, as soon as you get into the older generations, it shoots right back up again,” he said. “We need to find something to keep those people, and attract new people, to keep our community thriving.”

Smyth said he’d also like to see improvements made to the township’s roadside mowing activities. Further priorities included doctor recruitment and retention, as well as attracting new business.

“I have no personal agendas other than just to improve everything,” Smyth said, adding that he’s been attending council meetings in preparation. “There’s a steep learning curve. I’m trying to get up to speed so that if I’m lucky enough to be elected, I have a good idea of what’s already going on and how things work.”