1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
Yes. The logic behind making it accessible is to get rid of the illicit market. It makes safe product available to those who choose to use it and it will be taxed. The Federal government will provide 70% of taxes from cannabis to provincial governments as long as it comes back to municipalities. It will be restricted to minors. We must invest in training and education. Staff, by-law and police will have to know how to deal with landlord and homeowner issues and smell issues. We need to consider that any by-laws have exceptions for those who use medical marihuana.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
Too few of us are supporting the required services. The only way to reduce the strain is to grow the tax base. Companies that are looking to relocate are looking for vibrant, unique atmospheres. They know that the talent required to run their business successfully will want to live somewhere that has character, charm and things to do when they are not working. Quality of life is more important than ever. Owen Sound can have all of this to offer and if we develop it and market it properly, we can leverage these qualities to attract new enterprise and talent.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
This is a difficult issue to consider. While I don't think it is a necessary rebate, now that it is in place, I fear that removing it may lead to higher rent for tenants. If there is a way to protect the tenants from this in the short and long term, I would be in favour of ending the giveaway. I would rather see an incentive to fill the empty storefronts.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
I have been researching how other communities across North America are attracting new businesses and the most efficient and effective way seems to be putting together a recruitment team. This could be comprised of any number of people, including a real estate agent, someone from economic development, an ambassador, a building owner with empty storefronts, etc. This will not happen overnight, but with small, incremental development, we can build a community that will continue to attract new business, as well as cultivate from within.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
Downtown revitalization. Downtown is the heart of any community. People see it as an indicator of the economic health of the entire city. We are looking for a sense of place and a sense of community more than ever before. We want a more authentic experience. There is a shift happening and Owen Sound should be on board. Successful cities across North America are moving back toward the European standard. Narrower streets to slow traffic, pedestrian friendly streets, outdoor cafés, later dinner and shopping times and outdoor plazas that focus on regular activity, not just a few special events.