1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
Yes. But only if Owen Sound is allowed to keep pot shops outside of the downtown core. I appreciate cannabis. Hundreds of my clients over the years have benefited from it. But our downtown has enough struggles; I don't think that at this time our downtown needs a couple of pot stores. Opt out now. You can always opt in later if other towns show that it can work. I fail to see the absolute rush.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
Yes. Our past council commissioned some nice reports. Council commissioned a report on police costing. It did the same for the fire department. But in four years it has not cut a dollar from police or a dollar from fire. In fact, the city hired a Deputy Fire Chief. That made 31 full time fire personnel for a city that has a handful of real fires a year. There are savings to be found in fire and police. That could lead directly to tax cuts - not massive tax cuts but tax relief nevertheless.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
Yes. On the surface, the vacancy rebate sounds bad. But ask yourself - is a discount on a loss really an incentive to keep the losses coming? That makes little sense: a landlord would far rather make money on property with a live commercial tenant than just get a break on some of his losses. Our commercial tax rates are literally the highest in Grey-Bruce. That said, downtown vacancies look terrible. I have a plan for that.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
All a city can do is to set the table for growth. If we have a vibrant downtown, tourists will linger and our kids will think of possibly opening businesses here.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
Take some risks with the Downtown. And if an idea fails, fail quickly and move on. Hire a Downtown Director from out of town, with fresh eyes, who has done this before. Create the toughest property standards bylaw in the province. Identify five downtown properties per month that need work and get it done. Think outside of the box. "Pickleball at Jervis Bay Park?" Why not? Buy a downtown building that backs onto the river. Knock it down and create both a massive patio and a path to the river. Anything that pulls people to the jewel of our town.