Sydenham Lake Association Questionnaire

The Sydenham Lake Association asked all candidates to answer the following questions.  I have posted my responses and I think they are relevant to many concerns of other lake associations.

QUESTION 1

Briefly outline your platform, and why Sydenham Lake residents should vote for you.

ANSWER: As a lake resident I am very aware of the value of lakes to our community and the work that is needed to keep them healthy and their surrounding communities vital. Having now canvassed most residents on Sydenham Lake I feel that my priorities – clean water for swimming and drinking, a healthy biosphere for fishing and ecological diversity, respectful accommodation for various lake uses – are similar to many on the Lake.

We live in a wonderful township that most residents value for its rural-small town character and beautiful healthy outdoor spaces. Maintaining this balance through: good planning; respect for the environment; provision of good local services; development appropriate to our joint vision of South Frontenac as a rural township; sound financial accountability and affordability; and, an open, inclusive Council, are key to my approach to municipal politics.

In a small township like ours, with many active community organizations, from the Lions Club to lake associations to renewable energy cooperatives, it is a priority for me to keep Council as open as possible, to solicit community input in decisions and make sure that all ideas are fully and respectfully considered.

QUESTION 2

What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

ANSWER: I have solid interpersonal skills attained through 50 years in community organizations and my professional practice as a nurse. These include valuable skills at listening, respectfully exchanging ideas to develop workable solutions that involve a variety of needs, and being open to new ideas.

I have a long-standing belief in open, inclusive government; addressing issues of the environment, both in my personal life and in policy, including working for land stewardship and helping set up the recycling program in South Frontenac; and managing larger organizations, like the Labour Council of Toronto, with a million dollar budget, and chairing the Ontario Health Coalition for 12 years; an organization with thousands of volunteers involved in community activities, a 400,000 dollar budget and no expenditure overruns.

I recognize the value of lake associations to our community. I will work hard to include them as an integral part of council deliberations and find ways the Council can make facilitate the work of these associations. For example, I was surprised to hear that more than a third of your yearly budget, money raised from lake residents, is spent with insurance payments. A closer relationship between Council and lake associations may be able to help reduce this and other operating costs.
QUESTION 3 

What do you think are the Lake’s biggest challenges, and how would you address them.

ANSWER: Lakes face challenges that are both broad and local. Climate change and invasive species are changing the biological make up of lakes. For example, we have seen the recent arrival of zebra mussels, milfoil and, on land, black-legged ticks. In the short-term these problems are difficult to solve, but steps can be taken to mitigate and educate for adaptation. The Township needs to include the reduction of carbon emissions as one of the factors in all of its decision making to help address environmental pressures from global climate change.

Long-term municipal planning needs to reflect population growth and development pressures on lakes. Water quality related to phosphates and overdevelopment can be addressed through close monitoring and good development controls that are improved and refined in working together with lake and road associations.

QUESTION 4

With decreased government funding, the stewardship of our lakes have become increasingly undertaken by organizations such as ours.  How do you envision the relationship between council and well-organized and established lake associations?

ANSWER: Council, and Councillors, must recognize the crucial role that your Association plays in the well-being of Sydenham Lake and in the vitality of the Township for the benefit of residents and maintenance of tourism. Consultation needs to be an automatic priority on all relevant issues, including a respectful exchange of ideas. The township should also look at low-cost ways to make the work of lake associations easier and more effective.

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
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