1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
I don't like the fact that cannabis has been legalized, but the reality is that the federal government has done so. In September, the provincial government introduced legislation that, if passed, would give municipalities a deadline of January 22, 2019 to opt out of a proposed private retail model. With a three month window to make a decision, I believe city council should use that time wisely to conduct public consultations to gather feedback from residents about what they think is the best decision for Owen Sound.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
Yes. For young families, it's three or four extra mortgage payments a year, and for seniors on fixed-incomes, it is increasingly difficult. We've heard that the development near the hospital will get started in the next 4 or 5 years, and with that will come new tax revenues from nearly 1000 homes. I worry that there will be a large push to spend all that money. I recognize that some will need to be re-invested to continue that growth momentum, but I strongly believe that the large majority of that money should be used to put downward pressure on taxes.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
No. Several years ago the province gave municipalities the ability to opt out of a 30% property tax rebate for vacant commercial and industrial land. In my opinion, the rebate has only encouraged commercial and retail property owners in Owen Sound to keep buildings empty. In order to help jumpstart our economy, and incentivize landlords to lease to entrepreneurs and business owners, I believe the rebate should be eliminated, and I will strongly support efforts to eliminate the rebate.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
Fibre-optic internet. Stats-Canada found 19% of Canadians work from home, with that number expected to grow rapidly in the next 10 years. I am one of them. The amount of economic development and jobs that can be created off of fibre-optic is huge. There is a program- SWIFT -but progress has been slow. They need support to push Federal and Provincial governments for more supports. As someone who makes their living from the internet, I want to be a loud voice for this.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
I'm lucky. After I completed my education and began my career I had the opportunity to come back to Owen Sound. But too many of our young people don't get to make the choice that I did. Which is why I want to see our community seize opportunities that lead to job creation, such as encouraging investment and revitalization in our historic downtown and waterfront areas. Owen Sound has so much potential, and we should be showcasing our community as a place where young people can live and work, not just visit.