By Hannah MacLeod
The Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce hosted an All-Candidates meeting for the current municipal election at the Davidson Centre on Monday, Sept. 26.
The event aimed to give local citizens the chance to meet their local municipal candidates vying for the positions of mayor, deputy mayor and councillor. By 6 p.m., when the event was to begin, every seat was filled with many standing as well. All 17 candidates were in attendance.
The event was emceed by Don Jones with Meaghan Fair asking the pre-selected questions. Each candidate had one minute to introduce themselves before the questions began. Each candidate then had two minutes to answer each question.
Acclaimed Ward-1 councillors Beth Blackwell and Doug Kennedy were first invited to address the crowd of about 200 people.
Blackwell stated that she hopes to see more diversity and forward thinking brought to the council table. Kennedy, who is returning to council, highlighted the importance of affordable housing and doctor recruitment.
The first question presented to the panel was their position on the freedom rallies and anti-masking protests that occurred in Kincardine, and throughout the country, in 2021.
The candidates were in agreement, for the most part, that this was a larger issue. However, they all echoed each other’s sentiments that every citizen should have the right to choose and the right to protest, but that it is fair to intervene when public displays become out of hand.
The second question was posed only to those who hadn’t sat on council previously, asking what unique qualifications they each possessed for the role.
Uli Hack stated that he wants a position on council to have more say in future COVID mandates. Carol Blake expressed that she has dedicated her life to serving others, and hopes to continue to do that with a position on council.
Amanda Steinhoff-Gray reminded the audience that she has local roots and is happy to listen, while giving props to prior Ward 3 councillor Randy Roppell. Bill McKeeman followed by saying his business management experience will give him a hand up in the election.
Next, Rory Cavanagh spoke of his involvement thus far with physician recruitment, adding that his viewpoint would bring a unique perspective. Jim David followed by stating he, as well as other candidates, shared passion for the community was what made him uniquely qualified.
Carla Glover brought up her business ventures, and how speaking with clients, as well as her husband, helped her understand the greater community issues.
Jeff Hegmans and Mike Hinchberger both brought up their past work experience and leadership roles as their upper hands in the election. Hinchberger added that his lack of experience in politics would bring a unique perspective to council.
Jennifer Prenger said that she has gained experience from her education in political science and that she is adaptable and learns quickly. Finally, Scott Wilson stated that he has work experience as an engineer, which he compared to being a “professional problem solver”, and echoed Hinchberger’s sentiments that his lack of experience would bring a unique perspective.
The next question asked candidates where they stood on the proposed tree bylaw, as well as their stand on infill projects. The posed question opened up a conversation on larger issues, such as affordable housing and larger development projects in the area.
Infill housing uses vacant, underused lots to construct new houses among older, existing properties in established urban neighborhoods.
Those who were aware of infill projects were all for it, and those who were aware of the tree bylaw seemed for it, with the majority being in agreement that it should focus on clear-cutting more than private landowner’s rights.
Hinchberger mentioned the financial benefit of infilling, stating that it will put a greater tax base inside a smaller area.
Carla Glover suggested more development to the north, and reminded the audience that to make way for growth, a few trees may have to come down. She received an outburst of applause when she stated ‘One thing I’m not for is someone else telling me that I can’t cut down my own tree.’
David mentioned that 80% of housing in Kincardine is single family, and stated that that was not enough variety.
Stewart mentioned balance, pushing for developers to be responsible for their area, rather than council. He also mentioned the Ontario governments PPS system, which uses infilling as much as possible, mentioning in-law suites and apartments over garages, stating ‘it just makes sense’.
Laura Haight reminded the crowd that all of the issues surrounding a municipality are inter-connected.
“If you don’t have places for young employees to live, than they move further out,” she explained. “With gas prices high, it becomes more expensive for them to work that job. You have to appreciate the balance; discussion has to happen at the council table. It’s not a binary decision.”
Kenneth Craig went on to compare Kincardine’s population to a teenage boy, which garnered laughter from the audience.
“Too old to be treated like a child, but not old enough to have the responsibilities of an adult,” he explained. “My idea of economic development, specific to population, is aggressive. I want lots of houses, multi-density units, affordable housing and geared to income housing built.”
He went on to say that with population comes service, businesses and commercial enterprises and diversity.
The final question of the evening asked each candidate what their top three priorities would be, if elected.
Common answers echoed many of the issues previously brought up throughout the evening such as health care, affordable housing, representation between wards and balancing the budget.
To check your ward, see if you have been registered to vote and for any other questions about the upcoming election, visit www.kincardine.ca/municipal-office/election
The Municipality will be using an Internet/telephone voting system for the 2022 election. The voting period will open at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 17 and close at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24.