Listen to the full interview, click here.
Nancy Wood-Roberts considers herself a seasoned municipal politician, having served 14 years on Dysart council. She has also spent 40 years as a frontline nurse at Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS). “I don’t have an agenda to bring to the table. I listen to our community and value consensus-based decision- making.” She believes her communication skills have enabled her to be an effective councillor during her previous terms.
Issues in Dysart et al
“Protection of our lake health and our roads are big issues. We have to have safe roads. We have to have good infrastructure in place to provide safe and efficient services for all of our residents, and that includes broadband service as well.”
“Amalgamation does not create a smaller government. It creates a more complicated structure. It makes it much more difficult for the public to engage with council. I just don’t think it’s going to work here.” With the County investigating areas where the four lower-tier townships could work better together through its service delivery review process, Wood- Roberts believes waste management and planning departments across Haliburton County would benefit through improved collaboration
Wood-Roberts believes Haliburton County is better served by having two hospitals. “It’s going to be very expensive to try and do one [hospital] site here. I think the most efficient use of money would be to put in a CT scanner, that way our ambulances wouldn’t forever be on the road transporting people [to hospitals in Lindsay or Peterborough].” She believes the staffing shortages at HHHS facilities can be alleviated by creating more housing options for potential workers.
“Our essential workers don’t have a place [to live]. Young people with families don’t have a safe space. We need to support sustainable and safe housing development.” Wood-Roberts said she would be in favour of changing Dysart’s zoning bylaw to allow more secondary dwelling units, such as basement apartments. She said at some point the township will need to expand its sewer line to allow for more development in Haliburton village. She believes vacant land along County Road 21 could be developed and turned into housing
Wood-Roberts said she’d like to bring more post-secondary programming to Dysart. “We need to encourage [Fleming] College, or other colleges, to have programs here that are skill-based so people don’t have to leave the community to find other opportunities or learn a trade.” She also believes Dysart needs to continue supporting programs for children living in poverty. “We have agencies we work with together to combat poverty – Point in Time, SIRCH Community Services, the 4Cs Food Bank. There’s no money to be made, but some of our programs are very, very well received by the community.”
Shoreline preservation bylaw
“I think it needs some work. I’ve had many, many people reach out to me with concerns. I do think we need a bylaw, but there needs to be some changes. Right now, enforcement could be very expensive and Dysart taxpayers would be paying 40 per cent of the cost [for policing the bylaw]. That’s a lot of money… And for people who aren’t on a waterfront, I can see why they are totally against [spending that money].”
Wood-Roberts believes short-term rentals that are operating like a business should be regulated. “If I have a cottage and the place beside me is being rented out 52 weeks a year, that’s not a cottage anymore, that’s a commercial enterprise. There should be a municipal accommodation tax on places like that.” She’d like to see the township implement a three-strike policy where, if there are issues with a rental unit or specific owner, Dysart could revoke their license.
Due to Dysart’s geographical landscape, Wood-Roberts doesn’t believe a transit system with buses running regular routes would work. “It’s incredibly difficult to provide equal service to everyone everywhere. Transportation systems are never revenue neutral. They come at a great cost to taxpayers… I’m not sure if there would be a big appetite to support such a system [in Dysart or Haliburton County].”
Vision for the future
Wood-Roberts believes the strategic plan Dysart council adopted earlier this year will help guide municipal direction for years to come. “I would like to see that living document move forward, that we follow those principals and guidelines that we’ve set out for ourselves and the community. Dysart needs to grow, but it has to be sustainable and safe. We need to look at how we can improve our services and help all our residents, permanent and seasonal, to enjoy what we have to offer.”
Focus for 2023 budget
“Roads would be a priority. Just driving around areas in ward 2, there are some areas that need brushing, for visibility and safety for pedestrians. Also, I’m not sure housing is going to necessarily be a budget issue, but it’s on the forefront of my mind and is something I will be pushing for.”
Nancy Wood-Roberts the candidate
Wood-Roberts is a lifelong resident of Dysart. She served as ward 1 representative on council from 1998 to 2003, returning to the role following the 2018 election. She is now looking to represent ward 2. “I just feel to be a more rounded councillor, I need to be able to represent more of the municipality.” She said she is proud of the work she has put in over the past term, having played a pivotal role in the formation of the township’s strategic plan. “My goal would be to improve our service delivery and quality of life for everyone in the municipality.”