Manitoulin Votes 2018: Meet your candidates in Central Manitoulin

Ward 1 councillor candidates

Dave Gilchrist

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Although he was born in Elliot Lake in 1962, Central Manitoulin Ward 1 candidate Dave Gilchrist notes that he was raised jointly in Sudbury and on the family farm in Spring Bay. He attended school in Sudbury before working at Burger King in what could be said was a teenager’s typical first job. He later got on as a miner at Paniel in Elliot Lake. At 18 Mr. Gilchrist joined the Canadian Forces’ electrical and mechanical engineering branch, going on to receive accreditation as a radiation safety officer, environmental officer, fire warden and obtaining his interprovincial electrician papers.

Mr. Gilchrist retired from the military in 2003 as an optical electronic technologist, having served 23 years—23 of them overseas.

Mr. Gilchrist returned to Manitoulin Island in 2005, where he took up farming with his parents. Mr. Gilchrist remains on the family farm in Spring Bay with roots extending back to his grandparents.

An active member of the Providence Bay/Spring Bay Lions Club, Mr. Gilchrist also serves as a volunteer firefighter at Station 1.

Mr. Gilchrist maintains that his strong military background has given him a belief in “an honest, straightforward approach to governance.” His campaign literature says that he intends to promote the betterment of his community and commits to being active in bringing “our citizens’ concerns to council.”

Mr. Gilchrist notes that his telephone number (705-377-5736) can be found in the telephone book and he invites electors to contact him with any questions they may have about his candidacy and where he stands on issues. Mr. Gilchrist’s email address is gilchrist@amtelecom.net.

Angela Johnston

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Angela Johnston (nee McDermid) hadn’t considered running for the Central Manitoulin council Campbell Ward 1 councillor position until she was approached by a councillor encouraging her to run. “They told me they thought I would be a good councillor,” she said. “That put the thought in my head.” As she mulled over the pros and cons of the idea, she came to realize that she had something to offer.

Ms. Johnston grew up in the township, she is one of the Sand Road McDermids and her family has farmed in the area since the time of her great great grandfather. “I am the fifth generation of my family to farm in the area,” she said. “That played a large part in my moving back here. I didn’t want to lose that connection.”

Her connection to the land is deep and important to her and so is family.

“I think that it is important to have a younger-ish representative on council,” she said. As a mother with a young family, she said that she feels she brings an important perspective to the council table that isn’t always to be found on small rural councils.

As the mother of a young family, and coming from a farm family, Ms. Johnston knows the value of a dollar and the importance in keeping a close eye on spending. “There is spending that is necessary, but it needs to be well thought out,” she said. “It’s important to look at all the angles. There is what is best for the people, but you also have to examine it from all sides. You can’t just throw money at a problem and hope that it solves it.”

“I know I have a lot to learn,” said Ms. Johnston, “but I like to learn. I have spent a fair bit of time in school. I know being on council will be a challenge, but I am a quick study. I try to have an analytical approach to things. You might say I have an organized kind of mind. Get the facts, get the numbers and then go from there.”

The big issues Ms. Johnston sees coming down the road for the municipality include dealing with the Mindemoya Old School. “That is certainly an issue that is on a lot of people’s minds,” she said. “What is going to happen to it. I also know that some of the things that come up surrounding Wagg’s Wood can be a touchy subject.”

Ms. Johnston recently took her family up to Wagg’s Wood to seen what has been happening there. “I hadn’t been up there in quite a long time so I took my kids up there,” she said. “It’s a beautiful spot, but it does seem to be underutilized right now.”

Garbage and waste are critical issues that face the town as well. “It is a big problem everywhere,” she said. “It is something that needs to be looked at. We need to find a better, more efficient way to deal with our waste. More recycling, maybe composting. There are lots of options to explore.”

The number and age of local public facilities is also a concern. “We have two arenas,” she said. “Is that really feasible? It might be, but it might not. We need to look at what is practical for the township.”

Derek Stephens

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—“I am proud to have been able to serve my community and I would like to serve for another four years,” said Ward 1 candidate Derek Stephens. “I think my record speaks for itself.”

Mr. Stephens has lived in the community for 37 years. “I have married here, raised my kids here in Campbell, and as well, I have been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years.”

Mr. Stephens sees the aging infrastructure of the community as one of the key challenges that will be facing the community over the course of the next term. “Buildings, roads, the whole lot need to be dealt with,” he said. “But with the Conservatives back in power, lot of grants that were going to help us in dealing with that will likely not be there.”

“There are definitely going to be major challenges in dealing with our aging infrastructure,” he said. “It might almost seem like I am against the Conservatives, but I am really not.” But he does describe himself as a pragmatic individual who calls things as he sees them. “We need to prepared,” he said. “I just truly do believe that getting grants is going to become very tough under this government. We are going to have to try a lot harder.”

But Mr. Stephens said that the work of the current council has put the township in a better position to face the coming challenges. “We have lowered taxes in the community and I believe that we are on the right track. Taxes are still 17 percent lower than when we came in four years ago and I think that says a lot about how I would look at the next four years on council.”

Ward 2 councillor candidates

John Basaillon

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—John P. Bisaillon is running for the position of councillor in Central Manitoulin’s Carnarvon, Ward 2.

Of his priorities, Mr. Basaillon said he has canvassed a huge amount of the ward and what he has discovered is that people want “number one, better control over the money being spent and number two, improving the Providence Bay beach and anything associated with it.”

But Mr. Basaillon was quick to add that “you can’t neglect Mindemoya,” which he described as the key economic engine of Central Manitoulin.

In the rural areas, however, roads, specifically tar and chip application, needs to improve. “The work is not really proceeding fast enough,” he said. “Not enough roads are getting surface treatment.”

Now a member of the Providence Bay community, Mr. Bisaillon was born in Brantford and has been married for 43 years. He and his family have been summer residents of the Island the last 37 years, hanging their summer hats at the Providence Bay Tent and Trailer Park. After retiring, he and his wife Joanne sold their home in southern Ontario and moved to Providence Bay.

An active member of the Providence Bay and Spring Bay Lions Club where he currently serves as president, Mr. Bisaillon has participated in “many community projects and events, such as the Providence Bay community square renovation, the annual Providence Bay fowl dinners and the Pearson Memorial Cup hockey tournaments.

In addition, Mr. Bisaillon has been the coordinator of Lions Club projects that included the replacement of the car barrier at the Providence Bay playground, where he applied for permits, materials and assisted in the installation of community banners and is currently assisting with the installation of the flagpole at the Providence Bay community square.

Mr. Bisaillon grew up on a family farm and studied horticulture and turf management at the University of Guelph. His lifelong career has been in landscape construction and his business experience is one of the key assets he brings to the council table.

“I will focus on efficiencies and help create new infrastructure projects,” he said. Key areas will be improving local services and accessibility programs for the community’s aging residents.

Communication is an important part of Mr. Bisaillon’s outlook and he said that he commits to being responsive on social media, email and phone calls. “I will keep an open door policy for Ward 2 residents,” he said.

Dale Scott

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Retired veterinarian Dale Scott is running for re-election as councillor in Carnarvon Ward 2 in Central Manitoulin.

“I have lived 43 years in this town,” he said. “I raised my family here and for 30 years I owned a business. I think that experience and commitment to the township is a definite benefit.”

Mr. Scott said he believes his experience in business, particularly one that saw him interact with a great many residents of Central Manitoulin, as something he brings to the table and he is confident that the past four years have demonstrated that.

“There are things that I would like to see remain a priority,” he said. Among those priorities Mr. Scott lists the search for assisted living. “Many seniors have to consider living outside of the community where they have spent their entire lives,” he notes. “In our township we don’t have anything to offer them to assist in staying in their own homes. We have senior living, sure, but not really assisted.”

Waste management figures high on the list of challenges that Mr. Scott sees coming down the pipe. “We only have one landfill site left,” he said. We are already at the point where we have a pilot to haul garbage away every other week. I would like to see more effort being done to reduce, reuse and recycle.” Diverting as much waste from the landfill as possible, he notes, will have an important impact on the cost of dealing with the community’s waste.

Maintaining efficiencies in service delivery is particularly important in Central Manitoulin, noted Mr. Scott. “We have a lot of communities—four different communities make up our township,” he said. “It is very expensive to run all the facilities and duplication. We are already looking into those efficiencies and I would like to see our township continue to pursue that line and become more efficient.”

Key to reducing costs with efficiency is Central Manitoulin’s use of energy. “This is somewhere where we have the opportunity to improve and reduce costs,” said Mr. Scott.

But when it comes to his number one priority, the big one, it’s in “keeping taxes under control,” he said. “The tax burden was difficult for a lot of people. We (the previous council) had a plan and it helped. We need to keep taxes under control because they can get out of control pretty quickly.”

A balancing act has to be maintained to “keep taxes under control and yet not get behind in capital and maintenance.”

Steve Shaffer

by Michael Erskine

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—If there is an overriding desire that drives Central Manitoulin Ward 2 candidate Steve Shaffer it is to “try to be the voice of constituents in my ward and do what is in the best interests of the township as a whole.”

Anyone who is familiar with Mr. Shaffer will recognize that he has been a loud voice in the community when it comes to issues impacting the community. But now he said he wants to put that voice to work for the community where it can do some good directly. “On council you are just one voice, you don’t get to set the agenda, but I want to influence it,” he said. “I want to represent the people’s voice.”

“I haven’t been quiet generally,” he said “but I do know that there is a time and a place to be quiet and a time to share views.”

One of the things Mr. Shaffer said that he found most frustrating when it came to issues within the township is not being privy to all of the information that goes into the making of a decision. “When you are on the outside, you don’t know everything that is going on behind the scenes,” he said. “I think one of the important issues facing the township is the dump issue. From a layman’s point of view, it is hard to understand why we have such a hard time with this issue when we have all this land.”

Mr. Shaffer is married with five children and six grandchildren, having retired from Canada Post after serving got many years as the community’s post master.

“That is probably how many people know me,” he said. “But what they might not know is that I spent five years in Ottawa at the head office.” While in Ottawa, Mr. Shaffer was involved in senior management roles, including product implementation and change management. “I am used to looking at things from a different perspective and then finding ways to make things work,” he said. With the changes coming in the provincial scene, knowing how to deal with change and making it work will be a powerful skill set to bring to the council table.

Elections are different when the voting is done by mail, noted Mr. Shaffer. “There is a lot less door to door going on. There are 1,400 registered voters in Ward 2, but most are probably not physically here for a lot of the year.”