Environment Haliburton is making sure our candidates are thinking about the environment.

EH! is an organization in Haliburton County dedicated to a number of initiatives including environmental protection and conservation, educating about environmental issues and lobbying governments to protect the ecosystem.

With the election less than a month away, EH! posed several questions to the candidates. The first question was “if elected, will you commit to implementing an operating transit system by the end of your four-year term?” Of the four candidates vying for councillor positions in Algonquin Highlands, only two replied. They said that they support a transit system but the geography of Algonquin Highlands could be problematic.

In Dysart, the majority of candidates felt that they could commit to a transit system but with other things that need to fall into place to commit. Bram Lebo said that more housing is a priority. Nancy Woods-Roberts said she would not commit.

Of the Highlands East candidates that answered, all but one said that they would commit to a transit system. Ruth Strong said that if elected she would make her decision based on the info provided and what makes sense for the county.

The candidates in Minden Hills, generally speaking, supported the idea of a transit system, and Brent Devolin, Wayne Hancock, Jennifer Hughey, Richard Bradley and Pam Sayne all said yes they would commit. Jon Teljeur, a member of the transportation task force, said that there is no question that a service would be valuable, the challenge lays in finding a workable and affordable model.

The next question asked was “will you commit to doing everything you can to develop a county-wide Climate Change Adaptation Plan?” The candidates in Minden Hills were all in support of getting involved in such a plan even though councillors are not involved in county-wide decisions.

Dysart’s candidates all agreed to support the plan for a variety of reasons. Patrick Kennedy, who is running for deputy mayor, pointed out that although the county does not have a formal plan, they have taken on several initiatives to combat climate change.

Highlands East candidates were unanimous in agreeing to do everything they can for a Climate Change Plan.

The two candidates running in Algonquin Highlands that answered differed in their response. David Lawson said yes because every little thing will add up. Brian Lynch said that a climate change plan is best handled at a county level.

Environmental issues weren’t the only thing touched on by EH! They also asked: “Will you ensure that your municipality takes into consideration the production, processing and retail of local foods and land use when forming by-laws and amendments?” In Highlands East, everyone that answered the survey with the exception of Strong said that they will ensure that is noted in by-law conversations.

“In a word, yes” was part of the answer by Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin. The other candidates all suggested that they would be willing to fight for that. John Teljeur said that although that is important, his focus would be on food insecurity.

All of the candidates running in Dysart said yes they would fight for food considerations in by-law creation and amendments. Patrick Kennedy noted the 2010 G20 and the 2003 blackout as situations that showed the “frailty of our food and other resources supply chain here in the County.”

Lynch noted that in Algonquin Highlands the Environmental Committee discussed at length this topic. Lawson said he is for it, to allow Algonquin Highlands to be more self-sufficient.

When asked if they would ensure the wetlands protection provisions are enforced. The majority said yes they would. Patrick Kennedy noted that the municipality follows provincial guidelines.

The candidates of Highlands East collectively agreed that they would do their best to enforce the provisions. Cam McKenzie was surprised that there are only eight provincially significant wetlands in the county, saying “I thought we had several here in Highlands East.”

In Algonquin Highlands, Lynch said that the environmental committee addressed this head on and is committed to working with the province to map the wetlands. Lawson is for enforcing the provisions saying that wetlands are important to the environment, adding “they help purify the water provide habitat for many animals (sic).”

Minden Hills candidates stood united in their thoughts. All of them agreed to enforce the provisions and stressed the importance of the wetlands.

“If elected, do you commit supporting efforts made by several organizations to protect species at risk?” is a question that every candidate that answered the questionnaire said yes to.

The questionnaire also asked candidates if they would support the renaturalization of Haliburton County’s lakes. To which, the majority felt that more education for property owners was a good first step to preserving the shorelines of the county’s 600 plus lakes.

The last question was a three-part question pertaining to septic inspection, which almost all of the candidates pointed out that the county already has a septic re-inspection in place. The second part asked if candidates would support the idea of restricting boat size on lakes. Most of the candidates felt that there should be some level of restrictions in place, but it would be incredibly challenging to enforce. And the third part asked if candidates would stand for banning lead-based fireworks on lakes. The idea of a complete ban on fireworks was not supported by several candidates noted that there are by-laws attached to the noise associated with fireworks. Murray Fearrey suggested timed bans rather than all year round.

The candidates running in the municipal elections that did not reply to the questionnaire are Dave Burton, Cheryl Ellis, David McKay, Mike Stinson, Cindy Baumhour, Tammy Donaldson, Aaron Walker, Jennifer Dailloux, Julia Shortreed, James Deterling, Suzanne Partridge, Steven Kaufeldt, Jarrett Campbell, Ron Nesbitt, Clayton Cameron, Rob Luke, Mike Grozelle, Russ Duhaime, and Jean Neville.

Although she did reply, Ruth Strong’s response to each of the questions was “If elected I will look at all info and facts and I will make decisions based on info provided and will look at what makes sense for the County, Municipality and my ward with taxpayers in mind.”