UXBRIDGE: The candidates for Ward Councillor in Uxbridge Township had their chance to address the public at an election forum earlier this week.
The candidates for council gathered at Uxbridge Arena Community Centre on the evening of Monday, Oct. 6 to detail their visions for the future of the municipality, should they be elected on Oct. 27.
Taxes dominated the discussion as many candidates explained their unique approaches to dealing with the issue, ranging from private-public partnerships and the possible sale of township-owned assets such as vacant land and unopened road allowances pitched by incumbent Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse to Ward 4 candidate Conrad Boyce’s plan to reduce the $8 million paid by the township annually for the Durham Regional Police Service to a local service, which he believed could be run for a quarter of the cost.
Traffic in the township’s hamlets was addressed as well, with Ward 1 candidate Pam Beach proposing that the township use solar powered digital speed boards, as is currently being done in other municipalities as well as rumble strips to combat the longstanding issue.
Incumbent Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast reminded residents that with the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Act both up for review in 2015, it is “time for the town to negotiate for more industrial lands,” in an effort to broaden Uxbridge’s tax base. As well, Councillor Northeast noted that she maintains reservations about potential commercial fill operations, given the issues faced in Scugog Township with the Greenbank Airport expansion.
“We don’t need another Greenbank, one is enough,” commented Ms. Northeast.
Several candidates, such as Ward One’s Blair Emmerson, Ward Two’s Gary Ruona and Ward Three’s Bob Harrison noted that more could be done to engage with community volunteers to share their expertise in various fields to aid the township.
Ward 4 candidate Fred Bryan noted that throughout his campaign, he has, “knocked on probably 90 per cent of the doors in my ward,” in an effort to “talk to people and find out what’s important to residents because there are issues that apply to all, but I want to learn about specific issues to try and give residents better value for their tax money.”
On the issue of increased by-law enforcment, current Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy urged residents to discuss issues with their neighbours before resorting to calling in by-law officers.
“I don’t want us to become ‘Toronto-fied.’ Complaints have doubled in the past year, and by-laws are the result of requests from residents,” explained Mr. Molloy. “Hopefully we can move forward and talk to our neighbours more, because it does work.”
The role of councillor has evolved over time, and requires a great deal of time for those elected to be able to fulfill their requirements to local residents. In answering a question posed by The Standard, most candidates pledged to commit to the job of councillor on a full-time basis of around 40 hours a week, even if they have other employment. The lone candidates to stop short of offering an endorsement for a full-time commitment were Ward 1 candidate Blair Emmerson and Ward 3 candidate Bruce Rodman.
“I’m committed to at least 40 hours a week, because that’s what it takes to do the job,” commented current Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet. “Most of our work is done outside of council chambers. What residents see there represents maybe one-tenth of our work.”