From the left, front row: David Smith, Richard Waldroff, Tammy Spittal and Jennifer MacIsaac. Back row: Curtis Jordan, Cindy Woods, Reid McIntyre, Louise Leclerc, Bryan McGillis and Andrew Guindon. Thompson Goddard Photo

LONG SAULT – Close to 200 people attended the South Stormont Meet the Candidates Evening held on Oct. 6 at the municipal building in Long Sault. The event was presented by the Stormont Federation of Agriculture and the South Stormont Chamber of Commerce with Gord Shaver the moderator for the evening.

“I believe that public education is the backbone of strong families, strong communities and the next generation of strong leaders.” said Curtis Jordan, candidate for UCDSB Glengarry/Stormont Ward trustee and first speaker of the evening.

Councillor candidate Cindy Woods is a lifelong resident who with her husband raised their family in the municipality, is a current SS councillor and is invested in the future of the community. Woods commented on the accomplishments of the current council during the pandemic which included playground equipment and ensuring there are funds available to carry out road maintenance, garbage collections and the support from staff. Looking forward, the development of the SS waterfront, the Ingleside water treatment plant and doctor recruitment are priorities for the incoming council.

“My name is Tammy Spittal and I’m running for the position of councillor.”

She believes in helping “each other, especially our most vulnerable members of our community, our children our seniors, our disabled, the less fortunate and animals.” Her platform includes six important areas: community, social and environmental wellbeing; fiscal responsibility; increasing economic development and improving infrastructure. She elaborated on each item, mentioning a question period be added at the end of council meetings, investigating public transit availability, developing a community garden, doctor recruitment and affordable housing are among her priorities.

Reid McIntyre was the next candidate for councillor who addressed the audience. He has retired after 43 years in the heavy civil construction industry and noted the position of municipal councillor deserves “a lot of time and consideration.” McIntyre commented how affordable housing, municipal land-fill issues, upgrade of the Ingleside Wastewater Treatment plant, affordable high-speed internet, waterfront development, and work with local stakeholders to create a safe shopping centre, a safe drop-in centre for youth, playground safety, road maintenance and to “use the taxpayer money wisely” are all important matters to be addressed in the role.

Current SS councillor Jennifer MacIsaac spoke next, commenting how she grew up in South Stormont and with her husband Paul, raised their children in the community. MacIsaac spoke of her extensive experience on community committees, noting “I have been committed to contributing and advocating for our community for over 25 years,” she mentioned there was a need for strong leadership as the municipality “has seen unprecedented growth” and the challenges this growth brings with it. MacIsaac spoke of a need for increasing reserves to better prepare for the upgrading and maintenance of infrastructure and securing funding from upper tier governments for large infrastructure projects.

Louise Leclerc was the fifth candidate for the position of SS councillor to speak, mentioning she grew up on a hog farm in Quebec and after retiring from the workforce is ready to dedicate her time to being a good councillor. She commented on the issues facing the community, including the issues facing the farming community, safety on the Highway 138 and the effect price increases have had on people.  Candidate for Deputy Mayor Andrew Guindon, currently serving as a SS councillor, lives in South Stormont with his wife. He continued, his decision to run for deputy mayor was made as “I want to be part of helping the township prosper not only for this generation but for the next one.” His top five priorities would be ensuring responsible township planning for future financial needs, upgrading parks and recreational programming, ensuring council transparency and accountability, securing government funding for critical infrastructure projects such as the Ingleside wastewater treatment plant, and ensuring senior residents have healthcare and community support services available locally.

Richard Waldroff, candidate for the position of SS deputy mayor, commented how he was happy to see everyone at the meeting as it demonstrated they care about the community as he does. He is a life-long resident of South Stormont, has served as a community volunteer for 45 years, serves on many community organizations and has served two terms as councillor in both South Stormont and the former township of Osnabruck. If elected as deputy mayor, he would serve on the united counties council representing the interests of the municipality and plans to “be a full-time deputy mayor, making me readily available to respond to your needs at South Stormont and SDG council tables.”

Bryan McGillis, currently serving as SS mayor, is seeking re-election to that office. He has lived in the municipality all his life, has 25 years experience as a member of council, a term as SDG warden and has sat on many boards over the years. McGillis described his leadership as having the ability to collaborate with people and organizations. He spoke of the accomplishments of the current council which included honouring a promise to increase communication to the community, municipal government transparency, working with partners on safety issues on Highway 138, waterfront development, issues surrounding the wastewater treatment plants and water levels on the St. Lawrence locally.

David Smith, seeking election as the mayor of South Stormont, is a long-time resident of South Stormont, married with five children and eight grandchildren and operated a business in Long Sault for several years. He noted all candidates recognized the wastewater issues and waterfront property, mentioning negotiations appear to be stalled. He was a member of the Cornwall and Area Housing Corporation for the past four years, and this has provided him with an opportunity to see firsthand the need for affordable housing. He discussed an opportunity the municipality had to donate land to the CAHC and build a multi-use housing project. Other issues facing the municipality include speeding vehicles, deteriorating infrastructure and historical buildings in the municipality.

In response to a question directed to the deputy mayor candidates, candidate Richard Waldroff commented on the many positive aspects of living in the SS, noting that the lifestyle enjoyed must be protected while embracing the changes ahead. Andrew Guidon mentioned improvements he would like to see in recreation and culture and the creation of a long-term financial plan for the municipality. Mayoralty candidates were asked to answer why they feel they are the right choice for mayor and the biggest challenge in the next term. David Smith commented there is a need for change in the municipal leadership, with timely response to community requests needed, noting he responds as quickly as possible to requests from community members, describing issues such as speeding, affordable housing, aging infrastructure, first responders’ pay, doctor recruitment and infrastructure needs as challenges to be addressed. Bryan McGillis noted he has been a mayor in the municipality for 12 years and listed accomplishments during his time in office as the building of the municipal building and police station, water service to St. Andrews West and Osnabruck Centre, the building of the St. Lawrence Medical Centre and collaboration with all levels of government. McGillis described the challenges facing the municipality, expressing how he has the leadership experience and qualities to move the municipality into the future.

The South Stormont Chamber of Commerce asked all candidates what they would do to support or encourage local businesses. Each candidate provided extensive information on how they would support the local business community, funding opportunities, public transportation, providing information on business resources and pop-up shops. In response to a question from the SFA regarding the setting up of a municipal agricultural advisory committee to the municipal council, candidates were varied in their responses. Comments ranged from ensuring the council receive information on agriculture, the issues faced by farmers, ensuring they have the resources they require, developing agritourism and the need to advocate for the farming community.

The final question of the evening was from the public regarding their intention to vote on the operation of wind turbines in South Stormont. Each candidate responded they would either vote no or would seek the view of the constituents before voting on the subject.