MARDEN – Crime creeping in from Guelph was a top of mind concern from some candidates in Guelph/Eramosa.
Attendees heard this at a Thursday evening debate at the Marden Community where township and county council candidates hoping to represent Guelph/Eramosa had their chance to state their case in a debate.
First time candidate Philip Mullis vying for Ward 1 first brought this up during opening remarks where each candidate was allotted two minutes.
“Right now we have a lot of crime creeping in from the city,” Mullis said.
When later asked to elaborate on how he would address this by an audience member, Mullis stated he would advocate to the county for increased patrols but later clarified he didn’t believe throwing money at the problem was necessarily the right move.
“It needs to be something addressed as a community and with various police and enforcement to get more activity out here,” Mullis said. “The back roads are being used excessively by people speeding, we have trucks being stolen out of the driveways on our streets, it’s getting quite crazy. There was a meth lab on (Wellington Road) 32.”
Ward 2 candidate Peter Jones, who presented himself as a first time candidate without an agenda looking to get involved in his community, told the crowd of a time he ended up chasing after a man who stole an e-bike from his property.
“It took the cops an hour and a half, an hour and a half, my wife was home, my son was home, my mother was home and I gotta chase this idiot?” Jones said.
Ward 3 candidate Lisa Logan-Dayman, another first time candidate from Rockwood, claimed to have caught people attempting to break into her garage and has neighbours experiencing break-ins as well.
“We need more police presence, they’re there but not in Rockwood or the surrounding area because they’re in Mount Forest and everywhere, the OPP doesn’t just do our area, especially in the evenings,” Logan-Dayman said.
Incumbent Ward 8 county councillor Doug Breen, seeking a third term on council with previous experience on township council, acknowledged this as a problem that has recently been brought up at council meeting. He said a major problem is police officers getting tied up in doing paperwork.
While that issue is being solved, Breen encouraged residents to report crimes regardless of how small they may be so “they can build stats, so they can build stats so they can start figuring out where to deploy resources, so information is power.”
The controversial Minus 40 fridge plant was brought up by one attendee who asked the Ward 3 candidates directly what their positions were on the application that was approved as he said he felt the community’s opposition wasn’t heard.
Logan-Dayman said the plant might be a good thing in the long run for bringing in jobs and believed some concerns over truck traffic may have been overstated as the plant is focused on industrial refrigeration. However she clarified she would have to look into the issue further.
Steve Liebig, Ward 3 incumbent who was appointed after the fridge plant decision when the previous councillor resigned, said switching farmland to industrial doesn’t make the environment better.
“Unfortunately I didn’t have a voice in the voting,” Liebig said. “Looking back, had I been on council, as I spoke on the podium tonight, I’m here for you, I’m your voice, I will fight for people.”
Other incumbents largely stuck to their track record as their pitch for another term.
Ward 1 incumbent Bruce Dickieson said he always responds to constituents’ concerns and helps direct them where he can or speak on their behalf.
“I’m very comfortable sharing my input at council meetings, I have a strong belief and a practical approach which I’ve utilized during my term,” Dickieson said.
“Economic development is essential to help diversify the tax base, infrastructure renewal is key to long term financial viability of our municipality.”
Corey Woods, Ward 2 incumbent seeking a fourth term, noted residents of his ward pay 16 per cent in taxes but have seen 32 per cent of capital spending which he saw as a good deal. He said he wished to continue focusing on infrastructure in his next term.
“I would like to continue to see the following for roads: expanded maintenance gravel not only for our gravel roads but shouldering of our paved roads, improve ditching in rural areas, continuous cutting of dead or hazardous trees, expanded tree planting along our road sides, continue to upgrade as many roads and bridges as our budgets allow,” Woods said.
Damian Mallard, a first time candidate seeking the Ward 2 seat, mainly focused on his issues with changes to Marden Park where two ball diamonds were removed — and replaced with an elevated soccer field and football field — which he believed is costing the township revenue generated from tournaments.
“This park is an embarrassment to the township and a waste of taxpayers money and in my opinion there should be some kind of accountability,” Mallard said.
Melanie Flake, a first time candidate for the county’s Ward 8 seat, said the county needs to attract more businesses, doctors, residents and to improve seniors’ services. She said she believed creating more housing options such as encouraging creating rental units in existing houses or buildings.
“The county also has grants to make this happen and other grants for landlords and businesses to carry out improvements,” Flake said.
“Overall the county and township needs to provide more help and encourage residents to take on these projects and do a better job promoting them.”