Mary Ellen McIntyre
Councillor – Ward A
1 – Improvements for TML / Better Community:
There are three priorities I believe the next council needs to examine for our communities.
The first is housing. At the present time there is limited housing available for our community members and those moving into our communities.
Secondly the lack of public transportation between communities is a problem for those who may only be able to get housing in one community but need to work or get services in another community.
Finally, accessibility varies widely across the district and between communities. This has the effect of limiting accessibility to jobs, services, and recreational activities. Truly accessible communities are necessary to ensure everyone can fully participate in everything our communities have to offer.
2 – Tax Increases / Effective Delivery:
A fiscally responsible budget represents the balance between the needs and present costs while also looking to what is required to invest in the future.
It may be time to explore efficiencies between the Township and the District.
It may also be time to consider the costs associated with having lawyers involved in the process. A cost benefit analysis to determine whether the legal costs associated, for example, with conflicting interest groups and District lawyers.
3a – Data to Justify Environmental Improvements:
Candidate chose to consolidate answers to parts a and b below.
3b – Financial Impact of Regulatory Environmental Changes:
The maintenance of the shoreline of lakes and rivers is key to preserving the quality of the natural and cultural heritage of Muskoka within the Waterfront Area.
The issue here is one of balancing rights: the right to a clean environmentally healthy environment and the rights of property owners. While most if not all residents of the Township of Muskoka Lakes would agree that it is a priority to maintain and improve a healthy waterfront and healthy lakes but at what cost?
There can be no cost/benefit analysis without a solid database of the health of our lakes and shorelines as a baseline for comparison. This will allow a determination of changes to the water/shoreline health and allow tracking of changes both positive and negative. It also provides the data necessary to justify any tax increases now and ongoing.
The best-case scenario would be to have the District working with the Township and those with environmental expertise to facilitate the data collection once it is determined what data is needed and how it can best be collected. As stated in the Plan:
The Township shall work in partnership with the District and other agencies to coordinate watershed planning initiatives and achieve watershed and subwatershed planning objectives.
One the database has been established and ongoing testing is established I would hope these environmental improvements would result in cleaner healthier lakes and watersheds but if not, the date would determine future planning objectives.
In terms of the taxpayer, the benefit of clean healthy lakes and waterfronts would have to be balanced by any additional costs to the taxpayer. However, there may be additional costs depending on the results of the inspection of the Sewage System. If a system is in need of remedial action costs will be incurred.
4 – Affordable Housing:
At this time housing affordability is a significant issue for everyone, municipally, provincially and federally. There are many factors involved with the cost of housing and these can vary depending on income and other social factors. For a single person on Ontario Works (welfare) who gets an entitlement of $730/month the issue may be suitable housing available at an affordable price. For those who are homeless due to addiction, mental health, or other problems the issues relate to the availability of supportive housing. For working people, the issues may relate to a limited supply of affordable multiple family homes.
The federal government has declared that housing is a human right. The role of the Township of Muskoka Lakes would seem to be to determine what the range of housing needs are for the residents of the Township so we can begin to meet those needs including examining zoning regulations as part of the process.