Photo left: Tony Fraser’s opening statement talked about his many contributions to the community including attending fundraisers, business milestones and supporting local sports. Photo right: Gerry Boyce explained to the audience how he would work with the school boards, to meet with them regularly to understand what their issues are and the best way to fix them. Glover photos
SOUTH MOUNTAIN – Attendance to the first of three North Dundas municipal election debates Mon., Sept. 17 was high as residents wanted to share their concerns of increased taxes, the persistent stench from Parmalat and the impending legalization of marijuana.
The meeting of mayoral candidates Tony Fraser and Gerry Boyce was highly anticipated as both members of council are hoping to move up from their roles as deputy mayor and councillor.
The overwhelming smell that fills the streets of North Dundas from Parmalat has been a pain in locals’ nostrils for too long. One question directed at deputy mayor candidate Brad Pinch and Fraser simply asked what their plan is to try again and improve Dundas County’s air quality.
Fraser who has worked at Parmalat for many years, addressed that residents have had to put up with the odour for far too long but assures the community, that efforts are being made to fix the problem.
“I am aware of what’s going on, I have spoken to management about it, I’ve worked back where the smell starts from and I can say, first hand, the efforts that are going on is astounding,” he said. “The number of people that are back there working, the number of dollars being spent, I can’t believe there’s that many engineers in Ontario driving around, measuring and figuring out better ways to deal with that odour.”
Pinch decided to cut right to the chase and express that Parmalat has had a “free ride” for too long and that the technologies that they are using are not going to improve the air quality in North Dundas.
“I’ve learned a couple of things while doing a little bit of research. One is that the technology that they’re currently boasting about, that’s going to do everything in fact ,is not going to support the smell and take it away,” he said. “There are too many other elements that are out there. There is new technology out there that is being used by other plants worldwide in Montreal, and even in St. Albert, that reduce and remove the stench, which is really important to us.”
On Wed., Oct. 17, marijuana will officially be legalized across the country and while some residents are in agreement of this, some parents in the area think that this will only cause more problems in the community. One concerned parent directed a question towards Boyce and Fraser, asking what will be in place involving law enforcement to help ease residents into the reality of legalization.
Fraser made his feelings very clear about the pending legalization, stating that the police won’t be sufficient and that they will need municipal support during the transitional period.
“I don’t know what measures this municipality will take but this will become law and it will become legalized,” he said. “The policing will not be sufficient to deal with the things that they are speaking of, that they don’t have to deal with. So, what are we going to do to deal with it? We’re going to have to be supportive of the policing that we have in our area.”
Boyce stated that not only will the township be struggling with this issue, but the whole country will. However, Boyce is interested in waiting the first year out and seeing what will unfold in that time.
“It’s not enough time, they’re not giving us enough resources, we don’t know what’s going on and we haven’t gotten the information,” he said. “Eventually, we should go to the public to see what the public thinks. I do kind of like the stand that the town of Perth is taking, waiting the first year and seeing what unfolds and see what happens. I don’t think we should rush into it, we really need to take a close look at that.”
A question directed at new councillor candidates, Theresa Bergeron and Gary Annabelle asked what they felt are the biggest issues the council needs to address as newcomers.
Bergeron stated that one of the bigger issues is how much taxes each resident pays and that they don’t realize where most of the budget goes.
“When I went around four years ago, people were concerned about how much taxes they pay, and what they don’t realize is about 40 per cent of the budget is for roads,” she said. “And of our population, only 4,000 households have to support all those roads. So, in order to reduce taxes from every person we need to attract more people to the township.”
Annabelle stated a number of different issues within the area, including the issues of side-road trimmings and increased taxes.
“Rurally, a lot of people are quite content with side-road trimmings. Some side roads have weeds, trees and brush that you can’t see until you pull out onto the road,” he said. “Taxes are another thing. Nobody like taxes. When I lived in my house before the house I live in now, I was paying up to about $10,000 a year in property taxes and to me, that’s just too much.”
The next municipal election debate will be held Mon., Sept. 24 at the Royal Canadian Legion Chesterville Branch 434.