Municipal election season is in full swing, but as of yesterday, many Collingwood residents are still deciding how to cast their votes.
People started lining up outside the Collingwood Legion on Ontario Street at 5 p.m. for the 7 p.m. all-candidates meeting for the mayor and deputy mayor candidates, hosted by the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday night. CollingwoodToday.ca spoke with voters prior to the start of the meeting, to find out where they stood on the issues and what might sway their vote in the upcoming election.
“I’m definitely waiting (to decide) until I see what the candidates for mayor have to say tonight,” said Deb Saunders-Chatwin. “I’m decided on deputy mayor.”
Saunders-Chatwin said Collingwood’s water issues are top-of-mind for her as a voter, as is housing. “I’m a hiker, so I’d also like to see more accessibility for biking and environmentally friendly aspects around town. Women’s rights are also important,” she said.
Alex Yuen, owner of Collingwood Olive Oil Co., also attended Tuesday’s debate. As a downtown business owner, Yeun said issues affecting Collingwood’s downtown were important to him in determining his vote. Also, Yeun is interested to see how candidates will deal with the hospital, as well as sewer and water.
“I’m not decided yet. I want to hear what they have to say, because I think Collingwood is entering a very large metamorphosis,” said Yeun. “We’re going to have major changes and issues, and hopefully those questions come up to them.”
Marilyn Knowles said she’s most interested in the developments being approved around town.
“I’m very interested... in the six-floor (apartments proposed) on arterial roads,” said Knowles.
“I’m interested in short-term rentals,” said Catherine Durrant.
Doug Burn said he’d like to see candidates who want to get things done, noting he’s seen multiple studies done on the Collingwood Harbour but very little action.
“I’d like to see them get the (public) works department working to fix the streets. They’ve spent a year and a half getting the park at Sunset Point going, but it was closed all summer and the kids couldn’t use it,” said Burn. “It’s slow.”
“I pretty well know who I’m going to vote for,” he said.
Kerry Mader said that as of Tuesday, he had decided upon a few candidates who would not be getting his vote, but was still deciding on who would. There are a few attributes Mader said he would be looking for during Tuesday’s debate.
“I want to get a sense of integrity,” he said. “I’d like to get a sense of their thoughts on our taxes, which I think are catastrophic; very high.”
“I’d like to see how they’d balance a budget and get our tax base down,” he added, also saying an arts and culture centre is a key issue for him.
Linda Chessell said development is a key issue for her, as she has concerns about large condominium buildings and where they’re allowed to be built in Collingwood. As of Tuesday, Chessell said she hadn’t yet picked a favourite candidate for mayor.
“I’m leaning toward one but I haven’t totally decided and that’s why I’m here,” said Chessell.
Pat Bollenberghe said he hoped to see a candidate with a clear commitment to following through on plans for Collingwood’s waterfront master plan.
“We have one waterfront and one opportunity and we must take it seriously,” he said.
Don May echoed Bollenberghe’s concerns about the waterfront and the connection to the downtown.
“We’re here to really hear. There are less opportunities today to meet and listen in person,” said May. “There’s nothing better than listening to people. I would say we’re undecided.”
A second all-candidate meeting hosted by the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce will be taking place on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at the legion where candidates for the seven council seats will answer questions. Doors for that meeting will open at 6 p.m.