Editor's note: MidlandToday has asked council candidates in Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny Township to provide a synopsis of why they are running for public office. Municipal elections take place Oct. 24.
The following response is from Glen Canning, who is running for council in Midland. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can find candidate profiles and other election news.
What is your name, what will be your age on election day, and who are your key immediate family members you rely on for support?
Glen Canning, 60. My wife and my son.
In 10 words or less, why is your municipality the best in the province?
Caring and generous people with a strong sense of community.
What prompted you to run as a municipal leader?
I have always believed in giving back to my community. Since I am not a particularly wealthy man I have always offered my time. Outside of my time on council and over the last 24 years I have been involved in numerous committees in support of our town. I have served for years on the BIA, I was vice chair of the now defunct Parking Authority and for the last four years I had the privilege of serving on the Library Board and chairing the Community Hydro Distribution Advisory Committee (to name a few). Volunteering and working with various committees over the years has been both rewarding and educational. It has opened my eyes to the many challenges facing our community.
Midland Bay Landing is mired in controversy, involving contaminated land, residents wanting to protect parkland, developer visions for the future, and the municipality’s choice for that developer. What is your stance on Midland Bay Landing?
The Midland Bay Landing plan was the result of the most extensive (and legally mandated) public consultation in the history of this town. The final layout of the plan represented the most effective way of dealing with the contaminated areas (cover it with a building, cover it with a road/parking lot or turn it into green space) while financing the development of new park-lands with real waterfront access for all of the citizens of Midland.
I and my family attended all of the public hearings and the visioning sessions (my son was on the front page of a local newspaper after the second session - he looked great in the photo - me - not so much so) and we also submitted email suggestions to the panel so it would be dishonest to deny that now. Did we want more parkland? Yes. Could the town afford it? The hundreds of Midlanders’ who attended the public hearings said “No”.
Since the end of these public hearings in 2013 the economic conditions, the locations of the contaminated soil, the cost of soil remediation to create parkland (estimated at about $35 million in 2013 dollars) and the effect on taxes (anywhere from 15% to 50% tax increase to create new parks) have not changed.
The Midland Bay Landing Plan, as it stands, creates new parkland and a boardwalk accessible to everyone along the entire coastline without incurring a 15% to 50% property tax increase.
The existing plan was literally created by the people of Midland. It is the legal document that gave authority to the council of the day to remove the legal land use rights of the previous owner (who wished to turn the entire site into a salt/sand storage space for the province winter road maintenance program) and to purchase the land at less than 30% of its market value. Since the environmental conditions have not changed (the contaminated areas are still in the same place) and the economic conditions have worsened… why would reopening this plan result in anything other than the same or similar plan? The only result of reopening the Town’s plan would be to expose the Town to lawsuits of every entity that have incurred expenses based on the existing plan.
You will be asked to join committees and other municipal representations. Which are you eager to become involved in?
As a downtown merchant, father and husband my concerns draw me to the committees that support community safety, policing and economic development.
Voter apathy is always a concern, ranging between 25.7% to 42% of ballots cast across North Simcoe in the last municipal election. Knowing you could be elected without even half of possible voters turning out, what will you do to combat voter apathy so your municipality is best represented?
Voter apathy is a serious problem in all functioning democracies. Without a highly visible or controversial issue most people will simply not engage. The current meta suggests that where possible politicians create controversy to “drive the vote.” I find this to be a cynical and opportunistic approach; designed to acquire power more than to create solutions. I am of the school that holds that apathy is actually a result of people not understanding how their vote affects the policies decisions that ultimately affects the quality of life they enjoy. As a local politician we have little opportunity to engage those who do not wish to be engaged but we do have a voice. I believe we must push the province to re-introduce an effective civics course in our high schools. Not a one or two day course but a true civics course that teaches our children not only how the current system works and why but also teaches them about their responsibility to their community and to themselves.
There are many prominent concerns ongoing in the region, from affordable housing to the opioid epidemic to short-term rentals as well as others. What is one concern that you think the majority of residents are not aware of?
Homelessness. I doubt most Midlander’s understand how serious this issue is. I can’t relate how many times I have encountered a person sleeping in a bus shelter or behind a downtown business. It is heartbreaking to witness the daily struggle of some people each and every morning on your walk to work. My major concern in this area is the affordability of rental units.
The province is planning for a county-wide population of 555,000 and 198,000 jobs by 2051. If now is the time to prepare for that influx, what will you proactively do as your part in the process?
The province recently mandated the cities and towns across this province to review, and if necessary change, the local bylaws that control the creation of new housing/rental units. As a councilor it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that our bylaws, policies and rules do not unduly restrict the creation of new housing/rental units. The challenge for the new council will be to meet these new objectives without destroying the character of our existing communities.
Recidivism isn’t just on the police and courts. As a municipal leader and crafter of bylaws, what initiatives will you undertake to address crime in your care?
Recidivism. An interesting question. One of the great challenges of any elected person is to determine what areas can he/she change and what areas are out of his/hers control. The limitations of a council (according to the Municipal Act) are fairly well defined. If council can use its power to increase housing supply and in doing so increase the availability of rental units while reducing costs it will have achieved much toward the goal of reducing Recidivism by reducing the financial pressures on the paroled. The support of emergency housing units and shelters may also provide some small relief. Beyond that the criminal code, accessibility to welfare or disability benefits, and the courts are the role of the province.
Infrastructure projects require taxpayer dollars. What infrastructure project does the municipality desperately need, and does it justify a tax increase from the ratepayers to have it done as soon as possible?
As soon as possible? I am at a disadvantage to the sitting councillors who have seen the yearly capacity reports but I believe that both the water plant and the sewer treatment plant have been running without capacity increases over the last 20 + years. Development charges are designed to finance these improvements by they are dependent on the other development projects reaching completion.
Times change. What is the most aged or obsolete bylaw in your municipality’s code?
The attitude toward parking comes to mind. Parking charges/fines were originally designed to support commerce; to ensure the timely turnover of parked cars to promote business and employment – not to be a source of untraceable income for the town. Of course, having endured the boycott of downtown businesses I might be a little biased.
Once you complete your four-year term, what is the legacy you want residents to best remember for your time in office?
I was once told I was a ‘great councillor but a lousy politician’, it was one of the highest compliments I ever received. If at the end of my term one person says “He was a person of honesty and integrity.” I’ll be forever grateful.
Municipal election information for Midland is available on the elections page of the town website.
For Midland residents:
For the first time, Midland voters will be voting by internet and telephone only. The Town of Midland has entered into an agreement with Intelivote Systems Inc. to provide the software, consulting and technical services required to implement this voting method.
Voting will take place between October 11 and 24, 2022. Voters will receive a Voter Instruction Letter (VIL) by mail containing directions on how to vote using the internet or the telephone, or both. You will receive this letter seven (7) to fourteen (14) days prior to October 11, 2022.
You will only receive a VIL if your name is on the Voters’ List. Please call the Clerk's Office at 705-526-4275 ext. 2212 or 2208 or come into the Municipal Office at 575 Dominion Avenue to make sure you are on the Voters' List.
A Voter Assistance Centre will be located in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Office at 575 Dominion Avenue. Please bring your Voter Instruction Letter and a document showing your name and address for identification.
Voter Assistance Centres will also be set up at several retirement/nursing homes for in-home residents only.