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By Wendy Gabrek
In our continuing series, “Meet the Candidates”, we have requested interviews with the three candidates running for Ward 5 – former Ward 5 councillor and interim Deputy Mayor, Donna Jebb, Beeton resident, Nicole Cox and Craig Jordan.
At press time The Times had not heard back from Mr. Jordan, but will publish his answers at a later date once received.
As always, we asked the candidates (31 candidates in total, plus Mayoral and Deputy Mayor candidates) 14 questions to help you get to know your potential ward representatives better before casting your vote on October 22. Here are their responses, printed verbatim.
Full name: Donna Marie Jebb
Town of residence: Ward 5 (Rural New Tecumseth)
Length of time in New Tecumseth: All my life, the past 40 years on our farm
Primary reason you are running: To continue to serve our municipality and help to shape the future of New Tecumseth
Campaign slogan: Experience. Integrity. Dedication
What are the most important challenges facing the community? Strive to improve the infrastructure of our town (roads, bridges, ditches, culverts along with water and wastewater pipes and equipment.
What do you cherish most about this community? This is where our grandparents & Barry's great grandparents settled and we love our community. My parents, Warren (Pat) and Shirley Gibson were committed to our community, working diligently and volunteering in many areas of the town and I have done the same. My mom received the Alliston Rotary Elgin Blakely Citizen of the year and inducted into the Wall of Honour at the Museum on the Boyne and Town of New Tecumseth Virtual Wall of Fame. Barry is a third generation farmer in Tecumseth township (his grandfather Barry Jebb was Reeve and his father Doug was a Councillor for the former township and the Town of New Tecumseth, Barry's mother (Joan) had been recognized in 2010 as Senior of the year for her volunteer work in our community. I have lived in Ward 5 for the past 40 years. This is where we raised our family and we have grandchildren now living in our town. The thing that I cherish most is being able to live and work and enjoy our community as well as to meet people that have decided to move here. Lifelong friendships because of this community.
What type of leader will you be? I am past president and member of different organizations and committees that focus on many aspects of not only our community but our province, country and other nations. I have seen many leadership styles. I like to think that I have been an inclusive leader and a team player who is willing to work with others and, most importantly, I am totally committed to all tasks facing me.
What are your priorities for change in our municipality in the short term? Long-term? A previous old agreement with Collingwood regarding delivery of the water to our community needs to be updated. We are part of Simcoe County which has started the “Link” transit program with limited runs right now. I would like to see the creation of a route for our community moved ahead to help the residents at the south end get to work, appointments and connect with transit hubs. We have a few large industries that could utilize this service as well. By working with county representatives to recognize that we have three urban centres and a rural area that need to have this sooner than later. Recognize that our rural areas once did have little hamlet community halls and schools which are now mostly closed or changed use. We need to provide space in each urban area have a community centre that is relevant to what is needed by all residents in New Tecumseth. Having something different in each urban area would make it more of “one town” feeling with residents using all the centres. We need to keep working on the pipeline to Tottenham and it will come as we continue to work to determine the best route, design etc.
What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way to address them? Biggest fiscal challenges are keeping our infrastructure in compliance and up to date. We have a lot of roads, bridges, culverts pipes in the ground along with everything required at our water and wastewater that must be maintained. Our roads, especially our rural roads are being used more as commuter roads and much more through traffic is using our roads when the provincial highways are crowded or shut down. We need to get more financial support from our provincial government to help us to repair and improve the roads. There is always reference to minimum standards and I would like to see our standards raised higher than the minimum. We use taxes, reserve accounts and debentures to help pay for what is required for our municipality. As a farmer we know that sometimes we have to use borrowing to make large capital purchases to keep our farming operation viable.
What Innovative projects would enhance life in this area? We need to have reliable Internet services for the rural area as more and more rural residents require dependable Internet. Having transit within our community and connecting trails between our three urban centres. Enhance the trail along our Boyne River. Having programs that are more inclusive. I was thrilled when our accessibility committee worked to make sledge hockey available to all residents (this is a great program for all those ex hockey players that have had knee replacements). Provide more programs that will teach basic life skills to younger members in a society that has become very dependent on fast food and less family dinner at the table focused. Group cooking lessons for adults can allow for social time and creating more of community. I believe we can achieve this by working with the many organizations that provide those types of programs and courses for all ages. We started a community Garden in Alliston and I would like to see it expanded to meet our “growing interest.”
What Innovative projects would enhance life in this area? We need the support of all different levels of governments and other municipalities to find cost saving for our town. Simcoe County has identified that the Simcoe Beeton Manor needs to be upgraded, and expanded to have more spaces available for all levels of long term care. This is a commitment of over 100 million dollars when it is done. We need to keep this on track for our residents to be able to continue to live in their community at whatever stage of life they are in. Keeping informed by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) as well as Ontario Small Urban Municipalities (OSUM) and ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipalities Association) You establish networking connection that are valuable as you never know when you are going to need your neighbours. Being approachable, courteous and willing to help is just common sense. Our hospital is working with the provincial government to be redeveloped. It is long overdue as our community and its needs have grown since the 1960s. For six years, I was on the hospital foundation (treasurer for one) we appreciated the support our community and town councils gave the hospital as our MPP took the cause to Queen's Park. We have worked well with our members of Provincial and Federal governments and I hope that we will continue to do so.
What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area? In the past I offered one morning a month that residents could come and visit me at our home as a council member doesn't have an office. Only a few people would stop in and have a chat. With the age of social media and instant messages getting proper messages out to the public it is still difficult in the rural area to have a good connection. I feel person to person or a telephone conversation is still the best way to communicate. I would like to see once a quarter (or when required) a meeting be held with an agenda of what is happening in our Ward and have staff available to provide information about some of the processes (sideroad cutting, calcium application as examples). Currently I contact residents when they have questions by phone email or in person.
How do you envision communicating with a constituents? I am and will always be involved in our community. (I have received my 30 year pin from Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, for my volunteer work and will be receiving my 40 year pin next year.)
UN committee for the Associated Country Women of the World,
Alliston Historical Society
Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario
Alliston Physician Recruitment and Retention (since its inception),
Town Accessibility Committee,
Past president of South Simcoe 4H Association,
Former board member of the South Simcoe Arts Council,
Stephenson Memorial Hospital Foundation
Co-chaired the Canadian Paraplegic Associations South Simcoe Wheelchair Relay Race
I was inducted into The Herald's South Simcoe Hall of Fame in 2005
Alliston Rotary Elgin Blakely Citizen of the Year in 2010 (25 years after my mom)
Full name: Nicole Cox
Town of residence: Beeton
Length of time in New Tecumseth: 38 years
Primary reason you are running: For over three years I have attended all but two New Tecumseth council meetings and made it a priority to advocate for fair, transparent and accountable leadership and decision-making for all residents within the municipality. I decided to run for Ward 5 councillor when it appeared the incumbent would be acclaimed which would have left many residents without a voice or advocate. The residents of Ward 5 deserve a choice in this upcoming election. The ward boundary review changes supported by the incumbent saw a drastic change in Ward 5's make-up. It has become a mix of Rural, Agricultural and the urban Treetops subdivision. Now more than ever it is important for residents to have a strong voice, someone who will listen, research, and advocate for the community. Many of the development pressures in New Tecumseth are in Ward 5. It is under threat from residential urban sprawl.
Campaign slogan: New Voice, New Vision
What are the most important challenges facing the community? We have a community that needs and deserves access to clean, fair, and safe water. It's important to be vigilant to stay on track and keep residents informed of timing, deadlines and funding for the Tottenham pipeline connection. Paving over farmland and inundating residents with the addition of a community the size of North Bay (directly in Ward 5) is not smart planning for our future. We need a comprehensive plan, strategically researched and developed that sees the pressures of development remain in the public's hands and generates strong opposition to urban sprawl.
Council, including the incumbent has put us on a path whereby Simcoe County is vying to take control of our municipal water and wastewater infrastructure, as well play a bigger, more controlling role in our planning. We need a strong voice that opposes giving up control of these key planning elements.
It is time to make headway with the expansion and redevelopment of Stevenson Memorial our community hospital. They provide the best care for many residents and it's time that that care is also reflected in the building it is being provided in.
The Tottenham aerodrome is a major concern for our municipality. Residents lives interrupted for years by noise, dust, their ponds drying up, flooding and silt deposits as well as a lack of confidence in soil contaminant testing and the Town's abilities to deal with compliance deficiencies is beyond concerning. Residents pleas for an end to the fill operation can no longer be muffled. If it doesn't work for our residents then it doesn't work for our town and the agreement can not be extended.
What do you cherish most about this community? I have spent all 38 wonderful years of my life here. This community is where I have grown up and where I chose to raise my family. I have so many wonderful memories as a child playing in the creeks, fields and forests. I cherish my daily interactions with lifelong and new residents. Most of all, the community has positively shaped the person I have become, shown me the ability of friends and neighbors to come together in celebration, helping in times of tragedy and our determined advocacy to protect and care for the community we all love. We are surrounded by the vast beauty of countryside and farmland with the convenience of being in close proximity to our local hospital and many amenities.
What type of leader will you be? I believe a leader has to ensure the concerns of residents are heard and acted upon. I encourage and am dedicated to listening to all perspectives prior to making any decisions. I will commit the time necessary to research and gather information that focuses on what residents care about. I offer effective support in a timely manner to provide the desired results.
What are your priorities for change in our municipality in the short term? Long-term? Our rural and agricultural community within New Tecumseth needs a strong voice at the table. We have unique challenges the urban areas don't, and that cannot be lost in the process.
We need to ensure Municipal restrictions and bylaws do not have negative impacts on our agri-businesses and other operations within our community, and that they are fair and equal benefit.
We need to look at how road maintenance priorities are presently identified. Our current system uses traffic count as a criteria, therefore less traveled rural roads don't get the attention they deserve. I would like to see each Ward's worst roads considered so road works are spread evenly across the municipality. I would also like to see an end to road politics, where a project is added at the last minute during the final budget deliberations. These are usually way down the priority list. There needs to be a mix of rural and urban considerations each year.
A new Stevenson Memorial Hospital building is long overdue and I will lend my full support to helping ensure that happens.
The feasibility for innovative transportation options that are inclusive of everyone should and needs to be a priority. It's particularly important in a Ward like ours where walking to the grocery store, or the hospital, for example, is not an option.
A master drainage servicing plan is a top priority for our municipality and our community as a whole. Flooding incidents have been growing in frequency causing devastation to crops and fields in ward 5, flooding properties and basements in Beeton and Tottenham areas. This has directly led to significant increases in property insurance, and in many cases, made it harder to get insurance. Not to mention, erosion of creek and river banks, silt deposits as well as damage to roads and bridges.
Making sure our children have access to safe and accommodating educational buildings, whether it's our grade school or secondary school students. We need to be focused on the development of sites that meet the needs of our youngest generations.
What are the biggest fiscal challenges in our municipality, and what do you envision as the best way to address them? Our municipality has been growing and growth is expensive especially in terms of our ability to handle financing for the maintenance and replacement of aged and deteriorating infrastructure. We know what the problems are and it is time to move ahead with the work while remaining conscious of the cost and supports we can take part in to help with funding.
The proposed new Town Administration Centre at the former Alliston Union Public School site has over $8 million earmarked to be funded by long term debt, which is straight taxation. It is not a development charges eligible project. It will also drain approximately $7 million from our reserve accounts. We need to pump the brakes on this project and look at more viable solutions while still supporting the needs of an efficient Town operation. We need to examine all options recognizing the status quo is not feasible. But we also can't afford to drain our reserves and saddle our property taxpayers with $8 million plus interest in debt.
What Innovative projects would enhance life in this area? I would like to see a commitment to forming Community committees that foster collaboration from all demographics of our municipality – rural, urban, agricultural, old and new builds, business and industry areas. It is extremely important that everyone's voice is heard when determining policy and making it appropriate for all residents.
All manners of development applications, municipal studies, active files that call for public participation, and or have impacts on our residents, should be made available at all three of our libraries. These are public documents and easier access to them would promote greater civic engagement, trust, and transparency during the decision-making process.
Green programs directed at Public Health, air quality, flooding and erosion problems as well as road safety would be a great project for our area. A greater focus on tree planting on Town owned properties to promote groundwater recharge and enhanced water quality as well as creating naturalized buffers when roads are developed would promote vehicular safety from drifting snow in winter months.
What is your perspective on the best way to collaborate with other levels of government to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for our area? Being able to recognize our needs and openly communicating those interests are key to effective collaboration. We have to be vigilant to make sure we are present in discussions and decisions that impact our community. We need to be able to identify and utilize opportunities and resources that will benefit us. Making sure we meet qualifications and deadlines in federal and provincial grants and funding. We also need to set realistic demands and communicate our limits and expectations effectively to other levels of government when they have authority over decisions that impact our municipality.
How do you envision communicating with a constituents? I look forward to continuing to build on the experience gained from being an active participant in local government matters, keeping residents informed of the issues and decisions that affect them. Whether it be through email, phone, in person, or social media, I envision communication that stimulates discussion and is based on getting the right information to residents so everyone feels heard, are effectively informed and are comfortable participating in decisions that will impact them.
What will you do to continue to be involved with the community should you not win? The results of the election will not sway or take me away from being active in local government and the community. My focus will be in giving residents a voice in the municipal chambers whether seated at the council table or in the gallery. My dedication to transparent decision-making, providing citizens with informed, accurate and researched information will remain. 4If you need me I'm here to help.
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