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 are being 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 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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