UXBRIDGE: With ballots set to be mailed out in the municipal election this week, several local candidates took to the stage for a forum at the Uxbridge Arena Hall on Monday, Sept. 29.
A large crowd was on hand to hear from the candidates for Mayor, Regional Councillor, as well as Public and Separate School Board Trustee ahead of the municipal election, scheduled for Monday, Oct. 27.
The candidates covered a wide range of topics throughout the evening, including possible solutions to the limited growth in the municipality due to dwindling sewage capacity, which is currently estimated to be approximately 390 available units.
Many candidates expressed the opinion that the township should be working with the Region to explore new alternatives beyond the current sewage treatment plant. No candidate supported expansion of the “big pipe” from the south as a means of tackling the issue of limited growth.
The issue of the downtown culvert replacement was also covered in depth by the contenders for spots on Uxbridge’s Council.
Mayoral candidate Ted Eng proposed selling some downtown property to a developer as a means of paying for the project, which was recently estimated to cost in the neighbourhodd of $10 million.
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor noted that the municipality will need to act on the culvert matter sooner rather than later.
“The culvert has to be replaced. It would be irresponsible of any council not to address it now that we know,” said Mayor O’Connor, also noting that the township has already begun the process of applying for federal assistance with the project.
Meanwhile, Bob Shepherd proposed a grander solution that would see several properties purchased to create a town square in the area of Brock St. and Toronto St.
Shepherd was evasive at times on the specifics of his plan and the potential for additional costs.
“Don’t worry about if you can afford it, first see if it’s a good plan and then move forward with it,” commented Mr. Shepherd.
Both Mayor O’Connor and Mr. Eng expressed concerns over the plan hatched by Mr. Shepherd.
“Once the culvert is in, then is the time to decide what you want to build,” added Mayor O’Connor. “Five properties would have to be bought and they won’t come cheap. And I won’t go into debt.” The Mayor also noted that currently, no tax dollars collected by the municipality go towards debt servicing, and haven’t since she originally became Mayor in the 1980s.
Later, Mr. Eng added that he thought it would be “very difficult to get people on-line” with the plan, given how many different property owners would need to be involved with the project.
The candidates for Regional Councillor also spoke at length about their plans for the municipality should they be elected.
In an effort to provide greater information to township residents, Jon Taylor proposed that council meetings be videotaped and uploaded to the township’s web site to provide better access to those who are unable to regularly attend meetings.
Candidate Michelle Viney pledged that she would not vote for tax increases over the rate of inflation or a possible pay increase for members of council, as well as not claiming mileage expenses for trips to Regional Headquarters in Whitby in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Meanwhile, current Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger remained committed to his longtime campaign pledge of “no promises, just hard work for you.” And noted that he is the only one of the three candidates with any prior experience on council.
Ballots for the municipal election are expected to be mailed out on Thursday, Oct. 2, and should be in the mailbox no later than Oct. 18 to ensure delivery by Oct. 27. Ballots can also be dropped off at Town Hall, located at 51 Toronto St. South until Oct. 27.
On Monday, Oct. 6, local residents will be able to hear from the candidates for Ward Councillor at a special Candidate Forum, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Uxbridge Arena Hall, located at 291 Brock St. West.