Voters can begin casting their electronic ballots next week for Kenora council. During last week's housing forum, Leanne Carver talked about her background.
"I was never attracted to the lure of capital. I answered instead to the struggles of others, the faces of loneliness and I'm driven to get in the way of unkindness," she said.
Carver would like to see empty buildings converted for housing, and the loosening of policies that got in the way. She'd also help tighten spending so the city could help pay conversion costs. This would include housing blocks made for seniors, who wouldn't have to look after property, while enjoying amenities of a sanctuary.
"If we can consider spending $40 million to twin the rec centre (rink), we could certainly support the essential cost of investing in the people who've gotten us this far," she said.
Carver added she had to leave early, because her dog had an emergency appointment with the vet.
Jennifer McKibbon says she's had experience on Red Lake council, as well as community organizations in Kenora.
"I look forward, if I'm elected, to the opportunity to get involved in the municipal issues at the local council level," she said Monday.
McKibbon says she's spent 40 years in northwestern Ontario -- Dryden, Red Lake and Kenora -- where she's helped raise two children with her husband. She's now retired after 18 years with the health unit.
Since moving to Kenora four years ago, McKibbon has joined Making Kenora Home, the anti-human trafficking coalition and the hospital board. At 28, she was elected to council in Red Lake. During her four terms on council, she was also president of Kenora District Municipal Association (KDMA) and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA).
She describes her priorities as:
- reasonable and affordable taxation,
- pro-development for investments in housing
- renewable energy for infrastructure
- good relations with Treaty 3
Lifelong resident Rory McMillan of Lakeside has been serving for 23 years, but he is seeking another term.
"I want to continue moving our city forward together in a responsible and progressive manner. I am committed to Kenora," he said.
He would like to:
- expand the tax base by marketing our community and build relationships with upper levels of government
- support economic development and open for business culture
- collaborating on housing
- engage with Indigenous communities
- support downtown revitalization
- recruit family doctors and work with all-nations partners, as well as Manitoba
"We must continue to aggressively support local business and attract business to Kenora. We need to approach this by working together," he said. "If we do, we all reap the benefits."
He concluded by noting ratepayers can't afford significant tax increases.
Andrew Poirier is bidding for a return to council. He had previously served between 2003 and 2009, before leaving to look after his daughter, who has cancer.
"I grew up in a family that had a strong belief in public service and giving back to the community," he said.
"I want to have an active part in moving Kenora forward so it can be a progressive, safe community for all," he said.
Poirier noted the concerns about:
- high taxes,
- the need for better services,
- as well as the infrastructure deficit, especially in roads, sewer and water, as well as bridges,
- The rec centre, museum and library are also important.
"The time is now to be vigilant financial stewards," he emphasized.
Councillors need to work together to retain and attract residents, not just tourists and investors, Poirier stated.
After more than 40 years of municipal service, Colin Wasacase, 80, is also in the mix. He first came to Kenora in 1958. He has worked as a teacher, principal and school board trustee, not to mention social work and First Nations governance, as well as on a number of local boards and committees.
"If we're going to be strong, we have to work together," he said.
While he thinks the education system is working well, the community also needs to work on an economic base, since people are concerned about taxes.
After two terms, Sharon Smith is running for a third.
"Kenora has an infrastructure deficit of $54.6 million that can no longer be ignored," she said.
"Our annual deficit is $6.3 million. We must reduce that deficit while ensuring our roads and sidewalks are safe, clean and regularly maintained for all," she added.
Smith would like to see:
- revenues from a new casino used to reduce the infrastructure deficit,
- the all-nations hospital project become a reality, in order to help attract new businesses and residents.
She added about 90 per cent of police calls are related to alcohol abuse. The high rates for mental illnesses, as well as alcohol and drug abuse can't be curbed by officers, Smith underlined.
A new bed tax can help add docks, ramps, trails, green spaces and beaches. Success comes from councillors who do their homework, make informed decisions and work together.
Kirsi Ralko, 28, moved to Kenora from Thunder Bay four years ago, and she'd like to see more women on city council. She has a business degree and runs a small business, 1885 Wine and Whiskey Room.
A graduate from the University of Manitoba, Ralko also practices law with Shewchuck, Ormiston, Richardt and Johnson.
"There are many good reasons to elect a lawyer to council, not the least of which is the practical experience I have dealing with laws and bylaws every day," she noted, adding she's used to accounting for her time through billable hours.
Affordable housing is key to youth retention and medical recruitment. She'd also like to see the city be more open for business.
Given the chance, Ralko would like to work with one of the other candidates, Graham Chaze, on some of the regulations regarding housing.
Mort Goss, 70, is a small business owner who has been an active community member for more than 30 years.
"All those long and sometimes painful meetings gave me a background to becoming an effective councillor," he said.
Goss has served on committees for:
- harbourtown centre,
- downtown revitalization,
- tourism and
- economic development.
"Good progress is not instant," he emphasized. "It's an incremental process that depends on extensive study and planning for success."
There are projects in the wings, which he can't announce yet, due to confidentiality concerns.
Dale Pearson, 62, is a former city employee for 14 years, who also spent four years in the oil patch. He says his industrial training would help save public works from privatization, by removing the politicized management of the bureaucracy.
"It's a 100 per cent failure. Sorry," he said.
Pearson suggests apartments be added to homes, and he has more information on his Facebook site Kenora Taxpayers Unite.
"This is the happy times and the sunny ways," he warned.
Before leaving for another meeting, he wanted to see a medical marijuana store in the city, with retail profits from the store used to subsidize health for seniors in the community, who are having trouble finding housing.
Graham Chaze is from Winnipeg, who moved to Kenora in 2010, in order to enjoy the lifestyle by the lake. A real estate agent, he's worked with the development commission and the planning advisory committee.
"I can see it from both sides. I can see where we have a lot of opportunity. I can also see where people, who would like to construct new housing, are having problems," he said.
Chaze suggested there are adjustments that can be made, in order to improve the climate for housing.
Younger residents might be more interested in downtown living, rather than rural lands. He suggests a domino effect might go into effect, if new units are added, creating a redistribution.
- high cost of services
- high cost of construction
- investment market
- land suitable for development
- local incomes
- lack of a downpayment for buyers
Rod McKay managed Kenora Forest Products for 20 years, before retiring last year. After more than 40 years in B.C., McKay says he realizes he's happier in Kenora.
He was previously elected to council in 2010. He chose not to run again, because the mill was planning a $30 million expansion.
"Today is different. I'm semi-retired," he said, noting he still needs to be working.
As mill manager, he was involved in human resources, capital projects and financial planning. He'd like to help remove the red tape that frustrates investors.
He'd like to see:
- more affordable, acccessible homes for seniors, who are growing in numbers.
- Downtown vagrancy addressed, with help from the district service board.
Chris Van Walleghem is a lifelong Kenora resident. He grew up at Lakeland Dairies, before 35 years at the paper mill, where he held a number of union positions.
While raising his sons, he was involved in a number of community organizations, before joining council for a four-year term. In this time, the city saw:
- new fire hall
- round-about and Main Street redevelopment
- Whitecap Pavilion
- Discovery Centre
- sale of KMTS
- community improvement plans
He emphasized he wasn't just running to see the twinning of the rec centre, even though he led the committee studying the issue. After spending some time traveling, Van Walleghem says he's rejuvenated and ready to serve again.
Eric Lovas, 39, is a lifelong resident of Kenora, who has worked a number of jobs. He's been employed with lumber mills, social work, bars and the most recently as part-owner of the local taxi business for the last 12 years.
"I'm now at a point where I feel I want to give back to our community," he said.
Lovas would like to work on:
- Doctor recruitment,
- attracting new business and industry,
- social issues downtown
- lack of housing for seniors, young families and low-income residents
He would like to see a bigger college presence with 2,000 to 3,000 students attending. This would create economic development, as well as a skilled workforce.
Lydia Harlos is running a second time in as many elections for the mayor's chair. She'd like to see:
- a pickerel plant for 500 workers, in order to sell fish all over the world,
- a federal penitentiary to replace the district jail,
- the elimination of bag tags.
- get rid of water meters
- add more OPP officers to help enforce bylaws
"I'm going to show ya how we're going to make this town great again," she pledged.
Dan Reynard is also a lifelong resident, who worked 25 years with the former Town of Keewatin and City of Kenora. He held senior management positions with finance and waste management.
Over the last four years on council, he says most major issues related back to a lack of housing.
"I'll do everything I can as mayor -- along with the support of council -- to ensure the 100 units senior's apartment complex proposed by the Kenora municipal non-profit becomes a reality," he said.
Reynard says he'd like to see more assistive housing, as well as townhouses. The new units will help create new homes within the city, as people move to fill the newly built housing units.
"I'm excited by the opportunities that lie before us as a community," he said. "I believe it is important that there is some connection between the previous council and the council we're electing in 2018."
Anthony Leek wasn't at last week's forum. He has worked in the city for the last four years, and he moved with his wife permanently to Kenora last year. They now have an infant son, Zach.
He has previously served on Emo township council for six years. He's also run for MPP twice.
Local residents might also know him as the driving force behind the new Lake of the Woods Speedway, which is located off the Jones Road.
"It's a lot of fun. I love hearing from people and talking with people," he said, in a campaign video. "If you can just imagine what Kenora could be? I want to be a part of that. I want to make it happen."
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