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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hydro, Transit and Small Business Topics of Debate

Dufferin County | by Jill Young  

All candidates forum discussed big issues like hydro prices in Dufferin-Caledon riding.

Everything from hydro to transportation was discussed at an all candidates debate for Dufferin-Caledon last night.

Each candidate had two minutes to respond to questions presented to them, which were submitted to the Dufferin Board of Trade prior to the event.

Hydro and its rising costs have been a hot button topic, and three of the four candidates agreed that something needs to be done about it.

Progressive Conservative Sylvia Jones said her party will start by "firing the $6-billion CEO of Hydro One."

Laura Campbell of the Green Party says Ontario needs to look into using hydro from Quebec.

Libertarian Jeff Harris says time of use billing needs to be eliminated along with the delivery charge.

Meanwhile, Bob Gordanier says the billions of dollars spent in upgrades have eliminated brown outs and black outs in the region.

He went on to say that hydro may never be cheap again but it's better than what it was under a PC government.

With the event being put on by the Dufferin Board of Trade, small businesses in the area was part of the discussion.

Gordanier believes small business are a major key to the province while Harris vows to eliminate the corporate tax rate and reduce the number of regulations placed on small business owners.

Jones, meanwhile, attributes most of the struggles of small business owners to the increased hydro rates.

She added that her party won't rollback the minimum wage increase that came into effect in January but they won't be moving forward with the increase proposed by the Liberals for 2019.

Campbell also supports a living wage increase but says it needs to come with a tax break to avoid pitting employers against employees.

Tying everything together within Dufferin-Caledon is transportation throughout the region.

Gordanier says Metrolinx has a plan to add a train by 2041 into Bolton, a time frame he says is too far off given the population projections for the area.

Harris says looking into partnering with private companies would be one solution.

He used Innisfil as an example where the town partnered with the ride sharing program Uber to help get the people around.

Harris noted that the town does subsidize the program but that it might be the way to go until Metrolinx comes up with a solution.

The Greens, meanwhile, say their platform would include adding tolls to the 400-series highways.

Campbell says the only way to raise the billions of dollars needed for public transit in Dufferin-Caledon is to toll those major highways.

While Jones says Shelburne's idea of funding a bus to get people down to Orangeville was a great idea to show Metrolinx that the need for public transit here is growing each day.

Another public forum is set for May 24th from Orangeville District Secondary School 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Once again, any questions must be submitted to the Dufferin Board of Trade before the event, as there will be no questions taken from the floor.


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