Minden Hills ward 2: Pam Sayne

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Listen to the full interview here.

Qualifications 

Pam Sayne is seeking a third term. She’s been on the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA) board. She has a community organization background, in the housing and poverty sectors. She recently retired her home inspection and energy audit business. She has continued her studies and is working on a book. 

Amalgamation 

With the service delivery review, Sayne said, “We’re looking at efficiencies; how we maintain our roads; how we purchase products; how we enforce bylaws. It’s silly to have one bylaw on one side of the lake and another bylaw on the other side of the lake. Those are things that really require some kind of amalgamation. My concern is how do we continue grassroots representation? How do we make it so politicians are still accessible on a one-toone level and hear what constituents have to say.” 

Health 

“I think Renfrew County has a very good approach. They have a system where you call one number, and they help assess where you should call next. That’s been extremely successful. Bureaucracy is confusing, and it’s really difficult for people to understand which department or organization will provide what they need.” 

Housing 

“The first thing we need to do is make sure we have accessible washrooms for people. That’s both for tourism as well as for people who have no home. There are organizations but we really need to link with what they’re doing as a municipality and find mutual supports. We have to do it as a community together. Having said that, we are working on options, changing some provincial legislation, through ROMA that will make it easier for us to create housing locally. For example, we have the downtown area where we can have intensification, but we can’t put more housing into rural areas because of our zoning. We need change that allows us to do more cluster housing, for example. Now, every single house needs a separate septic and water system. With clusters, neighbours could share a system that is maybe municipally-owned or run but is done for a rural environment.” 

Poverty

 “(Council is) missing a lot of the major issues that are coming forward.” She has been asking for a report on local trends. Sayne said she was on the organization that brought the women’s shelter to Minden. She noted the living wage is $19.42 in the County. She thinks it is probably more post-COVID. She said minimum wage does not meet the need and also talked about the cancellation of the guaranteed income supplement program. She thinks we have to support those making a living from the arts. She said municipalities should supply basic needs. Asked how, Sayne said, “you have a place to live, can afford food on the table, can take some pride in getting ahead.” Pressed on how to do that, she said encouraging more housing, which will create local jobs people may not need a car to get to. 

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

Sayne said, “it’s needed so we have guidance. That’s what’s going on, on one side of the lake is happening on the other side of the lake, for example. I have seen situations where there’s been over 100 feet or more of clear cutting and levelling where forest used to be. I’ve seen where people only have 60 feet of shoreline allowance, and that’s their cottage and their land and everything. So, how is this going to affect them and the fear of that. I think the bylaw is a very good start. I think the problem is fear mongering about it.” She said she can understand people worried about enforcement and the County will have to make it work. Sayne said they also need to ensure groundwater health. 

Short-term rentals 

Sayne said the province should be helping municipalities because they are being forced to hire expensive consultants to deal with short-term rentals. She added STRs are being taxed the same as residential but they are a business and should be paying a commercial rate. “That’s where the province has to step in. That’s where money would come from to enforce bylaws.” She added, “shortterm rentals have taken away much of our housing stock. They have increased the number of bylaw calls. We pay for the OPP so the more calls we’re getting, the more increased that’s going to be for the OPP.” She said she also gets complaints from people living near short-term rentals. 

Transportation

 “We had some volunteers make recommendations to County council for transportation. Their recommendations were turned down in favour of putting $50,000 aside every year towards transportation. That fund is growing each year. We need to do something sooner. We really need to put in electric vehicles. We could do that as a demonstration project. Looking for more money or demonstration projects to get off of fossil fuels is an option. It is not easy to cover our rural areas. There have been some really good examples of Uber being used. There are some options out there. We need to really act now and get something going and let the demand steer how those policies change what we are doing.” 

Vision for the future

 “We’ll understand each other better, better understand needs and wants and how we all can contribute to getting what we need out of this community.” She said post-COVID, people are rethinking what’s important in life. “We’re beginning to realize that money is not the most important thing in life. We need to be happy … focus on our neighbours and caring for each other and our environment.” 

Minden Hills 

She is running again because she feels there’s unfinished business. “I was often the lone voter in this council the last four, and even eight, years. I want to get back to where I think business should be. We’ve done things, and put our resources into the arena, which I think really sapped the energy out of so many other basic issues that we aren’t covering well enough. That includes the condition of our boardwalk, the epitaph and bricks are cracking, and making our downtown accessible for wheelchairs. Council did approve the CIP (community improvement plan) to help businesses but it hasn’t been well-used and understood. We need to renovate the downtown and make it more attractive and start taking care of basic issues, such as roads. 

Pam Sayne the candidate 

“I have the know-how, skills and ability. I know how to get things done. I sit on the ROMA board, which influences the province. I’m very optimistic about the future and want to take all this energy and know- how and put it to use in my community. I think we need healthier leadership. We need to get our egos out of the work and understand our communities better.”