Dysart et al, ward 2: Jennifer Korpela

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Listen to the full interview, click here.

Qualifications

Jennifer Korpela spent two years as the acting head secretary at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School during the pandemic. If elected, she said she’ll become a full-time councillor. Korpela volunteers with non-profit Walkabout Farms and was a member of the

sports wall of fame mural fundraising committee. “I’m an excellent listener. If on council, I would listen to the voice of the community, do my own research and make decisions based on facts rather than hearsay or fear.”

Issues in Dysart et al

Listing housing as her number one priority, Korpela said she’s also committed to keeping taxes low. “Lots of people

are struggling.” She also wants the township’s next council to focus on waste management. “Right now, we’re taking our garbage elsewhere. We’re not dealing with our own mess. I’d like to really look at our landfills and see what options we have.” Korpela said she also wants to work with stakeholders in the tourism industry to make Dysart more of a year- round destination.

Amalgamation

Korpela said she is against amalgamation. “It just doesn’t sit well with me. The most effective government is the government closest to the people. When you move a step away from the people you serve, I don’t think that is in the best interest of our communities.”

Health

“It may not be a popular opinion, but I do believe we could be a bit more efficient if we have one hospital. To me, the cost of having two separate buildings, two separate staffs – I think it would be very beneficial to our community to have one facility serve as a main hospital, and the other be turned into a full-scale long- term care home.” Korpela said having

one facility could help HHHS lobby the province for upgraded equipment, such as a CT scanner.

Housing

“A good majority of our issues, like poverty, labour shortages, all come full circle to our housing situation. That is something the new council is going to have to face.” Korpela said the township needs to rethink its zoning bylaws. She would be in favour of people turning bunkies or accessory buildings on their properties into legal rentals. She would like council to look into expanding Dysart’s sewage treatment plant, which she believes would open the door for significant development around Haliburton village.

Poverty

Korpela said she’s been in touch with the Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Poverty Reduction Roundtable to understand why poverty is so rife in the Highlands. “The group indicated there’s 11 different resources that need to be topped up in a community for individuals to thrive. They have identified four key areas and made a number of actionable suggestions on what can be done.” Korpela said focusing on food security, employment and education, children and youth, and housing are key.

Shoreline preservation bylaw

“I’m disappointed the bylaw was passed. I think it’s full of holes. It’s not clear or concise. It’s open to interpretation.” Korpela doesn’t believe it does much to address lake health. “For properties that have already been clear cut, there’s nothing in there to renaturalize… I think the bylaw needs to be amended and made a little more concrete, because right now there’s not much in there that’s enforceable.”

Short-term rentals

Korpela accepts short-term rentals have

a place in Dysart. She would like to see them regulated. “There are nuisance, safety and environmental concerns with them… Short-term rentals have become a bit of a commercial enterprise. I think that needs to be tightened up.” She would like to see the township hold owners accountable when complaints are made.

Transportation

Korpela is a fan of Dysart’s Dymo bus service and believes the township should look into establishing a wider transit system. “If we look at other small communities’ steps ahead of us, one being Innisfil. They have a ride share service and the municipality provides discounted rates for people going to town hall, the rec centre or to get groceries. People can also apply for a different level of service where they get four free trips to the food bank each month, or to childcare services… If we speak to communities that have these systems in place, we could come up with a fantastic plan for Dysart.”

Vision for the future

Korpela wants to help Dysart meet its

full potential. “We want to move forward and get ahead with the times as far as [internet and cell] connectivity, and the medical system, but at the same time we need to hold onto our smalltown charm.” She’d like to expand on the municipality’s strategic plan, passed by council earlier this year. “It’s a bit generalized and open to interpretation… hopefully the new council can massage it and use it to help drive creative solutions for some of our major problems.”

Focus for 2023 budget

Korpela said her focus would be on fiscal responsibility and ensuring several “long overdue” projects come to fruition next year. “Replacing the playground at Head Lake Park, I’d like to rework the budget to see if there is a place where we can afford do to that. I’d also like a little bit more money for our roads.”

Jennifer Korpela the candidate

Korpela moved to Dysart et al with her family in 2017. “It was a good choice for us. We’ve really enjoyed living here and immersing ourselves in the culture of the community… I have a lot of experience dealing with lots of people from lots of different walks of life, hearing their stories and working head-to-head and heart- to-heart with them on issues that affect their lives. Then trying to come up with solutions. That’s something I really enjoy doing and is part of my motivation for running