SOUTH DUNDAS – With the municipal election coming to a quick close and polls soon opening, South Dundas held their second and third meeting on Oct. 11 and Oct. 15.
Each debate had similar issues that stood out including the mayoral candidates’ position on marijuana legalization, the fiasco surrounding the Carman House and business development within the area.
Candidates danced around the subject of whether or not they were in favour of marijuana legalization in their community. During the second debate, one citizen directly asked the mayoral candidates whether or not they are for the pending legalization.
Both Evonne Delegarde and Steven Byvelds stated that they were in agreement with the legalization and vendors opening up in their township to bring in more business to the area.
“I’m going to be supporting the retail outlets to have a controlled environment as opposed to having the unknown. We’re going to have delivery service through the post office, so it is going to be allowed in our municipality,” said Delegarde. “Having it under control will make it a lot easier to manage. We do have the option of opting out, however, we cannot opt in and then opt out later, so we have to make sure the decision that we make first is the correct one.”
Byvelds gave his personal opinion, saying that the community should be open to sales in the right place within the community.
“Not sure if the government is going to give us those guidelines for sales but we would make those guidelines at our table, making sure stores are allowed to operate in South Dundas,” he said. “As I’ve said before, I believe that they should be allowed but we’ll make sure they’re not in areas they should not be.”
The candidates had a surprise question brought to their attention about the Iroquois’ Carman House tenant given another eviction notice. While council confirms that they’re doing everything in their power to rectify the mistake, deputy mayor candidate Bill Ewing took a more solitary approach, trying to deflect the question onto staff rather than council taking responsibility.
“The whole issue is a fiasco. The Carman House is not something that just happened in the past two years. The building code changed back in the ‘80s, I believe, and that building should have been brought up to fire code and it was never done,” said Ewing. “Staff and employees did not do their job, they did not bring the information to council, telling us the condition of the building, so that we can put money into it and fix it. I am not about to take blame for staff that did not do their job. We have some here now that were responsible for the building. It’s not up to council to tell them what their job is.”
Councillor candidate Llyod Wells disagreed with Ewing’s statement, saying that council shouldn’t put all blame on staff and that they need to work together for a team effort.
“As an employer, what Bill [Ewing] is saying here, I disagree. You got to work with your employees because they’re only as good as the people who instruct them,” he said. “I’ve been through it, if you try to buck the system, your employee is going to give you as much as they can. Everyone’s got to work together and when everyone works together things get done a lot quicker.”
Councillor candidate Del Jones simply stated that no one goes home at the end of a long day, patting themselves on the back for a bad day. Adding that there might be a communication problem between the employees and the council and that’s something that could require fixing in the future.
“I’ve rarely seen anyone who doesn’t want to do a good job. So, if there is a problem, it’s our communication and lack of direction,” he said. “If there’s an issue, it should be brought to the council’s attention and make sure the communication is clear and make sure there are follow-ups in future council meetings.”
Delegarde and councillor candidate Archie Mellan were asked about the business development in the area, how to increase employment and what companies they are looking to attract to the area.
Delegarde says that their economic development officer has been working very hard in direct relationship with the small businesses.
“We’ve just completed our Business Retention and Expansion Survey that identifies some issues that approximately 100 businesses are going through,” she said. “We’ve had several businesses opening in the area. We’ve had several commercial openings and two different eye clinics and a new ownership with the dental office. I think I’ve attended over a dozen openings.”
Mellan says that businesses are the life blood of the community, stating that if we build it, they will come.
“We have to make sure we have an available work force, affordable businesses and a lot of our businesses go outside the community to work, which is alright but I want to keep it in the community,” he said. “We have to provide an atmosphere and working condition that is attractive for businesses to come and open up.”