/Standing room only 

Standing room only 

I arrived about 40 minutes early for the Minden Hills all-candidates meeting at the community centre last week and by no means was I one of the first there. Dozens of people were already milling around choosing their seats.

The meeting started at 7 p.m. and by 20 minutes to virtually all the chairs that had been set up in the community centre were full of human beings. By 7 residents had packed the building to standing-room-only and were crowding along the walls.

Clearly there is a ton of interest in the Minden Hills election and that’s a great thing. Residents are engaged and asked a number of excellent questions during the meeting.

Municipal elections are vitally important. We are choosing the people who will make the decisions that affect our day-to-day lives for the next four years. I know I’ve written this before but one can make the argument that municipal government while it may not be the most exciting level of government to some is more important than the upper levels as it’s the level of government we interact with most frequently.

You did it if you used a road today.

Thank you to all candidates for putting themselves out there and giving Minden Hills residents so much choice. As one candidate indicated during the meeting last week it’s harder than it looks. Candidates are spending their time and money subjecting themselves to judgment and criticism along the way in hopes of getting a job that many residents would never want. Thank you.

A few issues emerged as dominant ones during last week’s meeting none of them surprising. One is housing a subject that came up in the opening remarks of many candidates and was the topic of a number of questions from the crowd.

The township like the rest of those in the county is in chronic need of affordable housing. Not just affordable housing in the traditional sense of subsidized housing units for low-income individuals (although we do need more of that) but housing that is affordable for local people to buy; whether that be a single detached home for a young family or a condominium for an aging couple. There is a very clear appetite for alternate forms of housing such as tiny homes and members of the next council will need to be creative and open-minded in forming solutions for the community’s housing shortage.

Also unsurprising was that waste management and problems plaguing the Scotch Line landfill were mentioned several times during the candidates meeting. Yes it’s true that as a community we must do a better job at recycling sorting and diverting waste but ultimately the township needs to do a much better job managing its landfills. One candidate suggested bringing the operation of the landfills – a service that in Minden Hills has been contracted out for a number of years – back in house and perhaps that is something that should be considered.

The reconstruction of the arena and the community centre the project’s price tag and the fact the project has been awarded to a lone bidder also came up numerous times during the meeting and as council forges ahead with the project the controversy surrounding it may prove a political liability for incumbents.