Responses from Candidates for Ward 1 – Picton


RSVPs

With the aim of increasing voter turnout in the upcoming municipal election, candidates for Mayor and Ward Councilor in Prince Edward County were invited to share their thoughts on a wide range of issues once a week.

Responses from candidates for Ward 1 – Picton are here:

Respondents

Invitations
Candidates for Ward 1 – Picton (2 offices) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Phil ADIE
Jane LESSLIE
Kate MACNAUGHTON
Peter MORCH
Phil ST-JEAN

Responses to Invitation 8

Candidates received Invitation 8 on October 5, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by October 17, 2022. Candidates who wanted their responses to be published before advance voting started were to forward them by October 12, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook beginning October 13, 2022.

Respondents

Jane Lesslie

1. Please share how you would enhance Council’s approach to public engagement.

Going door to door regarding an issue in my neighbourhood a few years ago reminded me how important it is to listen. People need to be heard and public officials need to be responsive and accountable.

Have Your Say is a great tool to have people provide input on public policy in the County. I admire how it is also being adapted for other purposes – eg. To identify and map invasive species in the County.

We still need two-way communication. I feel a sense of frustration that recommendations are reached, Council is to decide and people have to jam in their comments in 3 minutes at very formal Council meetings that really do not lend themselves to an exchange of ideas. I also think it leads to frustration in the Community. We need to have more subject specific townhalls on key issues so that communication can be two-way. For example, I am advocating that a small finance subcommittee be established to conduct a thorough analysis of our past, present and forecasted spending. The next step should be a presentation of the findings to the community by the people on this committee. This would be a chance to discuss the mix of spending, why it exists etc. The Ad Hoc Water Rates Committee should be restruck and do something similar.

As a councillor I would also hold regular “surgeries” (as they call them in the UK) where you meet with constituents one on one. And group town halls.

2. Please share why you’re running and why voters should support you in the municipal election.

I would be your full time Councillor. Picton is my full-time home. My experience as chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee to Council and serving as a volunteer at the County Food Depot during Covid, combined with my past work experience analyzing government finances, have given me plenty of ideas and inspired me to run. I believe my financial and economic background would be helpful skills at the Council horseshoe. And after more than two decades analyzing government finances, I came to understand that it wasn’t just a numbers game but how communities stacked up on their environmental, social and governance risks and strengths that led to sustainable societies. I want to work closely with the County Foundation who I believe are on the right track in this regard.

My priorities are:

  1. Protecting our unique environment and strategies to address climate change. Working as chair of the EAC made me aware of the urgent decisions the County faces as we confront Climate change. The potential financial, economic, health and social costs can hit us hard. Climate change and other environmental risks are looming threats for a County with 800km of shoreline and a tourism industry reliant on it, where 25% of our economy is agriculture, where we are naturally drought prone, and where we have amazing but fragile environmental assets and where we have a larger older population who will feel the health impacts most acutely.
  2. Diversifying our economy to encourage full time jobs in other sectors and year-round demand for our existing businesses thus expanding our tax base. Why not foster the green and blue businesses of tomorrow?
  3. Affordable housing, strategies for primary health care and our young people are clear areas demanding attention. On healthcare we are in competition with other communities and we have to be among health care workers top choices given we are losing 10 family doctors to retirement between now and 2026. We need a closer working relationship with school trustees to help our high school students succeed and prepare for those jobs that our businesses are struggling to fill. Grants for skills upgrading for those already living here would help – eg. For local nurses who want to become nurse practioners.

Fact based decision, not reinventing the wheel and adopting best practices from other communities are the principles that guide me. I am committed to being accountable, approachable and available.

You can find more information at my website: www.janelesslie.ca


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Accountability & transparency

Three Invitations asked candidates to rate six proposals to enhance Council’s accountability and transparency:

We have categorized candidates’ ratings of these proposals [Not in favour | Neither | In favour] below. Candidates were asked to explain their ratings and we encourage everyone to consider them too.

Table 1. Candidates’ ratings of proposals to enhance Council’s accountability and transparency.
Phil ADIE
Proposition Not in favour
Neither
In favour
1. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.
2. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.
3. A public register of requests for County records.
4. The routine disclosure of County records.
5. The active dissemination of County records.
6. A Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.
Jane LESSLIE
Proposition Not in favour
Neither
In favour
1. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.
2. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.
3. A public register of requests for County records.
4. The routine disclosure of County records.
5. The active dissemination of County records.
6. A Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.
Kate MACNAUGHTON
Proposition Not in favour
Neither
In favour
1. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.
2. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.
3. A public register of requests for County records.
4. The routine disclosure of County records.
5. The active dissemination of County records.
6. A Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.
Peter MORCH
Proposition Not in favour
Neither
In favour
1. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.
2. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.
3. A public register of requests for County records.
4. The routine disclosure of County records.
5. The active dissemination of County records.
6. A Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.
Phil ST-JEAN
Proposition Not in favour
Neither
In favour
1. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.
2. A Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.
3. A public register of requests for County records.
4. The routine disclosure of County records.
5. The active dissemination of County records.
6. A Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.

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Responses to Invitation 7

Candidates received Invitation 7 on October 3, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by October 11, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on October 12, 2022.

Respondents

Jane Lesslie

1. For any one of [the nine themes covered in the 2022 VitalSigns Report], please outline a course of action that Council should consider to reinforce successes and/or address challenges identified in the 2022 VitalSigns Report.

Environment.

  1. Develop a Climate Action Plan – and act on it- Our agriculture sector, tourism industry, the health of our older population; and our tax dollars are at serious risk from climate change.
  2. Follow the Grey County Approach – We need to both Mitigate (reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and Adapt. Priority should be given to actions that do BOTH.
  3. Set priorities – look for actions that give us the biggest bang for our tax buck.
  4. A climate change lens should be applied to all policies, procedures and bylaws – to identify:
    1. risks
    2. funding support opportunities (eg. Green Municipal Fund)
    3. opportunities to introduce smarter processes.
  5. Turn our Tree Policy into an enforceable Tree Bylaw and give it some teeth. There are plenty of sources of funding for trees – e.g. Highway of Heros Tree/Green Campaign (see my website www.janelesslie.ca or my facebook page for more info on the power of trees.
  6. Our Wetlands are Workhorses – We establish environmental requirements for developments but neither the County nor Quinte Conservations have resources to verify that promised protection are implemented – this is a pantomime of protection.
  7. Consolidate the Grass and Weeds and property standards bylaws. Environmental Advisory Committee and Agricultural Advisory Committee should collaborate to fight invasive species and noxious weeks. Stop promoting turf grass as the go-to option for lawns given its intense water demands, run off from pesticides and fertilizer and gas mower requirements, Encourage plant diversity to support biodiversity and pollinators.
  8. Green (and Blue) our Planning process:
    • Encourage green building techniques (and support training in this growing job sector for local people through partnership with Loyalist College) and blue (greywater recycling) methods.
    • Change Quinte Conservation’s mandate for PEC so they can enforce our new 50 metre setback for wetlands
    • A new site alteration bylaw which includes limits on clearcutting and removal of natural habitats in the planning process.
    • We need a new bylaw on what constitutes a “complete development application”, and a checklist of what is required for Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) and Hydrogeological reports so all applicants are on a level playing field.
    • No more four rounds of EIS reports with Quinte Conservation – This is wasting PEC County Staff resources and times, Quinte Conservation’s limited resources and the applicants’ time – get it right at the get go.
    • For larger developments – get all key people around the table to ID what is needed at the outset to streamline the process and get to a yes or no faster – savings to everyone.

2. Please rate your level of agreement (Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree) with the following proposal: “Council should adopt a Procedure By-law that requires that all members’ votes on motions be recorded.”

Strongly agree.

3. Please explain your rating.

Councillors should be accountable for their decisions. And information should be maintained so that members of the community can easily access/track information in order to assess their councillors during elections. We should also include a note when people are absent for votes – know if your councillor has a pattern of ducking hard decisions.

4. Please share examples of how you’ve been trying to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion. What have been the biggest changes in your thinking? How are you applying what you’ve learned in your work in the County?

I think the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the discovery of the graves of Indigenous children at former residential schools in the summer of 2021 in Canada both prompted me to ask myself if I really understood these issues. Talking with former colleagues who are people of colour after George Floyd’s horrific death really helped me to understand the extra hurdles and sadly outright aggression that was part of daily life for them. One very talented young colleague of East Indian background gave me a series of examples of encounters with police and the assumptions that were made about him before he had even opened his mouth to say a word.

Thanks to my work on the Environmental Advisory Committee I began gaining insight into the issues people of First Nations face through my fellow committee member, Nicole Storms, then the Environmental Supervisor for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. One thing that struck me was Nicole’s comment that so often First Nations people will end up in meetings with the Provincial government or Municipalities and before she could tackle an issue she would have to educate them about established treaty rights which the Federal government was aware of but had made no effort to communicate to other levels of governments. This has really created still an extra hurdle in the work of reconciliation.

I would also like to see a youth council developed so that the next generation of voters – who will have to contend with our slow response to Climate Change – have the opportunity to comment on draft County policies. They would be our “Futurists” and keep us focused on the longer term. For example, I would like to hear their recommendations about how we can help improve circumstances for students from the LGBT and BIPOC communities in the County. To do well our students have to feel safe and comfortable so this is critical.

My former employer began delivering diversity, equity and inclusion training 10 years ago on a regular basis with the last few years focused on unconscious bias which opened my eyes. This training will enhance my analysis and decision making. Heather McGhee’s Book, The Sum of Us, which I highly recommend, has also contributed to my thoughts about how government policies may perpetuate division and throw up roadblocks. I’m hoping my memories of my experience as the only woman in the room during the early part of my career in finance will also help me to be empathetic.

I want to ensure all people have access to me to bring their concerns, issues and perspectives. By looking at County policies and procedures, by encouraging the same kind of DEI training for Municipal staff that I benefitted from and encouraging diversity in our hiring practices where provincial regulation permits.


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Responses to Invitation 6

Candidates received Invitation 6 on September 23, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by October 3, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on October 5, 2022.

Respondents

None.


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Responses to Invitation 5

Candidates received Invitation 5 on September 20, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by September 26, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on September 28, 2022.

Respondents

Jane Lesslie

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action include calls to municipal governments that apply to County Council:

  • to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation (CTA 43)
  • to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts (CTA 47)
  • to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations (CTA 57)

1. Please rate your level of agreement (Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree) with the following:

“Council should adopt a Strategic Initiative to respond to Calls to Action 43, 47 and 57.”

Strongly agree.

2. Please explain your rating.

I was lucky to have Nicole Storms, then Environmental Supervisor with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, as a technical advisor to the Environmental Advisory Committee which I chaired. One of the richest conversations I had with here was on the subject of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and what had become of them. She noted that the federal government has left it up to the First Nations’ themselves to educate provincial and municipal governments about the treaty rights that First Nations’ peoples have, an example being the duty to consult. She would find herself in meetings to discuss issues with the provinces or municipalities only to discover they had no idea that these rights existed. The Municipality has a “Duty to Consult” with First Nations when it comes to developments touching shorelines and thus potential fishing rights. The Mohawks of Bay of Quinte have complained about our planning process and the very short turnaround times they are given by our Planning Department, inconsistent with their staff size and resources. This again is an area where we need to create a planning checklist template and the early round table consults on large projects that Brighton had adopted and that one of our committee members had been impressed with in her work with Lower Trent Conservation. More broadly, the County should seek out “coaches” such as Nicole to ensure both municipal staff and council have an understanding of where such obligations lie.

3. Please rate your level of agreement (Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree) with the following statements:

“The cost of maintaining a public register of requests for County records would likely outweigh its benefits.”
Strongly disagree.

“The cost of the routine disclosure of County records would likely outweigh its benefits.”
Strongly disagree.

“The cost of the active dissemination of County records would likely outweigh its benefits.”
Strongly disagree.

4. For any one of your ratings above, please describe your analysis of the different costs and benefits that lead to your conclusion (max. 500 words).

I side with former Washington Post editor Bob Woodward who has employed the phrase “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Transparency lies at the heart of governance, government and democracy. At a time when trust in government is being attacked from so many angles we have to be vigilant about maintaining public trust. I have no doubt we could find volunteers with a technology background to assist our municipal government with such an initiative.


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Responses to Invitation 4

Candidates received Invitation 4 on September 14, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by September 19, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on September 20, 2022.

Respondents

Jane Lesslie

1. Please identify and describe the general nature of any conflict of pecuniary interest – real or apparent, direct or indirect – that you would foresee needing to declare, given the sort of conflicts that have been disclosed by your predecessors in 2020-2022. [We later clarified the reference to 2020-2022 here. As the preamble re: “Pecuniary Conflicts of Interest” notes, these three years are the ones reported in the County’s online Annual Registries of members’ disclosoure of conflicts of interest.]

I have a licensed STA in my home – i.e. I rent out the lower level of my house in Picton that I live in full time. (I do think conflicts should delineate a whole home STA from other varieties.)

2A & 3. Please indicate your agreement with the following statement: “The County should adopt a Council Code of Conduct that addresses non-pecuniary conflicts of interests.” Please elaborate.

Strongly agree

I believe these conflicts should be included as attachments to Council agendas when there are Items on the agenda relevant to a conflict that are under discussion in the interest of transparency and governance. Committee members – public and councillors – must be equally diligent in terms of declaring conflicts with similar treatment.

2B & 4. Please indicate your agreement with the following statement: “The County should adopt a Council Code of Conduct that addresses the pecuniary conflicts of interests of a family member who is not a parent, spouse or child.” Please elaborate.

Neither disagree or agree

I would require clarification as to where on the relationship line this would end? We have families who have been here for generations and thus are extended. Don’t want to them up in knots. What about non familial relationships? I would note that I have no family in the County so this has no immediate impact on me.

5. In the voter’s own words, please identify the most difficult-to-answer question that you’ve been asked in your campaign.

Tourism Management.

6. Please explain why this question was the most difficult-to-answer.

I recognize that tourism is both a blessing and a curse from the perspective of the community, that at times it can seem to undermine the quality of life we enjoy here. At the same time, I’m very concerned about the cost of living in the County and I know that service industry positions are not the best paying, particularly when they are seasonal. I would like to see no promotion of tourism in the summer but instead would like to encourage shoulder/off season tourism in order to support people’s jobs and incomes. But I also know the reaction of many will be “no more tourism, we have to have some part of the year where we are not feeling this pressure”. I do not believe we would see anywhere near the intensity in off seasons that we experience in summer so that is one mitigating factor. In addition, I want to see us encouraging non tourism business here in the County which would provide people with more income security and provide additional support for our existing businesses. I also think this should be done as a risk management measure given the risk we currently have from being so dependent on one industry in our economy. Witness Covid in 2020. I would like the County to lobby Queens Park to permit us to spend funds from the Municipal Accommodation tax supporting affordable housing as opposed to promoting tourism as the province dictates we must.

7. On October 21, 2020, Council voted unanimously to deny a rezoning application from Picton Terminals to bring in container and cruise ships. If presented with a similar vote today, how would you vote (deny or approve)? Why?

I would vote to deny this application for the following reasons:
1. It is inconsistent with the strategic goals of the County re: maintaining our rural and historical heritage and reducing the impacts of climate change – as well as our economy and our financial stability given the attendant risks.
2. It was incompatible with the then existing official plan or the then circulating draft official plan.
3. Through cruise ships and container ships the quality of our drinking water was at risk, as was our sport fishing industry. Similarly the community was not entitled to know/inspect the contents of containers thus our ability to identify risk was impeded.
4. The quality of environmental documents was poor and the proponent provided inadequate responses to peer review questions except to say they would “take care of it”. The proponent had a poor track record managing environmental risk that had already cost taxpayers considerably. We were asked to assume all of these risks for little economic upside -three permanent local jobs.

The Official Plan which came into effect in July 2021 will be eligible for amendment as of July 2023. We must ensure no amendments can be included which would permit this project to proceed. I would also like to better understand how planning staff came to recommend in favour of this project so we may review/improve our planning procedures to ensure this does not occur again.


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Responses to Invitation 3

Candidates received Invitation 3 on September 7, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by September 12, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on September 14, 2022.

Respondents

Jane Lesslie

1. Please rate your overall satisfaction with each of the following strategic initiatives:

Strategic Initiative Very dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied Very satisfied
By-law and policy review
Downtown revitalization
Healthcare initiatives
Municipal Accommodation Tax
PEC Affordable Housing Corp.
Short-Term Accommodations
Tourism management
Understanding Growth and Water/wastewater infrastructure

2. Please explain two of your ratings.

My concern does not lie with the individual initiatives (thus my neutral rating on all of them) but the lack of joined up thinking! The question for each initiative is how does it further the strategic priorities, identified at the beginning? Only Tourism management identifies the strategic initiatives that it supports. To illustrate: As each bylaw is reviewed it should be tested against the seven strategic priorities – does it further them? And we need to consider how they interact with one another! Our Short Term Accommodation and Municipal Accommodation Tax policies must be viewed in the context of our affordable housing shortage. Since STAs have pressured our local housing affordability and supply, the MAT tax should go to supporting the development of affordable housing. This will require an activist Council demanding this change from Queens’ Park which dictates all funds go to tourism. I don’t think the County lacks for tourism?

3. Please outline one County-wide strategic initiative that is missing from the above and should be adopted by Council.

Climate and Environment
There is no strategic initiative that directly addresses the risks and costs we face from climate change and other environmental risks. Peterborough has budgeted $4 million to cope with the affects of Emerald Ash Borer, Kingston $6 million. The County spent $1.7 mil on flooding impacts on municipal property alone in 2017. Heat waves will affect both the crops we are able to grow. French vineyards have seen their entire production wiped out due to high temperatures. Are our wineries not facing the same risks? What are the threats to our agriculture community from environmental sources? Bylaw and policy reviews should pass through a climate impact lens.


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Responses to Invitation 2

Candidates received Invitation 2 on August 31, 2022 and were asked to forward their responses by September 6, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on September 7, 2022.

Respondents

  • None.

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Responses to Invitation 1

Candidates received Invitation 1 on August 24, 2022 and were asked to share their thoughts by August 29, 2022. Candidate responses were published here and on Facebook on August 31, 2022.

Respondents to Invitation 1

  • None.

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