Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
Fees at the Moore Sports Complex, traffic lights and the municipal golf course were hot topics as candidates for St. Clair Township council met the public.
With just over a month before Election Day on Oct. 24, 100 people were at an all-candidates meeting held at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in Corunna and hosted by the Moore Optimist Club Monday.
It is a wide open race for the mayor’s race with long-time Mayor Steve Arnold retiring. Voters can choose between three candidates, Jeff Agar, Tracy Kingston and Chad Shymko.
Agar served on St. Clair Township Council from 2006 to 2018 before making an unsuccessful bid for the mayor’s office in 2018. Agar works at Kel-Gor in Sarnia, is a member of the Moore Optimist Club, a past director of the Moore Agricultural Society and has been involved for several years with Mooretown Minor Hockey.
“I never have a biased opinion, “ Agar said, and he wants to make sure all of the areas of the township are treated equally.
“I would love to be your next mayor, “ said newcomer to politics Shymko. “I’m young and enthusiastic.” He has worked at Shell for 17 years, and this is the first time he has run for an election.
Kingston has served as a councillor since 2014. She has also been the alternate on Lambton County Council. She the retired business person is member of several business and volunteer organizations including the Moore Optimist Club “I am not about ego or personal gain,” said Kingston. “I am about caring for our community.”
When the evening was opened up to questions, the candidates were asked about the membership fee at the Mooretown Pool increasing from $198 to $500.
Shymko proposed conducting fundraisers and getting donations from industry, so the fee doesn’t have to go up any further. If it keeps going up, nobody can afford it, he said.
Agar doesn’t remember an increase like that when he served on council. He would never advocate for that kind of jump.
Kingston said council has to act on the information the township staff give them. She said the fees were not being increased enough in the past and council has to keep the facility viable. She did say the pool will need to be replaced.
Traffic light at the intersection of Hill and Queen streets in Corunna has been another issue the current council grappled with during this past term. The candidates were asked if they were in favour of putting a traffic light at this location.
Kingston said a traffic study conducted by the municipality indicates a traffic light is not needed. Council has opted to put in a pedestrian crossing instead. “We consider all angles, we don’t just ignore,” said Kingston.
Agar countered traffic studies don’t say anything. He supported a traffic light be installed at No Frills on the St. Clair Parkway when he was on council and that turned out to be the right decision, due to future development that took place in that area.
Another resident wanted if the candidates supported more lighting at Highway 40 and Metcalf Line. St. Clair Township has voiced this need two or three times at county council without success, said Kingston. It is a place where more lighting is needed, she added.
“The county owes us,” said Agar, pointing out St. Clair Township has the second highest population in Lambton. Shymko admitted to not knowing the answer.
When asked about the state of the St. Clair Parkway Golf Club, Agar said the clubhouse needs a total rebuild and is in terrible shape. He wants to see this done in a fiscally responsible way that is not a burden on taxpayers.
Shymko would like to see a five year plan being made to see the work completed. He wants to get grants for this project, so it is not a burden on taxpayers.
Kingston has been keeping an eye on the golf course. The facility has been making money and the council has put that savings away for any future renovations.
Bylaw enforcement is also a concern. Agar agreed it has been an issue and says he has made calls about bylaw enforcement in the past and they never seem to be followed up upon. When a complaint is made, the township has to respond, he says.
Kingston says the township only has a part-time by-law officer and only deals with complaints. If residents wanted, there could be a full-time employee who can also patrol the township.
Also at the all-candidates meeting was candidates for Ward 1 and Ward 2 councillors. There are six candidates in Ward 1 for three positions while there are four candidates in Ward 2 for two positions.
Pat Brown has served as councillor for St. Clair Township since 2018. He is retired from Arlanxeo as a construction coordinator. He was also a member of UA Local 663 Pipefitters. He says the municipality needs to attract new industries, noting the Crown Royal investment is a good start.
Holly Foster is owner of Holly’s Heavenly Touch and a retired NCAA women’s basketball referee. “When the storm gets wild in council, I can calm that storm,” she said. Making sure St. Clair Township has a strategic plan is her top priority, while expanding the water treatment plant is another.
Cathy Langis is a educational assistant with the Lambton Kent School District and has served as union president. She feels safety is a top priority for her if elected, especially with the tornado that went through Mooretown. She wondered whether St. Clair Township has an emergency plan. Langis would also like to see the Neighbourhood Watch and Block Parents programs back in place as well as more lighting be installed at the parks. She will advocate for more housing for young people as well as for a long term care home.
Michelle Maitland would like to see the municipality expand its small businesses and grow as a community. With the closure of the Courtright Community Centre, she suggested a new community centre in Mooretown which can be central to Courtright and Corunna. She is a volunteer with Captain Kid Days and had previously run for a Ward 1 councillor in 2018.
Bill Moran was born and raised in Lambton County but had to move away for work. He moved back to Corunna in 2018 and has since retired from the power industry. He wants to make sure infrastructure projects are shovel ready. “I don’t make promises, I deliver them,” said Moran.
Charles Mortley-Wood has lived in St. Clair Township since 1999. He is retired from Imperial Oil. He believes his time with managing a refinery will serve him well.“I am not wanting to be someone who complains with no skin in the game,” he said. Mortley-Wood is concerned about inflation and how that will affect St. Clair Township. He wants to work to grow the community and believes he can work with private and public partners to accomplish this.
Craig Bezaire grew up in Sombra but now resides in Port Lambton. He works for UA Local 853 and represents members daily. He wants to make sure taxes are affordable while maintaining a superior level of service. “All issues will be considered with an open mind,” said Bezaire. “I won’t rest until the job is done
Brad Langstaff is a businessman in the construction industry. He wants to make sure projects that council takes on are home grown and sustainable. He wants to make sure “the new mayor’s values align with the communities of Ward 1 and 2.
Gary Martin is a chartered accountant and has taught at Lambton College. He has been in the president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture since 2020. He has also served on the City of Sarnia Airport Action Working Group. “This is my home and I would like to see it prosper,” said Martin
Bill Myers just completed his first term on the St. Clair Township Council.
Myers would like to see smaller scale homes being built as a solution for more affordable housing. This way more young adults and seniors will be able to remain in the community.
While the others campaign, Deputy Mayor Steve Miller has been acclaimed for another term.
St. Clair residents vote by mail with ballots due in the mail Oct. 18 or delivered to the municipal office on election day.