Candidates for Brooke-Alvinston council answer our questions

365

The Race for Mayor

Jamie Armstrong

Jamie Armstrong is challenging the incumbent for the top elected position in Brooke-Alvinston. The 60 year-old one term councillor and member of the Optimist Club, Agriculture Society and Rodeo Committee is concerned about the loss of funding from the province.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
The continued loss of funding from the province. We must continue to lobby the government for financial support and try to increase revenues by encouraging new business and residential expansion.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
Two motions were passed by the current council, one in Oct. 2021 handing the planning of the project to the Public works manager, the other was in March of 2022, when the Optimist Club came in and offered to donate $15,000 of matching funds to try and get the plans moving along. The plans finally got to the architects mid summer. The plan has support from the parks and rec committee. The municipality received a $327,000 pavilion from the Optimist Club for $80,000 of taxpayer money which had been slated for rebuild of the ball park washrooms. The municipality then applied for and received a grant for $64,000 for the new washrooms, which was applied to the arena reserves putting taxpayer revenue for this much used facility at $16,000. The motion of building the current pavilion passed with a 3 to 2 vote with the “no votes” saying the washrooms were too big and the pavilion was too big. After seeing some of the events that have been held here, it would appear the Optimist hit the size right on. The Optimist Club is only interested in building what we need and keeping the costs within budget and do not plan to build until all money has been raised from donations, fundraising or they are able to receive provincial or federal grant money. All stakeholders have been asked for input into the plans for the arena. I believe the plan is the right size and will not leave the municipality paying the bill. The plan should move forward and council should support establishing a community fund for fundraising. The arena project does not need focus from council. The motions are made and passed and it just needs the mayor/head of council to help move the project along and to talk positively about the project to help the Optimists receive grant money and encourage donations.
Recently, there has been several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
Currently the municipality has the services required to handle residential developments. Water and sewer are mandated by the province in that the water and sewage revenues must maintain and upgrade the system without using tax revenues which we are currently doing. The municipality needs to do a good job of reviewing their official plan, which is currently underway.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. It is clear this government is continuing the trend – with less provincial revenue, should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services at the level they are now? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
The municipality is experiencing growth at the present time and this will increase some revenues. We must keep tax increases at or below the annual cost of inflation by continuing to find efficiencies and collaborating with others. We must work and communicate with our municipal neighbors or we will lose revenues from services that we currently share with them. IE we currently are at risk of losing the Dawn-Euphemia fire agreement. At this time I do not believe we should cut any services.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
The municipality of Brooke Alvinston has always adjusted the mill rates. Revenue increases are based on expenditure increases which have been kept at the rate of inflation. The current mill rate is used and then adjusted to make the mill rate cover the costs. Be it an increase or a decrease.
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – but what municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
With the larger farm equipment that are using the roads. The roads are always a topic of concern for our rural areas. We need continuous improvement and planning to keep our roads in good shape for everyone to use. We should develop plans for infrastructure (bridges, large culvert and paving) improvements so when infrastructure grants for road repairs come through we have prioritized our needs and plans can be submitted for grants in a timely manner.

David Ferguson

David Ferguson, 63, the incumbent mayor is seeking a second term leading Brooke-Alvinston.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
Aging infrastructure that needs update and repair and decreasing population are 2 issues to discuss. The infrastructure issue is something all municipalities are struggling with, priorities have to be made prudently concerning rebuild and paving of roads, bridge and culvert reconstruction. Also the replacement of road graders and fire equipment has to be planned years in advance and money set aside. The municipality does have an asset management plan ,and we must look ahead and plan accordingly as each asset comes into play. The new housing developments that will bring new residents into our municipality helps to spread the costs associated to run the municipality over a larger tax base. As our population starts to build, this will support all services, schools and business in the immediate area .
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
The Optimist Club has constructed a beautiful pavilion that is used by many. This building is a need that has been addressed for the community . Since construction there has been several updates to the pavilion, some updates such as a bar area by The Optimists, security system and vandalism repairs by the municipality. Municipal staff with assistance from Sarnia Lambton Tourism applied for grants to assist in covering the $80,000 municipal money committed to the project – $68,000 was received due to staff efforts. The accessible washroom area was the eligible area of construction for the grant. Should the Optimist Club, with support of residents, pursue additions to the BAICCC,I would like to see 1) a feasibility study done by an independent consultant to justify the build and 2) a full open house for the public to view and ask questions on the proposal with a statement of where the funds will come from. The project is Optimist endorsed and should not be a consideration of council until, at a minimum the justification for the build is written by a consultant taking population, economics and need into the analysis.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
The municipality is placed quite nicely, having water, and sewer capacity to handle the proposed growth. Already having fibre optic lines in the municipality due to the collaborative efforts of Brooke Alvinston with neighbouring municipalities, natural gas in place , and owning shares in Bluewater Power . With an increase in residents this then promotes the health care side such as a doctor and other auxiliary businesses . Promoting governance and leadership training among residents would build a volunteer group or groups that could handle a number of needs in the community . This could be organizing transportation for residents with out vehicle access , basic home repairs or even basic financial education . Some of the groups may only be needed once or twice a year , but having a master list of interested volunteers spreads out the load so that no one individual or group is over whelmed . Meetings have been coordinated with Sarnia Lambtion Economic Partnership , this has resulted in SLEP reaching out to a program called Rural Change Makers . This program encourages young people between 19 and 35 years of age to get involved in their communities . Investments in youth leads to investments in communities for years to come . There is no one item to encourage investment there are a number , having the infrastructure kept repaired and updated , helping to resolve any issues in the housing expansion sector in a timely manner , demonstrating that we all look out for our neighbours . The above mentioned are just a few . It should also be pointed out that Brooke Alvinston has its own purse at the Sarnia Community Foundation , this fund provides an excellent donation opportunity for succession planning . My preference is to get a tax receipt that will benefit future generations in Brooke Alvinston
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. It is clear this government is continuing the trend – with less provincial revenue, should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services at the level they are now? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
In the last 10 years the Municipality is down 6.3 million dollars in OMPF funds . Tax increases are unavoidable . Services are now starting to show the strain . Increases must now be fully justified and the asset management plan should be at the forefront of all decisions , any misstep now will be magnified in the future . Prudent planning to address the needs is vital .
For the past two years, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation and the provincial government have delayed adjusting the market value property values which municipal taxes are based on. In that time, the cost of housing has nearly doubled. If MPAC were to complete a reassessment in 2023, municipalities could face a winfall of cash, and taxpayers would face crushing tax increases. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact of reassessment? Why or why not? 
I am committed to reducing the mil rate . Staff in all departments look at the immediate needs of the municipality and looks at the asset management plan , this starts the budget process . After the basic needs are identified ,staff then hands the budget over to council for their hands on involvement and input . This most often takes 2 or 3 meetings before approval . The financial treasurer then presents to council the mil rate for the money that has been identified as needed . And if council as a whole does not give approval , council then wades in to adjust areas of expense as council sees fit .
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – but what municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
The main issue in the rural area is keeping the roads safe for all and to keep them constructed to handle the weights they are being subjected to. This may encompass a number of things . Dust suppression has been raised as a safety concern especially for small children that wait near the road for school buses , the loss of hard top on some roads and the conversion of them to gravel which leads to the above mentioned dust suppression . The size of vehicles on the roads and the weight being carried is leading to deterioration , when roads are being reconstructed now , the requirements are far higher than 25 years ago . Box culverts in some places are reaching end of life , replacement must be planned and done for minimal disruption The drainage act is a municipal issue that for the most part looks after itself , but with larger storm events, 1 inch of drainage per 24 hours as a guideline is being called into question .

Candidates for Councillor

Vanessa Benoit

Vanessa Benoit, 43, is taking another run at municipal politics. The Alvinston resident ran for municipal council in 2018 and ran for the NDP in the Ontario election in June.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
The lack of funds in the wake of the many cuts to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund from the province. Given most of us don’t want big hikes to our property taxes, we need to come to terms with the fact the town barely has enough to maintain what it has without the help of provincial and federal grants. To increase our chances of getting more of these grants, I think we should pool our resources with some other small municipalities and hire a grant writer.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
I have not seen building plans, a budget, or an explanation of who would benefit from this next Optimist building project. I see so much else around the municipality that would benefit our community other than arena upgrades. I think that especially with new residential developments in town, there is a need for better safety along the roads. I’d like to see us put in more sidewalks in town. I’d also like to see a reduced speed limit along Shiloh between Alvinston and the conservation area. There are several places where we could add trails. We could create a municipal river access park with a canoe launch. We could also save the historic Campbell House from demolition. These projects, which would need to be funded through grants, would be accessible to all residents and visitors to the municipality and would work well with tourism.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
The new residential developments mean potentially more taxpayers, which would be a big help, but the volume of new housing being proposed is bound to change our community. Though some growth might be necessary to sustain us, I would want that growth to be limited both to protect agricultural land and our unique community experience. Sidewalks and road safety again come to mind when you think about how many more drivers would be on our roads. Parks and recreational spaces that we can all access are also important and could be an attraction for people looking at settling here. I think we need to plan for these improvements but proceed with prudence and with appropriate funding as it becomes available to us so as not to overburden taxpayers, which could scare away the homebuyers we hope to attract.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. This government is continuing the trend. Should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
There is not a lot that can be realistically cut. Roads, drains, buildings and grounds are on a schedule for maintenance and repair that has to be kept up for safety. At the same time, I think it’s important to avoid raising taxes as much as possible. I think the key is to look at alternative ways of bringing in more money, like hiring a municipal grant writer, allowing for some limited new development, and encouraging some strategic business growth in nature tourism and agro-tourism, that would help support our current businesses and maybe attract some new ones.

Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
If I’m elected, I would support reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to allow the municipality to collect only enough for what is essential, thereby lessening the impact of reassessment. I know that so many of us are already having to adjust to higher gas and grocery prices. I don’t think this is the right time for council to ask more than what is necessary from the taxpayer.
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – but what municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
It’s my understanding that road and drain maintenance are the most critical things that the municipality administers for rural and farm residents. There are also some water access issues for part of Brooke that need to be addressed by the next council. I would also like to foster a Brooke-Alvinston Business Association which I’m hoping would help some farm value-add businesses, and see what council can do to help grow our agro-tourism.

Jeannette Douglas

Jeannette Douglas is seeking her third-term as municipal councillor. The active volunteer is also a member of the Canada Day Committee and hosts a Community Christmas dinner each year.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
Brooke-Alvinston biggest issue is keeping taxes affordable with reduced funding from the provincial and federal government.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
The focus of the municipality should be on the upkeep of the whole municipality not just the arena.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
Municipality needs to encourage businesses new and old. Activities for the community.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. This government is continuing the trend. Should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
Services should be maintained as they are if possible. Grants and other areas of income should be found.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. Are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
If this happens any windfalls should be used to reduce the mil rate to lessen the impact of reassessment.
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – what issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
Roads and drainage are the most important issues for rural Brooke-Alvinston

Les Douglas

Les Douglas, 49, is making another run for a seat on council. The farmer is also a member of The Optimist Club.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
I think transparency is the biggest issue facing the municipality as well as a lack of a general plan and direction. When most of the votes are a three to two vote, this is a sign of a dysfunctional council, especially when it is the same councilors voting the same way every time.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
Yes the plans should move forward and council should be willing to work with the community groups that have expressed an interest and need for this upgrade to happen.

The current council is not willing to work with the various community groups to apply for grants to make this expansion a reality. They were not excited about the pavilion expansion right from the start, as they wanted separate stand alone washroom to be built. They did however in the end receive a grant of more than $60,000 which in turn decreased their overall contribution of taxpayer dollars. This goes to show what grants are out there if only they would help with this aspect of the expansion. That $60,000 was not earmarked for the continued expansion, however jut put into general reserves.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
There has been tons of investment in the community. We have housing developments in full gear, a crop input supplier has expanded recently and our local agricultural implement dealer is in current expansion. I feel the businesses have noticed what a good place it is to do business with relatively close proximity to a major 400 series highway as an overall centralized location. One must keep in mind that we are a largely agricultural based community and the infrastructure such as natural gas, hydro and especially roads must be built with the possibility of larger equipment moving on the roads as the average size of farms increases. The resurfacing of Shiloh line is a great example of building a road that is wide enough for large equipment to move safely around the community. In the future this must be kept in mind when doing road re construction.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. This government is continuing the trend. Should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services? If not, what services should be cut?
Taxes are always gong to increase, it is just a fact of life, the real goal is to use this taxpayer money wisely and try to maintain tax increases to an attainable consumer friendly rate, and have a realistic plan in place to use the money wisely.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
Taxes are going to increase as property values increase, its a fact of life, but we have the ability to soften the blow to the people. I would have to see the numbers before I could fully commit to this, but we can’t stay the same all the time and must progress or one becomes stagnant.
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – but what municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
The roads need to be addressed in a proper manner. The roads need to be built with the increase size of equipment, and farm size in general, in mind. Trucks are running up and down these roads all the time whether it is to a livestock farm moving feed or animals, or a cash crop farm moving products out of storage. Equipment is getting larger and roadways need to be wide enough with shoulders and flat enough for producers to safely move equipment and keep both operator and the general public safe. Municipalities could also aid in making sure the hydro and natural gas capabilities are adequate for rural residents and in the future.

Gregory Hilliard

Gregory Hilliard, 39, is making his first run in municipal politics.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
Cooperation from municipal organizations. Red tape and lack of accountability
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
I have never seen a more determined and effective not for profit than the Optimist club. Reasonable investment and cooperation from the municipality can bring an incredible value to the residence of Brooke. All public assets need the constant attention from council.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
Continued focus from council on connectivity – high speed internet and wireless networks. Expansion of access to natural gas to outlying residents are key. It is also vital that we do not grow beyond our means. If growth comes at the expense or loss of green space and agricultural land then perhaps its not for the better.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants to rural communities. This government is continuing the trend. Should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services at the level they are now? If not, what services should be cut?
We need to be a loud and unified council when communicating with Provincial representatives. On a local level we can look for ways to maintain services while improving efficacy. I’m driving a 16 year-old pick up truck that still looks and runs like new but only because I made preventative maintenance a priority. If we look at each piece of equipment acquired by the municipality and consider what measures might be taken to extend its service life, it will result in a long term savings. We need to also think outside the box and invest in technology that will reduce overhead. Robotic lawn maintenance equipment is currently being employed by the city of Kitchener Waterloo with excellent results.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
Absolutely. The current value of homes in this country is out of control. Taxes need to reflect the actual cost of providing municipal services not to inflated value of a run away housing market. Property tax increases hurt the most vulnerable in our community first and hardest. A crushing Tax increase would instantly force many long time residents from their homes and in a hart beat our community would loose much more.
What municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
Access to natural gas and High speed internet are essential to helping Family farms stay competitive. An open mind and flexibility when it comes to zoning and alternative land uses. Affordable housing in and around town will help farmers find and retain labor.

Don McCabe

Don McCabe is well-known in farm politics as the former president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. The 60 year-old farmer is taking his first run at municipal politics.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
Revenue. Due to government cutbacks to funds usually destined for Brooke-Alvinston, and rerouted to urban centers over rural areas, the reserves for the municipality have been drawn upon recently. Reserves should be used to complete infrastructure and projects deemed necessary when current yearly tax dollars will not suffice. How long could you and your family continue to pull from savings?
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
The BAICC needs upgrades and improvements to the current facility as identified by municipal staff. The BAICC always needs to be a focus item for council as it is a facility of note to the community for emergency shelter needs in case of emergency to recreational purposes and assembly space for meetings. However, no clear plans or vision for the Optimist plan have been defined for the community. Until the community unites on the plans, and the revenue sources for such a build are quantified accurately, there is NO reason for council to deliberate on the expansion of the facility. Revenues are tight. Once the facility is built it will become taxpayer maintained. Brooke-Alvinston needs to stay focused on the issues facing its immediate future that will be tempered with inflation, interest rate hikes and supply chain issues in the coming years.
There are several new residential developments in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
Brooke-Alvinston needs to have a progressive policy environment accompanied with communication that welcomes not only residential development but commercial and industrial, too. Having shovel ready areas identified and zoned properly helps to attract developers. This means having information readily available for prospective investors to review and see the great opportunities that exist in Inwood, Alvinston and Brooke. The area is well serviced in most regards with water, sewer, broadband and some access to natural gas. Some areas can be improved. Let’s get interested parties and have those dialogues.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund This government is continuing the trend. With less provincial revenue, should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services? If not, what services should be cut?
No doubt, services will have to be cut without tax increases unless the province reverses this trend. Advocacy to the province using the venues of AMO and ROMA area required to increase to state the case for rural Ontario. Brooke-Alvinston is not alone in this case. All rural municipalities are feeling these cuts. The province has a four year mandate after the election; building highways for Toronto and health care for urban centers – over rural Ontario’s needs – is truly unbalanced. Advocacy is necessary by all means and venues to get the government to realize that rural Ontario is the backbone of the provincial economy and deserves respect.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. Are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessen the impact?
The mil rate will need to be adjusted to avoid unnecessary gouging of the taxpayer due to the recent housing price boom. However, it is necessary to note the ag land assessment has already been brought in prior to this housing explosion and farmers saw their landbase had appreciated a great deal with a subsequent tax increase ensuing even after a mil rate adjustment. Therefore, residential can expect similar treatment. That said, the property value and mil rate need to be set at rates that will only bring in needed taxes to meet the needs and services of the municipality as deemed necessary for the community.
What municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
The farm community of Brooke-Alvinston is an economic powerhouse that feeds, clothes, provides biodiversity habitat, sequestering carbon, numerous bioeconomy products, etc. At the same time it is a location for a family to reside that deserves the same services as expected in urban areas. So, the first priority is to provide good infrastructure in terms of roads, bridges and drainage for the farm commodities produced in Brooke-Alvinston to continue to reach local and global needs. The provincial government put in a program for natural gas expansion under its last mandate that has not been realized yet. Again advocacy to remind both provincial and federal governments of the great contribution coming from this area to address society’s needs as a whole needs recognition by investment back is needed.

Frank Nemcek

Frank Nemcek – the current deputy mayor – is hoping to return to council. The 68 year-old farmer stresses fiscal management.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
The biggest issue in my opinion is the arena addition. I am in favor of the addition if The Optimist can raise the money needed, by fundraising and applying for grants to cover the cost. I am not in favor of putting this on the tax role, so it has to be 100 per cent funded by donations and grants.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
In my opinion the main focus of council should be our infrastructure, mainly roads which we all use. The municipality has spent a lot of money on the arena complex over the past few years to make it a first class facility to use for hockey, baseball, figure skating, weddings, dances etc. We should be proud that we have such a fine facility here.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages. What services are needed as the municipality grows?
We are lucky that when our sewer and water plants were built they were built oversize.

Now, we have the capacity for all the new development which is happening in Alvinston but we still need to keep replacing the old sidewalks and work on street drainage.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund. This government is continuing the trend – with less provincial revenue, should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services at the level they are now? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
Yes, our funding has been cut, but with good management with the funds we do have, I think we have done well to keep the services people expect without raising taxes too much above inflation. In this day and age, everything you touch has gone up, plus we have to promote the services we have now like high speed internet and a good work force. Like my dad always said to me ‘you can’t spend money you don’t have.’ So, we have to do the best we can with the money we do have. I hope we will not have to cut any services.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. Are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
With the new assessment I think we should be able to keep taxes where they are or maybe drop the mill rate a little to give everyone a break from higher property taxes. It is a wait and see what the assessment is going to be.
What municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
In my opinion, the main farm issue is the roads. We all have bigger equipment these days so we need good safe roads to travel on, also we need to continue to extend water lines to farms which need a secure water supply for their operation.

Jenny Redick

Jenny Redick, 49, is taking her first run at municipal politics. Redick most recently has been active in the community raising money with the Tanner Redick Memorial Tournament. She is also a member of The Alvinston Optimist Club.
What is the biggest issue facing Brooke-Alvinston and what should be done about it?
I have lived in this community my entire life, and I would like to see this municipality to continue to grow and where people are proud to say they are from Brooke -Alvinston – Inwood. I would say that infrastructure would be one of the issues that Brooke – Alvinston – Inwood would be facing. Infrastructure is expensive to maintain and Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood is a large area. So as a council we need to make sure that there is money in the budget to maintain and or make improvements to our infrastructure.
Over the past four years, the local Optimist Club has built a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Some are concerned the future plans are too expensive and in the end, the municipality will end up footing some of the bill. What do you think still needs to be done at the BAICC? Should the arena and community centre be a focus of council right now?
I am a supporter of any kind of improvements and development in our municipality that will give the residents a better quality of life. The Optimist has made it very clear the municipality will not be held responsible for the cost of the improvements to the BAICC. The pavilion from start to finish took years to complete and to fundraise for. I believe if the improvements can be made to the BAICC through fundraising, sponsorships and government grants than it is a great idea. I believe that the next phase of the improvements will again take a few years to complete as fundraising does not happen over night.
There are several residential developments – including a subdivision in the planning stages – in Brooke-Alvinston. What services are needed as the municipality grows? What could the municipality do to encourage more investment?
I think it is great that there has been residential developments in the municipality and I think it will be important to ask the residents of the municipality what they would like to see, having open communication with residents and organizations and current business owners and future business owners is the key to being successful. Being innovated and not working in silos is important to attract more investment into the municipality.
Brooke-Alvinson is among the rural municipalities in Ontario which have lost millions of dollars as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund. This government is continuing the trend – with less provincial revenue, should the municipality be raising taxes to keep services at the level they are now? If not, what services should be cut to meet the reality of less funding?
It is unfortunate that the current provincial government has reduced grants. Reduce doesn’t mean there isn’t any available. As a municipality it is even more important now to find what grants are available and to utilize them and not wait. If I am elected I would ensure that the council works together to what ever we can so we do not have to raise the taxes.
Housing prices have more than doubled and that could mean municipal taxpayers may face a big hit this year if the Municipal Property Tax Assessment moves ahead. If you are elected, are you committed to reducing Brooke-Alvinston’s mil rate to lessening the impact?
If elected I would certainly want to learn more about the mil rate and what can be done. With the cost of everything rising it is important that the municipality look at ever avenue so that taxes do not increase. No one wants to see a drastic increase in their taxes so if elected I would want to make sure I could gather all the information so I could have knowledge to be able to make a decision that is right for the municipality.
Municipal government’s often focus on services in urban areas – but what municipal issue needs to be addressed in Brooke-Alvinston’s farm community?
While talking to many different people in the farm community, the issue of roads, severances and drainage have been the common issues that have come up. So if elected, I would like to learn more what the municipality can do to ensure our farming community does not get left out.