1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
Yes. For many years Owen Sound did not have either a LCBO or a Beer Store so many residents drove out of town to by booze so hot having outlets did not keep the City dry, Also we had many bootleggers who sold it to anyone who had the money including underage drinkers. Criminal marijuana dealer will go the way the bootleggers went.
Rather than opting out we should use the zoning by-law to control where it is sold and make sure that the purchase rules are enforced. This way we would get the property taxes rather than giving them away to another municipality as we have done with slot machines in Hanover when it was turned down in a plebiscite in 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, I very much would like to lower our property taxes. I have always believed that the best thing to do about high taxes is a double approach of controlling costs but also increasing the tax base to provide additional revenue while not increasing the tax rate. Our costs for emergency services have climbed and are now 47% of the City budget. Arbitration awards mean that our costs for labour and benefits are the same as Toronto. A meeting was held with the Minister to request fairness in arbitration recognizing that income levels in Owen Sound are about 20% below the Provincial average. I pledge to fight to control emergency service costs.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
No. Personally I think it is disincentive working to find a tenant for the rental property. However if we do get rid of the vacancy rebate the City and in the case of Downtown, the Downtown Improvement Association should work with the landlords on getting tenants for the vacant stores. The City already has a program to assist with the facades of the building.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
Firstly we have to recognize what we have an advantage to attract to Owen Sound. A case in point is that 57% of Ontario’s Canola is grown in Grey and Bruce Counties but it is shipped to the Golden Horse Shoe for processing. In sending this and other agricultural products we are exporting jobs. The Canola meal which is left after processing is good for cattle generally but especially for dairy cattle as it increases milk production.
The result of getting a Canola processing plant would be new jobs plus we would be producing a by-product that would be good for our farmers. The same with soybean processing.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
We need to have more rental and owner owned housing built in the City for workers and their families and the City should strongly support the Training Centre in the former Sydenham School. The Centre would give Owen Sound and area a real economic advantage having more skilled workers. The biggest issue for me is to keep our City growing as we are no doing. The population of Owen Sound has been stagnate for years and now we need to cure that lack of growth.