Minden Hills, ward 2: Stephen Hertel

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Listen to the full interview here.

Qualifications 

“I come from a long history of public service and law enforcement. I think our primary purpose in law enforcement is to understand, respect and serve people in the best way. I’ve been in emergency management and the fire service (as a volunteer) for almost six years with the City of Kawartha Lakes. I’ve gotten to meet people and gotten to know them, not just the firefighters, but people around the area and understand what their concerns are and what their goals are.” 

Amalgamation 

“I am not against amalgamation of some services, for example, landfills and transfer stations, roads and fire services. There are some efficiencies that can be found at the County level. But, I think it’s important to maintain a Township of Minden Hills. People like to belong to something and we’ve been so disconnected for so long because of COVID. I think if we were to be absorbed into a full amalgamation, losing that is going to hurt.” 

Housing 

“I think Minden Hills could relax some of the bylaws around building to increase our inventory of available housing. For example, letting people separate their properties to build more houses. The town could provide land for these projects to be built. There needs to be a buy-in from all levels of government.” 

Health 

“We can lobby the provincial government to increase our health care funding. I think it’s important that we have a CT scanner in one of our hospitals, if not both. The money exists. The ladies’ auxiliary raises money.” He said there are ways to have it staffed. He said it would help with current ambulance transfers of patients to Lindsay and Peterborough, thus taking them out of the County for hours at a time. He said it is crucial as the County is gaining more people and call volumes are increasing. Hertel is a fan of the two community paramedic vehicles that do house calls. He would support keeping both hospital sites. He thinks the County could be doing more with physician recruitment and retention and staff housing. 

Poverty 

“I think there’s a role for municipal council. We can bring these issues to the attention of provincial and federal partners.” Asked for specifics, he said, “affordable housing, more housing, back to work programs, student programs.” Asked how that could be done, he replied, “I don’t think municipal government is doing the best they can to advertise what’s available. There’s a fantastic social network in Haliburton County that helps people with a handout, with job creation, job searches and education. But not everyone knows about them.” Pressed for further examples, he said helping churches establish soup kitchens. 

Transportation 

“An accessible bus for safe transportation between our towns. I’m not saying a fleet of 100 buses, but a continuous rotation of buses that would service our area, including for seniors getting to grocery stores.” Told the County has unsuccessfully tried to get a service for years, he was asked what his specific plan is. “I think a rideshare program is something we need to be looking at.” Informed the County looked into rideshare and ruled it out, he was asked again for his plan. “I think we need to reopen the book, look at it again, from a different perspective. People need services. I don’t always feel that we’ve worked hard enough for an answer. Not giving up.” He said it isn’t about money since all public transit loses money. 

Shoreline preservation bylaw 

“It’s a great idea … it does protect people’s shorelines and the environment.” He said some people have misunderstood it and feel it’s overreaching. “I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone has felt about it. From its true sense, it’s here to protect the animals, the plant life, the people who live here.” However, he said the bylaw is open to interpretation and can be changed. He also thinks there could be better education and enforcement. 

Short-term rentals 

“I am for short-term rentals because the practices that I’ve seen with my neighbours, they’re responsible neighbours, they do a vetting process before they allow people to come onto the property and they communicate with us.” He said that might not be the case with certain out-of-County rental agency sites. “I think there’s a way the County could force them to register on the threestrike program, for example, like they’ve done in the Blue Mountains.” He said when they are commercial, they should be licensed. He said he likes the County direction so far, with an open consultation with all stakeholders. 

Vision for the future 

“We’re going to have a boom of people moving here to their residences to break away from the city. I think it’s already happened. We need to be better prepared for those things. The housing, the service delivery; landfills, housing, etc., we need to get ahead of it.” Hertel said he thinks there’s room in the County for those who want a more secluded lifestyle and those who want more of “an urban setting and busy” community. He would like to see more community growth, with more things to get people out of the house. He personally likes the idea of more local businesses contributing to a robust downtown as opposed to larger commercial developments along Hwy. 35. Hertel said he met with the County to ensure the flying of the Pride flag this year. He would like a more inclusive community in future. 

Minden Hills

 “I see this town growing to not just be a stopover for people. I want it to be a destination.” He’d like to see trail improvements, the boardwalk fixed and reopened, sidewalks improvements and better overall accessibility. He’d like road improvements, too. Looking at the 2022 budget, he said he would have liked more money for seniors and youth, housing, and mental health. 

Stephen Hertel the candidate 

“I’ve been coming to Minden Hills for over 20 years. I was a seasonal renter, loving the area and appreciating what it’s all about; the people, the lakes, the services, they were perfect for us. We moved here six years ago as permanent residents. Running for council has been a goal for a while. I was already becoming involved with the community and getting some perspective on what people were looking for and what I’m looking for. I love Minden Hills and want to make everyone love it. I want everything to be better, for businesses, for tourists, residents, increasing services, health care, seniors care, youth programs. I want to increase the connection between the community and council, building the trust and the respect and accountability for what we do. I am not politically-based; I am issue focused.