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Grey County relationship a top issue for TBM candidates

The relationship between Grey County and The Blue Mountains is a hot topic for candidates running for council
2020_04_03 Grey County TBM_JG

CollingwoodToday asked the candidates running for council in Grey Highlands four questions about the issues facing the community.

The following responses were submitted by the candidates. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidates’ platforms and opinions.

Please visit CollingwoodToday’s municipal election web page for more coverage of the local municipal elections.

Responses are presented in alphabetical order beginning with candidates for mayor.

Q: The relationship between Grey County and The Blue Mountains has been, at times, strained. The Blue Mountains contributes more than a quarter of the county’s total tax levy. As a member of council, how do you envision the relationship with Grey County working in the future?

Candidate for mayor: Joe Halos

We are not going to change the assessment-based tax system in Ontario, so we need to look at new ways to work with the county. In my opinion, the best course is to create beneficial working relationships with county staff and other municipal leaders. We can sell our ideas better with a cooperative mindset. I have had the benefit of working with county staff on several issues in the past and have a good relationship with the CAO, deputy CAO, as well as senior staff and other municipal representatives. I am welcome in their office and will continue to foster a positive working relationship. Alienating the people we work with is not a good plan, and this will not occur if I am elected as your mayor.

Candidate for mayor: Elizabeth Marshall

From past experience, working with various mayors and councillors, in Grey County if they are re-elected, I have found them to be relatively reasonable. That said, there are avenues which should be looked at, as in more open communications with the various officials, to look for a reduction of the county levy. Failing this there are also various sections in the Municipal Act that we should be looking to.  And failing that, we may have to look to the province for a more equitable approach to the levy. In regards to roads, infrastructure, etc., and/or all topics brought to county council will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis – one should not speculate nor comment on the “what if’s” and as expressed from experience the various mayors, councillors seem relatively reasonable, and hopefully will remain so.

Candidate for mayor: Andrea Matrosovs

I have established working relationships with both current county council members and candidates because I am the vice-chair of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and sit on that board with mayors and deputy mayors from across the county. At county council we need to be assertive, but if we are aggressive or abrasive the rest of the county stops listening. My collaborative leadership background drives me to both speak and listen at the county table while advocating for the town. The county needs to support our efforts at the municipal level to insist on attainable housing options. County staff acknowledge the need to press the province for more tools and policies such as inclusionary zoning for municipalities, which would give them the power to require a set percentage of affordable or attainable housing units in any development. We need this upper tier of government to and require not just encourage a mix of housing that provides options for all income levels in its policies and Official Plan. Grey County has begun $30 million of construction, resurfacing and minor capital projects on its road network located within our town. I will advocate this continuation in the next four years of their 2019 to 2028 plan. This is an example of how an upper tier of government can work across the municipalities to fairly deliver on projects that benefit county-wide responsibilities like transportation. Our main street through Clarksburg and Thornbury is a county road that is a barrier to traffic safety and parking solutions. In this term, the mayor pursued the possibility of swapping this part of Grey Road with our current town 10th Line before and after the bridge at Clendenan. As a Grey County council member, I would continue to explore this exchange with the county.

Candidate for mayor: Tony Poole

The relationship between TBM and Grey County will be key to addressing our plans for a sustainable future. Relationships at the county level and with local council representatives across neighbouring communities will be key. Working together on common issues, sharing ideas and support for broader issues will help in bringing a more cooperative approach. Sharing ideas with mayors and deputy mayors of the county in a less structured basis. Supporting projects that are mutually beneficial like healthcare and opening up lines of communication with staff at both the town and county levels will help. This includes working together on capital projects and transportation plans that affect multiple towns and the entire county.

Candidate for council: Gail Ardiel

Grey County and the Blue Mountains sometimes don’t see eye to eye, but when I was the town and county councillor and the deputy mayor, I had a good working relationship with them. We have received funding back to the town through infrastructure i.e.: bridges, roads, EMS station in Craigleith, and many more. Working without being hostile and having good communication skills goes a long way. Inviting Grey County to have a round table discussion regarding the concerns of the community and council.

Candidate for council: Paula Hope

Grey County and the Town of The Blue Mountains relationship may well be caught in the middle of an awkward and aging structure that does not always serve the town, maybe not even the county. At the same time, while working with the province to bring about change, it is going to take time to undo the current arrangement and create a more efficient, streamlined agreement that will make sense to all parties. In the meantime, we are going to have to be patient and “work the relationship” to create the best results to address the town’s interests. As an executive of a small manufacturer who dealt regularly with massive retailers, I have seen the opportunities that can be created when you take a supportive, understanding posture while always looking for opportunities to press your advantage, at any time. If you show that you are a true partner and want to contribute to the greater good, a stronger, more beneficial result will happen. More focus on tapping into the resources that the county offers, especially in the areas of economic development, climate change and planning, would be a good place to start. TOBM can find openings that will generate opportunities that can be leveraged to help its community. It is a longer road to hoe (to use a farming pun), to be sure, but it is better than creating an acrimonious relationship which serves no one, especially the citizens of TOBM.

Candidate for council: Alex Maxwell

I'm already getting a sense that most, if not all, of the candidates are expressing an interest in restoring normal relationships with Grey County. Let's first establish what points in common Grey County and the Town of The Blue Mountains already enjoy. Then let's also see how we can work together best to benefit each other and in this action build relationships that produce positive outcomes. The elected official is in an interesting position, who represents a lower tier government, which is what the Town of The Blue Mountains is, and an upper tier level of government, which Grey County is. From the outside, it seems to make little or no sense, yet the system does somehow work. If I'm elected as a councillor, I will expect that those who we send to represent the Town of The Blue Mountains at Grey County represent each organization respectively and have positive results for both parties.

Candidate for council: June Porter

Relationships are key to getting things done. As a member of council, it would be important if elected as it would all other councillors to develop relationships across municipal borders to gain support at the county table. It is not solely up to the mayor, deputy mayor or county designate to undertake the development and maintenance of relationships. Specifically, relational influence, which requires an up-front investment, i.e., spending time getting to know the other elected officials and giving them time to know you for the purpose of discovering mutual interests. That is how relationships develop in turn do these things with authenticity, and without self-serving motives, we continuously influence each other’s thinking, feelings, and grow our mutual respect. Given there will be new individuals at the county table, it is best to approach the new Grey County council with an open mind. I would envision the relationship with Grey County working on a place of mutual benefit for all towns in a respectful manner. As part of that, I would like to see The Blue Mountains represented on the full range of committees to ensure that the needs and voices of our residents are heard. I feel that this is particularly important given the amount of dollars our tax base provides to Grey County.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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