1) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound allow bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops to operate in its boundaries? Why?
I have a lot more questions currently on the legislation and regulations than I have answers. I want to know what restrictions are going to be in place especially around our schools, parks and playgrounds. I would also like to know if opting out means limiting funding streams that would help offset future costs. If online sales of cannabis along with individual growing options are to continue, the access to recreational cannabis will be readily available – our policing, by-law and fire department would all be faced with the same challenges whether private sector storefronts were permitted or not.
2) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound lower its property tax rate? If yes, how would you achieve this? If no, why?
I think it is important to keep tax increases at a reasonable rate. The costs for services continue to rise annually and to lower the tax rate would mean that current services or capital projects could be downgraded. We have an annual infrastructure deficit that increases every year and I believe there needs to be a focus on helping bringing this deficit down in order to improve our roadways and other infrastructure needs in a more timely fashion. We also need to continue working towards increasing our assessment growth by developing infill lots and working towards regionalized services to help with the cost of rising expenses.
3) Yes or No: Should Owen Sound continue to offer a vacancy rebate on commercial and industrial property? Why?
Current Council has requested for a report with this proposal and at that time I will be able to make a properly informed decision. However we need to do something to help reduce the number of vacantstorefronts within our downtown. I would like to see this go a step further like we have seen in New Tecumseh or ReNew Meaford that was able to connect building owners with small artisans that worked on a short-term lease to help minimize the number of vacant storefronts, offer retail space for small businesses and beautifying our downtown core.
4) What is your plan to attract new industry and jobs to Owen Sound?
I believe it is Council’s role to implement policies that help businesses succeed. In the 2018 tax year we were able to reduce the large industrial and commercial tax ratios due to the increase in development we saw in the 2017 year. These changes to the tax ratios can help attract manufacturers like we have seen through the announcements of BWXT, N.E.S.T. and Brotech which will be 50 + good paying jobs. We also need to build an Economic Development Strategic Plan that will help find new ways of targeting and attracting new businesses and residents to our community.
5) What is one other issue facing Owen Sound you would like to speak to, and how will you address this if elected?
Regional Services - We are seeing our operating expenses rise annually and we need to become more creative at how we operate our services. I am a strong believer that we need to explore initiatives that look at partnerships with our surrounding municipalities and work towards regionalizing our services to create efficiencies within our region, while offering cost savings for our residents (eg. waste management, tourism, sports & recreation, emergency services).