Algonquin Highlands, ward 2: Lisa Barry

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Listen to the full interview here.

Qualifications 

Lisa Barry is seeking re-election following three successive terms on council. She is an artist, running Homestead Pottery studio alongside husband, Mike Mihlik. Reflecting on her skills, Barry said, “I’m inquisitive. I’m frugal – I personally live in a feast and famine lifestyle being an artist, so as a councillor I’m looking at the best way to spend money for the greater good of the community.” 

Algonquin Highlands 

Barry is a proponent of Stanhope Municipal Airport and wants to see other municipalities chip in to ensure its longterm viability. “It’s not just Algonquin Highlands residents using it… I think there’s an opportunity for the rest of the County to be involved in helping to fund it. It is an asset, but just like recreation centres, they don’t bring in revenue,” she said.

Amalgamation 

“We’ve already amalgamated a fair bit of Algonquin Highlands. There’s a service delivery review ongoing at the County level – there’s great work happening there, we should see where it goes.” Barry believes there’s an opportunity for the four lower-tier townships to work together on solutions for waste management, bylaw enforcement and road maintenance. 

Health 

Barry likes the current system HHHS has in place, operating two facilities in the Highlands. “I am in complete support of doing whatever is possible to have two hospitals in the County,” she said. “My dad was in an accident and was taken to the hospital in Minden. Given where his accident was, if we had to wait 10 extra minutes for him to get to the hospital in Haliburton, I might not have a dad today.” 

Housing 

“We need to have fewer restrictions for housing in Algonquin Highlands,” Barry said. “There’s been great gains in smaller houses in some communities. Also, having secondary suites, things like granny flats are becoming quite popular.” Barry believes most discussions surrounding housing are happening at the County level but said there were some options Algonquin Highlands could explore. “We can change the footprint of properties now. The province is allowing people in rural situations to have two dwellings on one property. That can only be a good thing.” Barry also said she was a “huge proponent” of tiny homes. The township recently approved legislation to reduce the minimum size of a new home to 600 sq. ft. She also believes in the idea of cohabiting of a property by friends or different generations of the same family. 

Poverty

 Barry believes Algonquin Highlands needs to improve its community programs to better support families living in poverty. “There’s lots of programs than run from, say 10 a.m. until noon. Well, if you’re working how do you actually access these things? I think there’s lots that can be done, whether it be initiatives designed to get people back to work, food initiatives, support programs. Families just can’t afford it right now, it’s hard.” 

Shoreline preservation bylaw

 Barry believes County council has already spent enough time debating the shoreline preservation bylaw. “This has been going on for four or five years. As far as I’m concerned, [the process] was fully transparent. At the root of it, everyone wants to enjoy the water and if we don’t protect the water, there’s going to be problems down the road.” 

Short-term rentals

 “There is an appetite for some sort of bylaw enforcement surrounding short-term rentals… I don’t think it has to be an iron hammer, but something has to be done,” Barry said. She doesn’t have a problem with people renting out their cottage a couple times per year to help cover costs or fund a renovation project but believes people owning places and offering them up on sites such as Airbnb year-round should be licensed. “Blue Mountains or Collingwood have a demerit point system that is complaint driven. If you have five or six complaints, you lose your permit… These [short-term] rentals are dangerous for our lakes if not [handled correctly].” 

Transportation 

Barry believes the vast geographical landscape of Algonquin Highlands makes public transportation difficult. “I think having some services in Minden and Haliburton as a starting point would help move people around… But for us to get something that goes up to Oxtongue Lake and then down Hwy. 35 [to Carnarvon], that’s going to be a challenge.” 

Vision for the future

 “I like the idea of having a night sky policy in place where there’s not a direct light beaming off of every place. I think there’s a place for cell towers, but we don’t need to have them everywhere,” Barry said, discussing the need for service upgrades in the community. She’d like to see the township engage the community in developing a strategic plan that can be used to outline municipal goals now and in the future. 

Focus for 2023 budget

 “The big things we’re hearing about are parking and waste management.” Barry said she would be willing to reconsider Algonquin Highlands’ previous decision to shutter the Hawk Lake transfer station. She also wants to discuss plans for the airport, looking into what council can do to attract more industry to the area. 

Lisa Barry the candidate

Barry grew up cottaging in Algonquin Highlands. She relocated to the community permanently in 2004 to be closer to her dad. “We decided this would be a good place to call home.” She feels much of her third term on council has been spent reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic and filed her papers again in the hopes of tackling some long-standing issues. “We have a huge boom in the municipality. A lot of things are being talked about that will help to shape our community … I want to be part of those discussions, helping to drive decisions.”