Original Published on Sep 29, 2022 at 17:19
By Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce hosted a business-oriented debate for Cavan Monaghan Township candidates Wednesday night ahead of the municipal election on Oct. 24.
All 15 candidates were invited to the debate, hosted by Joel Wiebe, government relations co-ordinator with the chamber. Six election hopefuls attended the virtual debate. They included one mayoral candidate, Matthew Graham, and candidates seeking spots in each of the three township wards.
Methods to attract businesses and workers to Cavan Monaghan and solutions for the lack of serviced lands were discussed at the meeting.
Bob Walsh, who is running to represent Ward 1, said creating high-quality jobs and co-operating with all levels of government are a must to not only bring in employees but also avoid local “brain drain” — making sure skilled workers stay in the area.
“Make (the township) a place where the kids want to stay as opposed to just moving to Toronto, as they’re prone to do. We have a quality of life advantage here,” Walsh said.
On the need for serviced lands, Walsh said “we have had a history of difficulty with Peterborough, either in getting services from them or them wanting to annex. I think the solution will have to be collaborative, not including annexation,” he said, adding that the new council will have to work closely with Peterborough to find better solutions.
On attracting new talent, Ward 2 candidate Valerie Kent said the township needs to focus on affordable housing and skills training.
“If we want them here in Cavan Monaghan, we need to sweeten the pot,” Kent said.
Graham, whose mayoral challenger Daryl Bennett was not in attendance, echoed housing as being a key piece of the puzzle.
“You can’t speak about the issues of employers finding employees without addressing the vast gap in affordable housing. So a big part of my platform is increasing the diversity of housing options within our township …,” he said, adding “we need housing that meets the needs of our actual community.”
Addressing serviced lands, Graham noted the ongoing establishment of the Syer Line industrial park as an example of how unused land can be converted into employment lands, but said the planning process took too long and could stand as an obstacle for future development.
Ward 1 candidate Nelson Edgerton, the township’s former chief emergency management co-ordinator, said “technology is changing, and new methods may make it more feasible so we’ve got to get some service land along our 115 corridor.”
Kathie Lycett, running for Ward 3, said she sees access to reliable, high-speed internet as “probably the most important tool for business in our township,” adding that there are many areas in Cavan Monaghan where residents are unserved or underserved. “I would make that my priority,” Lycett said.
She went on to say that she’s spoken with a number of farmers in the township who say reliable, high-speed internet is a top requirement for their operations. “For anyone living in the community who wants to run a business from home, we’re totally dependent on the internet now,” said Lycett.
Asked how they see Cavan Monaghan growing and developing over the next four years, Ward 2 hopeful Gerry Byrne said he’d like to “see the community stay somewhat similar to what it is. I think the agricultural heritage and small town look is paramount. I see the world spinning and everything’s changing but we don’t have to move at their pace. We don’t have to get caught up with the Ontario government or the City of Peterborough telling us what to do. It’s time maybe to push back a little and have our home community the way we want it.”