Manitoulin Votes 2018: Meet your candidates in the Township of Assiginack

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Rodney Deforge, candidate, Assiginack mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Bothered by the direction he sees Assiginack heading, Rodney (Barney) Deforge has decided to throw his name in the ring as mayor of Assiginack.

“It’s almost like they want to set the town up as a retirement community,” Mr. Deforge said. “When I was a kid, Manitowaning had everything there.”

As a businessman himself, Mr. Deforge said he knows how hard it is to keep a business going in Assiginack and economic development is his number one priority.

Mr. Deforge also believes that the new council needs to take a long, hard look at council.

“I would bring in a company to do a staff audit that would tell us where we are,” he explained, adding that he realizes “this might ruffle a few feathers, but that’s business.”

Mr. Deforge said the municipality needs to be treated like a business, “the way it’s supposed to.”

If he becomes the mayor, Mr. Deforge also hopes to enact a Community Investment Plan, which would include tax incentives for businesses, grants and more.

“I hear so much that we need to increase taxes,” he continued, but he believes there are ways to do that differently, such as encouraging homeowners and businesses to spend money on their properties, thereby raising the MPAC assessment. “Central Manitoulin has done it and it’s been very successful.”

Mr. Deforge would also like to hire an economic development officer with a speciality in grant writing.

“We haven’t capitalized on grants,” he said. “There aren’t just government grants to go after; there’s so much more we can tap into. This in turn creates jobs.”

Mr. Deforge said that if Assiginack had a slogan, it should be ‘We’re open for business.’ He applauded mayoral opponent Dave Ham for growing his Henley Boats business in the community. “We should do everything we can to ensure the project goes in. It brings dollars back to the community.”

On the fire hall front, Mr. Deforge said that as the beneficiary of three visits by the fire department for major fires, he knows how important it is to the community that the fire department has a new and safe building from which to operate.

“Maybe we need to go after more funding,” he suggested. “If that’s what the community feels, then it’s our job to make it happen.”

“In business, it all comes down to calculated risk, and our municipality needs to take risks,” Mr. Deforge continued.

He questioned the seniors’ park (Queen’s Park, at the corner of Queen and Arthur streets) in what is prime business real estate in downtown. While he likes the idea of the park, he wonders why council would place it in a spot that could be great for development.

Mr. Deforge spent 20 years as a youth pastor and the youngest members of the community are near and dear to his heart.

“What else can we do for the youth?” he asked. “We need jobs for them, more recreational activities. We put in a park for seniors, but what about the youth?”

Mr. Deforge said he believes firmly in a strong sense of community and has ideas about how to encourage this with initiatives like a community barbecue where we, “sit down in fellowship together.”

“I think that sense of community is lost right now because the focus is so much on retirement, which is great, but we’re more than just that,” the mayoral candidate continued. “We have a lot of amazing young families and they seem lost—there’s a disconnect.”

Mr. Deforge said that being a small community in Northern Ontario is something that should be celebrated.

He pointed to the number of people running for mayor and council, saying that “it says something” about the mood in Assiginack and he encourages everyone to vote.

“I know I’m a bit progressive for some—I like things to happen quick and fast, but four years is not a long time,” he added.

Dave Ham, candidate, Assiginack mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—With a wealth of municipal political experience as a background, serving three terms as councillor and another three as reeve of the municipality of Assiginack, after a 12-year hiatus, Dave Ham is ready for a comeback as mayor.

“I see the township floundering,” he said. “I see it missing opportunities that it should be going after.”

Mr. Ham pointed to the Northeast Town and Central Manitoulin as examples of Manitoulin municipalities that are on the right path in terms of their economic development.

“Heck, we don’t even have an (economic development) agent,” he added. “It’s bad news. Everyone on the street is saying so.”

Mr. Ham said the roads department and municipal finances need to be discussed, noting the amount of debt the municipality carries.

The mayoral candidate said he feels badly for those residents living on the south side of Assiginack who have had to find alternative routes around the closed Rogers Creek bridge for over a year.

“It could be done quite inexpensively,” he said of the bridge replacement. “We owe it to them. Council just put a sign on it, shrugged their shoulders and said ‘go around’.” Mr. Ham also noted the road’s historic value as one of the municipality’s oldest travel ways.

He also spoke of the Bidwell Road and its current “bad shape. We (Assiginack and the Northeast Town, which share the Bidwell Road) need to bring it to the attention of the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) and make it a Connecting Link as it joins two provincial highways.”

Mr. Ham admitted to not having done much canvassing yet, but said those he has spoken with, or who have come to talk to him about their concerns, are unhappy with the current state of affairs. “Whoever wins is going to have their work cut out for him.”

Mr. Ham spoke of his past accomplishments as mayor, pointing to the leading role he played with the formation of the golf course and the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport. “I feel the airport could use a little shot in the arm to start attracting heavier aircraft.”

He said he hopes residents, “take a look around at what I did before and let me do it again.”

“Manitowaning is certainly slipping,” he added. “And certainly on the front street.”

“We are living next door to 5,000 people,” Mr. Ham said, referencing neighbouring Wiikwemkoong, “and Assiginack has 2,000 people, yet we’re doing no business. Something is wrong with that picture.”

“We can start to turn the community back around again,” Mr. Ham continued. “I know it’s going to be a long struggle, but it can be done.”

Paul Moffat, candidate, Assiginack mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Incumbent Paul Moffatt is proud of his work as mayor of Manitoulin’s ‘largest small community,’ and he hopes the people of Assiginack will see fit to vote him back for another term as mayor this election.

Mr. Moffatt notes with pride that Assiginack has all the same services as the larger Island communities, despite its small size, pointing to the arena, Family Health Team, state-of-the-art library and more.

“We provide the services that the larger centres like NEMI and Central Manitoulin do, and a lot of activities,” he said.

He pointed to the commentary brought up during this election about the need for an economic development officer, but said the municipality does have such a person in Jackie White, events coordinator, who has secured many grants for Assiginack during her tenure there, giving the development of the new Queen’s Park, beach park and kids’ and seniors’ programming as examples.

“In the current situation, there are only so many grants out there,” he said. “It was insinuated that certain people can get that money. I just don’t think it’s there anymore. We do, however, get a lot for a small community.”

Mr. Moffatt explained that much of the municipality’s income goes out in the form of pre-paid expenses like policing, school board and ambulance services.

“Out of a $4 million budget, we have less than $500,000 to use,” Mr. Moffatt shared. “I think we have been very responsible in the way we manage the municipality’s money. Most of the money we borrow from ourselves and pay back to the reserves.”

Mr. Moffatt said that a staffing study was completed three years ago. “We took those recommendations and brought staff in line. We have an excellent staff and believe they’re doing a great job.”

“I have eight years’ experience on the council. I believe that my background fits me for the job,” Mr. Moffatt continued, noting his time as fire chief for the city of Oshawa, overseeing 200 firefighters and a budget of $15 million. He’s also president of the Lake Manitou Area Association, a past chair of Manitoulin Streams, serves as the Manitoulin Centennial Manor board chair, sits on the Manitoulin Planning Board and Manitoulin Municipal Association.

“I’m involved in the community and I try and help people in the community,” Mr. Moffatt continued. “I hope to help the community for another four years if elected. At the very least, three of four councillors will be new. I feel I can help guide those new council members.”

“My door is always open, my phone is always on the hook,” Mr. Moffatt concluded.

Michael Phillips, candidate, Assiginack mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Manitowaning’s Mike Phillips is not impressed by the last Assiginack council, so much so that he decided to put his name in the race for mayor of the municipality.

“The accountability is not there for taxpayers,” he began. “Everything is done on a whim with no goal in mind.”

Mr. Phillips said he would like to see the spending “cleaned up” and a long, hard look taken at the number of office staff.

Mr. Phillips said he watched to see who was running for mayor, and as the date loomed none of the candidates spoke to any of the issues he saw, so he put his name on the ballot.

“I’ve lived here my whole like and people know me,” he said. “I have no ulterior motive other than to ensure a change.”

Mr. Phillips said he’d bring both business and common sense to the table and has a good sense of the things the township must do to get back on track.

“I’m self-employed and come from self-employed parents,” he added, noting that he knows the value of hard work and has a good business sense.

“There needs to be some accountability for what is happening,” Mr. Phillips continued, pointing to the contracting out of jobs that could, he believes, be done by municipal staff. “It all comes down to spending taxpayers’ money.”

Mr. Phillips also takes exception with the 5 pm meeting time of council. “You can’t have a council meeting in 15 minutes,” he said, referencing the short meeting time of council.

Mr. Phillips said people often speak of the good old days of a prosperous community. “Will it ever be that way again?” he asked. “Probably not, but you might as well put a closed sign on each end of the town if you don’t do anything.”

“It’s time for a change,” Mr. Phillips continued. “I think the council needs some youth—a different outlook.”

Brenda Reid, candidate, Assiginack mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—With 15 years under her belt as councillor for Assiginack council, Brenda Reid believes it’s time to make the logical next step and run for mayor.

“I feel I have the experience necessary to step up into that leadership role,” Ms. Reid told The Expositor, noting her nine years’ service as Assiginack area’s school board trustee on the old Manitoulin School Board prior to her time on council.

Ms. Reid said she is concerned about the current disconnect between the people of the town-ship and council and feels that more meetings are one way to bridge that gap.

Currently, she said, council meetings are held twice-monthly (except for the summer months) but committee meetings, such as public works or finance, are not held on a regular basis as they once were.

Having committee meetings advertised and at set dates and times would mean more transparency and a chance for the public to see the inner workings of the council and administration, something Ms. Reid fells strongly about.

“We can do a far better job of getting our reasoning out about why we come to the decisions we do,” she added. “We need to give more background about how we got to that point, and I feel that should be the job of the mayor.”

Ms. Reid said she would also consider ad hoc committees involving members of the public, too, for matters that are of extreme importance to the public, as was the case of the water committee struck a few years ago. She cited the controversial Burns Wharf Theatre as one suggestion where an ad hoc committee could be struck.

The fire hall is one topic that’s near and dear to Ms. Reid’s heart.

“I want to meet with the engineers about the fire hall,” she continued. “It’s a high priority for me. We need to find out why there was such a discrepancy (between the tenders and what the engineers said) and find a way to move forward on this. That is really important. It has to go back on the table right away.”

Ms. Reid would also like to see council begin budgeting in the fall with a budget ready to pass in the new year. Currently, council begins budgeting in the new year with the actual budget not passed until the spring. This would be ideal for staff, too, she added.

“We also need to put back into place council’s long-term and short-term goals,” the mayoral candidate added. “This lets people know what the goals are and how they’re going to meet them.”

Ms. Reid said there are good things happening in Assiginack, such as new businesses being established, new people moving to the municipality and great events led by the township. “We want to keep going on that and need to promote our township more,” she continued, citing McLean’s Park and the beach as a couple of the municipality’s great assets.

The landfill is also an important project Ms. Reid would like to see more action on. “It’s been 10 years and we’re still waiting to get a landfill expansion permit,” she said. “We need to get on that.” Ms. Reid said if the permit doesn’t happen, the township could have to haul its garbage away (as some other Island municipalities are currently doing), so time is of the essence. Mandatory recycling, she added, may be the way to go.

The candidate for mayor said there will be many new faces at the council table this year so it’s important to have someone with plenty of years of experience and good leadership skills to lead the way.

If elected, Ms. Reid said she would always give her council all the tools and information they need to make the best possible decisions for the township.

To ask Ms. Reid a question or submit a comment, visit her Facebook page: ‘Brenda Reid Mayoral Candidate Assiginack.’

Keith Harfield, candidate, Assiginack council

by Michael Erskine

ASSIGINACK—Keith Harfield is married (44 years) with two grown children that are both teachers. As a business consultant and a Manitoulin Island farmer, he said that he feels his expertise is sorely needed at the council table.

“For years businesspeople like Reuben Allen and other taxpayers in Assiginack have been trying to get me to run for council,” said Keith Harfield, who is running for a seat on the municipal council. “I always said there were no issues. Then wow, did I get an eye-opener the last three years. I decided that before the township goes bankrupt, I have to help out.”

Mr. Harfield said he has been reviewing the township’s statements. “It is my area of expertise,” he said. “I am a lot better at that than public speaking,” he laughed.

A long time Manitoulin hockey coach, Mr. Harfield said that he has coached “just about every hockey player on Manitoulin Island at one time or another for at least one year.” He also served four years as president of the Manitoulin Panthers, served on the Manitoulin Cattlemen’s Association, the Manitoulin Health Centre board, the Little Current Business Improvement Area and the Domtar advisory board.

Mr. Harfield said that he has outlined a four-year plan for the township’s finances going forward, something he said the municipality needs. What he has seen in his review has convinced him that “we can reduce taxes with better management. I think it is feasible,” he said. “I am a problem solver. I have been in management consulting for 44 years, solving issues. We can save money by solving issues in-house, instead of going to a lawyer.”

Mr. Harfield noted that although the municipality posted a surplus in 2016, by 2017 it had slipped into deficit.

He said that he also has serious concerns with the state of the town’s infrastructure.

But the candidate for council does not want to solely dwell on the negatives as that would give an incorrect impression of his temperament. “I always look at the positive,” he said. “We have a lot of positive things in this township that we can build upon. There are 6,000 people living right next door. We have a community of caring, friendly people. We have a good health care facility, a good auto service centre, in fact, we have just about every service you could ask for right here. This is a township of opportunity; we need to make the most of it. I am all for Manitoulin.”

By effectively marketing the strengths of the municipality things could still be improved upon. “We need to attract more business to the community,” he said, noting that expanding the tax base will help keep the tax hit on everyone lower.

Jennifer Hooper, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Decisions being made that weren’t in the best interest of Assiginack were what spurred Jennifer Hooper on to run for councillor in the upcoming election.

“It bothered me that people were complaining, but said they didn’t have time (to run for council),” she told The Expositor. “I’m a single mom of three kids. I always tell my children that they can be anything they want to, and that you need to make change to get change.” Ms. Hooper decided that to set an example, she had better ‘put her money where her mouth is.’

It is Ms. Hooper’s belief that the municipality should “generate rather than cut.”

“People talk about cutting staff, cutting taxes,” she said. “it’s not a matter of cutting but utilizing what we do have.”

Funds can be generated by the proper taxation of properties, she continued, and introducing the idea of a tiered pay system for water users.

“We have a flat rate water system where a single senior is paying the same amount that my family of four is paying and that’s not fair.” According to Ms. Hooper’s calculations, a tiered pay system could generate the municipality $24,000 in revenue annually.

Ms. Hooper said she would also like to see a 20-year municipal plan for Assiginack. Too often people recall the good old days of the community, when business was booming. “It matters what we have now and that we help those businesses stabilize and grow. If we support them, people will come.”

Ms. Hooper did her homework in the lead-up to her candidacy, pulling all the job descriptions in the municipality to study them and also made the trek to Smooth Rock Falls to meet with the CAO, asking how the municipality managed to deal with a mill closure and still have a surplus.

“Manitowaning is basically in a rebuilding phase,” she added. “Working with Wiikwemkoong would be beneficial to everybody.”

On the theatre front, Ms. Hooper believes the municipality should be encouraging and supporting Debajehmujig both as a business and a resource. “And I believe the Burns Wharf Theatre can be saved.”

“Don’t vote for the person who smiles at you in the grocery, vote like you’re picking a team—a defence, a right wing, forward and a goalie. You need people that have a skillset because you’re helping to rebuild a town.”

Christianna Jones, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Christianna Jones hopes to make a change in her community and is running for the office of councillor on the October 22 election.

“It’s my first t­­­ime in politics, but I’ve sat on many boards,” she explained.

“I saw things that were happening in the community and that people are upset and dissatisfied,” Ms. Jones added. “I thought, ‘I can either continue to not be happy about those things or I can put my hat in the ring and make a change’.”

Ms. Jones believes that Assiginack is a small community with big potential. But right now, “it doesn’t feel like the economy and community development is moving forward.”

“We have a nice waterfront, nice marina, a grocery store, drug store, but we need more and need to promote and grow those things in our community,” the candidate continued.

Most people know that Burns Wharf is an issue that’s near and dear to her heart, “but I see it as our community supporting two theatres (Burns Wharf Theatre and Debajehmujig) and thriving in the arts.”

Ms. Jones explained that two of her children live in the community, as well as three of her grandchildren.

“What are they going to have?” she questioned. “What’s going to keep them here? What will be here in five to 10 years? Without businesses and entrepreneurs, what will keep them here?”

She also wishes to see services for older people in the community. “Those that have put their time in remember what a vibrant community this was, and want to see it that way again.”

She noted the two community surveys that went out, each one indicating the taxpayers chose Burns Wharf as a number one priority. Yet both surveys went ignored (by the previous council).

“I want to hear from the community. What’s important to move the community forward and why.”

Ms. Jones said it’s not all doom and gloom in Assiginack; good things are always happening, but council doesn’t seem to get that message across to their taxpayers.

Ms. Jones also noted the time council meets, 5 pm on Tuesdays, is not conducive to transparency as not many people can come to the meetings due to work obligations. “People would like to go, but they can’t; it’s just not convenient.”

“We need to make sure decisions are being made on good advice and information,” she added.

Ms. Jones cites her experience with proposal writing and many Wiikwemkoong initiatives as a strong skill for council.

“I have the experience to do good things for this community,” she said.

Bill Lafleur, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Assiginack candidate for councillor Bill Lafleur said the municipality is in need of some changes, and he believes he’s up to the task.

Mr. Lafleur said he’s lived in Assiginack for over 40 years and recalled the boomtown days of the community. He believes that with the right council leading the charge, new businesses can be enticed to set up shop and, as a result, youth will be less inclined to leave in search of work.

Mr. Lafleur has acted as a roads superintendent for different municipalities and knows his way around a public works department. “The way they spend money, it’s ridiculous,” he said of the current council, pointing to the amount of contract work he sees that could be done in-house.

“I worked for Assiginack Township years ago and was the Tehkummah roads superintendent for three years,” he said of his experience. Mr. Lafleur is also the deputy chief of the Assiginack Fire Department.

“I’d like to see the right council in there that can work together on things,” he added. “Fifteen minute meetings that are so cut and dry,” he said, “are unacceptable.”

Mr. Lafleur also pointed to a lack of transparency and a lack of taxpayer say as problems that need to be dealt with in a new term of council.

“It’s the ratepayers that pay; they should have a say in how the money is spent,” he added.

Robert Maguire, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Rob Maguire believes that his wealth of experience in seeking government funds means he could be of great help to the new Assiginack council, and he hopes the taxpayers think so too.

“I feel I could help the township, and the township does need help,” Mr. Maguire told The Expositor. “Given my economic development background and business experience, and the fact I worked in that office for a number of years, I could be of benefit.”

“I don’t see the municipality going after the money they should,” he added.

Mr. Maguire noted that he helped secure funds for the marina upgrade while a municipal employee. The council of the day, he explained, decided that the marina required a $250,000 upgrade and wanted to seek out 50 percent funding. Mr. Maguire explained to that council that there were other sources of funding that could be married to the project and gotten the project 90 percent covered with provincial and federal funds, meaning the cost to the municipality was only 10 percent, or $25,000. “That’s just one example,” he said.

Mr. Maguire said he believes that council has some work to do to improve its relationships with Assiginack’s community and service groups, naming the Burns Wharf Theatre Players as one example.

“With a proactive council, they’d be better poised to help,” he said. It’s better to help make things happen than to set up roadblocks, Mr. Maguire added.

Mr. Maguire spoke of the community survey, which listed renovations to the Burns Wharf as a priority to the taxpayers. “It’s a beautiful venue, a great building—we can look at creative ways to help achieve those goals.”

Mr. Maguire likened the Players to a “cog in the wheel. Cogs work together to turn the local economy.” The Players also contribute to the community by making Manitowaning, coupled with Debajehmujig’s many offerings, a theatre destination, he added.

Mr. Maguire knows much about municipal roads and infrastructure, he sat on the Hilly Grove Cemetery Board and is familiar with most aspects of the municipality, including the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport.

He noted the Rogers Creek bridge as an important issue that council must tackle. “It’s an important link to the community and we can look for opportunities on how to make that happen,” Mr. Maguire said. “If you take a planned capital expense and tie it into development projects you’re more likely to attract outside funds and get a better return on investment. It’s about minimizing the investment but maximizing the return.”

Mr. Maguire believes the municipality needs to adopt a frugal approach to spending. “It’s other people’s money; it’s taxpayers’ money. I want to be very cautious with those funds and make sure we’re administering those funds wisely.”

Mr. Maguire said he would provide a “common sense approach” to decision making.

“There are places we’re slipping,” he continued. “Only $24,000 in grants have been tapped in the past two years. That’s minimal compared to other communities.”

The candidate for councillor believes in making Assiginack a better place to live, work and invest by using a welcoming approach (and by Assiginack he means the Slash, Clover valley, Bidwell, Sunsite Estates and Manitowaning, and all the places in between, he notes).

“I would like to see the next council keep an open ear to all the ratepayers within the municipality, along with people who visit here as well, while maintaining follow-up communications,” Mr. Maguire continued. “With that, I would like to see the next council take a position as an enabler to encourage positive activities within the township.”

The new council must look at establishing realistic goals, he said, while considering the limited resources that may be available given the status of our provincial and federal deficits.

Dave McDowell, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Dave McDowell feels that his background lends itself well to municipal politics and he is hoping to share his skills with the people of Assiginack by being elected as councillor.

“I’m not interested in being a politician, but I don’t mind helping out,” he told The Expositor.

“I have no agenda,” he added. “I don’t believe in that philosophy.”

Mr. McDowell said he believes things are in “pretty good shape” in Assiginack and admits that, as much of the council will likely be new, there will be a learning curve for all involved.

The McLennan’s Creek farmer said his strong suits are problem solving and facilitating, traits that would lend themselves well to the role of councillor. And sometimes, he said, “all you need is a different set of eyes.”

Mr. McDowell said he sees the asset of Manitowaning as being its senior population. The community boasts good Internet and a quiet lifestyle. He has been researching dementia villages and believes this could be a good fit for Manitowaning. He said he realizes it’s “pie in the sky,” but believes it’s worth talking about, but only if it was purely private enterprise and had no municipal dollars invested.

Mr. McDowell also believes Manitowaning doesn’t need to have so much real estate and should operate with little to no debt. “It would be nice to tidy some of that stuff up,” he added.

Mr. McDowell said he is a straight shooter, not looking to stir the pot and will be sure to “never throw anyone under the bus. I’m not playing that game.”

“Most councils try to do the best they can at the time,” the candidate added, saying he believes the same can be said for the past term of council in Assiginack.

Mr. McDowell said he has also had numerous conversations with taxpayers regarding private roads and their care and he believes that there is a way for the municipality to work something out with those residents.

Mr. McDowell also believes that more information for the people is needed. “I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy having just council meetings,” he said, referencing the lack of committee meetings.

Hugh Moggy, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Veteran Assiginack politician Hugh Moggy is the only incumbent on the ballot for councillor and he hopes that his decades of experience will see him re-elected to help guide the new council.

“I still feel I can contribute to the township; I’ve been involved for many years,” he said.

Mr. Moggy told The Expositor that he hopes to see the community grow and prosper. The incumbent said that while he has no particular platform, he does hope to see the Burns Wharf Theatre issue returned to council and to see the building fixed to meet building codes so that the Burns Wharf Theatre Players can return to their home.

“It’s such a benefit to the community,” he said. “It’ brings people. The last show saw 1,000 people come to Manitowaning. It’s one of our great assets. The waterfront is our heritage. We should be developing it.” Mr. Moggy said the building itself is a sound structure, it’s just a matter of meeting building codes for fire and accessibility.

“I’m a little disappointed with the last council; they weren’t as transparent as they could have been,” he added, pointing to the two community surveys that showed public favour in seeing the Burns Wharf restored to code. “The community wanted it, but it got shelved and council refused to put the funding application forward (on the Players behalf).” Mr. Moggy noted that the Burns Wharf also played host to arts shows, weddings, concert series, children’s programming and more. “We need government funding to do it, but I certainly don’t want to see the building scrapped.”

Mr. Moggy would also like to revisit the failed fire hall tenders and see how a new fire hall can come to fruition. “That’s going to be key in the future,” he said.

He also points to the Rogers Creek bridge as a point of concern, saying he’d like to see it fixed.

“I think it can be done cheaper than we were quoted,” he said.

Mr. Moggy said he’s proud of the projects he’s been involved with over the years, such as the arena expansion, redeveloping  Cardwell Street, once Ontario’s worst road, and the public works garage.

“The biggest was water and sewer,” he said. “That took seven years from start to finish.”

Mr. Moggy said he also has a great deal of pride for the museum, and sits as a board member.

Mr. Moggy said he hears people are concerned about their taxes but don’t want to lose any services. “There is a lot in the everyday running of the township and we have to be careful as to how that money is spent.”

In response to concerns he hears about township roads, Mr. Moggy said he’s proud of how well the roads are with the budget they have. “They try to do their best,” he added.

Assiginack ratepayers “know me, and they know my capabilities,” Mr. Moggy said. “I have the experience and am the only incumbent running for council. I have a lot to offer.”

Mr. Moggy also sits on a committee to see the development of affordable seniors’ housing, and that committee is still actively seeking a developer. A survey handed out in the last few years showed that the community would support such a development. “It won’t happen overnight, but it’s going to happen.”

“If the voters can see fit to vote for me, I’ll do the best I can,” Mr. Moggy said. “In all my years, I certainly have never seen so many candidates. Democracy is certainly at work.”

Joyce O’Connor, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—This is Joyce O’Connor’s first time entering the political arena and the local businesswoman felt moved to run for councillor after noticing much misinformation and chatter surrounding Assiginack council.

“I finally just picked up the phone and called a councillor and got the right information,” Ms. O’Connor said.

She said for so long she was part of the quiet minority—those who did not speak up and voice their opinions but rather let those of the loud majority do the talking.

Ms. O’Connor firmly believes that if more people get involved instead of sitting on their laurels, great change could happen.

The candidate for council also pointed to “an accumulation of everything going on,” such as the Norisle, Burns Wharf and the delay in the construction of a new fire hall as a motive to run.

“No one was really asking the questions,” she said, “we just knew what the outcomes were.”

Ms. O’Connor has great hopes for Assiginack, be it through tourism or by continuing on its path as a senior-friendly community.

“Because I run Red Lodge, I send people all over the Island but I have no reason to send people there (Manitowaning) other than the museum,” she said. “We need to find something that’s going to grow this municipality.”

Ms. O’Connor takes issue with the number of single use buildings located in the municipality.

“We had a million-dollar expansion to the arena, but we have no way to have tournaments now,” she gave as an example. “There’s no place to run a bar or have a dance.”

She cited as an example the many years of the Deep Freeze hockey tournament, where the upstairs hall had been used as a licenced beer garden and also held a dance.

“We need to have multi-use buildings,” she reiterated. “There are many ways to achieve this, but it all counts on the growth of the community.”

There is one way a municipality has a guaranteed income, she said. Taxes. One option is to increase the tax base by raising taxes, but the best option, she said, is to raise that tax base by encouraging people to move to Assiginack and buy or build homes and businesses.

Ms. O’Connor said she would like to foster a welcoming environment where taxpayers are encouraged to bring their ideas forward. Perhaps not all those ideas would work, she said, but those that have potential could be investigated.

“Right now it’s like, ‘here’s what we’re doing’,” she added.

If the community grows, it will mean additional road maintenance, activities, tax base and so on, Ms. O’Connor continued.

She pointed to the growth of Central Manitoulin. “What is Central doing that we can’t do?” she asked.

“As a business owner, I see the problem as one of survival; we need to bring people to Manitoulin, and particularly to Assiginack,” Ms. O’Connor said.

“I hope that whoever does get on council works together, with the community and with the people,” Ms. O’Connor concluded. “I hope they all have a voice, otherwise it’ll just be the loud majority once again.”

Tom Pudas, candidate, Assiginack council

by Alicia McCutcheon

ASSIGINACK—Tom Pudas is a retired millwright who is relatively new to the Assiginack community, moving to Sunsite Estates with his wife two years ago.

As a Sunsite Estates, resident, “water is always a concern,” he said, referencing Sunsite Estate’s high water rates (a factor based on the relatively few people in the subdivision).

Mr. Pudas noted that he was a seasonal boater at the Manitowaning Marina and the beach has always been a favourite of his grandchildren—the waterfront, he believes, is incredibly important to Manitowaning.

This is Mr. Pudas’ first time running for council, but he cites experience with the NEMI Taxpayers’ group and the volunteer fire department, as well as sitting on church council, as previous experiences that would lend themselves well to a term on council.

“When the Chi-Cheemaun lands, how many people actually go to Manitowaning?” he asked, citing this as a major concern.

“I stand for ‘let’s spend our money wisely, attract industry or support the industry that’s here’,” Mr. Pudas added.

The candidate said with the current provincial government, he guesses that the next term of council will be a challenging one with more provincial downloads in the municipality’s future.

“I’m just a plain old ordinary retired millwright,” Mr. Pudas said, “but I offer a different kind of opinion.”