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ELECTIONS 2010: Candidates opposed to wind farms, promise fiscal responsibility

by David Meyer

BELWOOD - Council ward candidates faced off here on Monday night, offering their services for the next four years.

In Ward 5, the candidates are John Ortt and incumbent Walt Visser.

Ortt told the audience of his success as a businessman in the community for a number of years and said he is semi-retired now and has the time to work on council affairs.

He said his goal is “to make sure we can sustain living here.”

He said the issue is property taxes, and with his business credential, “I can use that ex­perience to balance revenues and expenditures.”

He called being on council “a wonderful way to give back.

Visser said he has now visit­ed every one of the 1,600 homes and cottages in Ward 5, as he did in the last election.

He said in the old days in Fergus, council was run by a handshake and a few people taking on many responsi­bili­ties, often meeting over coffee. Those days are gone with amalgamation, and there are three questions facing voters. The first is: are operating costs out of control?

Visser said the township now has a number of long range plans in place, including a ten year and five year capital spending plan. He noted that Premier Dalton McGuinty has cut township funding and also inflicted wind turbines on the area. He said council found savings to make up for the lost operating grant last year.

The second question is: Are development charges out of control? Visser said seven years ago the township cut development charges by 75% to spur growth, and nothing happened. After two years, it struck down that decision.

“Any reduction in develop­ment charges can only lead to a direct property tax increase and any one who says different is only trying to take money out of your pocket and put it into his,” Visser said.

The third question is: Is borrowing out of control?

Visser said the current coun­cil has not borrowed any money for four years, but with costs for the Fergus water tow­er and Elora sewage treatment plant coming up, “These are both health related items. There is no option.”

He concluded that “Money management is not a simple line by line admission or reduc­tion. Many services and their levels are legislated. Your past and current councils have been, for the most part, very respon­sible, dedicated people who care for Centre Wellington. Do not allow brief election period to build up animosities that can last a lifetime between neigh­bours and friends.”

Ward 6

The candidates are Steven VanLeeuwen and Michael Wisniewsky.

VanLeeuwen said he has been in business in the town­ship for 11 years and lived here as long as he can remember

He said it was at his work that he began to get interested in municipal politics and he wants to “make sure we can sustain living here.”

He said the issue is property taxes and infrastructure.

“With my local business experience I can use that ex­perience to balance revenues and expenditures,” he said.

VanLeeuwen said Centre Wellington is made up of small villages and communities, and he looks forward to serving them.

“It’s a wonderful way to give back,” he concluded.

Wisniewsky said he is “a keen observer of municipal politics.” He has attended a number of council meeting over the last two terms, and been involved in a number of groups such as Neigh­bour­woods, Relay for life and chamber of commerce.

He said it is important to live in the ward one represents, and he supports business and homeowners rights.

As for the turbines, “I can’t promise to stop them, but he will be accessible and account­able, and would consider supporting the use of civil means to fight the wind pro­jects.

He said Ward 6 is the only one that is more rural than urban, and he would work to area rate such things as side­walks because rural people should not have to pay for them if they do not have them.

He believes government is “too intrusive in people’s lives” and he would move to kill the dog tag bylaw so dog and cat owners are treated equally. He would also try to kill the anti-fortification bylaw.

Wisniewsky said taxes keep going up and he is aware “taxpayers don’t have bottom­less pockets.”

Questions

The first question was from a resident who wanted to know why the township was planning to turn the Belwood ball dia­mond into a soccer field.

Ortt said there is room at the field for both sports. He said if it is used for ball only three times a week, Fergus ball teams should be coming out to play there to increase its use.

Visser said he promises only that he will get an answer for people, but in this case, the questioner didn’t like that answer he brought back.

He said the ball diamond is underused and soccer is popu­lar and needs room to grow. The recreation department is offering the league another diamond to use, and has con­sulted with its executive.

He said the goal is to provide the best service for all residents, and “We’re not cut­ting you out.”

Wisniewsky said it is the first he has heard of the issue, but wondered why the town­ship would destroy a ball field when there are other fields for soccer.

VanLeeuwen said soccer is popular and he wondered if there is room, why soccer nets cannot be erected and then use it for both sports. “I don’t see the purpose of destroying it immediately.”

Another resident complain­ed of the number of township vehicles being driven home by employees.

Visser said the issue of ve­hicles was the first he tackled on council. The township did an inventory, and he learned, to his surprise, there were fewer vehicles after amalgamation than prior to it.

He said employees take them home because there is no place to safely park them over night, and a central garage would do that, but is too costly.

He added people who take them home pay a taxable benefit, so it is not free.

Ortt said taking the vehicles home and going to the ice cream shop later that night are two different issues. He argued the township could lock the trucks in the compound in Elora.

VanLeeuwen said the num­ber of vehicles taken home is an issue because mileage af­fects their value and depre­ciation.

Laura Humphrey asked about wind turbines.

Wisniewsky said he would support civil actions against them.

Ortt said, “Anyone who tells you they can stop them is lying.”

He said of the turbines them­selves, “It’s a foolish venture. It’s dumb.”

He said the current council should “stand up and be coun­ted,” and that “govern­ment can be beaten.”

Visser said the current council has done that “from Day One.” He cited the county hiring a lawyer, the mayor net­working with other munici­palities going through the same battle, and that partnerships are being forged to fight wind turbines.

“You can’t throw wind at a windmill,” he said. Don Qui­xote didn’t win.”

He added, “I agree with John Ortt. It [wind power] is a stupid way to go.”

 

 

Vol 43 Issue 40

 
 

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