1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
The city should not simply opt out of allowing the sale of cannabis. It is better to have legitimate sales outlets you know about than to leave the market to underground, illegal sales.
The location for legal sales outlets needs to be carefully controlled through zoning. These outlets do not belong near schools or recreational facilities.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
The easy answer is Yes. However the reality is that property taxes pay for local services. Some of which are mandatory (emergency services, infrastructure and road maintenance for example) and some of which are optional (such as recreational facilities, parks and libraries). Taxpayers can rarely agree on which services should be cut, based on those they prefer. The responsible approach is to make sure the services taxpayers require and expect are offered at an appropriate level and in the most cost-effective manner. Councillors must be vigilant in budget deliberations and keep a close eye on expenses.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
In a word, yes. The rebate is not an "incentive" to keep property vacant. It is a recognition that the vacant part of a property is not generating income. Before the mid 1990s there were two taxes on commercial properties, one on the property and buildings, and the second on the business located in that property. If the property was vacant there was no business to tax. When the province changed that approach to a single combined tax on commercial property the vacancy rebate was created to recognize that there was no income-producing business in a vacant property.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
The next city council must recognize that "things take time" and plan for the future, making the decisions today that will enhance prosperity and lifestyle, that will make this the community of choice for future generations.
Some significant advancements have been made in the last couple of years, or are about to happen in the next two or three years. Virtually all of these are the result of decisions first made six or eight or 10 years ago.
The east side master servicing plan that led to the extension of services south to 8th St., and the official plan and zoning amendments that have allowed new industry on the former PPG property and the proposed new housing development on 8th St. E., all started at least six years ago.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
I believe Owen Sound must develop as a "lifestyle" community, taking advantage of the natural assets that make this city so appealing. This is not a single goal, it is a philosophy to be included in all future decisions and developments, both private and public, and in the day-to-day city operations.
There is an unfortunate lack of attention to the little things that detract from the overall attractiveness of our city; things like the piles of dirt that have been sitting unattended and overgrown with weeds at Duncan McLellan Park for years; the pile of gravel on 15th St. W. by the Pottawatomi River, and the weeds growing through the cracks in the concrete on the traffic islands on some of our major roadways.