Algonquin Highlands, mayor: Mike Lang

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Qualifications 

Listen to the full interview, click here.

“I’ve been a public servant with the federal government for 33 years. I started out with the Department of Communications, which morphed into Industry Canada… In the last 20 years, I’ve been involved in quite a few major projects: World Youth Day when the Pope came to Canada, the G8 Summit in Huntsville, the Pan Am games in 2015.” Lang said he is familiar with government policies and procedures, which would help him adapt to a mayoral position. “I deal with the public quite regularly. It’s a matter of listening to the people, finding out what’s the issue and offering solutions for them.” 

Amalgamation 

“I am against amalgamation. I have suffered through it once already in Toronto and nothing worked. On paper, it looks great. You think ‘we’re going to save money, we’re going to reduce costs, everything’s going to fall into place and be wonderful’, yet the exact opposite happens. You end up with the worst of the worst,” Lang said. 

Health 

Lang said he would be in favour of Haliburton County maintaining its two hospital sites. “If you’re having a heart attack, you want to be as close as possible to a hospiatal. And with the senior community we have, where the average age is 55, that’s an issue. You want to have something close.” Addressing staffing shortages at the sites, Lang believes the Ontario government’s recent decision to make it easier for overseas-trained nurses to get licensed here would help. He said he would lobby the Ontario Medical Association to up its intake of would-be physicians to medical school. “You have 105,000 applicants for 100 spots for med school. Why can’t we have 200 slots? Why not more. Let’s start [pushing] more doctors through the system.”

 Housing 

“You have to look at the bigger picture. I did a deep dive on the 2021 Census. In 2011, there was a high of 3,800 dwellings [in Haliburton County]. In 2021, that had dropped to 3,300. We lost 500 dwellings in 10 years. Why are people destroying homes instead of keeping them, and using them for things like affordable housing?” Lang likes the idea of developing vacant land along Hwy. 35. He thinks tiny homes could be an option for couples and single people. “You’ve got to look at every idea. Everything is a possibility.”

Poverty 

Lang said all levels of government in Haliburton County need to do a better job of bringing more businesses to the community. “There are minimal opportunities in Algonquin Highlands. Once you start bringing in good, quality jobs, that’ll start digging into the poverty levels.” 

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

“It wasn’t necessary and was a bad idea… There was no transparency in the process, councillors didn’t listen to the people who were bringing up ideas. The shoreline bylaw is a very bureaucratic exercise.” Lang said if elected, he will look to reopen discussions on the file at the County. “That’s what people want from me. Hopefully we have enough people… and we can repeal the [legislation] so that it wouldn’t be in effect in Algonquin Highlands.” 

Short-term rentals 

“It’s a complex issue… For people who buy a property and maybe need a little help with it, that’s fine. But when you start turning it into a business, it’s competing with resorts and becomes a problem.” He would like the township to implement a licensing program for short-term rentals that are operating like a business, charging fees so enforcement is self-funded. He believes this issue should be tackled by each lower-tier municipality, rather than at the County level. 

Transportation 

Lang doesn’t believe a public transportation system is feasible in Algonquin Highlands or Haliburton County. For people experiencing problems getting about the community, he suggested there were alternatives. “I got through university because of ride shares. That would be a far more effective, far less expensive way to solve the problem. And, it’s community-oriented.” 

Vision for the future 

“We have a blank slate right now in Algonquin Highlands. We can take the community in whatever direction we want. We just have to have the vision and willpower to do it,” Lang said. One of his priorities would be installing fibre optic internet in high-volume residential areas, something he believes would attract more working professionals to the community. He also wants to address land around Stanhope Municipal Airport, saying council should be thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting new businesses or operations. “Why don’t we build a retirement community there? We have 100 acres. The province is looking for long-term care. Seniors need a place to retire… That’s an option.” 

Algonquin Highlands 

“Municipal government is the first line of government people see that affects your everyday life. You look for the core services, that’s basically infrastructure, roads, parks and rec, garbage removal. Make sure those are covered, because those are quality of life issues. As long as they’re good, you can start moving on secondary issues. The government is elected by the people, so focus on the people and then you can start moving onto the bigger items. When the people are satisfied and content, that’s the first primary goal.” 

Mike Lang the candidate 

“I’ve been a property owner in Algonquin Highlands since 2011. I’m part in Toronto right now, part here. I plan on retiring in November and then will be able to spend a lot more time in the community. If I’m elected, I will be a full-time mayor. When you step back and watch over 10 years, you wonder ‘why are they doing this, why are they doing that?’ I decided to run for council because I think I can step up and do a good job.”