Listen to the full interview here.
Trevor Chaulk moved to the County 17 years ago and opened Chaulk Woodworking 15 years ago. As a businessperson, he said, “we have to understand people, how to motivate them, and financials. My strengths are in problem-solving … but most important, good leadership and humility.” He added, “The business is at a point now where it’s working, pretty steady and consistent. I don’t work as many hours as I used to. I do want to see other people grow within the community and, in the aftermath of COVID, people are looking for leadership, accountability, and hope.”
“In some ways, I’m for it. In some ways, I’m not for it right now. In Haliburton County, there’s still very distinct us versus them mindsets between townships, cottagers versus locals. We have to get on the same page. The amount of work that needs to be done now in individual townships, we’re not ready for it. Do I believe amalgamation will save costs? Yes.” However, “It’s no different than when a larger company swallows up a smaller company. The staff that have been there 30 years are saying, ‘this isn’t the way it works’. And the upper management is saying ‘this is the way it’s going to work’ so there is going to be a lot of conflict in the early stages. Eventually we will be in a position where it will be supported, but we are not there yet.”
“Staffing is a critical thing, housing is a critical thing, because we can attract all the doctors, nurses and administration staff but if they have nowhere to live, no entertainment or night life aside from recreation, we might not attract and retain these skilled professionals.” He said they have to find creative ways to get and keep staff since they are competing with the rest of the province. Asked for his ideas, he said, “it’s business growth and development.”
“We have to fix a labour shortage before we can fix a business shortage. You’re not going to attract more business here if there are no workers. If we want to have light to medium industry, which is year-round, steady, good-paying, how do we attract that when there’s no workers or industrial area in Minden?” Asked for a solution, he said it is something he wants to investigate. “In the Official Plan they do not talk about any industrial areas. I want to find out what municipal lands are owned and what the municipality can do to develop and promote it. If we can get more light to medium industry, then we also provide better-paying jobs.” He emphasized that tradespeople are needed.
“The living wage in Haliburton County is $19.42 an hour.” He said other factors come into play but, “we all know that is still not enough. Ten years ago, you could do that but we cannot do that anymore. We cannot have a majority of the workforce in the minimum wage sectors.” He said he knows people willing and able to work but one problem is a lack of affordable daycare, with long waitlists.
“We have to talk about people’s perception on what is affordable…because you are going to have different tiers of affordability. We do need low-income rental housing. We also need market rate affordable housing for the workforce, and for seniors downsizing. We can look at our bylaws and allow multi-residential on a smaller scale. We can allow homeowners to create apartments in their homes. We can allow duplex and triplex construction. Smaller-scale units, which can go up faster. We can’t wait three years for decisions and then investors walk away because they’re tired. We need to find faster solutions. We only have a three to-five-year window to get this balanced or you’re going to have more and more people leave the area.”
“How do we solve transportation issues when you work on a lower-tier pay scale? You cannot afford the high rent, heat, grocery prices and have a vehicle and insurance. It’s not doable. How can we encourage people to come out of poverty if we can’t get them trained. If we can’t provide schooling?
Shoreline preservation bylaw
He said the intent of the bylaw is “just”, but he thinks there are gaps. For example, he said there is a lot of wording giving discretion to the director. “It seems onesided where it’s protecting the County.” He added if the County or township has to do work on land within 20 metres of the high-water mark, they do not have to go through any permit approvals and there is nothing to ensure inspections after the work is done.
“I’m for and I’m against.” He said they have to be identified as casual or a business. If businesses, he said they have to follow certain guidelines according to environmental and local laws. He said they should be registered and licensed if operating solely as businesses. He said it will protect neighbours and the environment.
Vision for the future
He would like more industry to bolster the taxation base. “We want to redirect wasted money to priority projects.” He added, “I have no intention of disrupting heritage. But as society is changing, mindsets are changing, new people are coming into the area that have different wishes. We have to balance everything as much as possible because we’re going to be serving many different cultures now, many mindsets. So, we have to integrate and monitor the growth.” He added the County has done a good job of attracting retirees and tourists. It has led to booming summers but bust winters. He added, “we have to find creative ways to create a year-round stable economy and need to attract and retain younger families.” He said their spending drives the economy.
“There are a lot of issues from big to small.” For example, he said people want public washrooms unlocked. He said roads and waste management are a concern. Chaulk added the downtown core needs improvement, and to be more vibrant. He cited other issues such as safety and wellbeing, a lack of policing, drug issues, and homelessness.
Trevor Chaulk the candidate
“I’m a forward thinker. We cannot just look right in front of us and deal day-today … we have to have a vision… What can I do for the community? I thought I could run for council … My biggest fear, in the next five to 10 years, if we don’t get on top of some of these topics right now, and aggressively get on top of them, this area can be in severe trouble.”