Listen to the full interview here.
Angela Lewis managed a maintenance team for 14 years. “With that goes a lot of the inspections, health inspections, fire inspections, keeping up with codes and keeping compliant with all of the codes.” She also served on Highlands East’s fire committee, where she advocated against the closure of the Highland Grove fire hall. Through that process she said she learned about delegations and council conduct.
She said she does not support amalgamating Haliburton County, and said she has spoken with many other locals who echo her views. She said Highlands East has already amalgamated, which negatively impacted the community. “There doesn’t seem to be unity. We have to change that.”
“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it now.” Lewis said the health services may be short-staffed, but she said that’s similar in most industries at the moment. She said attracting healthcare staff may mean enhancing branding of the Highlands as a place to live for nurses or doctors. She did not specify how this could be done differently than the efforts employed by Haliburton County’s doctor recruiter, who currently works part-time to attract doctors to the area.
Lewis said she’d like to look into the possibility of running pilots of tiny houses, and investigating whether the County can attract apartments or more duplexes. “Even where I work, I see young families being told to go to a shelter. That’s sad.” She said she’d vote to approve housing on environmentally-protected areas or near wetlands, “to achieve affordable housing for working families. They need a place to live.”
She said the local economy is “booming. We just need a sustainable industry. We need extra training for people. A lot of times, it’s seasonal work, and you can’t get ahead.” She said to combat this, the township could look at running training sessions out of its community centres to help equip workers with in-demand skills.
Shoreline preservation bylaw
Lewis said the bylaw was needed to secure lake health and healthy habitats. “They did their homework… they spent a lot of time on it. It wasn’t just a decision that they made overnight.”
“There’s a lot of people in the community who volunteer for those things. And, so, I think that it [can’t be] publicly funded unless you can get a grant from the government. I just don’t see that there’s a need for it.”
She said she’d support looking at licensing short-term rental operators. She said housing shortages may be made worse by short-term rentals, but the local economy has benefitted from rental activity. “When I look at it, the economy is great. But I also talk to people that live beside one of them. And it’s not fun for them. But there are already noise bylaws enforced.” A noise bylaw for Highlands East is currently being developed.
Vision for the future
I would love to see our community with all the same amenities we have and more. I’d like the next generation to have the same opportunities that we did. At one time, we had mills, we had industry, people could walk from Wilberforce to go to work and go home and didn’t even need a vehicle…. it would be nice to see those things come back.” She said a first step to achieving this could be hosting town hall meetings where residents can chat about their hopes for the community.
Lewis said she’d like to see the community add amenities and create opportunities for the next generation. When asked to specify how she could help bring industry and more community amenities, Lewis said the first steps to achieve that would be to look at planning for the township. She also said town hall meetings could be a valuable way to bring the community together to talk about its future.
Angela Lewis the candidate
Lewis said she’d be a “hands-on” councillor. When asked to specify what that means, Lewis gave an example of getting a complaint about how dark one resident’s street was. She went out there to see first-hand and talked to the resident about the issue. “So, if somebody is saying, the roads are terrible, then I’ll grab a coffee and take a drive, and we’ll see how much slops all over me…” she said. “I still work full-time, and I will continue to work full-time. But it’s really important. It’s four years, it’s a huge sacrifice but I’m willing to do it. And I think everybody, as I said, that has put their nomination [for council positions] knows that.”