1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
Yes. Owen Sound should allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its' boundaries because the sale of cannabis, a legal substance is a business opportunity. Owen Sound will need to use zoning policies to determine and regulate at the most appropriate locations of cannabis sales outlets. The city should also develop a municipal cannabis policy similar to the municipal alcohol policy to provide a framework for cannabis use in city facilities. An important partner will be our local health unit as it promotes education and moderation in cannabis use.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
No. A more realistic approach would be to spread the tax burden fairly across the tax base and to contain taxes for property owners to no more that the rate of inflation, if possible. It is the role of council to be the best possible stewards of the budget and to ensure we receive value and adequate services for the dollars spent.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
No. The property tax rebate on vacant commercial property was introduced many years ago and has outlived its' usefulness. The time has come to consider a different approach and this could include rewarding occupancy rates rather than vacancy rates. Let's reward the positive, not the negative.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
We have seen the positive results from the development fee holiday with more industry and housing starting to move to Owen Sound. There is more work to be done to attract new industry and jobs by targeted marketing and promotion strategies as well as incentives to encourage new industries to town. We need to make the processes and procedures seamless, eliminate the red tape that can discourage new industry and continually ask the question "What do you need from Owen Sound to make the decision to come here and how can we make that happen for you?"
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
During my door to door campaigning I heard a deep feeling of disconnection of voters from what happens at City Hall. Some people felt isolated and angry over decisions made with a perception of lack of consultation and loss of their voice. Communication of city business must be timely, meaningful, open and transparent. Residents have the right to know and understand how Council decisions affect them in their everyday lives. Council must creatively engage people and invite more input using virtual meetings, webinars, social media or Town Hall style discussions.