October 15, 2014

County candidates stress need for collaboration

As published in The Erin Advocate

Candidates for Wellington County Council agree that Erin needs to get its fair share of benefits from the senior municipal government, with each claiming to have the best skills and strategy to make that happen.

They explained their positions at the All Candidates’ Meeting held on October 8 by Transition Erin. Candidates gave one-minute answers to questions from moderator Jay Mowat in a randomly selected order. Written answers to selected questions (from all election candidates) are available at http://www.transitionerin.ca.

Former public school trustee Pierre Brianceau said the failure of current representatives to get along with other members of county council has resulted in Erin not getting its fair share. He said he has the experience in working with various governments and agencies to bring funding to the community.

“I can work with others and you will get your money back,” he said. He noted the current Code of Ethics complaints at the Town level, and said his competitors “have spent their time fighting instead of minding your interests.”

Barb Tocher, a current Town Councillor and former Mayor and County Warden, said that while Erin gets standard services from the county, she will always bargain for better service and to get Erin’s share of various initiatives. She said the current mayor has been the root cause of malfunction at Town Council, and that his failure to earn respect at County Council has been a disadvantage to Erin.

“It’s time to restore and enhance the collaborative partnership between the Town of Erin and the County of Wellington,” she said.

Mayor Lou Maieron, formerly a County Councillor and now running again for that position, said in response that Erin actually has a “good relationship” with the county. He said Erin has got a part-time ambulance, rural garbage pick-up and a commitment for a new Hillsburgh library in 2016.

He said he has “great relationships with some hard-working efficiency-based councillors” but not with some “back room” politicians. He continues to protest the province’s assessment-based tax system, which puts a heavier burden on Erin compared to some parts of the county.

“I’ve been fighting to get our fair share. The representation at the county is neither based on population nor assessment. If you look at the three southern municipalities, we’re the highest assessment and the highest population, but we don’t have the majority of votes.”

Brianceau stressed his commitment to protect the environment, strengthen delivery of existing health care services, promote economic development and enhance rural transportation. He also favours reform of the tax system, would look for an environmentally responsible way to get a waste transfer station in Erin and would produce a quarterly newsletter to inform people and encourage their participation.

Tocher would support “Green Development Charges”, providing developers with discounts based on their environmental initiatives. She supports a county plan to track climate change and reduce its impact on infrastructure, and suggests that the County pay for all road construction while the Town covers all maintenance. She would write monthly updates for the news media and employ on-line surveys to get more feedback from residents.

Maieron said as Chair of County Planning he has backed plans for resilience to climate change. He wants more Erin roads to become the county’s responsibility. He supports establishment of a Re-Use Centre in Erin and weekly rural garbage collection (instead of every two weeks). He will push again for an Operational Review to improve efficiency, and would like to see on-line video of county meetings and some meetings held in the evening.

All of the candidates support establishment of a Community Safety Zone (higher speeding fines) in front of Brisbane Public School.