Candidate for Russell Township Mayor
61 years old
Retired senior Army officer (Royal Canadian Engineers)
1. What prompted your decision to run for council this time?
I am dissatisfied with the leadership of the current council as the council has been unnecessarily and unlawfully secretive, has not provided the public with complete answers. The current council, as of May of this year, holds the record for the most council agenda items unlawfully closed to the public (See the Ombudsman’s website here: https://ombudsman.on.ca/resources/reports-and-case-summaries/municipal-meetings) where, for example: Council received a municipal rebranding consultant report under the guise of “Education and Training of Council Members”; Council discussed setting its own salaries in closed session, under the guise of “Labour Relations”; designating a “heritage district” in the Township, under the “Personal Information”; and others. In addition, and most importantly, council has provided little to no comments on the Taggart-Miller mega-dump that will deposit almost 14 million tonnes of waste on the doorstep of the Township. This will have major effects on the long term health of citizens and there has been almost no comments by Council. I have lost confidence in the council leadership and will provide better.
2. What are the key strengths you would bring to the job if elected?
I believe my 37+ years of military experience, retiring as a Lieutenant-Colonel, will bring to the council the necessary leadership, long term (strategic) vision and integrity.
3. What are the top few issues that you see facing the Township?
There are several issues that face the Township. The first is the poor support for our library system, especially the totally inadequate branch in Embrun. Libraries provide more than just books but access to magazines, periodicals, and other research material for our citizens. In addition they provide resources for other groups such as parents with pre-school children, parents homeschooling their children, naturalist groups providing information and outdoor experiences for all, 3D printing facilities, and many more.
The next issue is one concerning parks and recreation. While the dome is great we have new subdivisions being built without playgrounds for the children, and we have large tracts of forested land along creeks and the Castor river that should be developed, in a sensitive manner, for recreational use. In addition I believe we must look out 30 years and commence the extension of the New York Central Fitness Trail to Marionville and Limoges, in stages. As a citizen member of the Township’s Parks, Recreation, and Culture Advisory Committee I see plenty of opportunity to develop of outdoor facilities.
The next issue is the Taggart-Miller mega-dump the province has approved for Boundary Road, south of the new Amazon facility. This facility was approved by the province with no input by Council at the Environmental Assessment stage, except when coaxed into signing letters provided by others. Only the local not-for-profit group known as Dump-the-Dump has opposed the mega-dump. I am the Secretary of this group, legally known as the Citizen’s Environmental Stewardship Association – East of Ottawa (CESA-EO). At this time we are in a legal appeal process of the City of Ottawa’s zoning of the mega-dump property without a Human Health Risk Assessment to protect the public. This is an expensive process and the Township needs to help the not-for-profit groups demanding proper risk assessments.
Another issue is proper project management. The dome was approved in mis-2016 for “$3 million, all in”, but by end 2016 the cost rose to $4.9M. The final “cost” was presented at a Council meeting to be just under the $4.9M; but when I asked if the figure included the land acquisition, road building, and utilities construction the CAO stated that if these costs were included the final bill would be “substantially higher”, Mayor Leroux stated that these costs are never included in municipal project presentations.. We do not know the actual cost of the dome. As a developer if the costs of land acquisition, road building, and utilities are part of the project.
4. Is there anything you hope to change in the Township?
I wish to change the culture of secrecy and provide an open government that the public can have confidence in and be proud of.
5. How is your message being received during this campaign?
Simply great, I have knocked on thousands of doors and there is great enthusiasm for a library, and concern for the lack of protection against the mega-dump.
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’?
This is a hard question as the Provincial Government, as of August 14th, has not clarified the “Private Retail Model” ( https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization?_ga=2.198528303.1668417537.1525349530-1738423582.1525349530 ), and it will not be clarified until 1 April 2019, April Fool’s Day. Exactly what role municipalities will play is not clear. I cannot predict what the Provincial Government will put in place for private cannabis retailers.