Minden Hills ward 1: Shirley Johannessen

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Minden Hills ward 1 shirley johannessen

Listen to the full interview on The Highlander’s new podcast: click here

Qualifications 

“I’m a people person. I love people, I can talk to anybody, anywhere. I’m not afraid to do that. I’ve owned a business. I’ve rented. I’ve been a landlord. I’ve worked in the restaurant business for years. I just feel for the people and want to make Minden the best as we all can.” 

Amalgamation 

“I like [the County and municipal structure] the way it is at the moment. So, I’m not sure. I’ve had people say that they don’t want it. But it’s something I would have to talk to somebody that’s more educated than I am on this.” 

Health 

She said healthcare issues are related to a labour shortage that is prevalent everywhere, including local businesses. “One year we had a lot of kids, but they seem to go back to university and not come back home. There just isn’t anybody looking, wanting to work? I’m not sure what they’re doing. That’s again something I would have to sit down and really talk to somebody about that has education on this.” 

Housing 

She said she favours working with builders to increase housing by adding flexibility to housing options. “Our town is getting bigger. There are lots of people and it seems that people are leaving and coming back, but they don’t have anywhere to go.” She added that long waitlists for housing provide difficulties. “That’s a long time and people are living in tents and trailers that aren’t equipped for winterizing and stuff. I hope that things can get better.” 

Poverty

She said she’s been researching the issue and local organizations seeking to address poverty. “If we can maybe do more fundraising to donate to them, or to other causes.” She said she favours improving education tools and gave examples of fundraising through public art, or relaxing rules around farming on private properties. “It’s really sad to see people living in tents or not being able to afford food because they need heat or stuff like that. So, hopefully we can rise up and do better things all together as a community.” 

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

She said she understands the opposition to the bylaw but said lake and fish health are a priority. “I’ve seen a couple of places where I live in [that have degraded shorelines] and it doesn’t look as nice as it used to. So, I believe that it should be kept, to a certain point, natural.”

Short-term rentals

She said short-term rentals “give people a place to go and maybe help the landlord or the owner,” but said she doesn’t support increased regulations as long as renters are abiding by existing rules and not discarding garbage on roads or letting off excessive fireworks, for example. 

Transportation 

“When I had a business, it was in Algonquin Highlands, and it was hard for people to get to work if they didn’t have transportation.” She said she heard ideas about using school buses for public transportation. “It’s something that I would have to learn.” She said she could imagine supporting a County-wide transport system, but said rentals and affordable living pose a big concern too. 

Vision for the future 

“I’d like to keep some of our history here. Again, just be here for the people and continue with what’s going on, but better things. I think some things have gotten lost over the years and like to bring things back.” She specified things that have gotten lost include roads, communication surrounding the arena construction and issues with the landfill. 

Minden Hills 

Johannessen said roads are a chief concern, as well as boat launches such as the currently non-existent launch on Bob Lake or the currently closed Minden village boardwalk. “People come into town to use it when they come to visit and that’s supposed to be a highlight and [they’re] not able to use it.” She did not provide details on alternative funding models or budget changes which could finance these projects. “Again, that’s something I would need more education on. What I’ve heard is the roads seem to be a tough thing for people. I’m not sure, we can probably cut back a little bit on something, but I don’t know if that’s the answer.” 

Shirley Johannessen the candidate 

“Obviously, this will be a new venture for me and no, it’s not an easy one. I want to be the voice and help people out and communicate with people and work together as a town and as a team and keep going for our town that we love so much….This is where I’ve chosen to continue to live and work and I’ve just had so many people come forward, especially when they saw my name, and thought that I would be good because they know I can talk to people and that I care.”