1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
Not at this time. This question is difficult to answer because I do not feel we have the proper zoning, regulations, and enforcement currently in place for cannabis sales to take place and I would support the one-time option of opting out for these reasons. Council is currently waiting on a staff report addressing these issues along with funding opportunities that may be offered by the Province. We as a Council need to weigh all of the facts and the reason Provincial legalization of this substance has been granted in order to make an informed decision on the topic. However, given my response, I will not stand in the way of private enterprise of a legalized substance.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
No. We as a municipality need to continue to progress and continue to dedicate funds to fixing our historic infrastructure. The way of lowering taxes is to bring in more revenue from development. This has been proven in the past year when development contributed to lowing the tax rate substantially. Council has made a commitment to dedicate 1% of its tax base to fixing our roads and infrastructure. If you get behind in these areas you are only asking for trouble in future years and can never afford to catch up. There are ways of doing tax shifts to assist various tax classes and staff have been keeping Council informed on these initiatives.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
No. In my opinion, vacancy rebates could well be a deterrent for landlords to offer affordable options to individuals to fill the empty spaces we have both commercially and residentially. It is important to have Community and stakeholder engagement on this topic and at that time, a better-informed decision can take place. As well, there is an element where any changes to this program being made by a municipality would require a formal submission to the Minister of Finance and there has not yet been a determination at the Provincial level whether this program will continue to be offered.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
I feel we are on the cusp of seeing a change in our industrial market with various business-related initiatives taking place. Our partnership with businesses supplying Bruce Power is just the beginning of other jobs that hopefully will be added. We are seeing small industry changes and expansions in our area. City and Grey County Economic Development needs to continue to promote our area to suppliers who do not require long haul trucking and the costs related to shipping of their products. We need to focus on technical based business and tourism and cultural based initiatives to make our municipality prosperous.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
Enhancement of the waterfront is essential and we need to create activity where artisans can showcase their talents. Council has already looked at the feasibility of harbour divestiture and found this not to be a beneficial venture so we need to turn our harbour into a place where tourist want to come and visit, dock their boats and explore the many services and attractions we have to offer. We have an exceptional gem that needs to be showcased so we need to work with private businesses along the harbour to make the area more vibrant and attractive to our residents and visitors.