Williams wants province to know rural Ontario – including Dawn-Euphemia – matters


After 30 years around the council table, Leslea Williams still thinks she has something to offer.
Williams started her political career on Euphemia Township and has served as a Dawn-Euphemia councillor since the municipality was formed. She’s seeking re-election Oct. 22.
Why did you want to run for another term of council?
“I believe I am very passionate about public service and volunteering and I believe firmly I have something to contribute.”
What do you think the most important issue in Dawn-Euphemia is this election?
“I believe in Dawn-Euphemia the concerns are wide and varied, from , for example, tax increases, clearly the internet, there are a lot of people are concerned and want to see the outcome of the 50 acre severance (which is now the subject of an appeal to Lambton County’s official plan) and our school and what might happen to our school. Especially this week, a number of my neighbours have passed…the population is absolutely shrinking. But it has been shrinking for decades but as (current councillor) Bill Bilton says that happens as farms grow in size.”
Is that’s where having the ability to have a smaller 50 acre farm parcel would be helpful?
“I am hopeful it would provide opportunities for our young farmers who do want to get started.”
The municipality tries to hold the line on taxes…does there come a point where you say we’re going to see tax increase?
“Taxes certainly brings about all kinds of conversation but I try to break it down in such a way that it makes a little more sense for people. About 67 cents of every dollar we collect, we don’t keep. We keep about…33 cents of that dollars. That’s roads and bridges and policing for us. Some very quick math at the county, and I’m not throwing dirt or anything, from 2016 to 2018 we have had to find an addition $300,000…because of cuts to upper tier services. Levy increases are difficult.”
One of the issues in the community is the proposed sewage system in Florence. It has taken years – what is the hold up?
Dawn-Euphemia has so far spent $140,000 on the Environmental Assessment for the sewage treatment problem and still haven’t received approval to move forward. Williams says council and staff met with the MOE this summer and she came away with one thing from the meeting that “in spite of all that we’ve done to date, it is still not enough.” That included how much consultation has been done with local indigenous groups.
Do you think you will see this come to putting the shovel in the ground and fixing the problem in the next four years?
“My take away from the ministry from this last meeting in particular is that if it is sent up the chain for approvals, I am quite honestly sure they will approve the work that has been done to date. The demands are exhaustive.”
Is there something you would like to see happen in the municipality in the next four years?
“I think in this next term…it’s something I’ve believed in for a very long time – rural communities matter. I think very much this has been lost along the way with provincial and federal government. It certainly felt like that with the previous provincial government.”
I was initially encouraged when the Agriculture Minister Hardman in an initial news story said he was interested in reducing barriers in agriculture. In my mind that’s the 50-acre farm lot. I think we’re better equipped to determine what our community should look like and promote it for young people wanting to get into it.”