Dysart et al, ward 1: Rob McCaig


Listen to the full interview, click here.


McCaig worked in advertising and marketing before retiring in 2020. “I was in charge of marketing for SoftMoc in Canada. I did strategic planning, tactical planning, budgeting. I used to take care of a budget of $35 million, so I’ve got pretty good experience when it comes to numbers,” he said. McCaig is an active volunteer with CanoeFM. 


“You don’t just amalgamate to save money, you amalgamate to improve quality of service. I do think there’s efficiencies to be had, but if you do save in upper management jobs, we need to make sure the savings are reinvested back on to the front lines,” McCaig said. “Amalgamation in theory is good, but we would have to sit down and really plan it out. It works in some municipalities and doesn’t work in others.” McCaig said he’d like to see Wards 1 and 2 in Dysart amalgamated. 


When it comes to amalgamating one site over the other, that’s difficult. I sure as hell don’t want to close the hospital in Minden and have someone in Dorset having to come to Haliburton. In health situations, minutes matter, so it’s a very delicate issue. Bottom line, I don’t think we should be closing any hospitals.” 


“We need to lobby the federal and provincial governments. They tend to overlook Haliburton,” McCaig said. With Fleming College recently receiving the go-ahead from Dysart et al council to construct student housing on municipal land in Glebe Park, McCaig believes there’s an opportunity for further development. “Down the road, there’s some potential to do some affordable housing, more in the way of co-op housing and offered up specifically to those from Haliburton first, those in cottage country first,” he said. “If you run sewer lines up Industrial Park Road and attach to College Road, that could be a good area [for some housing].” McCaig said he was against the Harburn Holdings development proposal for Grass Lake. 


“Food prices are going up 20 per cent. People are having to make a decision – do you heat your house, or do you eat? Gas prices are going up… We need to lobby the other two governments to get their act together and help our community, because nobody should go hungry, and nobody should grow up poor.” He said one of his priorities would be establishing more community gardens across Dysart et al. 

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

“In theory it’s a good document, but it still needs work. They didn’t address septic tanks, which, if they’re failing, can lead to leaching into our lakes. They didn’t address Airbnbs and how they affect lake populations and people that live around the lakes… I also think we need more policing on our lakes,” McCaig said. 

Short-term rentals 

McCaig believes short-term rentals do have a place in Dysart et al, “but they should be regulated, no question. We’ve got some pretty good cottage rental companies up here, and they do a good job. But as far as Airbnbs, they’re not for Haliburton, in my opinion.” 


 “The municipality should partner up with some of the legacy families in this community to put together a bus that comes into town four times a day, and maybe goes to Minden twice, maybe Bancroft twice. That way everybody can get around town,” McCaig said. He believes such a system could be self-sufficient, if handled properly. “We should sell and put advertising on the bus. When I worked in radio, we used to have a promotional vehicle, and we sold advertising, so we didn’t have to pay [for it]. So those buses could and should be paid for by advertisers.” 

Vision for the future

 “In five to 10 years, hopefully there’s a little less of a pile of splinter groups in the community. Hopefully everybody is working together as a team. We need to get everyone working for the betterment of Haliburton County, and for Dysart,” McCaig said. “We need to think longterm. We need to do strategic plans. We need to look to our community and do more focus groups, and really pull people together. We’ve got some environmental issues that we need to address as soon as possible, but we also need to look at some social economic situations… There’s a lot of work to be done.” 

Dysart et al 

“I’d like to keep cottage country, cottage country. I didn’t come up here to live in Pickering, Richmond Hill or Barrie,” McCaig said. “There are some inefficiencies here that need to be looked at. We have crumbling streets… We have to make sure people can get around town as much as possible.” 

Rob McCaig the candidate 

After coming to Haliburton County as a seasonal resident since the 1980s, McCaig moved to the community permanently in 2020. “This is going to be a full-time gig for me. You have to be accountable to residents. If there’s an issue, you need to act quickly,” McCaig said. “I really want to become deputy mayor, or mayor down the road… I’m not a quiet person. I tend to break through the clutter and I stick up for my rights, and the rights of others. I’m not in politics for me, I’m in it for the community.”