Plympton-Wyoming mayoral candidates answer our questions

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As part of our election coverage, The Independent recently sent a survey to all candidates running for office in Plympton-Wyoming; the following are their answers.

Gary Atkinson

Gary Atkinson, 71, after serving four years on Plympton-Wyoming council is running for the town’s top job. Atkinson, who is retired, is also active in the community serving on the local Agricultural Society, as a director with St. Francis Advocates and on the Lambton Agricultural Hall of Fame. He’s also coached minor baseball and was on the committee of adjustment.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?
In no particular order: 1. Regulation and operation of Air B&Bs within the town. 2. How to deal with the side effects of the residential growth we have experienced. 3. Business and commercial development within Wyoming and Camlachie. 4. Dealing with the recommendations, setting the course on an action plan as well as preparing the financing on recommendations of the Waste Water Management report. 6. Internet service for all our residents and businesses.
What would you do about the issue you identified?

The number of residential Air B&Bs have grown within our community the last few years. Staff are currently reviewing the policy we have in place and we are awaiting further recommendations prior to updating same. They need to be fair to the business owners yet be respectful to the neighbours and residents who live close by. This item is ongoing and I believe it is something that is long over due and needs to be dealt with ASAP. 2. We have been fortunate to have experienced the residential growth that we have had the last few years. Our infrastructure especially our roads need work. We have to have establish/maintain a direction to proceed and especially with maintaining our roads. 3. We need to develop our business and commercial area within PW. See the next section for same. 4. Our recently released Waste Water Management report indicates a path for us to follow. This is to upgrade and add new equipment to ensure our system operates as needed without failure moving forward. The report is complete and the recommendations by the engineer need to be followed. 6. There are several areas within our community that are lacking good internet service. We need to continue to lobby and work with SWIFT to ensure we fulfil the needs of all our residents.

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?

I think we need to be progressive in our search to bring in new business to our community. We need positive planning that encourages businesses to want to come to PW. We need a plan in place to approach and encourage merchants to open their doors in our town and possibly create and promote incentives for them .
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 the necessities. Grocery store, gas station and even a hardware store to begin with, from there we can encourage further development of other opportunities as well. In Wyoming proper, there is room for small business development and the municipality on the whole could use a small industry to assist employment. We need to work with planning to be able to accommodate and work with those businesses looking to open in PW. As mayor I would encourage council to look for incentives for the businesses that want to establish themselves, develop and have a footprint within our community.

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?

Lamrecton Park officially now belongs to the town and it is classified as a passive park. I believe it should remain with that designation. McEwen Park does not officially belong to the town as of this date. Having said that – the town is maintaining it, and keeping it available for use by our residents. I believe it should remain with a passive designation. Although Highland Glen does not officially belong to the town, but we look forward with anticipation to when this does happen. Council needs to be aware of the costs associated with rehabilitation of the park. This includes the former boat launch as well as the infrastructure going into the park. Further studies need to be done as well as discussions and input from within the community before financial commitment is made. We want to get it right prior to proceeding with this project.

Tim Wilkins

Tim Wilkins has served as a councillor in Plympton-Wyoming for the past four years. This election the farmer and business owner running to represent the municipality as mayor. Wilkins has served as a volunteer firefighter in Camlachie for 17 years. He’s also a member of the department’s peer support team.
What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?

I’m fighting for a lot of different things as a candidate, but if I had to choose just one issue, it would be infrastructure. We have seen a tremendous growth in residential development, but our infrastructure is at threat of not keeping pace. Things like our roads, sewers, water and wastewater are all infrastructure projects that need to be invested in before we continue development at the pace we have seen.

What would you do about the issue you identified?

We need to ensure we act on our wastewater master plan. We have the plan and now we need to get to work on making smart investments in our infrastructure to save us down the road. We need to also look at developing grant programs for high-risk areas in our municipalities and support older homes in desperate need of upgrades, like the installation of backflow preventers and check valves. Infrastructure means we also need to improve the maintenance of our roads, from resurfacing projects to grading and snow removal.

Plympton-Wyoming’s housing market is booming, however there has not been a great deal of economic development in the community providing jobs. What do you think needs to be done to attract new businesses?

Commercial and economic development is absolutely critical moving forward, and council needs to start prioritizing it. Council needs to start shifting focus to supporting businesses and commercial areas instead of ignoring them. We need to invest in community grants that freshen up our commercial core in Wyoming and help owners refresh their storefronts. We need to maintain a low and competitive tax rate and aim to improve the commercial efforts in the Camlachie area. We need to position Plympton-Wyoming as a good place to invest and grow a business.

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.

First, I just want to say how happy I am that the current council was able to help secure a wellness facility and doctor’s office in Wyoming. This is incredibly important and was something our town desperately needed. Moving forward, I see an opportunity for additional services for both the aging community and new families. These are both growing demographics in Plympton-Wyoming, and we should help encourage space and providers of these types of services.

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?

These are all incredible feats and great assets for the Town of Plympton-Wyoming. As the chair of the committee that helped bring the Highland Glen Park and boat launch back to life, I’m proud to talk about the future of these parks. The opportunity at Highland Glen park, for example, is massive. Ultimately, though, I think the use for these parks and future improvements must be determined through public consultation to ensure we transform these parks in usable assets for the entirety of Plympton-Wyoming.

Muriel Wright

One of Muriel Wright’s first exposures to politics was in the 1980s, when she worked with others to keep Toronto garbage from coming to Lambton County. The agriculturalist, who took courses on Environmental Law at Lambton College, also helped organize the local Blue Box recycling program.
She’s been active in 4H in her youth and the Women’s Institute and her church. After serving four years as deputy mayor, she’s running for the top job.

What is the most important issue facing Plympton-Wyoming in the next four years?

As Mayor, my number one goal will be to closely monitor the upgrades to our water and sewage treatment plants in conjunction with the rate of our growth. The continued growth of parks in our town has expanded to 22 parks and right of ways with a new waste water park to be added next year. The budget has grown to $600,000 this year and expected to increase yearly as demand becomes higher. The town needs to have an over all assessment of its needs for new parks and management of existing parks, known as a Master Plan. It is the only plan we have not completed. Providing quality and affordable services while keeping the tax rate reasonable. Every year we struggle with the rising rate of inflation to keep our tax low.

What would you do about the issue you identified?

As mayor, I will work with council and administration to work through the tough decisions that need to be made. We will continue to follow our strategic plan of evaluating all reports in their priority level. Continue to apply for government grants. Implement a Master Plan for Parks and Recreation. I will embrace the challenges ahead and work together with council and the ratepayers to lead us through tough decisions that will benefit the entire community.

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?

I have personally been a member of Sarnia Lambton Economic Partners. Plympton-Wyoming used to send a representative but has not participated with SLEP in recent years. As mayor, I would reinstate participation in SLEP and establish a local committee to participate and bring back the Business After Five monthly activities of networking with all businesses. The municipality could establish incentives to help partner business incentives. The town needs to encourage businesses to sustain our housing developments.

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.

As mayor, I would work with SLEP and Chamber of Commerce to develop a Strategic Plan to work with existing business and creating incentives to new businesses to come to town. Possibly reinstating the BIA of Wyoming Businesses. Establishing seasonal activities and celebrations to encourage businesses to participate and contribute to the community.

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?

Plympton-Wyoming has not received the blessing of the ownership of McEwen and Highland Glen (from the province) as of yet. I believe the condition on all parks, is that they have to remain passive, to never be developed. PW has an agreement with the St. Clair Conservation Authority to do maintenance only. The Highland Glen boat ramp has been given the go ahead to be repaired. Passive parks are commonly used by the general public for regular recreation and personal use such as picnics and swimming and water sports.