Internet major topic at AH debate
|By Lisa Harrison - Contributing Writer | September 20, 2018
People in Algonquin Highlands asked their candidates about improving internet and cell phone service, the Frost Centre, environmental concerns and economic development, specifically in Dorset, during an all-candidates debate last Thursday.
David Lawson and Julie Shortreed (ward 1) and Brian Lynch and Jennifer Dailloux (ward 3) also fielded media questions on topics such as septage spreading, short-term cottage rentals, road repairs and the proposed airport business park.
About 40 people attended the debate at the Dorset Recreation Centre. The region’s “extremely low” internet and cell service “should be well on top of the township’s priority list, and I believe it is, because it’s both an economic development and a safety and security issue,” said Dailloux, owner of Wolf Den Hostel and Nature Retreat and former human rights advocate in Sudan.
She gave the example of a local man whose car broke down at night on a remote logging road. He could get only one bar of service on his cell. Regarding economic and residential development, Shortreed advocated for more affordable housing.
“We need development just like anything else, but we need people here to work to have development,” said Shortreed, a former Scotiabank financial manager and local business employee.
“The hugest portion of that right now is affordable housing, there’s nowhere for young people to live.” Responding to a question about turning the Frost Centre into housing, Lawson advised caution. “[It] has been empty for quite a few years … who knows what’s been leaking, who knows how much mold there is … the buildings are old enough, there could be asbestos, so there would be a considerable amount of work required to bring it up to affordable housing,” said Lawson, formerly with Xerox and an active volunteer.
One attendee asked candidates to cite their top issues aside from health or economic development.
“Those are the important issues for the township, and so I have to look at those issues as my important issues,” said Lynch, former controller for a group of Muskoka auto dealerships and an avid volunteer. “Some of the Dorset facilities are in need of a big repair.
I think within the next two to three years we’re going to have a plan on how to rejuvenate some of our Dorset facilities” such as the fire hall and the old public works garage. There will be an all-candidates debate in Highlands East tonight, at 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Watson Centre in Wilberforce.
LISA HARRISON is a contributing writer for The Highlander.