If the crowd at last night’s (Thursday) all candidates event in Tyendinaga Township is any indication, there’s a lot of interest in next month’s municipal election.
It was standing room only as close to 200 people jammed the Tyendinaga Recreation Centre for the meeting, organized by the library board and the volunteer fire department.
The most contentious topic and one that had some people wincing and fidgeting in their seats was that of family. Longtime Reeve Rick Phillips has two relatives running for council seats, Jen Phillips and James Cross.
Phillip’s challenger for the Reeve’s job is Sue Munro. She was criticized at the meeting for pointing out the relationships while campaigning, but she said she was just stating facts.
Reeve Phillips said Canada is a democratic country and anyone could run for council if they wished.
Most other council candidates agreed with incumbent councillor Heather Lang who said residents can use their own brains and vote for whom they want. She was happy to see so many women running for council.
Besides the two candidates for Reeve, seven people are running for council positions. They are Lang, incumbent Donald McFarlane, and William Bell, Claire Kennelly, Linda Stapely, along with Phillips and Cross. Adam Hannafin was acclaimed as Deputy-Reeve.
The Reeve hopefuls spoke first at the meeting, facilitated by James Durkin.
Sue Munro, well known in the community for her work with Citizens Against Melrose Quarry, came out swinging. She criticized Reeve Phillips for not letting the public know about changes to Hastings County’s Official Plan with regards to the hamlet of Blessington.
She was especially worried that many township by-laws hadn’t been updated in years, pointing to the recent problems with horses roaming free on Blessington Road.
She said there was a lack of vision and of accountability and that Tyendinaga needed active leadership, not apathy. She wondered why recent council budgets and by-laws weren’t posted on the municipal website.
For his part, a more subdued Rick Phillips said he was running on a good record. He said people wanted to live in Tyendinaga Township and that at a 3.5% growth rate it was the fastest growing community in the region.
According to Phillips people were choosing Tyendinaga because of good roads, a good library, great recreational opportunities, a quiet rural lifestyle, and low taxes.
“We’re living within our means and we’re steadily improving important infrastructure. We have no debt. This and past councils, along with our great staff, have been doing solid work on behalf of the residents.”
Reeve Phillips said experience at the helm of council would be of great benefit in the coming term with decisions on road and bridge work remaining the biggest challenges.
In regards to the roaming horses problem of last May, Phillips said it was a complicated issue and the heavy-handed enforcement of property by-laws
would only serve to pit neighbour against neighbour.
“The township had to do something, and we did, although we’d be happier if it didn’t cost taxpayers $24,000.”
The owner of the horses, Charlotte Bright, remains before the courts after being charged with mischief by the OPP.
Some of the other topics of discussion included the promotion of farming in Tyendinaga as there is a lot of unused farmland available.
Also, the number of serious accidents at the intersection of Deseronto and Belleville Roads was a major concern.
Tyendinaga Township, in partnership with Lennox and Addington County and Greater Napanee has applied for senior government funding of
up to 90% of the cost of a roundabout at the intersection.
Reeve Phillips said that is the funding is granted, Tyendinaga’s share of the cost would only be around $100,000.
The municipal election is October 22.