Manitoulin Votes 2018: Meet your candidates in the Northeast Town

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Al MacNevin, candidate, Northeast Town mayor

by Alicia McCutcheon

NORTHEAST TOWN—Al MacNevin is looking to be re-elected for his third term as mayor of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town) on October 22 and counts his 25 years of municipal political experience as excellent backing.

Mr. MacNevin said he sort of “fell” into the role of mayor. Prior to moving into that position six years ago, Mr. MacNevin said he worked hard to bring the concerns of Ward 2 (Little Current) residents to the table when he was a councillor representing that ward.

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“Mayor is a whole different game,” he said, noting that patience is key. “You need to offer advice and comments about the history behind certain decisions, but once you see council heading in a certain direction, you have to speak for them.”

“You can’t disagree, but rather bring ideas together,” the incumbent continued. “It’s hard work, but I think I do a good job at it.”

Mr. MacNevin said staff, under the direction of council, are currently working at ways to bring affordable housing for seniors and families to the municipality. Once they speak with a potential developer, “it’s not often that there’s a rental price that people can afford,” he said. That, he added, has been council’s goal—reasonable rent in new housing he hopes council can work with developers to complete.

He pointed to the property located near Low Island Park gifted to the municipality by Lily Fielding of Sudbury, widow of the late Cliff Fielding. “We’ve got the property to use for just that, but it’s proving difficult to find a contractor,” Mr. MacNevin said. “This is a priority for council and me.”

Mr. MacNevin also pointed to the expansion of the wastewater facility courtesy of a government grant of up to $2 million as an accomplishment. “And we need to do that before we expand housing,” he explained. “We need to expand our wastewater facilities if we are to grow as a community.”

Exiting the Manitoulin Planning Board and forming a standalone planning group for the Northeast Town is also a source of pride for the candidate for mayor. “That was a major struggle for us,” he said. It was decided by council that only the Northeast Town should advocate for the Northeast Town when it comes to planning decisions, and they did just that.

Mr. MacNevin explained that council uses a strategic plan that helps them stay a course and meet certain goals that they hope to achieve. These are items such as roads, sidewalks, infrastructure maintenance and repair. “We have not lost track of what we’re after.”

“The election will bring at least two new councillors who will need some education and mentorship,” he said. “I think I can help with that considering my extensive experience and explain some of the relationships.” Mr. MacNevin explained that council only oversees the CAO and that the CAO oversees all other municipal staff. “Council as a whole sets the direction.”

“The community is fairly satisfied with how we’ve managed our finances and kept infrastructure up-to-date while preparing for the future,” the incumbent said.

“It’s been a long time since we haven’t had a focussed council, but that could change,” Mr. MacNevin continued. “If elected, I would provide that stability so we can continue to work to continue to make this a great place to live.”

Melissa Peters, candidate, Northeast Town mayor

by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT—“I’d like to think that I’m more of the everyday, on-the-ground person,” says Melissa Peters, candidate for mayor of the Northeast Town.

Ms. Peters first joined council in 2006 and has been involved with the community services advisory committee and its sub-initiatives. That includes her involvement with the downtown gardening group and her role as vice-chair of the fitness centre board. She has also been the chair of Community Living Manitoulin.

“I think I’m ready to do something more than just councillor now; that’s why I’m raising the bar for myself,” the current Ward 2 councillor says.

Ms. Peters says she is dedicated to helping others. In addition to working full-time at RedBow and occasionally at The Anchor and the 10 Mile Point trading post, she currently has two dependents she looks after. She says she became chair of the Community Living Manitoulin board because she had a brother with autism who benefited from its services.

“I went on the board because I wanted to try to make a difference for him,” she says.

If elected, Ms. Peters says effective communication is one of her highest priorities.

“Although there are people (on council) who believe in transparency, I don’t believe the information is out there that people need,” she says. “I’d like to make the communications more transparent for everybody to know what is going on.”

She includes fiscal responsibility as another priority.

“A lot of the costs associated with the municipality are external; we can’t control them but I believe the internal costs need to be dealt with in a more responsible way.” To that end, Ms. Peters says she believes in reasonable taxation that will cover expenses adequately.

“It’s not popular, but I do not believe in 0 percent taxes,” she says.

Northeast Town is designated an age-friendly community, but Ms. Peters says equal importance should be given to the growing senior population as well as younger generations.

“I believe in an age-friendly accessible community for all ages. It is a ‘Baby Boomer rules’ time frame but that’s not all Northeast Town is about. Our community is more than that,” she says.

Another key issue for Ms. Peters is ensuring council works together as a cohesive whole.

“Mayor and council need to work together, not just a few people making the decisions,” she says. “We should be working together as a cohesive whole to solve the issues that come up.” That includes making all councillors have a basic understanding of issues across the township, even if they exist in other wards. That way, she says, everyone will be able to collaborate on problem-solving.

In the spirit of collaboration, Ms. Peters says she wants to have more open dialogue with residents to hear their concerns.

“I’m always available to talk to people. I work a lot and don’t do leisure time well, but if anyone is in trouble I always try to help,” says Ms. Peters.

Ms. Peters says Northeast Town could become an even better community through hard work, dedication and collaboration across multiple groups.

“I want to be able to work with people. It’s not an us versus them scenario. Everybody should be working towards making us a better community,” she says.

Barb Baker, candidate, Ward 2

by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT—While relatively new to the Little Current, Barb Baker has wasted no time in getting involved in her community and after being asked to consider putting her name forward for Ward 2 councillor, Ms. Baker agreed and says she has some ideas that could help the municipality continue to flourish.

“We’re a fantastic Island of varying communities—we’re not just NEMI (Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands),” she said, adding that Manitoulin needs to work on coming together for the betterment of the Island as a whole to, as an example, attract professionals as well as the retirees who are more and more choosing to call Manitoulin their home. Ms. Baker envisions a committee comprised of people from each of the communities to look for common issues and work together to solve those issues, citing seniors’ housing as just one example.

“As a joint force, we have a great ability to achieve,” she said.

Ms. Baker is the founder of the Women of Manitoulin Entrepreneur Network and a popular teacher for senior programming both in the Northeast Town and Assiginack and because of all these endeavours, has had the chance to meet many people and has a sense of the things they want and need.

“I teach seniors and I listen to them,” she explained. “I can provide a view with lots of insight.”

Ms. Baker also worked with the Northeast Town and Assiginack on the municipalities’ individual age-friendly community plans. She noted that the Northeast Town was just recognized both provincially and federally as being an age-friendly community and believes that she had a hand in that designation.

Ms. Baker said she would like to see more investigation by the municipality on how to leverage that new moniker to its advantage.

Ms. Baker also noted that she has acted as a project manager managing million-dollar projects and both she and her husband Dale are the proprietors of successful businesses. As a numbers person, she feels she will be of benefit to the new term of council, she added.

Ms. Baker believes that great changes are coming to the Island and she can be a helpful part of what will likely be a transition process.

“I always volunteer, no matter where I live,” she said, noting her role on the Manitoulin Health Centre board, hospital auxiliary and work as a past library board member.

“I’m a good listener, have good ideas and the ability to implement and action them,” Ms. Baker concluded. “When I say I’m going to do something for someone, I do it.”

Al Boyd, candidate, Ward 2

by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT—Al Boyd believes that his role as a police officer, stationed in Little Current for over 30 years, will serve him in good stead for a role as councillor with the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town)’s Ward 2.

Mr. Boyd explained that he spent his entire policing career based out of Little Current, beginning in 1982. He and wife Judy raised two boys in the community and, almost three years ago this December, Mr. Boyd retired. He has continued to remain an active member of the community in his retirement, serving as vice chair of Victims Services, is a member of the Mental Health and Justice Committee, is on the regional DARE board and sits on the patient advisory committee of the North East Manitoulin Family Health Team.

“I’ve kept very busy in regards to community issues and concerns,” he admitted, a pact he made publically upon his retirement.

For the last 15 years of his career, Mr. Boyd was community services officer with the OPP, working closely with council in the past to enact such programs as Operation Lookout.

While he believes the present council has done a good job, he believes it’s time for a change around the table. “I’m only one voice, but one voice can make a difference.”

“I feel my experience with the OPP will bring great value,” he continued, “especially when it comes to community safety.”

When it comes to supporting local business, Mr. Boyd said he believes the municipality needs to work on attracting more business and would be eager to work with the Little Current Business Improvement Area to address their needs and concerns.

As a former crisis negotiator, Mr. Boyd is also a professional communicator and is always willing and happy to listen to constituents, he continued. “I can listen to people and offer a voice for them.”

“I want to try and reduce taxes while providing the same level of services,” Mr. Boyd added.

He realizes that high policing costs are a concern for the community and would like to explore the cause. He explained that the municipality pays the police on a per-call basis, adding that the role of the police officer has evolved in recent years to embrace unofficial roles including housing authority, marriage counsellor, mental health advocate and child services worker.

“Every time the police are called, it costs the municipality,” he said, adding that he would like to research the calls to police and see if there’s something that can be done on a municipal level to stem the flow of constituents seeking the help of police, and point them in the direction of the appropriate service ahead of time.

The aging population is also important to Mr. Boyd’s platform, especially in terms of housing and transportation.

“What the present council has done is excellent and I hope to continue the work that’s been done.”

“I worked very hard to gain the trust of my community, and of communities across Manitoulin,” Mr. Boyd said. “I realize that I’m no expert in municipal politics, but I have a good sound base and offer a common-sense approach. As a former officer, I also go on facts and realize there’s two sides to a story.”

Transparency is a big issue for Mr. Boyd. “I live by the policy that the public has a right to know what’s going on.”

Michael Erskine, candidate, Ward 2

by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT—A staff writer at The Manitoulin Expositor, Michael Erskine is the only incumbent councillor running in this election for a seat in Ward 2 (Councillor Melissa Peters is running for mayor and Councillor Bill Koehler is running in Ward 3).

A married father with six grown children (three boys, three girls), Mr. Erskine, after three years underground at INCO and a year working on an oil rig in Alberta, attended Cambrian College, where he studied business finance and electronics, and then Laurentian University, where he obtained an honours BA in political science. Mr. Erskine has served with the Trillium Foundation for nine years, on the Manitoulin Legal Clinic board and sits on the North Channel Marine Tourism Council and operated a computer business and a Mexican takeout restaurant. He and his wife of 37 years Linda have lived on Manitoulin since 1990.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of our community over the past term of council and I hope that I have earned the opportunity to serve again,” said Mr. Erskine.

“I am quite proud of the fact that the municipality has only had to increase the tax rate in Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands slightly in one year,” said Mr. Erskine. “But even more so, that we have managed to hold the line on taxes and still managed to keep core services that people depend on intact. In fact, we have received a coveted ‘age friendly’ designation from the province identifying our communities as a great place for people to retire and continue to live in their own homes.”

Mr. Erskine said he was also proud of the work that council has accomplished over the last term, including being chosen as the site for the new OPP detachment headquarters and attracting new businesses to the community, but he cautioned that the next few years will bring significant challenges to the community.

“We have managed to leverage our tax dollars with money from the upper levels of government to accomplish a lot for our community, but I think it has been made abundantly clear by the current provincial government that things will be much leaner going forward,” he said. “Experience and a steady practical eye on the pocketbook will be needed to meet those inevitable challenges. When you have raised six children you learn to get the best value out of a dollar and you understand why it is so important that you not only remain vigilant today, but also look ahead to tomorrow and make the best plan you can to take full advantage of opportunities and to keep unanticipated costs from causing havoc.”

“Council will need to work together as a team to ensure that we make the best decisions for the community,” he said, “and the biggest part of our past success has been in listening and understanding what it is the people who make up our community want, and don’t want, from the municipality. I don’t see much reason to change an approach I believe has worked out pretty well.”

“Please take the time to mark your ballot for the candidate, or candidates you think can do the best job,” he said. “I would be honoured if the voters in Ward 2 decide put an X beside my name.”

Cody Leeson, candidate, Ward 2

by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT—Cody Leeson has had a life-long love of politics and recalls fondly drives with his grandfather Carl Ziegler, a past Little Current councillor, debating the ins and outs of community government.

At age 31, and the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Island’s (Northeast Town) youngest candidate, Mr. Leeson feels the time is right to give back to the community and to be an ear for the people of Ward 2 in Little Current.

“I like the idea of debate and discussion and trying to put myself in the shoes of others, especially those with whom I don’t always agree, and come to a mutually beneficial agreement,” he said.

Mr. Leeson has several suggestions he would like to see brought forward if elected, the first being the completion of the sidewalk near Little Current Public School on Draper Street up to Manitowaning Road and pedestrian crossings in high traffic areas. “There are constant near misses,” he said, pointing to the busy intersection of Meredith and Worthington streets.

“I have long-term goals, too,” he added.

Mr. Leeson believes the Northeast Town would benefit greatly by investing into municipal broadband. “We all know the ‘big three’ telecommunications networks cost a lot more.” Mr. Leeson has researched one Alberta municipality that made such an investment that has been hugely successful. Within a decade, all the community’s debts will be cleared.

“I realize it’s kind of pipe dreamy, but you don’t know if you don’t try,” he said.

Mr. Leeson said he would also support a solution to the swing bridge replacement that doesn’t take away from Little Current businesses.

He also believes that the placement of more wastebaskets along Little Current’s many trails would be beneficial for all the users, and keep our environment tidy too.

“I also support efforts to introduce a dog park,” Mr. Leeson added, saying he realizes that there are eager volunteers already out there.

Other items Mr. Leeson would lend his support to are the continuation of the community’s age-friendly initiatives; encouraging community involvement; and supporting volunteer and service groups such as the Lions Club or Legion.

“I will be a voice for Little Current taxpayers, listen to ideas and have good discussions on them,” the candidate continued.

Mr. Leeson is a well-known face in the community through his work as the childhood nutrition coordinator at Noojmowin Teg Health Centre. “I see a ton of people and young families and I want the community to prosper.”

Mr. Leeson also has experience on grant review and steering committees and community-led initiatives such as the Good Food Box.

“I’m thankful to have four living grandparents and understand some of the things that our senior population faces, especially those on fixed incomes,” Mr. Leeson said.

The candidate for councillor believes that it’s important to have a variety of ages and perspectives around the council table.

“This community has a lot of 20-, 30- and 40-somethings, but they’re not represented on the council,” he said. “I’m not advocating that age is the only reason to vote for me, but I do think it’s important to have a variety of perspectives,” he added, stressing that civility and respect around the council table is of utmost importance to him.

Bill Koehler, candidate, Ward 3

by Alicia McCutcheon

LITTLE CURRENT—Veteran Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town) councillor Bill Koehler is hoping to be re-elected for another term of council, this time for Ward 3.

“I love being on council,” he said. “I love dealing with people.”

Mr. Koehler said his constituents know that he’s always concerned by tax increases and is always willing to go to bat for low taxes. “I like to see rates under two percent,” he added.

Mr. Koehler said he’s pleased to see the completion of Little Current’s main dock and the soon-to-be pedestrian bridge that will create a crossing where the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) boathouse used to be. Mr. Koehler noted that the removal of the falling down boathouse was one of his big pushes as councillor.

“I want to see the seniors’ development at Low Island finished,” he added.

Mr. Koehler also noted the Heywood Street subdivision as an accomplishment during this term of council. This subdivision will also soon house Little Current’s new OPP detachment.

The incumbent councillor has some efficiencies he would like to see such as the combining of administration and finance committee meetings with public works. “As you know, we’re getting paid for that (each meeting).”

Mr. Koehler also feels that the planning meetings held before council, which also mean a stipend for the councillors, should change in structure too. “They often last five minutes and the cost for a severance is $650, yet the municipality is paying us $900 (in honoraria). It’s a loss for the town.”

Mr. Koehler admitted that he could waive the stipend, but doesn’t.

In light of the recent restructuring of the Greater Toronto Area council to 25 councillors, Mr. Koehler believes the Northeast Town should also consider a lessening of the number of councillors. “Nine councillors for a population of 3,500? Things have to change; do more with less. Seven councillors would be sufficient.”

The Connecting Link portion of Highway 6 leading to the swing bridge has been a “pet peeve” of Mr. Koehler’s for years. “We’re so close to having it finished,” he said, noting that having sidewalks along the highway to the bridge is his next big push.

Mr. Koehler also feels that the municipal donation budget needs to be reduced. “We’re giving out so much money and it’s not our money. I tried to raise this before but nothing happened, but I’ll try again.”

The ever-increasing energy costs at the recreation centre are also of concern to the councillor. He says he would like to see staff search for grants to help install energy efficiencies at the arena to keep rental rates down. “As the rates go up, we’re driving people away.”

“I’ve got experience, I’m reliable and I always return my calls,” Mr. Koehler said of the attributes that make him a good councillor. “I’m approachable and a good listener.”

Sean O’Hare, candidate, Ward 3

by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT—“I want to give back to my community and help shape the future of our beautiful town,” says Sean O’Hare, candidate for council in Ward 3.

To form his priorities for council, Mr. O’Hare says he has visited every home on the Ward 3 voters’ list and spoken with 90 percent of those residents, excepting seasonal residents and those who were not at home when he had visited.

“For the most part, people want to see support for local businesses, which I completely agree with,” says Mr. O’Hare. He says residents can easily support Island businesses by purchasing their products and cites meats, dairy and produce as some of the offerings available on Manitoulin.

“You can shop in Little Current and support new businesses like the convenience store downtown,” he says.

Mr. O’Hare, a geologist by trade, says he is environmentally conscious.

“We need to improve our waste management. One of the ways we can do that is by having community composting,” says Mr. O’Hare.

“Many of the constituents (in Ward 3) would like garbage pickup and recycling because they currently have to go to the dump on their own,” he says.

Mr. O’Hare is currently on the waste management committee for Little Current but has not otherwise entered the world of municipal politics before.

“Before moving back home to Little Current I worked in Sudbury for Glencore. We did quite large projects where we had to manage millions of dollars and spend it appropriately in a way that makes the most sense,” says Mr. O’Hare.

“I think I am able to see the larger picture and get through the details.”

Mr. O’Hare says he would be interested in taking a look at turning the coal docks into a park system for community use, a project he would ask Canadian Pacific or the government to fund. He adds that one of the few summer recreation activities in town that he knows of is the Tuesday ultimate Frisbee game at Low Island. He says he wants to increase recreation opportunities for residents.

Mr. O’Hare says all decisions through council have to be carefully considered.

“There’s lots of things that get blown out of proportion where a small change at the root can make a big difference,” he says.

That careful consideration includes issues such as taxation.

“If we don’t need to raise taxes, we shouldn’t raise taxes. Nobody wants to pay more in taxes but everybody wants to have a fire department, police and roads. So, looking at all that and being able to create a fair, balanced budget for our community,” he says.

Mr. O’Hare says he wants to keep Little Current as the place he has loved for his whole life.

“I’m from Little Current. I grew up here, I plan to spend the rest of my life here and I don’t want to change our community,” he says.

Jim Ferguson, candidate, Ward 4

by Alicia McCutcheon

SHEGUIANDAH—After being asked by several people to consider putting his name forward for Ward 4 councillor in the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town), Jim Ferguson Jr., a lifelong resident of Sheguiandah, decided to put his name on the ballot.

“I thought it was time to step up and do something for my community,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Ferguson said he sees “no major concerns” with the running of the municipality, but believes it’s time for a change at the council table.

“It’s good to change up the thoughts and ideas,” he continued. “Fresh thoughts might invoke some decision making to, say, attract different businesses to the area.”

Mr. Ferguson said there may be, or at least there is a perception, of overspending in the municipality but perhaps it’s a matter of helping to better get the message across about how those tax dollars are being spent.

As a businessperson, he knows that when business gets tight it means a time for fiscal responsibility and the municipality should be treated the same way.

“I’ve been part of the family-run business since 1994, from labourer, to managing crews to running the daily responsibilities of the business,” Mr. Ferguson said. “I bring financial responsibility to the table.”

“I can see things from different perspectives and have a sense of how that decision will affect the community as a whole,” he added. “I can make tough decisions; I’m not afraid to do what needs to be done.”

“The small business mindset is really lacking at the table,” Mr. Ferguson shared.

“I’m a pretty simple guy; I’m not going in guns blazing,” he assured. “I would look at what has happened in the past and see how I could affect a positive change. I just purely want to do something for the community and be a part of the progression.”

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?” Mr. Ferguson concluded.

Dawn Orr, candidate, Ward 4

by Alicia McCutcheon

HOWLAND—Ward 4’s Dawn Orr sees big changes coming down the pipes from the government, both provincially and federally, and she believes an experienced presence is needed to guide the municipality through what will likely be a time of transition.

Ms. Orr said that currently, the municipality finds itself in a good positon financially and would like to see it stay on that same path, all while continuing to maintain the high level of municipal services that its taxpayers enjoy.

As a senior citizen, Ms. Orr said she knows what it means to the aging population, and taxpayers as a whole, to keep taxes low. “You’ve worked so hard for your property and you want to be able to enjoy it and still have good services.”

It’s important that the municipality stay the course financially and continue to seek out grants when and where they can, even though she realizes they’ve become “so blessed tight” in recent years. Ms. Orr said the municipality is fortunate to have dedicated staff who are constantly researching and applying for grants.

Ms. Orr is fond of doing her research too. It’s important, she said, “to understand the legislation that’s coming down and apply it to the municipality.”

As for the last term’s accomplishments, Ms. Orr said she is particularly pleased with the development of the interactive trail as part of the Sheguiandah archaeological site; the Manor’s financial position; the Little Current docks and the revenue it brings; the new airport runway currently in the works; the new Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Little Current; and low taxes with good municipal services.

Ms. Orr said she’s also happy with the Northeast Town’s break from the Manitoulin Planning Board, which has made things easier and faster for the municipality in terms of development and construction.

While talking about roads might sound cliché for a rural councillor, Ms. Orr said that with the 140 kilometres of roads the municipality must maintain, they are crucially important.

In terms of forward thinking, if re-elected Ms. Orr said she would like to work on making the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah a community hub for the residents of Howland. “It’s a wonderful building and a lot can go on there,” she said.

“I would like to see more expansion in economic development throughout NEMI,” she said, “and tourism opportunities within the municipality.”

Ms. Orr says she will do her best to continue to represent the taxpayers and as for why they should re-elect her for a fourth term, “I will be honest in my opinion; I like to look at all sides of an issue before making a decision; I have a lot of experience; and I really care about the municipality, Ward 4 in particular.”

“Thank you to everyone for their support so far; I always try to do my best,” Ms. Orr concluded.

Paul Skippen, candidate, Ward 4

by Alicia McCutcheon

HONORA BAY—Green Bay’s Paul Skippen said he’s pleased with what he’s achieved over his past three terms of council but believes there’s more to do and hopes to be re-elected on October 22.

Mr. Skippen noted the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town) boasts the lowest tax rates on Manitoulin, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment that will be constructed beginning in April 2019 in Little Current, roads maintenance and seniors programming as coups for the municipality, with the help of his direction.

In Ward 4, he mentioned the work done on the Sheguiandah archaeological site and the new archaeological display at the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, not to mention the great programming the museum offers, he added.

“It’s great to be a part of the community,” Mr. Skippen said of his role as councillor.

“We’ve been here for a long time—I’m a fourth-generation farmer––and it’s good to give back,” he reiterated.

Mr. Skippen said he hopes to continue his work with the newly established Northeast Town planning authority which, he said, should mean a savings of $30,000 to the municipality. As a councillor who sat on the Manitoulin Planning Board in the past, the incumbent believes he can offer insights that would be beneficial to the Northeast Town.

Mr. Skippen said his background as an educator, businessperson and farmer all lend themselves well to council as he can offer a wide array of perspectives.

“In my last three terms of council, I’ve stood up for a lot of people and helped a lot of people,” he said. “And I think we’re a good team,” he added of the current council.

“I’m pretty honest with the group and call it as I see it,” Mr. Skippen continued. “I always have an open line of communication. Anybody who wants to discuss anything with me, I’m always here.”

As for forward thinking, Mr. Skippen said he would like to investigate having the Bidwell Road named a Connecting Link as it boasts a lot of traffic and joins Manitoulin’s busiest provincial highways (Highways 6 and 540). He also looks forward to continue to look for opportunities supporting new seniors’ housing in the Northeast Town.

Mr. Skippen would also like the municipality to move forward in seeking out funding for two new salt sheds for each of the public works garages in Little Current and Sheguiandah.

Wearing his farmer’s hat, the incumbent said he hopes to be re-elected to help bring the concerns of farmers forward on a provincial level too. “I hope to keep pushing the concerns forward.”

Bruce Wood, candidate, Ward 4

by Alicia McCutcheon

HOWLAND—Incumbent councillor Bruce Wood is proud of his past accomplishments on the Northeast Town and hopes voters will elect him for his fourth term on council so he can continue to do his best for the people of Ward 4, and the municipality as a whole.

Rural roads maintenance, the exit from the Manitoulin Planning Board and the gaining of a new, state-of-the-art Ontario Provincial Police detachment building for Little Current are just a few of the accomplishments he notes during his time on council last term.

Mr. Wood noted senior housing as a topic he feels the municipality is on the right path with, pointing to the new units on Draper Street. “I hope we can attract more developers as a result,” he said.

Mr. Wood said he would also like to work at keeping the recreation centre costs as low as possible and keep Ward 4’s major concerns of roads, chip and tar road surfacing and snowplowing top of mind for his constituents.

“We’re trying, and have been successful, at getting streetlights on some of the rural corners too,” Mr. Wood said. He also pointed to the new engineered intersections found on the Bidwell and work on the Bass Creek bridge as accomplishments in the rural part of the municipality.

The incumbent said he’s been privileged to use his status as councillor to lobby for the rights of farmers at a provincial level and hopes to continue to have farmers’ issues and concerns heard, especially on topics such as crop and livestock compensation.

“It shouldn’t be up to farmers to feed all the wild animals,” Mr. Wood said, “and I think we’re slowly gaining ground with that message.”

If elected, Mr. Wood said he would like the municipality to lobby for better broadband and cell service in the rural parts of the Northeast Town.

“Our First Nation neighbours all have it; it’s time for the municipality to step up and put efforts towards that,” he said.

Mr. Wood thanked everyone for their support over the years. “I’ve been fairly fortunate to get most of the issue brought to me resolved,” he said.

“I look to see what’s best for the whole community,” Mr. Wood added.

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