Re-elect Ian Chadwick

Councillor, Town of Collingwood

Responses to public questions, surveys and comments.

Here are some answers I have given about community issues. I have also posted some answers to questions about a potential pesticide ban on my blog.

My responses to V.O.T.E

This questionnaire was sent to all candidates, and the responses are also posted on the V.O.T.E. website. Posting these responses does in any way mean I endorse this or any other group or their position on any issue, but I felt some viewers might have similar questions.

I have expanded some of my comments since I first sent my responses.

  1. Why are you running and, what would you consider to personally be your top three priorities?
    To work for the betterment and wellbeing of the Town. I spent a dozen years serving on boards and committees, and as a volunteer; I see council as a natural extension of doing that public service and wish to continue it.

    Top three priorities: develop policies and practices for sustainable growth; protect the viability and commercial stability of the downtown; protect and preserve our natural environment including wetlands and our trails system. But I have other specific projects and issues as well, including making sure the new Library gets built on schedule, and the town's relationship with the Humane Society takes on a more supportive role.
     
  2. What do you want Collingwood to look and feel like in the longer term; say 25 – 50 years?
    If I could predict that far in advance, I could probably make millions… but until I have such a gift, I think we have to look at the next five to ten years: controlled, careful and sustainable development; enhanced trails; bicycle lanes; retention of our natural resources; a vital and vibrant downtown (perhaps with a pedestrian mall); new low-impact industries, attract more physicians and an expanded but controlled western commercial zone. If we can accomplish those, then the next decade will be in better shape for us.

    The Intergovernmental Action Plan (IGAP) will probably sculpt our future more than we can imagine now, and until we have a better definition of where it will take us, we should not attempt to forecast too far in the future.
     
  3. Describe a problem that you have encountered in the community in the past and describe what actions you took to resolve it.
    Thanks to our continuing growth, the library had grown well past its available space, and had needed more room since before 2000, but had been unable to get council support for expansion before this.

    In 2005, I successfully fought first for the expansion to accommodate that need, then for a new building to provide the space for a longer term. As a result, we will have a new library that meets the growing needs of the community and provides better services, especially for the youth and the seniors in this community.

    Another issue was the lack of land available for the Collingwood & District Humane Society to build a much-needed shelter on. I fought to have a parcel of town land provided for that purpose.
     
  4. How will you know when you are doing a good job? A poor job?
    Residents, neighbours, friends, my wife, customers, fellow councillors and the media will let me know. I'm sure my detractors and opponents will, too. But so will my conscience.
     
  5. Who do/will you turn to for advice on political and Town matters?
    Other members of council, the mayor, town staff, fellow board and committee members, my customers, my wife, friends, my neighbours – depending of course on the situation and any confidentiality aspect. I spent more than a decade covering local politics for the media, so I have contacts in many areas to whom I can turn — and have turned to in the past. There are also resources such as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario which can provide generic advice and information.

    And, of course, I read many books on history and politics, always hoping to learn from them.
     
  6. How do you personally plan to keep citizens up-to-date and informed about what you are doing during your term?
    As I do now: by speaking out at council, speaking to people in my store, by speaking to my neighbours and to residents, by speaking to the media, and sometimes by making comments on my web site.

    I advocate the town develop a more strenuous communications policy and appoint a communications officer to make sure municipal information gets properly dispersed in a timely manner.
     
  7. Do you think it is important to ask for public input and if so, when is it important and how do you specifically intend to do it?
    Of course public input is important. Residents have various means to provide input, including presentations and delegations to council, public meetings and simply approaching local politicians.

    I have always had an ‘open door’ policy at my store to talk with any resident about local issues, events, concerns, etc. I am accessible to residents at the store, by phone or when we meet on the street.
    Public involvement in issues is also shored up by the various committees and boards which provide advice and input to council.

    I have always favoured holding public meetings on major or contentious issues, even when not required by law at least for their educational value. I believe everyone benefits from the chance to get more information, to comment and to exchange ideas.

    In the democratic process, representatives are elected to make the decisions and care must be taken to ensure non-elected individuals or groups do not supersede that responsibility. But no government can operate in a vacuum, so public input is necessary.
     
  8. What do the words “accountability” and “openness” mean to you?
    I believe they mean the same to me as they do to everyone else.
     
  9. Do you feel any changes are required to Collingwood’s Procedural by-law and in particular, could you comment on your opinions of in-camera meetings, recorded votes and expected council behavior?
    Notices of motion should be allowed orally, not merely in written form, but aside from that the bylaw is adequate. I did bring about some small changes to the bylaw in my term to make the process more efficient.

    “Expected council behaviour” is not in the procedural bylaw but rather covered by the oath of office and the more recently approved code of conduct. We are also governed in these areas by the Municipal Act and Conflict of Interest Act, both of which take precedence over local bylaws and policies.

    In-camera meetings are permitted (sometimes required) by the Municipal Act under a limited set of circumstances (personnel, property, etc.) and this council has done a good job of making sure discussions did not veer into areas that belonged in public debate. I have spoken out several times myself about whether discussions are appropriate in camera or in public.

    As for recorded votes, I have no opinion: they are the right of any member of council to request and I have no concern about anyone doing so.
     
  10. Collingwood requires more housing that is affordable to local citizens. What specific strategies would you propose for achieving this?
    I am already on the town’s affordable housing committee. I fought for a 54-unit affordable rental housing development in the east end, but it was defeated at the table. I have since spoken to the county about opportunities for development and funding to build one or more small apartment buildings on other sites.

    I have also worked to encourage developers to build affordable homes for ownership in their subdivisions. I hope to continue on the committee if re-elected, and work with the county to create a suitable project in the next term.

    Since this is a regional issue, I support presenting this issue to the new Municipal Service Board with the Town of the Blue Mountains to assess local, not merely town, opportunities and challenges. Together we may be able to find better solutions than either one alone could.
     
  11. What specific strategies do you think should be undertaken to attract new clean industry and importantly, higher paying jobs?
    I have said often that Collingwood has to aggressively go outside its borders to approach and solicit new industries, in particular the electronics and software industries.

    Several years ago, I provided the former economic development officer a list of my contacts and companies in those areas, but it was not acted upon.

    I believe we must send staff to appropriate trade shows and conventions to approach companies that may suit our goals, not wait for them to contact us. I would also update and revitalize the town’s website to be more current and provide data more easily.

    I also advocate making approaches to post-graduate institutions to establish a campus in town, so we can train graduates in the areas needed by today's high-tech industries.
     
  12. Would you support having random and independent public audits of a select number of Town projects each year as selected by a panel of citizens?
    Not unless someone could convince me that they were absolutely necessary, and that the panel had the requisite experience, background and neutrality to do such an audit. Who would do the selection? Who would peer-audit their reports?

    The public already has access to ongoing project data, and can examine them. I don’t see the need for any additional layers of oversight at this point – additional bureaucracy might only slow down or add extra costs to the process.

    I am also leery that personal agendas might cloud such a "select" group.
     
  13. Projected debentures are forecast to be three times municipal revenue in the next ten years. How do you feel about this?
    I think it’s inevitable, given the aged condition of the infrastructure combined with the expansive growth we are experiencing, as well as the downloading of costs we have shouldered. We have to borrow to pay for the cost of upgrades. Unless the province and/or federal governments provide new funding, there is little other option, except to let the infrastructure fall apart, and cut services.

    A good example is the channelization of the Black Ash Creek. The choices were simple: continue to allow flooding to damage homes, businesses, and roads, or borrow the money to fix the problem. I should point out that the promised 50% funding from the NVCA and the province never materialized, so Collingwood bore the full brunt of that expense.

    Perhaps if previous councils had been more willing to spend to maintain and repair the infrastructure, expand facilities and raise taxes, we wouldn't be facing the larger debentures of today. I wasn't on council back then, so you'll have to broach this inaction with those who were.

    I am far from happy about the situation — no one is — but municipal governments have few options when faced with such challenges. We can make every effort to reduce costs through private-public sector partnerships, but these won’t improve the roads or sewers.
     
  14. Do you support Collingwood’s current Official Plan? If yes, how do you feel about the volume of amendments and OMB challenges the Town has to deal with?
    Any official plan is a work in progress: by law it must be revised every five years. But in any busy community such as ours, given the demands for growth and development, five years is five years is too long for such a planning document to be current or effective. Plus, OPs always face challenges from potential new developments, changes in town planning, changes in commercial or industrial land use demands, changes in environmental mapping, changes in provincial and county policies, county policies, and sometimes from public demand (such as the OPA change to the downtown fringe area, requested by the residents). It is unrealistic to think that, in a community as busy as ours, an OP would remain un-amended.

    Collingwood will be looking at revising its OP in the coming term of council, so we have the opportunity to incorporate any changes or strategic goals in it then.
    As for OMB challenges, the OMB is an arm’s-length tribunal that acts as an arbiter for planning issues. It is the right of any resident or developer to challenge a town’s planning decision at the OMB, so it is not appropriate for me to comment on the volume of same. I can only suggest that, since OMB challenges can cost the municipality (thus our taxpayers) a considerable amount of money which is better spent on providing services to the community, that I hope none of them are frivolous or vindictive.
     
  15. What Smart Growth concepts do you feel are most important to apply in Collingwood right now?
    I am a member of the town’s Sustainability Committee, and was one of the driving forces to create it. We wrestle with these and related issues at every meeting. I am also a former member of the Vision 2020 committee where this and related issues were first collated into a single vision. It was this work that laid the foundation from which the Sustainability Committee was built.

    The Sustainability Committee is working to create suitable policies and practices that integrate concepts like ‘smart growth’ into our planning documents (in part through the use of a software tool called MetroQuest which we expect to get this fall).

    I believe the town has to work with the province’s Places to Grow Act and the county’s IGAP program, and to devise our own plan for sustainable, intelligent growth.

    I have serious concerns about the pace and spread of current growth patterns here, about disappearing greenspace, and want to develop policies that encourage less dependence on vehicles, more integrated development (mixed residential, with some low-impact commercial), and greater intensification.
    Should I get re-elected, I will continue this initiative and hope to again serve on this committee.

My responses to Downtown Collingwood's (BIA) survey:

  1. Are you supportive of the continued two hour free street parking trial in the downtown area?
    YES
    I spoke in favour of the free parking at the council table this term, I argued for it against some opposition from fellow councilors, and I voted for it. I think that if it proves good for business, we should make it a permanent policy. The downtown needs the leverage to help compete against malls and big box stores with their acres of free parking. I welcome this sort of forward-thinking initiative from the BIA.
  2. Would you work with the BIA to create a low cost parking solution for employee parking?
    YES
    I believe the town can offer employees low-cost parking on the lots, rather than on the main street, if the BIA can help us determine how to best enforce it. Perhaps the BIA could also find a way to reward employees who take the bus, bicycle or walk, instead of driving - maybe through "downtown dollars"?
  3. Would you commit to partnering with the BIA to the streetscape revitalization and better lighting, as presented to Council this past year?
    YES
    The downtown is a municipal responsibility, not just the BIA's. We appreciate the BIA's efforts but the BIA should not shoulder the burden alone. If we hope to continue to attract businesses here and visitors, the town needs to take up its responsibility to ensure the downtown remains attractive and inviting.
  4. As the pressure increases for additional commercial development primarily in the western node, will you commit to ensuring that protections currently in the Official Plan, remain, to ensure the long term viability of the downtown core.
    YES
    As councillor, I argued against allowing financial institutions to open in the western commercial district, and I supported the interim control bylaw to put a hold on all such development until we can enshrine it in the Official Plan. We also have to restrict development to larger floor-plate structures, and not allow the commercial district to become filled with the smaller retail and service businesses that are better suited downtown.
    I also support events and activities that animate the downtown and attract visitors to our community.
    The downtown is the heart of this community and we want it to continue to beat strongly. If re-elected, I will continue to support the downtown.

My responses to John Phillips

These questions were also sent to all candidates by email, by Mr. Phillips. Here are my answers...

  1. Would you support a bylaw, which requires a developer who builds in Collingwood, to provide 1 house (unit) for every 10 that is built to the affordable housing committee, which would select persons the same way as Habitat For Humanity? If my math is correct this would provide about 500 units spread throughout Collingwood.

    Right now the Municipal Act does not give councils the authority to demand anything along those lines. In fact, there's precious little control we have (which is why I want to press the province for more controls over all levels of development). If we had anything like that authority, I would have pounced on it three years ago - I am one of the founding members of the affordable housing committee.

    We are awaiting promised changes which will allow us to demand developers build a certain percentage of their houses at an "affordable" rate (how this will be decided I have not heard). Developers want the government to give them a handout in return, so it may become a legal challenge first. I think we may be able to include a housing reserve as part of our development charges in the near future, however.

    What I'd really like to do is get some leverage to force developers to build rental units. We have far too many people working at $8-$10 an hour and who can't afford to own and barely can afford to rent. We need rental properties - there are more than 1,400 people applying to the housing registry for rental units in this town alone.
     
  2. As you are aware the Municipal Act does not require a municipality to provide hydro services to residents. This is a provincial responsibility. Therefore, would you support the dismantling of Collus, selling the hydro portion and using the money to pay for infrastructure (WWTP, Sewers, Roads) and hire a P. Eng. to look after the town of Collingwood?

    I hadn't ever considered selling Collus. My first reaction is that the money would be nice at first but as soon as the rates started to skyrocket, residents would be screaming. I'm not a great believer in privatizing a lot of public services or institutions; sometimes it works, but far too often we lose control of essential services and can never get it back.

    I have no faith that the private sector can manage anything better than the public - look at Enron (among many). And to whom would we sell Collus? To Hydro One? I can't see they've done a better job at managing than we have. I'd rather have Collus buy Hydro One and show them how to manage things properly!

    Okay, that's a bit of a joke... more seriously, I don't think we'd get enough in the short run to make the long run more palatable. And with IGAP looming, there's a good chance we can position Collus to manage more of the county's utilities and make some profit doing it. So no, I wouldn't want to sell Collus based on what you've suggested. However, if a more comprehensive plan was put forward, I'd be eager to read it and give it all due consideration.

My responses to Gary Norman

These questions were also sent by email, by Mr. Norman. Here are my answers..

  1. I've read your blog about money being paid in lieu of parkland by developers. My concern is about developments such as Admiral Place. Shouldn't their required parkland be calculated differently than a development with single detached homes? I support intensification but feel that people in apartment style homes need greenspace perhaps even more than folks with their own backyards. Your comments would be appreciated.

    Parkland determination for all residential development is calculated on a fixed formula based on the amount of land under development. Do apartment dwellers need more green space than anyone else? Perhaps if we have significant growth in apartments or get several such developments clustered in one space, but I don't think we need a special case for just one building yet.

    Consider too, how the value of the land is calculated: parkland is given as 5% of the total property or cash in lieu. Five percent of the Admiral property is very small, but the cash value is high. We don't calculate it according to density - perhaps we should, but I'm not sure if we have the authority under the Municipal Act.

    Another consideration is that the average age of the owners will be in the retirement-plus zone, so their use of green space will be quite different than, say, a development where there will be lots of kids who need more active space.

    There is already a small parkette on the site near the seniors' residence, created and maintained by the developer.

    Finally, any green space comes with an operating cost to the town. Even a small parkette requires care; cleaning, watering, planting, mowing, etc., plus transportation costs to get the staff and equipment there. On a square-metre basis, small parks are more expensive to maintain than larger ones. While I champion green space, more of it means more expense in maintenance. We have to weigh the potential increase in costs against the value of the piece of property under consideration.

    In this case staff recommended that the cash be taken instead. I have often challenged that decision when larger developments like subdivisions are under consideration, and argued for parks and trails. In this case, I agreed with them that the cash was better.
     
  2. I would also like to know your position on a lobbyist registry for Collingwood.

    We don't really have lobbyists per se here, not those who would generally fit the definition used in, say, Ottawa or Washington. Is a planner who speaks for a client's development a lobbyist? A lawyer who asks for a client's consideration for a variance? Is the spokesperson for a service club or the Horticultural Society a lobbyist? Is Deb a lobbyist when she speaks at council on behalf of VOTE's membership? How about a resident who speaks up on behalf of his or her neighbours for better plowing of the street? Or the coach of a hockey team looking for more ice time?

    Yes, they are all lobbyists if you use the dictionary definition as "a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest."

    I think we'd get the same kind of negative reaction to defining and registering everyone who tried to influence council as I did when I tried to get a policy to define who was really "media" in the Internet age.

    Everyone who speaks at council says who their client is, says who their club, group, society or organization is. We're not under any misapprehension about who they represent. What would we gain by registering anyone? It seems a bit draconian to register every spokesperson for every club or group. And to be fair, we would have to be that inclusive. No, I'm not in favour of any such structure.

My responses to David Marks

These questions were also sent by email, by Mr. Marks. Here are my answers..

  1. Should the Collingwood By-pass be completed and if so where should it return to Hwy 26 and why?

    Do you mean the Hwy 26 realignment that was started but remains incomplete? If so, yes the province really needs to get back to it. But it's not up to the town: it's not even our money: it is a provincial project.

    Members of council and staff have met with the Minister of Transportation and the minister's staff many, many times over the last three years. Most recently, we met her and her staff in Ottawa in August and she came to Collingwood to see for herself in September.

    The project was halted when the last government lost and the current government dropped the realignment from its list of priorities. We have tried to get the province back on track with this and it looks like our lobbying has paid off. We've been led to believe construction will start again in 2007. So yes, it really needs to get completed. It's a real safety issue along Hwy 26 at present.

    If you mean the projected bypass that will carry traffic around the outskirts of Collingwood - that's another provincial project and is at least 20 years away. By then we will probably need it.
     
  2. What is your opinion of the amount of money being spent on the Collingwood Airport? Is it important that we have an airport? Should we be spending more, the same amount or less on the airport? What should be done to get all the surrounding municipalities to contribute?

    The airport is already a joint operation with Clearview, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach all paying a share. Collingwood pays the larger amount of the operating costs, around $100,000. That's because most of the industries that use the airport are in Collingwood, and we benefit from any fees, gas sales, building permits, leases, etc. We hope to have the Blue Mountains as a partner in 2007, so our costs will be lower (we lobbied the TOBM last year but too late for their budget process).

    The airport is working towards being self-sustaining, and in the very near future should cost the town little if anything. We actually saved ourselves money this year (about $15,000 a year) by building a new terminal and getting out of our old lease. I don't think we need to spend more right now, but I don't think we can spend less until the TOBM joins us.

    We need the airport. It is heavily used by local industries and if it was closed, they would move out too. The airport is growing quickly, and we have several new businesses opening there to build and refurbish airplanes. These are good employers and they pay well. We need that sort of job here in Collingwood. Other related industries have indicated they are interested in locating there.

    Plus the airport is home for many local recreational flyers, hosts many public events and is becoming very well known by recreational aircraft groups who want to use it for their clubs and events. The more people who fly in and out, the more the fuel sales, the more hangars we get, the less the town pays.

    The airport is one of the unsung local success stories, and as a member of the Airport committee, I think it's well worth the expense.

Contact us

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, issues or comments, to make a campaign contribution or to request a lawn sign. Call 444-2023 days (444-1492 evenings) or email me at ichadwick@rogers.com.