Be bold and specific

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I want to run a marathon. I hear they’re a great accomplishment.
Some of my heroes run marathons, after all, and post great after-race photos to Instagram. But I’m not sure how I’d prepare for one. Most likely the first steps would be to start running 20 kilometres a week and cutting donuts from my diet. Both are much too drastic for me. But still, a marathon seems like a pretty darn cool thing to do one day.
Just like I’d need a plan to achieve my marathon dreams, our political leaders and those vying for office need to back up their political talking points with details.
While it’s easy to point fingers at Ottawa’s politicians proposing easy solutions to complex problems – firing the governor of Canada’s bank to calm inflation for instance – everyone is attracted to simple promises.
It’s much easier to call for a township’s roads to be in better condition than it is to call for higher taxes to fund the fix, or inquire about what funds can and can’t be moved around a budget.
Haliburton County is facing complex, multi-layered challenges. Simple answers simply don’t exist when talking about how we ship garbage south or permit shoreline development. Most hot-button issues require a deep dive into the history and procedural rules of an issue.
I’ve spoken to candidates about the shoreline preservation bylaw and found out they haven’t read it; I’ve heard from others who condemn the state of their township’s roads but haven’t gone through publicly available roads studies.
It’s people who have studied these topics for their entire working lives – township staff, for instance – who have the knowledge and should be listened to, especially when they’re paid many thousands of taxpayer dollars for
their help.
There are decades of municipal decisions to wade through and Google can lead to a wealth of analysis and background on the mechanisms of governance council members and mayors should be well-versed in.
Just like when you read a news story and expect examples and proof, we should expect the same from our candidates. And they shouldn’t be limited by Haliburton County’s four corners.
Sure, tiny homes sound like a great housing option to me, but what municipality has implemented bylaws allowing them, and how has that turned out? Find out.
No matter how lofty your dreams are,
you need to build a staircase to reach them. Maybe that means meeting with roads crews to learn how they decide which roads get what treatment.
Maybe it’s a deep dive into who is visiting a village’s downtown and what might make them stay
there longer. Maybe it’s reading the Provincial Policy Statement to find out if the province is aligned with how your ward’s community is growing.
Be bold, be brave, and be informed and specific. Our townships need goals paired with strategies and milestones.
Otherwise, a campaign turns into regurgitated buzzwords.
Without strategy or specifics, local politics looks a lot like my marathon preparation; weekly runs through the forest unsure where the finish line is or if it exists at all.