Dysart et al, ward 2: Dan Roberts

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Listen to the full interview, click here.

Qualifications

Dan Roberts spent most of his professional career in banking and

the corporate sector before recently retiring. He grew up in Haliburton and while he moved away for work, always maintained a presence in the Highlands. “I’ve basically spent every weekend in Haliburton for I don’t know how long. I have a lot of long-time friends here from high school that I’ve kept in touch with, so I know what’s going on here. I know what the community is all about.” He feels his background in business would help him come to grips with the councillor position.

Amalgamation

Rather than see all four lower-tier municipalities in the Highlands come together with the County to form one single-tier government, Roberts would like them to work together on several key files. “Maybe we could have one roads department instead of four. Our ambulance service covers the whole County. I don’t see any reason why our fire department couldn’t work that way.”

Health

Roberts believes the province should have focused on establishing one hospital site in Haliburton County several years ago, but that now Haliburton and Minden each have facilities of their own it would be difficult to amalgamate them. “Do we need two hospitals? I don’t think we do.

I think we need one good hospital for an area the size of ours, but I’m not sure how we go about doing that now. That would have to be something we were really sure on, that we’ve spent time debating and consulting [with the community].”

Housing 

“We need housing. It’s going to take a lot of work, not just from council but from the whole community.” Roberts believes Dysart needs to take a look at its building code. “We have to be a little more forgiving on what we’re doing as far as getting permits and giving people the ability to build houses. We have to speed things up a little bit.” He said he would be willing to take

a look at, and keep an open mind about, any proposed housing development that crosses council’s table.

Poverty

“When I hear people say we’re one of the poorest counties in the province, I find that really disappointing because there is a lot of wealth here. This isn’t something we’re going to be able to deal with overnight. It’s going to take a complete change of thinking.”

Shoreline preservation bylaw

Roberts believes any bylaw is useless without effective enforcement. “You can put bylaws in all day long, but if you can’t get people to police them, then it doesn’t really matter. I’ve read the proposal and, honestly, I’m not really sure what we are accomplishing here. Most of the people who live on the waterfront take care of their property, they care about the lakes and their shoreline… I’m not sure this was necessary, or money well spent.” Roberts believes the lower-tier townships should have been more involved in the process.

Short-term rentals

Roberts believes regulating short-term rentals could be a good revenue generator for the County and lower-tier townships. He believes there will be issues surrounding enforcement. “One of our biggest issues in the County is following up on things. We just don’t have the manpower. Bringing in another bylaw is great, but it doesn’t address one of the key issues, which is how would we actually police this thing?” 

Transportation

Roberts believes Dysart could make a public transit system work, but only if it operates on a limited basis. “We have a lot of roads in Dysart. I don’t think we could service them all with a bus, but you could definitely service some of the more major areas. Then you see how that goes and build the system from there. We don’t need to have regular routes running all the time, but maybe if you had a bus running at eight in the morning, and then again at four in the afternoon… that could give people the opportunity to run just one car and still be able to get around the community.”

Vision for the future

“Dysart and Haliburton County are kind of a retirement community for a lot of people. I don’t think we’ve done enough over the years to promote industry and trades. We need something to keep our young people here, and they’re key to the future growth of the community.” He said Dysart could be a good landing spot for a call centre, or light manufacturing and technology-based businesses. “To have those companies here, there’s a couple of things you have to do. Tax wise, you need to help them out a little bit. And second, employees need housing. We need to make some real inroads there.”

Focus for 2023 budget

Roberts says Dysart’s next council won’t have any choice but to focus on housing. His second priority is attracting more healthcare workers. “We need to be more diligent with how we’re spending our money, and we also need to work more with the province and the federal government to get grants and bring more money in here to help develop our County.”

Dan Roberts the candidate

“I plan on living the rest of my life here, so I’d like to see Haliburton do well. I’d like my grandson to stay here, and my other grandchildren to be able to move here… I’m not afraid to stand up and going to be the right decision in a lot of people’s minds. You’re not going to please everybody, but as a councillor you’ve got to do what’s best for the community and that’s something I’d focus on.”