Gord Weidenhamer is an incumbent candidate for the seat of Head of Council for the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester in the October 24 Municipal election. The following are his answers to an interview.
Question: After four years on council what do you see as the five most important issues the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester is facing? Have these changed in four years? Has there been progress made?
Answer: Taxes are always on everyone’s mind, they are affected by higher assessments, down loading from upper government etc. Future councils must find a way to balance spending with the services that people demand, making the community attractive for future generations.
Amalgamation has been a big challenge — the two municipalities operated on their own for over 100 years, so the merger created a lot of challenges and it’s still not finished yet. It’s probably the toughest challenge we have had to face over the past four years. It takes time to adapt to change.
The controversy over the capital projects (complex and water plant) is another challenge. The water plant is operating, the complex in the very near future and both will be positives for the people and the community for years to come.
Healthcare is another. It’s been a struggle to work with the current government changes and mandates. We have had to fight tooth and nail to get any information and we must continue to fight to retain all our services.
Infrastructure — urban, rural and the Lake area. It is important to keep it all intact and upgraded so people can live in a safe environment.
Flood Protection – The current project underway is based on a 1 in 300 year protection. Water issues have been at the top of the agenda for a long time, especially in regard to Whitewater Lake. There are roadblocks along the way — every time it seems we are very close to resolving it – something comes up to stop the progress. The Municipality has taken a huge tax dollar loss with thousands of acres being under water and the lack of economic spin-off from agriculture and fowl hunting at Whitewater Lake.
Question: With the recent loss of the TD Canada Trust and other empty retails spaces, what do you see as the role for economic development? Does the RM have a Development Plan?
Answer: We need to work on making Deloraine more attractive to small businesses. We have to come up with a broad plan for tax incentives, identified housing and business that promotes the community — the town, rural and resort area to entrepreneurs. On-line business is the biggest competition. I believe in shopping at home, a dollar at home changes hands seven approximately seven times in the community. People have to ask themselves is it a value to them to keep their dollars at home and keep it local.
Question: What is the current state of the capital projects? Water Plant? Complex?
Answer: They are still working a few bugs out of the water plant. We are disappointed on the information we receive from Water Services and the government. Communication has not been great. The old water tower and plant are coming down this fall.
As for the Complex – it is on time and under budget. Hopefully, someday all the residents will look back and realize it is a valuable asset to our community.
Question: What does the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester look like in 20 years?
Answer: I believe in 20 years Deloraine-Winchester will be a sustainable community with schools, recreation healthcare and the necessities. A place people can raise their families and stay to retirement with existing services retained. We need families interested and engaged to support the area. With recent growth in the recreation area and town — I think it is a positive sign for the future.
Question: Any further thoughts?
Answer: In closing, I consider myself community-minded and have a long family history in the area. I believe in volunteer work and will continue to do my share as well as encourage others to participate. I have a keen interest in seeing every project through to completion. Sports and recreation are important to keep youth on the right track and keep our seniors active and healthy.
Good Health + involvement in your community = positive outlook on life.
Thank you for your time and please exercise your right to vote on October 24.