Plympton-Wyoming candidates for councillor answer our questions

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The Independent recently sent a survey to all candidates running for office in Plympton-Wyoming; the following are their answers. We asked candidates to keep their answers to 150 words. Some have been edited for length.

Alex Boughen

Alex Boughen, 29, is taking his first foray into municipal politics. The University of Guelph graduate is a volunteer firefighter, and serves on the Lambton Group Police Services Board. He’s also volunteered on Plympton-Wyoming’s new special events committee.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
Infrastructure: we need to repair and maintain existing infrastructure that is in need of repair (especially our roads), while simultaneously planning for the long-term by investing in infrastructure projects that ensure we stay ahead of current and future development (water, wastewater, sewers). Fiscal responsibility and affordability is another: with skyrocketing prices and record breaking property assessments, people are scared they’re being priced out of their home. There’s no denying that we’re facing an affordability crisis. A lot of the contributing factors are not directly in the realm of municipal government but there is a role council can play, and that requires a commitment to fiscally responsible long-term decision making so increasing and unexpected costs don’t fall solely on the backs of the taxpayer.
What would you do about the issue?
Infrastructure: We need to work closely with staff to further identify issue areas like our roads and understand what challenges staff are facing when it comes to repairs and ongoing maintenance. We need to ensure they have the resources to act on them. Part of that is ramping up our efforts when it comes to provincial and federal funding opportunities. We also need to act on the recommendations made in things like the recent 2021 Wastewater Servicing Master Plan. We cannot afford to fall behind when it comes to wastewater infrastructure. With the development we’re seeing, we’re in for a world of hurt if our infrastructure surpasses its capacity. Cost of living: Fiscally responsible decision making does not mean jeopardizing critical capital investments. It’s about long-term planning and securing provincial and federal funding to support both capital projects and smaller scale upgrades to our parks, trails, and waterfront. While we need to continue investing in infrastructure and other community projects, we need to simultaneously ensure that property taxes remain stable so that people who want to live here can continue to live here, without fear of being priced out. Part of this is diversifying the tax base and prioritizing responsible commercial, industrial and economic development.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development providing jobs. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
We’ve been neglecting commercial, industrial, and economic development and it’s going to hurt us in the medium- to long-term if we don’t shift priorities in this next term of council. When it comes to attracting businesses, there’s tools available like community improvement plans or looking at development charges or commercial tax rates, but it needs to start with simply prioritizing economic development and data collection. Municipalities that can provide businesses with good, concise information about relevant factors – economic performance, wellbeing and demographics of the population, areas of opportunity based on community needs – are the ones that will attract new investments.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
With the recent development seeing an increase in younger families, recreation services are becoming more and more in need. And although we see an increase in young families within the community, we also have an aging population. Priority needs to be placed on the greater need for services and amenities for seniors. The downtown business core also lacks specialized/unique retail business opportunities, which can draw visitors from other communities and bring vibrancy to the downtown. Local restaurants are always a great addition to a community. Ultimately, I can provide my opinion on what services I think are missing but this is data that can be collected from the community and compiled into a report that outlines areas of opportunity. I will advocate for creative solutions, like seeking funding available through FedDev Ontario and OMAFRA to support data collection like this.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
Although each park is similar in their lake and beach access, there are differences that can lead to varying usage. With the boat launch and higher vehicular traffic as a result, I see value in Highland Glen remaining a passive space at the shoreline with beach access, greenspace, and picnic areas. There’s a bit more opportunity for active features at parks like Lamrecton, with its size/layout and proximity to residential areas. Although there’s lake access at a park like Lamrecton, I’m still a believer that council should look at active features like a splash pad, which are incredible assets for families with young children. Active features like a splash pad provide a safe and fun alternative to lake swimming and foster an environment that encourages interaction and community building. However, should council decide to consider changes like this, community consultation needs to take place.

Randy Dayman

Randy Dayman, 72, is taking another shot at politics. The retiree who has run federally hopes to become a Plympton-Wyoming councillor.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
It is highly important to me that our local government proceeds with cost effective sewage upgrades. Current infrastructure needs to be diligently maintained, which includes local roads and parks. We live in a family oriented community and we want to maintain that important aspect as we move forward.
What would you do about the issue you identified?
I am very skilled at looking for the most cost effective solutions.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs to the area. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
We need to provide infrastructure to attract businesses. It is important to get local businesses together to come up with a master plan.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
We need to listen to the business community to get their input. Current businesses in our community need our support and we need to gather their experienced input as we move forward.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
We need a total revamp at Highland Glen of the boat ramp and parking as well as upgrades to the public washroom facilities. It would also be advantageous to look into installing a playground and possible splash pad to attract families and create a destination on the shores of Lake Huron. Lamrection has been developed into a lovely venue and is being well utilized. McEwen Park also needs washroom upgrades to address large crowds that use the park. The concept of an outdoor ice rink at McEwen Park is one that needs move forward to create a fun winter activity for our community.

Kristen Rodrigues

Kristen Rodrigues, 56, has been helping her neighbours with political issues for 25 years including gaps in Internet services and shoreline emergency permits. Now she wants to help as a Plympton-Wyoming councillor.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
Agriculture is one of our most economical viable resources we have and more attention to policies and planning is needed to support diverse uses, awareness, promotion and education in globally climate sensitive times that we are facing. Development is necessary but there is a balance that we need to consider as it relates to our unique landscape. Following provincial mandates is necessary but it is broad in its context in recognition of each municipalities differences and the communities needs. Other important issues are parks and recreation, shoreline management and drainage.
What would you do about the issue you identified?
Participate with the community and council on innovative and smart planning solutions that provide the most support from and for the tax base.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs to the area. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
Over the last several years growth was steady and sustainable until exponential growth burst in high density cities and pushed into surrounding rural settings. In turn those on rural outliers of metropolitan cities burst and the combination drove many to smaller urban rural settings like PW. The pandemic amplified the demand quickly. Inflation, higher interest rates and the return to workplaces has quickly changed the anomaly and I believe slower or more normal growth rates will be restored to some degree. Now the focus should be on more focus towards economic development to support our larger population in order to sustain a viable and prosperous community and this includes the promotion of small business incentives as well as value added businesses on agricultural lands.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
The Wyoming and Camlachie business areas are lacking in amenities. Both require incentives, supports and promotional help. Small restaurants, local markets, gas in the north end, close to community centres where local and out-of-town visitors tend to come in higher numbers.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features?
These parks would definitely benefit from value added services. Some devices offered may have the ability to generate income to offset the costs of maintaining the parks as well. Community input and wish lists should help form what those services look like and what would actually be beneficial long term for the local and tourism sectors.

John van Klaveren

John van Klaveren, 59, is well known as a fast-talking auctioneer who has donated his services to all kinds of local charities. Now he wants to serve the community as a Plympton-Wyoming councillor.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
Long term planning including infrastructure.
What would you do about the issue you identified?
Prepare to meet growth.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs to the area. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
Pave the way for business startups and growth. Remove barriers that slow down expansion and encourage small business, farms and industry.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
Successful small business attracts successful small business. Encourage revitalization of retail settings, along with potential incentives.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
Having an area to experience the beauty of nature including the clean beach is a treasure. It could be considered to leave as a passive park for the many advantages of a quiet setting. If a park already has active features, insuring they are safe is important.

Mike Vasey

Mike Vasey, 58, is hoping to reclaim his seat on council. The former fire chief and member of the Wyoming Lions ran in the 2018 but failed to gain a seat. He became a councillor after the death of Ron Schenk.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
Retaining our small town friendliness, while improving infrastructure.
What would you do about the issue you identified?
Continue on with the momentum we have started with the social committee, engaging the public. Follow through with our master plans.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of development providing jobs. What needs to be done to attract businesses?
We have established commercial zones as a first step, next we need to get the word out we are open for business. We need to capitalize on our location with the rail, highway and border .
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
We are in desperate need of commercial centre in the Camlachie area. I would love to see a gas bar, variety with space for a small grocery and a restaurant. I would like to see the town acquire land and develop. This will allow us control and give us the ability to work with future tenants.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
With all three parks stipulations came with how they are to be used. A few years ago PW did not own any parkland on the lake. Now we have the three parks with about 45 Acres. It is important that they stay passive and allow access to the lake for all to enjoy. The boat ramp at Highland Glen is an attractive feature but must be economically feasible moving forward.

Conner Weed

Conner Weed, 28, has served his community as a firefighter, a minor ball volunteer, with the local agricultural society and as the president of the Wyoming Legion. But he also wants to serve as a Plympton-Wyoming councillor.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
One of the most important issues I see in the next four years is growth in Plympton-Wyoming
What would you do about the issue you identified?
Plympton-Wyoming is a growing community and there’s no better joy in my eyes than seeing families move to our municipality and start young families or on the other end of the spectrum moving to Plympton-Wyoming to retire. With growth comes issues and major questions. Is our wastewater facilities able to handle it? Is there a sufficient system for our storm water to get away fast and not flood every basement in the new subdivision? We have already seen some of these questions get overlooked in the new subdivision in Wyoming and would hate to see it continue to happen in the subdivisions to come.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs to the area. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
The old saying is if you build it they will come. I think the expansions happening right now in the valley is a great asset for Plympton-Wyoming and look forward to hearing other ideas from the community.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
I think downtown Wyoming isn’t in too bad of shape right now… at least we don’t have eight pizza shops downtown. With that being said services are going to be needed in Camlachie in the coming months/years. With all the houses and development happening there I don’t think it will be an issue attracting new businesses out that way.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
I don’t see a problem with a little of both. Our new special events board in Plympton Wyoming are doing a fantastic job and I hope to see more neighbourhood barbecues and small events at these park like we saw at McKay Park in Wyoming this past summer.

Bob Woolvett

Bob Woolvett, 72, is seeking his fourth term as councillor in Plympton-Wyoming.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
Infrastructure improvements including roads and bridges. Upgrades to water and sewer systems for future development. Expansion of natural gas infrastructure to rural areas.
What would you do about the issue you identified?
Work with staff and council to ensure we are doing the proper planning for these issues and other issues as they arise.
Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs to the area. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?
Our housing market has been hot. We have seen two new Equipment dealerships come to the town. We are a rural community with a lot of industry located in Sarnia for jobs. We have many small businesses in Plympton-Wyoming that employ people. We have a brewery and winery and our farmers also hire a lot of people. There are new residents that are coming to our town that now work from home virtually. To attract new business we need to keep an open mind and define what kind of business we would welcome. Proper planning is necessary.
Wyoming’s business centre has few businesses to serve the rapidly increasing population – what services are needed and how would you play a roll in attracting them.
We do have great businesses in Plympton-Wyoming. I believe we need a commercial plaza in the Camlachie area that would include a gas station/car wash. In Wyoming it is great to see a new equipment dealer, health centre, restaurant etc. The town needs to advertise we are open for new businesses and what incentives we can offer to locate here.
Plympton-Wyoming has recently taken over the management of three parks, Lamrecton, McEwen and Highland Glen – should they remain passive parks or have more active features? If so, what?
What a great opportunity it was for Council to get ownership of these three waterfront parks. The new council will have to do some good planning on what new features that could be put in these Parks. Lamrecton Park- has a large building that could be used for reunions/flea markets or other events requiring indoor use. Highland Glen Park – Council has approved funds to make the boat launch usable again. There could be an improved picnic area and gazebo for use in wet weather. Since we do not have final ownership of McEwen or Highland Glen the new council will be planning changes/improvements.

Mike Thompson

This candidate did not complete The Independent’s survey.