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MacEachern calls for lower taxes, responsible spending in bid to be mayor of Huron-Kinloss

July 19, 2018

Brian MacEachern (above) wants to see lower taxes, responsible spending, and more attention paid to the lakeshore environment.

That's why he has filed nomination papers to become mayor of Huron-Kinloss Township in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

MacEachern has a family cottage at Bruce Beach, but became a permanent resident of the township after retiring from his teaching job in Toronto.

“My grandparents built this cottage at Bruce Beach,” he says. “My parents inherited it, and then my sister and I inherited it from them. I have spent my summers in this area all my life.”

MacEachern has been a Scout leader, coached a volleyball club team that finished third in all of Canada, and coached volleyball in elementary and secondary schools. He has two children, a 26-year-old son living in Sprucedale, near Huntsville; and a 25-year-old daughter living in downtown Toronto.

He is also the president of the Bruce Beach Cottagers' Association.

“I'm running for mayor to send a message,” says MacEachern, “and that message is we need responsible spending, lower taxes, clear language when discussing the proposed nuclear waste depository, and improvements to the lakeshore environment.”

He says the 2009 budget for Huron-Kinloss was $9.4-million. This year's budget is $20.9-million.

“Spending is up 120 per cent since 2009,” he says. “In 2010, Mitch Twolan was elected mayor, and the township budget has increased year-by-year over the past eight years with him as mayor.”

MacEachern says Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) Township is similar to Huron-Kinloss in size. Both are on the shores of Lake Huron, both have small towns and farms, as well as lakefront development, and both have paved roads leading to the various populated areas and paved streets in populated areas.

“There is more traffic in populated areas, so paving is necessary,” says MacEachern. “ACW Township leaves its concession roads (not leading to populated areas) unpaved. Huron-Kinloss has paved all the concession roads, that's 107 kilometres of concession roads not leading to a populated area, at a cost of $80,000 per kilometre, for a total of $8.56-million.

“These concession roads require repaving every 10 years, so just to continually repave these roads will cost $856,000 per year. Huron-Kinloss' budget for all roads (capital costs and operating) this year, is $6-million. ACW's road budget is $3.2-million this year, and yet ACW has more kilometres of roads.”

MacEachern says that ACW's total budget is $7.7-million this year, while Huron-Kinloss' is $20.9-million. As a result, Huron-Kinloss property owners are paying 56-per-cent more in property taxes than a property with the same value in ACW.

"In 2009, Huron-Kinloss spent $87,700 on economic development and tourism," says MacEachern. “Mayor Twolan was elected in 2010 and over the next eight years, the township has spent $3.2-million on economic development and tourism. This year, alone, the township is spending $910,000 on economic development and tourism. The question that needs to be asked of the present mayor is, What value have the taxpayers of Huron-Kinloss received from the spending of $3.2-million on economic development and tourism?”

He adds that every year, since Twolan came into power, the township has put, on average, $1-million into the reserve funds, except in election years 2014 and 2018.

“This year, the township is taking out $5.1-million from the reserve funds,” he says. “This way, during an election year, it appears the tax increase is very low. In non-election years, the increase in taxes is around eight per cent.

“Our municipal taxes have doubled over the past nine years. If this mayor is re-elected, he has shown us that taxes will double in another nine years. My income can't keep up with this pace.

“The current mayor may preach responsible spending, but he doesn't practise what he preaches.”

PROPOSED DGR

With regard to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)'s Adaptive Phased Management process for the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel, and a proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) in Huron-Kinloss, MacEachern says the township must insist on clear and understandable discussions about this project.

“Huron-Kinloss is one of five municipalities still in the running to host a nuclear waste depository,” he says. “A liaison committee was set up in 2013 'to engage, educate, and listen to the community of Huron-Kinloss regarding the NWMO's site selection process'. Also, 'to gather technical and social research and information related to the NWMO's site selection process'.

“We, the people, have been invited to various seminars over the years. One flyer that went out to us, stated that we were invited 'to partake in a working session for the development of values and principles to guide discussion on partnership and the Adaptive Phased Management road map'. And they wonder why they are finding it difficult attracting people to meetings. There are reams of legalese jargon on the township website for us to peruse to find out what is happening with this depository – enjoy!”

MacEachern says the community requires clear, understandable information.

“We need to be told the following:
 
  • How big will it be?
  • What will be buried there?
  • What are the risks?
  • How will it impact our lives?
  • What are the financial benefits?
  • Will there be a referendum or will council decide?

“The preservation and enhancement of the health of the soil, the people and the water in Huron-Kinloss should be of paramount importance.”

LAKESHORE ENVIRONMENT

And finally, MacEachern wants to see more attention paid to the lakeshore environment.

“This year, Huron-Kinloss is spending $81,500 on 'lakeshore environmental',” he says. “This includes $5,000 to control invasive phragmites which is a good thing; $37,000 for algae harvesting, even though there is virtually no algae to clean; $4,500 for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative membership and conference; a $5,000 grant to the Pine River Watershed Initiative Network (PRWIN); and $30,000 to the baseline monitoring program.

“The township should take the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on paving roads that go nowhere, and fund PRWIN instead – it's one of the finest volunteers groups in the province, and is doing great work,” says MacEachern.

As for the baseline monitoring, he says the $30,000 is paid to a company that tests the water flowing in the various creeks and rivers in the township.

“The results often show nutrient and E-coli levels above acceptable levels,” says MacEachern. “This would be money well spent if there was any kind of action taken as a result of the high readings. However, nothing is done with the results.

“Could PRWIN better use this money in its efforts to clean up our creeks and rivers?”

MacEachern urges anyone wishing to discuss these or any other concerns, to contact him at: ianbrianmaceachern@gmail.com

“I'd be happy to meet you, your neighbours, and your friends, at your convenience.”

Running for re-election in the township, are mayor Mitch Twolan and councillors Jim Hanna, Lillian Abbott, Jeff Elliott and Carl Sloetjes.

Councillor Don Murray has put his name in for deputy mayor, and newcomer Ed McGugan of RR 5, Lucknow, is running for councillor.

In the election, the township electorate votes for one mayor, one deputy mayor and five councillors.

For the school boards, Lori DiCastri of Point Clark is running for re-election to the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board; Jan Johnstone of Kincardine is running for re-election to the Bluewater District School Board; and Eric Lapointe of Barrie is running against incumbent Guy Belcourt of Penetanguishine for the French Public School Board.

Nominations close July 27.

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