Candidate for Councillor, Ward 3

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Strong Town Responses

Question 1

New Tecumseth is forecasted to grow by 35,000 people over the next 30 years (an almost 80% increase to the current population of 45,000). The maximum amount of land to accommodate this growth is 450 hectares. The next Official Plan will be re-written in 2023 assigning where to put these new residents.  What is your vision for where and what kind of housing should be built to accommodate this growth? Should we consider reducing the amount of land required?

Response from Laurie Mortimer

Yes New Tecumseth is considered to be within the provincial mandated growth hub in Simcoe county my true vision of how we build for that growth is directly related to intensification I’m a strong believer in trails park lands and farms I like my fresh corn I like my local potatoes , I love a winding country road and it’s fresh air. We have family that owns farm property in New Tecumseth outside Beeton it’s beautiful land beautiful views and attracts great deal of wildlife. What makes New Tecumseth so beautiful is the rolling Fields, our trees and forests with trails, parks and rivers.

I believe our downtown‘s should be designed so that we have a mix of commercial first floor property and residential condominium apartments above. I would like to be able to walk along the trail preferably paved that would take me from Mattamy through to the downtown across over along the Boyne river perhaps even connect into Earl Rowe provincial park ( we can do this by forming relationships with provincial parks and the Nottawasaga Valley conservation authority and the municipality) the immediate lands that I’m aware of Border around our town and on the fringe of the official plan. I would like to see developers pay for some of those costs to connect our developments into our trails and downtown.

I have one other vision which is going to take a large community developer to purchase the old town building , the parking lot around behind to where the ABIA host the farmers market , “ a true town square” expandion.  I understand a few of the buildings along that way could be repurposed including the library that I understand will be moving at some point I would like to see more of a Parkette setting with restaurants, pub patio areas and a community hub ( with free wifi)We can have condos above with a architectural feel of an old town.  Beautiful gardens and trees. Perhaps a water feature beautiful night lighting. I think this could be funded with tourism and yes perhaps a hotel tourism tax. Similar to the Niagara region. Thank you for letting me dream big.

If we can dream it, it can happen. We just have to find the right developers who want to work with us and give back.

Question 2

What are your thoughts on building ‘complete communities’ where people can have their basic needs met within a 15-minute walk from their house such as access to retail, green space, school, a range of housing choices and safe modes of transportation (biking, walking, public transit)?  How can this be achieved?

Response from Laurie Mortimer

As of right now , most subdivisions can reach the downtown in 15 minutes(walking)however venturing one end of town to the other side can take upwards of an hour. I think the only way to control this is to limit sprawl . And intensify. It’s a fine balance to do and a great deal must go into the infrastructure to do this. We need to offer a variety of home styles , appartments, condominiums, stacked townhomes, yet still offer a variety of detached homes as well.

Question 3

How do you suggest that downtown Alliston, Beeton, or Tottenham are revitalised after the pandemic has taken a toll on local businesses?  How can we increase economic activity without adding to the traffic congestion and more sprawling parking lots?

Response from Laurie Mortimer

I absolutely commend the work done recently here in Alliston by the ABIA , The fall decorations are amazing, I hope this is something if elected Id like to see budgeted and carried out for all our downtowns.

Owning Concession Roads Mercantile with my daughters Hope and Kim, our building utilized partial funding to improve its appearance. Our next stage will be finding ways to meet accessibility barriers. My father was a longtime resident since 1972, but became a quadriplegic in 1988. Being able to get out and socialize and do his shopping was important to him. He liked his independence. I would like to see our downtowns to be completely barrier free for everyone. Being a business owner in the downtown we really appreciate the support from both the town, council and our ABIA. We realize downtowns pull us together as a community. Myself and my daughters embrace inclusiveness. We held the first ever drag show for pride month. We had a fabulous turnout and look forward to making this an annual event.

All this aside, Covid was very difficult for small businesses and many are still suffering. I’d like to see patio seasons extended and I’d like to see if there’s a way to close the roads in the downtowns once a month . While we work to find a developer who could design an area similar to “ the distillery district- in Toronto” where we could expand our downtown into. The ideal place soon will sit empty where the current “old” municipal buildings sit. , the parking lots etc.

The town and council have been very supportive of our downtowns with the exception to signage and I feel this particular bylaw needs to be revisited. As a business owner whose store sits in century home that has been converted into a store Ive encountered many people coming into the store saying “ we are the best kept secret” meanwhile we are doing our best to get the word out about our gifts , housewares , diy programs in our painting/art rooms, and seasonal events, but seems the sign bylaw is challenging to work with, I would like to see a town hall event annually that brings businesses to share there concerns and what’s working and what’s not, in council chambers. If the community’s hub is the downtown then council needs to hear what small businesses need.

Question 4

The 2019-2022 TNT Strategic Plan has a Pillar of “Environmental Sustainability: Lead in promoting and preserving our unique physical environment.”  Climate change is not mentioned in this plan.  What are the biggest threats to the local environment and what are your proposed solutions?

Response from Laurie Mortimer

Definitely one of the harder questions. This is not only municipal, provincial, federal but also global.

We need to support home businesses, reducing cars on the road. We need better internet service throughout New Tecumseth to support more people working from home , ultimately reducing cars on the road and encouraging pedestrian use of sidewalks including extending our sidewalks to both neighborhoods and businesses on the fringes of communities.

We have to do a better job of increasing our tree canopy. Currently we have a 21 percent coverage, and provincially we should be at 40 percent. As we are aware developments of homes into our countryside has had a direct effect on reducing our coverage. So end the sprawl and support intensification. All while We continue to plant way more trees of larger calliper. These little trees developers are putting in are honestly pathetic. We need larger scale trees in our parking lots, municipal buildings/areas, schoolyards and newly made parks and trails. As well along our sidewalks and roads in New Developments. The builder passes the buck in many cases…. They charge home owner a tree fee and then plant a pathetic tree:( we need to make sure trees planted by developers are a quality specimen.

Water, we need to look at ways to supply, but also conserve. I’m not an expert in this area, but we need to do a much better job!!! Perhaps homes that have older toilets could receive a grant to upgrade their toilets and avoid using excessive water and avoid there running needlessly. Oddly enough as a realtor I’ve been in homes here in town whose plumbing and service to the house has many problems during winter months as freezing occurs the home owners were told to leave there water on in a trickle to prevent the freezing. Granted these homes were built 100 + years ago but what a waste of water.

Garbage and disposal, the amount of going to landfil is still excessive. Plastic bags , and plastic bottles in our area should be discouraged ( ban them) I’m terrible myself at remembering my resusable bags, and 5 cents doesn’t discourage either. But if I new there were no bags I ll remember mine. I’m not a fan of our new bins. They are not user friendly, the winds knock them over and garbage litters our streets. The racoons are super smart menaces, and many homes do not have garages large enough to accommodate. Plus it’s created an extra cost to home owners to clean these utilizing another service. It’s a hot topic and I realize it’s sourced out to the county. Perhaps it’s worth another discussion to “consider “ other options in the future

Question 5

The price of home ownership or rent for many in TNT is unaffordable. What can be done municipally to increase housing affordability?

Response from Laurie Mortimer

A key topic right now is affordability.  Due to inflation, higher interest rates, supply and demand. The unexpected happened with Covid. People took an inventory of what’s very important to them. Working from home, upsizing , or downsizing, retirement, moving away from larger cities to the suburbs…. One key step has not happened yet…. Peoples wages have to go up in order to catch up with inflation.

I read this morning that 50 percent of Canadians are on the brink of bankruptcy. Struggling to pay bills , put food on the table it’s a very scary time. The three tiers of government are going to have to work together and find the funds to build affordable housing, whether it be subsidized or  builder contract to sell at x value a percentage of. At the same time the laws of supply and demand will ultimately cool the market. If we build more and increase supply adding affordable apartments and subsidized the rents ( a percentage of each building) we can increase supply. But at same time I want Architecturally beautiful buildings with perhaps roof top patios and gardens. We need to change the way things are being done. We need to work together before we have many homeless families. John Tory solution in Toronto to ramp up building, is too crazy. It’s almost a builders carte blanche. I think he’s gone too far. I’m not sure even Toronto has enough infrastructure for John Tory view . There still playing catch up since the 80’s

So yes we need to increase supply, which will ease demand but we need to hold developers more accountable and responsible to costs of parks, designs , variety  And increase the price levy for those that do not provide services . ( money in Lieu ) as well as looking for developers who will build to the ratios required. A poor example that happened in recent past years is an extension that was granted on an apartment building here inTown, originally the builder was to have income geared apartments but a falling out thru process at county saw that fail miserably

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