Helen Dunlop strives for full transparency between council and residents in bid for Councillor

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Candidate for South Stormont Councillor

Name: Helen Dunlop  
Age: 60
Occupation: Policy Advisor and Negotiator  

1. What prompted your decision to run for council this time?

Earlier this year, the Township sold a park in Long Sault. The sale of this park, and a treed area behind it, for a housing development sparked a public outcry.

Many concerns, which I share, came to the foreground including low levels of communication and transparency; development with no apparent vision; loss of public open spaces; clear cutting; loss of wildlife habitat; loss of heritage and character; and increased traffic and speed. The need for sustainable development.

In response to the outcry and after discussions with the Township, the property developer donated the park back to the community.

This incident, people’s concerns and their passion inspired me to run for council.  My partner, family and friends encouraged me to run as they felt I could represent the citizens of South Stormont well.

2. What are the key strengths you would bring to the job if elected?

I’ve worked as an archaeologist, researcher, policy analyst, and negotiator.  

I have experience in research; project management; policy analysis and development; cultural resource management; working with different levels of government; public and Indigenous engagement and consultation; and negotiation. 

I understand the importance of teamwork; communication and consultation plans; listening to people to understand their concerns and interests; collaboration; and evidenced based policy.

3. What are the top few issues that you see facing the Township?

In addition to the issues listed in question 1: lack of a community engagement and consultation plan; aging population; retention of youth; affordable housing; aging infrastructure; and waste management (including organic waste such as kitchen scraps and kitty litter).  

4. Is there anything you hope to change in the Township?

I would like to see a change in the way in which the Township communicates with and involves constituents on matters concerning the Township.  I would like to see a clear community engagement and consultation plan, and use of council advisory committees and ad hoc committees to involve people in shaping their community.

I would like to see the Township be more proactive in fostering sustainable development – making decisions and developing policies taking into consideration factors related to economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social equity.

There is a new County Plan that guides the Township. The Township has the ability to make plans that reflect local interests and direct development and growth.  The current Township’s plans regarding economic development, recreation, waste management, and community improvement should be reviewed and updated over the next 4 years. There is a need for an overall vision for the Township and urban & rural settlements. I would like to be part of this process.

I would like to see a change in direction regarding tree canopy and clear cutting, perhaps developing a Forest Management Plan, and working in partnership with Raisin River Conservation Authority on conserving and restoring ecosystems.

5. How is your message being received during this campaign?

So far, my messages are being well received.  People are supportive and encouraging. Many share the same concerns and speak to me of issues they have.

6. Voting begins on Oct. 17 — ironically the day of marijuana legalization. The new council will have to decide soon if your municipality will permit storefront cannabis sales, or opt out altogether. Should your municipality allow pot shops or ‘just say no’?

Municipalities may pass bylaws to regulate the use of cannabis locally.  Before the municipality would say yes or no, there would have to be research into the federal and provincial cannabis framework and legislation and into different regulatory systems, discussion amongst Council members, and consultation with the Township’s constituents.  It would come down to a vote; I would be one of five voting.

Cannabis will be legal. If people cannot buy it in the Township, they will buy it online or elsewhere. Pot shops could be an economic opportunity. It comes down to a well thought out regulatory system for “safe and sensible sale” of cannabis as with alcohol and cigarettes.


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