Responses from Candidates for Ward 9 – South Marysburgh


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 9 – South Marysburgh are here:

Respondents

Invitations
Candidates for Ward 9 – South Marysburgh (1 office) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
John HIRSCH
Ryan KREUTZWISER

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

John Hirsch

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

Something I have learned over the last 4 years is that you can only engage with those who want to be engaged. Often, the loudest complainers have taken no steps whatsoever to inform themselves before letting loose on Facebook.

The consultants we hired to assist in the rewrite of the Procedural Bylaw, said that we were the most open and accommodating municipality they have ever seen.

We publish everything in advance of meetings – now usually at least 5 days. We only hold closed meetings under the strict provisions of the Municipal Act – legal matters, personnel matters, etc. We allow unlimited deputations and comments from the audience – either in person or by Zoom. We hold special meetings for many issues – especially planning applications of any size.

I think the problem is that we haven’t done a good job at explaining the process to the population and how to work through the document centre, Have Your Say, etc.

So a Civics lesson is in order and I would urge the Clerk’s office to undertake that.
At a ward level, I am planning to have quarterly open houses to update folks and answer questions. Plus, every day through phone calls, emails, and media articles I help educate my constituents.

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

As councillor for South Marysburgh, I’m proud to have:

  • Initiated (and will continue) a daily COVID-19 and community update to help keep people informed
  • Replied to every email, phone call and letter from constituents
  • Helped many residents navigate the County Planning process
  • Played a key role in South Marysburgh committees and boards
  • Represented the interests of South Marysburgh at Council
  • Been an active member of multiple County committees
  • Listened to and consulted with South Marysburgh residents through multiple
    communications channels
  • Continued to support the County position of saying no to industrialization of public lands
  • Advocated for a new South Shore Conservation Reserve
  • Championed requests for speed control, traffic calming and road repairs
  • Analyzed issues and worked with Councillors to find innovative solutions

I’m running for re-election because we haven’t finished. I want to do more for the people of South Marysburgh. Many initiatives started in the last term need to be finished and many new ones need to be addressed. We have to keep working hard on solutions to the affordable housing crisis; monitor STAs and adjust policy as necessary; continue to refine tourism management; solve the shortage of medical practitioners; invigorate small business locally and throughout the County with the help of our Economic Development officer; and many more.

Known for my thoughtful consideration, impeccable ethics and absolute love of the County, I will continue to help ensure that County government is fair, efficient and transparent.

As your full-time councillor, you can count on me to listen to your concerns and ideas, advocate for what is best for South Marysburgh and the County as well as keep you informed.

Protecting South Marysburgh’s natural environment, heritage and way of life are my key promises to you.

South Marysburgh is an integral part of Prince Edward County. Home to rare and fragile public lands, dozens of new and established small businesses as well as more than 1,000 residents, it is a place that we all take pride in.

Full details of my platform can be found on my website: www.jghirsch.com


Ryan Kreutzwiser

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

Public engagement has long been important in municipal decision making; indeed many forms of engagement are mandated by the Province. But I believe it’s important to go beyond what’s expected. “Have Your Say” is one useful example of this but it must be used carefully. A fundamental limitation of such platforms is that they cannot possibly provide input that is representative of the County…this kind of engagement reflects the views of only those who respond. To cite just one example, an October 2020 online survey of residents provided input into the Tourism Management Plan (1379 respondents). But it is simply incorrect to assume that, e.g. if 64.2% of respondents reported being inconvenienced by tourism that 64.2% of all County residents are inconvenienced. That can only be assumed if respondents are representative of County residents (careful survey design can minimize this bias). There are also fundamental issues with the design of some of the questions in this and other Have Your Say surveys. And for at least one of the surveys, there was no mechanism to prevent someone responding to the survey multiple times. Have some of Council’s important decisions been unduly influenced by surveys conducted on the Have Your Say platform or Councillors not understanding how to properly interpret results?

I believe Council must make a greater effort to be strategic and proactive in seeking input from residents (and use online surveys cautiously). This is especially important for decisions that may be divisive or that disproportionately affect certain residents. Council and staff should proactively identify potentially impacted individuals and groups to help ensure “inclusive” engagement. While it costs little to simply hear from the most vocal among us, there will be costs in time and resources to more inclusive engagement. But are those costs not worth it the results are more effective, equitable, inclusive and sustainable (long term) decisions? I believe that Council, collectively, must promote inclusive engagement but that each Councillor also must commit to inclusive engagement.

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

The reason I am running for council is because I feel county residents and small businesses are not well represented, and that biased and ill-informed outcomes have resulted from very reactionary decision making at Shire Hall. I feel the County is at a critical juncture and that the decisions made over the next four years will shape our collective future. I believe my educational and professional background, along with my small business experience give me the skill sets that would make me a good representative on council. If elected I will listen to my constituents, make thoughtful/practical decisions, and work with fellow councillors to steer the County in the right direction. The County is very special place, and if elected I will work to preserve and enhance our beautiful home!

My education and training in environmental science at the University of Guelph and in environmental information technology at the Nova Scotia Centre for Geographic Sciences have given me an integrative (wholistic) view on the environment including the role of people in our environment, good problem-solving skills, and some understanding of decision making at all levels of government, including the importance of evidence-based decision making.

My involvement in our family owned and operated small business (Lake on the Mountain Resort) in the County for the past two decades has prepared me well for taking on the responsibilities of a Councillor. I’ve learned important leadership skills, accountability (being responsible for my decisions), attention to detail, the importance of respect and appreciation for our staff, customers and local suppliers, and the importance of inclusiveness and the value of diversity (our customers and our staff are very diverse and appreciating that is so important to our success). In addition, running a successful business and one with longevity necessitates sound financial management, something I would bring to Shire Hall if elected.

Perhaps most important, is who I am as a person. I enjoy interacting with people, especially one-on-one, and truly love the County. I traded a successful career in environmental consulting to start a new a business where I had to learn how to brew beer and work in a long standing, multifaceted business that employs over 45 locals. I’m extremely hard working and efficient and I look forward to working hard for the folks of South Marysburgh and the County more broadly. I believe that Council can and should be more transparent and accountable and I will make decisions based on inclusive engagement with residents and good evidence. That’s a big part of why I’m running.


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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 also asked to explain their ratings and we encourage everyone to consider their ratings alongside their explanations.

Table 1. Candidates’ ratings of proposals to enhance Council’s accountability and transparency.
John HIRSCH
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.
Ryan KREUTZWISER
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

John Hirsch

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.
The VitalSigns report on the environment usefully identifies many community-based organizations and County entities involved in protecting, preserving, conserving the natural environment. The report notes that Council’s declaration of climate emergency has not resulted in much concrete action so far.

It is important to recognize, however, that the current Council reworked its strategic priorities which now include adaptation to climate change. These are activities, initiatives that can or should be taken to avoid loss form events like the 100 year floods of 2017 and 2019, drought, etc.

I would have the next Council renew the Environmental Advisory Committee (on which I currently sit) and strengthen its mandate- providing some budget dollars so its work can be improved. The EAC was an effective voice over the last 3 years commenting on planning proposals and should continue that role. Notably, forest management is now a much more serious issue with the complete loss of the ash forest, visible to everyone driving County roads. The EAC and through it to Council needs to take action to remove and replace dead ash trees on County property and help facilitate the public’s ability to do the same.

Additionally, Council should continue to accept the advice and recommendations of key community organizations like SSJI, PECFN, PEPtBO whose members and partners have a wealth of knowledge and experience in conservation.

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.

For ease of transparency this would be beneficial. However, I would not extend recorded votes to every single agenda item – things like approval of the agenda, motion to adjourn, etc. should continue to be by show of hands.

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?

DEII is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures and sexual orientations. This also covers people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and expertise.

The aim is to encourage tolerance instead of bias, acceptance instead of rejection.
This is critically important in building a fair society that allows all people to have equal opportunities.

Although I have always considered myself to be completely inclusive and find racism a completely foreign concept, I have now become aware that simply being a white male (an older one at that) growing up in Canada means that I probably have an implicit bias and suffer from homophily (a preference for interacting with those with similar traits).

So, I continue to study – and there is a lot of new material out there – so I can be a better inclusive, non-discriminatory, non-racist person.

On Council, I have recently supported adoption of new HR policies which are a vast improvement over the previous ones. We will, however, need to monitor staff performance to ensure they are more than just policies and their intent is carried out in real life.

Working hard to not practice white blindness.

Following the 2020/2021 highly publicized debate over the fate of the MacDonald sculpture, as a Council member I was offered and completed a multi-part online course entitled “Canadian Indigenous Culture Training – Truth and Reconciliation Edition”. I found this an eye opener to learn much more about Canada’s indigenous history from the indigenous perspective. An important takeaway was better understanding of how and why indigenous peoples have been mistreated and misunderstood by generations of governments. Plus the course offered learning on how to approach the complex question of reconciliation.

Putting this to use has involved supporting more inclusion of First Nations in committees – for example, I am the Council rep on the new DMO Visit the County and one of our first actions was to invite MBQ to appoint a board member which they did. Josh Hill has been a valuable addition to the Board.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

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.

Inclusive economy.
Inclusive economy means expanding opportunities for more broadly-shared prosperity especially for the most disadvantaged. Vital Signs highlights some challenges, including higher living costs especially affecting low income households and the impacts of Covid on small businesses. Vital Signs refers toThrive PEC (a community capacity building organization), which has identified many tensions and threats to building an inclusive economy, including loss of youth (lack of local opportunity), absentee investors who don’t contribute to our economy/community, and outside dollars influencing how our economy is developed. I would also add this challenge in terms of attracting manufacturing (which many municipalities rely on for good-paying year-round employment), we are in competition with communities closer to the 401 and rail service.

I believe Council can and must do more to promote an inclusive economy. Council’s 2016 strategic plan set out five priorities including providing a business-friendly environment (including incentives for startups) and support for traditional agriculture and agri-tourism. Council’s latest 8 strategic initiatives (2020-2021) don’t seem to capture these. If Council is serious about prompting an inclusive economy, it must signal this in its decisions, not just its words. The following are some actions Council should consider if it wishes to promote a more inclusive economy:

  1. In its zoning, development approval and related decisions, Council should carefully consider implications for meaningful and compatible economic growth, be sensitive to local concerns but also to the best available evidence.
  2. Make Council more accountable for economic development. While Council has economic development professionals in its Department of Community Services, Initiatives and Programs, it chose to create the Community and Economic Development Commission in 2020. Does this make Council less accountable and how effective has this Commission been to date?
  3. In its decisions, Council should consider implications for wealth disparity. While some minor progress is being made on attainable housing, I’m disturbed by other decisions. The new water rate structure, for instance, ignores the fact that there is a minimum amount of water essential to maintaining a household (regardless of income); water use beyond that minimum is largely discretionary. There are alternative water rate structures that are proven to reduce discretionary water use, especially peak use, yet Council chose a structure that penalizes lower income households.
  4. Council should develop and promote meaningful incentives for the kinds of small businesses that are likely to be most successful in attracting young employees. Some of these businesses are “footloose” (unlike many manufacturing enterprises). While Council started some promotion via its “Build a New Life” website, important parts of this website don’t appear to have been been updated since 2020. Also, I believe Council (and businesses) can make better use Loyalist College. The County supported the opening of the Bay of Quinte Skills Centre in 2016 and the College has several programs (e.g., in culinary skills/management and digital content creation) pertinent to “footloose” businesses.

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.

I strongly support recorded votes, moreover I would urge the Council to create an easily accessible and user-friendly online register of recorded votes as several other Ontario municipalities have already done. Such a register would be one of the most significant contributions to accountability and transparency possible. Especially with a large council, it’s too easy to hide behind the votes of other councillors. At present, as noted, any councillor can request a recorded vote. At an absolute minimum, all votes with financial implications for taxpayers and all votes on zoning changes, Official Plan amendments and development approvals should be automatically recorded. Perhaps very routine decisions (e.g., approval of agendas and minutes, except for additions to agendas) could be exempt from the mandatory requirement.

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?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount in a democracy. I was brought up in a family and social setting that instilled these values. Honestly, it wasn’t even a question before I moved to the County and dipped my feet in politics. Personally, I am willing to learn and to acknowledge any of my faults/short-comings. I will embrace any training offered, and I will commit to making decisions that are both inclusive and equitable.


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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

John Hirsch

1. Please rate your overall satisfaction with each of the following service categories:

Service category Very dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied Very satisfied
General government
Protection services
Transportation services
Environmental services
Health services
Social and family services
Social housing
Recreation and cultural services
Planning and development services

2. Please explain two of your ratings.

This is a bit complicated to answer because the categories of spending used for the “Segment” disclosure to the Province are not at all the same as used in the budget documents which we review and approve line by line every year. If the reader will look at the County’s 2022 operating budget documents (available online at: https://www.thecounty.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-Operating-Budget-Tax-Supported.pdf for the tax supported operating budget and: https://www.thecounty.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-Operating-Budget-Rate-Supported.pdf for the rate supported operating budget) you will see the great discrepancy between what is in the actual budgets for which Council is held responsible and the segments reported to the province. I think this makes it unrealistic to view our numbers against the 2 comparator municipalities.

With this background, I will address Environmental Services as well as Planning and Development Services.

Environmental services
From the provincial standpoint, this includes our water and wastewater systems as well as waste collection and disposal (garbage and recycling).

At first glance it looks like user fees cover over 95% of the overall cost. Certainly, for water and wastewater services, we capture 100% of costs as the system is fully user-pay and should stay that way in my view.

In the case of garbage and recycling, however, we recover only about 42% of the cost through bag tags and dump fees ($1,183,600 revenue over total cost of $2,840,913 – for 2022). I would like to see better cost recovery for this category but recognize that there are hardship cases which need to be considered.

So, I would favour a means tested program for water and wastewater rates and waste rates. We trialled this last spring for water rates and it was a successful program – hopefully to be expanded in 2023.

I should also note that with respect to water and wastewater rates, while they are undeniably high for many historical reasons, we have taken steps to soften the blow of increasing capacity of the systems by negotiating with major developers to pay their share of infrastructure improvements up front. In fact the County won an award from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario this year for this initiative.

Planning and development services
There is a development boom going on in the County and the volume of applications has risen dramatically, as well as their complexity. We are dealing with larger and more complex projects than ever before. Unfortunately, we have a one-size fits all approach to fees and connection charges and this needs to change in my view.

In terms of the Planning department, we should be charging more to the large projects while at the same time giving a break to the ordinary property owner who maybe only wants to do a simple severance, lot addition, re-zoning or minor variance.

We are currently only covering less than half the cost of planning services and developers complain that we are slow to act. Perhaps, if they paid more, we could afford to hire and provide better service.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

1. Please rate your overall satisfaction with each of the following service categories:

Service category Very dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied Very satisfied
General government
Protection services
Transportation services
Environmental services
Health services
Social and family services
Social housing
Recreation and cultural services
Planning and development services

2. Please explain two of your ratings.

It is widely accepted that user fees should be based on the benefits received principle (users pay most of the costs of services they receive), sometimes modified to reduce the burden on lower income users (ability to pay). In the absence of appropriately-set user fees, services will be subsidized by property taxes which can lead to inefficient provisions of public services. From 2018 to 2020 in the County, total expenditures increased 9.3%, user fees increased 7.3%, and property taxes rose 12.6%. While all user fees should be carefully scrutinized, the question asks candidates to address two categories.
Environmental services
This category is mostly municipal water/wastewater and is the County’s second biggest expense. Ontario expects municipalities to fully recover these expenses through user fees, not property taxes, and the County is close to achieving this. There is considerable unhappiness among residents about substantial recent increases in fees. While it is very important to encourage water conservation, I am troubled by how the County chose to do so (increasing April-September rates by 50% over winter rates). This greatly penalizes lower-income residents. An alternative would be to use an “increasing block rate”, where users pay more for larger volumes used. This encourages water conservation (particular during the summer), and shifts the burden towards higher water users (typically more affluent ones). This rate structure could be applied to residential users only, with a more conventional structure for businesses and industries.

Planning and development services
This category relates to approval of zoning and official plan amendments, land division (consents and plans of subdivision), cash-in-lieu of parkland, among others. While user fees as a percent of total expenditures for this category increased from 15.8% to 30.6% (2018-2020), this category is still heavily subsidized by property taxes. Yet the beneficiaries of these approvals tend to be large corporations that gain financially from the development when it is approved. This is especially unfair to taxpayers in parts of the County where there is not a lot of development occurring. I am particularly concerned about proponents of subdivisions not bearing full costs of approval. I want to qualify that with development there can be significant amount of spin-off benefits such as employment, procurement of services and supplies, etc. As well, housing development increases the tax base over time.


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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

John Hirsch

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 [the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s] Calls to Action 43, 47 and 57.”

Agree.

2. Please explain your rating.

I am not familiar enough with the legal ramifications of dealing with the Doctrine of Discovery as suggested above – but to the extent this can be legally pursued, let’s do it. It is important for Council to put its words into action, so taking a strong initiative to effectively implement these calls to action is imperative.

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.”
Neither disagree or agree.

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

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

For both (b) and (c) I can’t imagine why the County would not want to comply with the provisions recommended by AMCTO – this is simply required transparency. With respect to (c), I believe we already automatically actively disseminate the records recommended by AMCTO


Ryan Kreutzwiser

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 [the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s] Calls to Action 43, 47 and 57.”

Strongly agree.

2. Please explain your rating.

The governments of Ontario (in 2019) and Canada (in 2021) legislated the adoption of the UN Declaration on indigenous rights and many Ontario municipalities have also done so. While acknowledging that municipalities have no authority regarding indigenous rights (they are not the Crown), the Association of Municipalities Ontario recognizes 6 Calls to Action relevant to municipalities and offers resources in support of municipal action (see AMO “Resources on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (RTC) Calls to Action” 2021).

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.”
Neither disagree or agree.

“The cost of the routine disclosure of County records would likely outweigh its benefits.”
Neither disagree or agree.

“The cost of the active dissemination of County records would likely outweigh its benefits.”
Neither disagree or agree.

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).

It is difficult to offer a meaningful response to Q3 in the absence of knowing how many such requests are made every year and the nature of those requests. Some currently undisclosed information might be actively disseminated on the County website (to reduce the need for FOI requests) and some kinds of information might be suitable for routine disclosure (following an inquiry, no formal FOI request necessary) but County policies for both active dissemination and routine disclosure should only be adopted after very careful consideration of privacy and cost implications.


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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 21, 2022.

Respondents

John Hirsch

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.]

The only possibility for me would be some proposal that directly affects my property. The was the conflict I declared earlier this year when a proposal to close the road allowance behind my property came up. It was potentially beneficial to me so I had to declare the conflict.

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.

Agree.

I agree with the Ombudsman that non-pecuniary conflicts should be included in our Code of Conduct. However, I find that both he and the City of Kingston have not done a good job of defining exactly what that means. As long as we come up with a clear, understandable definition, I am all in favour.

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.

Agree.

As the Ombudsman said, the current range of relations is too narrow and should be expanded. The example of brothers or sisters stands out as obvious.

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

Why do taxes have to keep going up?

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

It is difficult because everyone has different priorities as to what they think Council should be doing. And most people are truly unaware of the enormous range of services the County is required to provide as a single tier municipality. I usually suggest that people go on the County website, click the box for residents, then all services. This brings up many boxes detailing all the things we do. So the simple question is – which one of these do you not want to do? Pretty difficult to answer because all are functions we are required to do. The other part of the answer is that over the last 4 years, partly thanks to the pandemic, and partly due to changes in our economy, our staff are actually performing more functions with only tax increases in the vicinity of inflation.

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?

That would be a resounding DENY. Nothing has changed in terms of Picton Terminals’ operation. They continue to show a serious disregard for regulations, breaking noise bylaws on a regular basis, for example. They are operating a de facto quarry but under a loophole, don’t require a licence. Nor do they pay the normal fees. The thought of them operating a container port and cruise ship hub given their track record is not something I would want to contemplate.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

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.]

Part-owner of a resort (Comprised of two restaurants, a brewery, special events venue, and accommodation, including STAs).

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.

The question becomes how to apply this. One issue I perceive is that a councillor has an association with an advocacy group and presumably should recuse themselves from any decisions related.

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.

Strongly agree.

It’s appropriate to broaden the definition of family. For example, direct in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren. However, I think we need to limit it at these family members.

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

I haven’t had any policy questions that I would consider difficult to answer.

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

See above.

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 don’t think cruise ship tourism is the kind of tourism the County needs or wants. Pulses of visitors can be stressful on businesses and attractions, and the benefits of these short-term visitors are relatively small compared to tourists who use local accommodation and stay longer and visit the County.


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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

John Hirsch

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.

Healthcare initiatives
While we have finally adopted a professional approach to physician recruitment, I think we waited far too long. The problem has been evident for quite some time. Furthermore, beyond recruitment for the vacancies in our 23 doctor and 4 NP quotas, we need to really get serious about lobbying the Province to change the system – allow walk-in clinics, change the ratio in favour of more NPs, fewer doctors, and other innovative ways to provide services to the many folks who don’t have them now.

PEC Affordable Housing Corp.
Similarly, we got off to a slow start but since bringing the operation in-house and with the brilliant work of ED Charles Dowdall, units have been approved and much more is in the pipeline. Charles understands well Council’s priority for affordable housing.

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

Site alteration bylaw
The county is one of very few municipalities that does not have a site alteration bylaw. That means that right now a developer can buy a piece of land, clear cut the trees off it, and then file a planning application without having to abide by our tree management policy. Likewise, a landowner can strip all the topsoil off their land and sell it. A site alteration bylaw would put sensible controls in place to prevent such environmental problems.

Inclusionary zoning bylaw
We currently have few tools to require developers to include an amount of affordable housing in their subdivision plans. They typically make pious statements that they will consider it, but we have little power to make it happen.

If we enacted an inclusionary zoning bylaw we could legally require a certain percentage of new construction to be affordable. I hope we can accomplish this in the next term.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

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.

Municipal Accommodation Tax
What can be a sensible/appropriate tax, in some municipalities, requiring tourists to contribute to tourism marketing and management, I believe that it isn’t appropriate in the County. The County differs enormously from larger urban centres, like Toronto, Kingston, and even Belleville. Our accommodation sector relies on small scale accommodators, B&B, and individual providers (AKA AirBNB’s). Whereas larger urban centres have larger accommodators (hotels/large resorts/chain hotels) dominating the landscape. Auditing, collection, and enforcement of the MAT tax becomes incrementally more costly for a municipality such as ours. With half the tax going to Destination Marketing and the other half to support infrastructure, the numbers don’t add up, I see it as a zero-sum game in the best of times, we have created another bureaucracy within the municipality that will eat up all the supposed benefits (i.e., revenue) that was meant to go to infrastructure (i.e., roads). To summarize, I believe that if the municipality had not got involved in the first place that there would be more money for the essentials (i.e., roads) that are beneficial to all taxpayers.

Tourism Management
I believe that the tourism business operators (i.e., the small businesses) are the best positioned to decide when to market and when to manage their own business operations. The County got way too involved in tourism promotion and is now having to back-track and transition to tourism management (some might say the County is now in Tourism Mitigation mode). I believe that the County needs to remove itself from the tourism realm (they should have never been involved) and leave it to the individual businesses to promote and manage their own interests. Having said that I do not want the municipality to detrimentally impact the progress that the tourism sector has accomplished over the last couple of decades.

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

Agriculture/Agri-Tourism
Agriculture is noticeably absent from the list of initiatives, despite some attention in the new Official Plan. Agriculture has been dominant to the cultural heritage and rural character of the County and continues to be important economically. Is there sufficient recognition of this in decisions that Council has made and will make? Given the constraints facing this industry (e.g., challenges in scaling up operations, conflicts with rural residential development), what can Council do to be more supportive? Has Council adequately understood the role of agri-tourism? I believe agriculture and agri-tourism needs to be a strategic priority/initaive moving forward…as well as the small businesses that dominate this landscape and contribute to the charm and heritage of the County.


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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

John Hirsch

1. Please identify two internal and one external committee or board listed above whose areas of municipal responsibility would showcase your skills and interests in municipal government.

It is hard to choose only these as all committees and boards are important.

  1. Environmental Advisory Committee
  2. Planning Committee
  3. Quinte Conservation Executive Board

2. For these three committees or boards, please highlight your skills and experience (work, volunteer, life) in those areas of municipal responsibility.
3. For these three committees or boards, please describe the impact you’d hope to make in those areas of municipal responsibility.

Environmental Advisory Committee
I was one of the instigators to get this committee going after a 10 year hiatus. My volunteer experience over many years (most recently with the South Shore Joint Initiative, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and County Coalition for Safe and Affordable Green Energy positioned me to be knowledgeable in all the environmental issues facing the County. In all these organizations, advocacy is a main focus and I bring all that experience to the EAC. My research, analytical and conciliation skills have proven invaluable over the last 4 years as the EAC has effectively provided advice to council, especially with regard to planning applications and climate change.

Impact: Given the upcoming priorities for the EAC – comprehensive zoning bylaw review, more major planning applications, site alteration bylaw, etc., I expect to bring my past experience and knowledge to bear so that quality advice can be provided to all of Council – protecting our sensitive natural heritage features from over-development.

Planning Committee
This is a key function of Council and not well understood by newcomers to Council – probably the steepest learning curve. My skills at research and analysis have proven invaluable navigating the Planning Act, Official Plan, comprehensive zoning bylaw, etc. as the Committee holds residents’ future in their hands.

Impact: Now that I am quite comfortable with the planning legislation, I expect to be of assistance in designing the site alteration bylaw and complete application bylaw which are currently being worked on by staff. As well, many outstanding large development projects in the County will require careful review and consideration.

Quinte Conservation Executive Board
I have been a Board member for 8 years (the first 4 as a private citizen. QCA plays a big role in a regulatory sense governing what landowners can and cannot do in the floodplain and with their shoreline. I have learned a lot through the huge flood seasons of 2017 and 2019. Again here research and analytical skills are crucial as is the ability to communicate and negotiate with board members from all the different QCA municipalities.

Impact: As a senior board member now, I am on the appeals committee and I would expect to continue to uphold the application of good conservation principles when hearing appeals. I also expect to help promote shoreline management planning at QCA – a major issue arising from climate change.

4. How would you account for these rates of voter turnout in the County in recent municipal elections?

The county’s voting turnout is roughly on a par with the rest of the province and is, of course disappointing given that municipal government is the level closet to people’s lives. I think many non-voters don’t believe those running have talked about or explained key issues in a clear and definitive fashion. I try to do that as evidenced by the platform pages on my website.

5. Please relate an occasion when you (nearly) decided not to vote in an election.

Has never happened.

6. How would you propose to work with other candidates to increase voter turnout in the County in the upcoming municipal election?

More multi-ward candidate debates or meetings would be desirable. There is already one scheduled for South Marysburgh and Athol, as well as Hallowell. All candidates can encourage participation in their literature, Facebook posts and websites as well.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

1. Please identify two internal and one external committee or board listed above whose areas of municipal responsibility would showcase your skills and interests in municipal government.

  1. Community & Economic Development Commission
  2. Environmental Advisory Committee
  3. Quinte Conservation Executive Board

2. For these three committees or boards, please highlight your skills and experience (work, volunteer, life) in those areas of municipal responsibility.
I have both educational and professional qualifications in environmental science, as well entrepreneurial and small business expertise:

  • University of Guelph graduate (1998 B.Sc. Environmental Science).
  • Centre of Geographic Sciences (2000 Geographic Information Systems & Remote Sensing).
  • I have 10 years of environmental consulting experience including 6 years working remotely while a resident of the County.
  • I have 15 years of entrepreneurial experience in culinary/hospitality/tourism in the County (including ties to local agriculture/value-added agriculture).

3. For these three committees or boards, please describe the impact you’d hope to make in those areas of municipal responsibility.

In a nutshell:

  • I will strive to maximize employment opportunities for all age demographics.
  • I will strive to reduce the barriers to entrepreneurship, and small business.
  • I will work to protect the environment, culture, and heritage of Prince Edward County without sacrificing what makes the County a great place to live.

4. How would you account for these rates of voter turnout in the County in recent municipal elections?

In a word “Apathy”. I think municipal governance is an afterthought for most citizens who prioritize federal, and provincial governance and elections, however, I do believe municipal decisions impact us immensely, and I believe that voter turnout will increase in this upcoming election because of consequential decisions this current council has made. The quote from Thomas Jefferson comes to mind “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

5. Please relate an occasion when you (nearly) decided not to vote in an election.

I have always voted in Canada, I believe it’s a fundamental responsibility to vote. Even living abroad, in the United States early in my professional career I voted in the federal election. I know of some people recently who have questioned whether or not to vote in certain elections because they did not like any of the candidates running.

I have 2 thoughts on this:

  • If you decide not to vote, you have little right to question the decisions elected officials have made on your behalf; and
  • You always have the best choice of bad alternatives, and that “bad alternatives” should invigorate individuals to be more involved in, and influence the priorities and direction of the government and candidates.

6. How would you propose to work with other candidates to increase voter turnout in the County in the upcoming municipal election?

As an aspiring councillor, I feel that door knocking is the way all candidates can try to move the needle on municipal voter turnout. In addition, I would encourage all candidates to be present and accessible at public events (e.g., fall fairs, all-candidate meetings, etc.) to interact with the public and answer questions on their platforms and their vision of the future for the county.


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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

John Hirsch

1. How long have you resided in the County?

8 years.

1b. (Additional question for candidates for Ward Councilor only): How long have you resided in the Ward in which you are running to be Councilor?

0. I reside in Hallowell but run in South Marysburgh due to all my volunteer activity regarding the South Shore.

2. Please identify your membership on Council, committee, commission, board, or other body associated with the municipal government in the County during the current term of Council (Fall 2018 – present).

Council, Nominating committee, Environmental Advisory committee, Heritage Advisory committee, Audit committee, Quinte Conservation Board, South Marysburgh Recreation Board, South Marysburgh Management committee, and Visit the County Destination Marketing and Management Board.

3. Please identify your membership on Council, committee, commission, board, or other body associated with the municipal government in the County during the previous term of Council (Fall 2014 – Fall 2018).

Quinte Conservation Board member 2015-2018.

4. Please identify your membership or volunteering in a not-for-profit, non-governmental oganization associated with the County during the current term of Council (November 2018 – present).

South Shore Joint Initiative, Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.

5. How do you understand talk of tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County?

I don’t hear talk of tension at all. It seems those who believe this is an issue are mostly Facebook posters.

Please indicate your agreement with the following statements:

6a. Tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County influences Council’s agenda. [Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree]

6b. Tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County influences Council’s decisions. [Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree]

7. Please identify any role you see yourself in addressing any tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County.

I will continue to listen to and represent the interests of all residents of the County. That is the role of a Councillor.


Ryan Kreutzwiser

1. How long have you resided in the County?

20 Years (2002).

1b. (Additional question for candidates for Ward Councilor only): How long have you resided in the Ward in which you are running to be Councilor?

My personal residence is in North Marysburgh, however my family has owned the Black River Cheese Factory property since 2017.

2. Please identify your membership on Council, committee, commission, board, or other body associated with the municipal government in the County during the current term of Council (Fall 2018 – present).

NA.

3. Please identify your membership on Council, committee, commission, board, or other body associated with the municipal government in the County during the previous term of Council (Fall 2014 – Fall 2018).

NA.

4. Please identify your membership or volunteering in a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization associated with the County during the current term of Council (November 2018 – present).

NA.

5. How do you understand talk of tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County?

I don’t really see the length of time living in the County as an issue. I believe that any “tension” that may exist has more to do with the values and mindset of the individual(s).

Please indicate your agreement with the following statements:

6a. Tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County influences Council’s agenda. [Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree]

6b. Tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County influences Council’s decisions. [Strongly disagree | Disagree | Neither disagree or agree | Agree | Strongly agree]

7. Please identify any role you see yourself in addressing any tension between “old” and “new” residents in the County.

The length of time a County resident has been here can’t be changed but mindsets can be. I think that all residents, regardless how long they’ve lived here, deserve to be listened to by council, and that all council members should be easily accessible to them. I believe that when any “tension” arises that a dialogue is the most important step to take and as a councilor; I will facilitate this dialogue for county residents.


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