2. In your opinion, what principles are most important for running an effective municipal government?

Municipal governance is a highly regulated process and includes many complex procedures, laws, practices, policies and oversights. Effective management requires experience, vision, dedication, passion and integrity. I have demonstrated those qualities through the past three terms.

Councillors must actively learn the many processes, procedures, policies and laws that govern both council and the town’s business, and we must continually educate ourselves on them and on other issues that affect us throughout the course of the term. We have to read a considerable amount, question, analyze, debate and decide. An uninformed councillor is not an asset to good governance.

We must look forward and try to plan for a changing community, not simply meet current needs and not simply address immediate demands. We need to plan and prepare for Collingwood's long-term future and look for options that are meet our fiscal, environmental and social responsibilities.

To do so effectively, we must engage with the public and with staff; keep an open mind about issues, investigate all options, and to always look for the solution that benefits the greater community, not simply bow to pressure from vocal minorities.

And we have to do it by staying within an affordable, sustainable budget.

I have kept myself up to date on the many laws, policies and agencies that regulate municipalities. I have attended conferences, workshops and seminars to keep myself informed and to understand the role I have as councillor.

I have continually engaged the public and staff during my years on council, and communicated on social media about town issues as well as my personal thoughts and goals.

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3. What are the three most important planks of your platform?

First is maintaining the economic stability this council has successfully established this term: keeping costs and spending low; no or very low tax increases, and paying down the debt.

This term, over the past four years we paid down $11 million of the $45 million debt we inherited from previous councils. The average property tax increase this term has been a mere 0.5% a year – well under the cost of living. Municipal spending is under control and our financial health looks better than ever. But we need to be vigilant to keep it so.

I can help that: my experience in business and on council prove I can make difficult but sustainable financial decisions.

Second is aggressively developing our new, very modern model for economic development, using our cooperative partnership with our community partners and our newly-hired marketing/economic development manager to promote and market Collingwood.

Strengthening our brand and re-establishing our profile throughout the province and the country as a community with an active, engaged lifestyle will help make us more attractive as a recreational destination and a place for industry and business to locate.

As our demographics change and we grow, we need to focus on those industries and services that best meet the changing needs of our residents. We know we are the best community to live and work in – my goal is to make sure everyone else knows it, and that our growth serves the interests of our residents.

I have experience in business, communications, marketing and promotion that can help plan our strategies and tactics to best meet these challenges.

Third is to help guide the town through its operational restructuring process and strategic planning reassessment, initiated by council this term.

The CAO’s proposed changes to the political committee structure promise to alter the way this town does its politics and its business to the betterment of the residents and businesses. However, such a drastic change will not be easy or smooth to effect.

It will need experienced politicians to help council and staff implement the changes and communicate them to the public so we can make the new systems work effectively and efficiently for everyone.

Next term we will also need to re-examine our Official Plan and several other policy documents to bring them up to date and incorporate any necessary changes and enhancements.

I have the experience, expertise and the passion to see these and other initiatives through.

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4. What are the most important challenges facing Collingwood Council in the next four years and what qualities and experience do you possess that make you a strong candidate to assist in accomplishing those tasks?

As I mentioned above, economic development, financial stability and operational restructuring are the three biggest challenges I see for the town in the next term, but they are not all we face, nor do they exist independent of other challenges.

As a growing community with evolving demographics, we need to be aware of, and respond to, our residents’ changing needs for service, support, accessibility and accommodation. That requires someone who can see and manage the bigger picture – housing; employment opportunities; healthcare; social, recreational and cultural amenities; accessibility; economic growth; traffic management; trails; preserving green space; environmental concerns; parks; heritage; water and wastewater; infrastructure, and communication.

In fact, you cannot simply take on a set number of challenges: everything a municipality does interacts with and affects other aspects of its operation, its profile, it policies and its governance. You need to understand how they all connect in the bigger picture.

For example, you cannot create job opportunities if there is no serviceable land available for growth, so you need to work with developers to create a bank of such properties, then market them cooperatively. You need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to support any new industry such as the three new craft breweries we have seen open here this past year.

Employers can't get local workers if those workers have no affordable places to live. Reasonable housing costs means keeping a rein on taxes, development charges, user fees and utility costs. Yet the town needs that income to pay for the services and functions that make the town livable and desirable and help determine our quality of life. This needs a balanced approach.

You need to encourage developers to build a range of housing types, not simply single-family dwellings. That includes building apartment and rental properties - which few developers see a profit in. What alternatives will developers agree to build? And what incentives can we offer them? How can we ensure we get the housing types we need most?

It also means maintaining adequate streets for vehicular traffic, and public transportation for those without vehicles. Plus it means working to create active transportation alternatives, and accessibility for those with mobility challenges. Streets must be cleared of snow to allow workers to get to and from their jobs; they must be patrolled by police to ensure safety and serviced adequately by fire and emergency crews.

Residents should have adequate access to recreational amenities like parks, our pool and rinks, our magnificent trails, as well as to schools, shopping and medical offices. That means trying to make sure development occurs where it can best serve these needs.

You need to understand the water and wastewater capacity of our current infrastructure. Is it suitable; can it accommodate new users? Do we need to rebuild it? If so, who pays and when can it be done?

To complicate matters, you need to understand the relationship with the county, which has the mandate for affordable housing and can expedite funding and development for certain types of housing. Working effectively with the county requires politicians who have a grasp of the process and the layers of authority and jurisdiction; and who have experience at the council table.

All of these issues have to be considered, discussed and, when necessary, dealt with by council.

My experience in covering municipal politics for the media for a dozen years, in writing and researching about municipal governance issues for my books and magazine articles, in serving on local boards and committees for over two decades, and in my current service as a councillor for the past three terms have given me the vision, the foresight and the knowledge required to help guide this community through the next several years.

I understand and can work with the complex challenges and opportunities our municipality faces.

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Vote for a councillor who CARES passionately about this town and about good governance, a councillor with experience, vision and an open mind.

Vote to re-elect Ian Chadwick in the upcoming municipal election.