Minden Hills, councillor at large: Tammy McKelvey

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Listen to the full interview here.

Qualifications 

Tammy McKelvey started in municipal government in 1980 as a receptionist for Anson, Hindon and Minden. She worked her way up to payroll clerk, accounts payable, deputy clerk, treasurer. She was clerk, treasurer, tax collector at one point. She was the first CAO-clerk for Minden Hills. She was the CAO of Dysart et al. She ended her career as treasurer for Algonquin Highlands in 2019. 

Amalgamation 

“I am a proponent. However, the service delivery review is rolling out. I want to see it rolling faster. My first priority would be building and planning departments. It’s ridiculous that a County the size of Haliburton has five official plans, four zoning bylaws … it’s just so inefficient.” Asked how it could be sped up, she said, “I think we need to focus the priorities on it…start putting the staff resources where they need to be to make it a better place, make it more efficient and effective.” 

Health 

“We need to collectively lobby for additional funding. The paramedic service, where they started doing the home check-ins, is wonderful. There’s going to be more need for that sort of thing. We can’t have ambulances going to Lindsay for CAT scans and staying for a whole day because they were sent out on another call there. So, the long-term benefits of providing a CAT scan to our local hospital really will provide us with some financial gains at the other end, but it’s a big expense. It will also help attract doctors. They want that sort of diagnostic equipment. It will be a terrible decision to have to make if one of the hospitals has to close… Having said that, I can see where the cost of running two hospitals is not sustainable.” 

Housing 

She’d like amendments to the zoning bylaw to allow for secondary houses on larger pieces of property. In town, she’d like to see infilling some of the larger lots that are serviced with sewers and water. “I’d like to see opportunities for people to sever those … Change the mindset of what we can do to provide affordable lots for people to build on … Tiny houses is definitely another issue we need to look at.” 

Poverty 

“I would encourage employers to provide a living wage to their workers, starting with the township. The lack of student hiring for the township is a poor image in our communities with the lack of garbage collection and grass maintenance. These young people can’t afford to work for minimum wage and I feel the township needs to be a leader. Paying wages over minimum wage usually results in a wage subsidy from the province as well. We need to encourage the development of community gardens and provide space on municipal property. Lack of housing, and affordable daycare, is adding to the poverty levels.

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

“The entire economic engine of our area is the lakes. If we don’t protect those, we will have nothing here. I am a strong proponent for lake protection. I think the shoreline preservation bylaw needs to roll out. Let’s try it. Let’s see how this is and commit to reviewing it so it is a living document that can be changed if things need to be tweaked, but let’s try it out first before there’s any decision to change.” She also thinks the septic reinspection program has to continue and properties requiring remediation followed up on.

Short-term rentals 

“Short-term rentals have to be regulated. It’s no longer just people renting out their cottages for a couple of weeks to help subsidize the cost of having it. It’s becoming a business. It’s taking away the enjoyment of the lakeside lifestyle. The County’s initiated that process. I think we should probably not re-invent the wheel. Lake of Bays is a good place to start. They have a process in place and we could probably utilize that and put it to work in Haliburton County.” 

Transportation 

“Public transportation in an area so spread out with a limited population – I don’t see it being in the foreseeable future. You can run a bus from Minden to Haliburton, great, how many people are off all of the other hundreds of roads that can’t utilize it? It’s a critical infrastructure that’s needed. Can it be feasible? I question whether we can. The County has tried pilot projects and tried to come up with a solution.”

Vision for the future

 “We really need to work on the government structure and make sure it’s running efficiently and effectively. The decision-making has to set priorities that are going to benefit the majority of the ratepayers. We will never be able to do everything for everyone. We need to make sure people can safely drive down our roads. Long-term, I’d love to see lots of things for kids. I’d love to see a waterpark. I’d like to see a downtown so when people come from the other areas with their kids to the waterpark they’re going to spend some money in town. I don’t like to see how people have to drive to Bobcaygeon to go to a waterpark. Swimming pool…we missed the boat. We are “arena poor” and now we have to make sure it becomes useable and bring events to it.” 

Minden Hills 

“Minden Hills has a lot to offer. The village has water and sewer, which makes for tremendous development opportunities and housing. I think priorities need to be set for our limited financial resources. One per cent on the levy is $97,000 so we need to look at it from that perspective. Roads are going to be my number one priority and housing is so important. It’s affecting everybody here.” As for debenturing for roads, McKelvey said the long-term costs must be offset by the benefits. She does not agree with borrowing money for operational costs. Asked what could be done to expand the tax base, she said they have to help existing businesses, ensure basic garbage collection and grass-cutting downtown so it’s attractive. She said it would be hard to attract industry, so it will have to be residential growth. She wants more diversion at the landfill: hard plastics’ recycling, periodic shredding of confidential documents, and a Beer Store bottle return run by service clubs.” 

Tammy McKelvey the candidate 

“Municipal government has been my passion for most of my life. I have almost 40 years’ experience and think I can bring a lot to the table. I will hit the ground running.” She said she has the experience to ask the right questions and understands the legislation. “I don’t have that learning curve … I think my background, experience and financial strength can really help. I think my team player skills and bringing the council together and making sure there is really good dialogue at the council table and encouraging that discussion” will help.