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Mayoral hopefuls share visions for leading Lunenburg at The Barnacle’s candidates’ debate

(Photo by Carmen Cumming)

More than 150 community members packed into the Lunenburg Fire Hall for a Mayoral candidates’ debate hosted by The Lunenburg Barnacle on Monday.

As Lunenburg anticipates a special election for the position of Mayor on August 12, with advance voting beginning Thursday, August 3 – the two candidates, Gale Fullerton and Jamie Myra, shared their perspectives on a variety of topics in answers to questions submitted by residents of the Town of Lunenburg.

Candidates answered eight questions provided one day in advance, and three questions from audience members selected at random. The questions provided in advance came from members of the local community who emailed The Barnacle in the preceding weeks and were compiled by our editors.

The evening was moderated by Sal Falk, Barnacle Editor-at-large.

The Barnacle thanks SpekWork Studio for providing livestreaming services, the Town of Lunenburg for providing the venue, and all members of the community who shared questions and attended or livestreamed the event in support of the democratic process.

This article includes a recording of the event, a transcript of the night’s remarks, and ends with a list of all questions for both candidates The Barnacle received that were not asked at the event.

Recording of the debate

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The recording that follows is split into two videos.

Remote attendees watching the livestream saw it cut off during the first of the two candidates’ closing statements, at the point the first video below ends, as the fire hall WiFi bandwidth became throttled.

Watch part one of two of the debate here:

Listen to part two of two of the debate here:

Transcript of the debate

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Moderator’s introduction

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Sal Falk, moderator: Good evening and welcome to the Lunenburg Special Election Mayoral Candidate Debate hosted by The Lunenburg Barnacle.

My name is Sal Falk, I am an editor and director for The Barnacle, and I am your moderator for tonight’s debate. I’d like to thank all of you who are joining us tonight at the Lunenburg Fire Hall or online through our livestream. 

As a new player in the field of hyperlocal news coverage, I don’t think anybody on our team could have predicted that 6 months into operations we would be hosting an election debate. For those of you who don’t know, The Lunenburg Barnacle is a non-profit publishing cooperative committed to sharing stories that connect you to the people and events in our communities.

We publish a monthly print paper that is free and available at over a dozen local businesses. Our next issue comes out in a week and a half.

I’d equally like to thank the two candidates for entrusting our new organisation with this important part of democracy. 

I know many of our residents feel we are at a crossroads for our town with this election and through those voices asking for change, you are the two who have stepped forward to share your vision for our town – Gale and Jamie, thank you for joining us this evening.

Tonight we are hosting this debate and entertaining a discussion on a mayoral election in Mi’kma’ki, the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq nation.

The Lunenburg Barnacle recognizes the sovereignty of the Mi’kmaq and knows there are contradictions in issuing a land acknowledgement on Indigenous lands while directly acknowledging and participating in colonial systems of power and government. The Mi’kmaq have governed this land for millennia in a way that is different from what we are doing tonight.

The last few months since Matt Risser stepped down from his role, our town has become reinvigorated with municipal politics. 

With the council room going from a couple of spectators to filled with questions, concerns and interest, it feels apt that most of the questions we received for tonight were about how these two candidates will react and engage with this captive audience. 

Why would they be the best person to serve this heightened moment for Lunenburg? 

I hope tonight we can help those undecided voters find common ground with a candidate and learn more about the nuances of these two people beyond the hot topic items that are dominating the discussion of this special election period. 

You may only be electing someone for the next year until the regular election, but the evaluation made at this election can certainly determine much more than just the end of this council’s term. 

While prepping for this debate, I was reading through our Municipal Government Act and accompanying literature.

A document to newly elected municipal officials writes, “An effective mayor provides leadership and direction to council but does not infringe on council members’ opinions and voting. The mayor is not the political leader of council but rather a regular member with some additional responsibilities.” 

I think this is important to keep in mind as we hear from the candidates tonight – come listen to their thoughts, experience and opinions to see who will be effective at providing direction and ready to take on the responsibilities of leading the existing council.

With that being said, let us move into the important part of the evening, the part when candidates field questions from me and our community. 

The night will go as follows: each candidate will get up to 5 minutes for an opening statement. The starter will be determined by a coin flip. 

Eight short, predetermined questions will follow. These questions were received by the Barnacle directors through email, Facebook and in person and compiled into like categories. The 5 directors on our team are the only ones who viewed and fielded these questions. They were then provided to candidates on Sunday morning so they could prepare an up to a two-minute answer. 

Questions were provided yesterday for two very pointed reasons. First of all, given it is a short period of preparation time, it would test candidates’ abilities to read up on issues and form good, coherent answers. A useful skill for council meetings.

Another reason to share some questions in advance is that some questions were submitted by people campaigning for either candidate, who may let the candidate know what questions they are submitting in advance. If we don’t share questions with candidates in advance and then a difficult question from one candidates’ campaigners comes up, the candidate who was informed in advance will have an unfair advantage.

We received more than 35 questions from the public and do not have time to review them all tonight. But we will be publishing a story on our website at summarizing tonight’s debate, and it will include the full list of questions we received to keep these issues that are at the top of your minds on the record.

We will then have time for 2-3 questions from the public. When you came in, you had the opportunity to put your name down for public questions. When we reach this part of the evening, all names will go into a hat and we will draw names to determine who will get to share their question tonight. These questions must be directed to both candidates. If you have not yet signed up to speak, please do so now, as we will close sign up once the candidates begin their opening statements.

The night will end with closing statements done in the opposite order from the opening statements. This format was passed along and agreed to before tonight and candidates are aware of the rules.

I would like to invite up Barnacle Editor-in-chief Jesse Ward to flip a dime to determine the first speaker. Heads, Gale will go first, tails, Jamie.

(Jesse flips a coin and it lands on heads.)

My final note tonight before I pass it over is that we are here tonight as a community to hear the thoughts of these two other members of our community. This is a space to be respectful of them and of each other. Let us hear them out without disruption or interruption.

Candidates’ Opening Statements

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Gale Fullerton: Good evening, folks.

I would like to say we are entering into a by-election for Town Mayor, with our town divided on a long list of issues. The Mayor-Elect will have twelve months to prioritize and tackle a few projects before heading to the polls again.

I have campaigned on a pledge of responsive leadership, a quality I truly believe Lunenburgers need in the person who is elected as Mayor. Our citizens have asked for and deserve a voice in all important decisions and through improved communications, and that is achievable.

Fiscal responsibility is an urgent priority in Lunenburg. 

With many capital projects needed in the next ten years, focused largely on replacing and upgrading the town’s infrastructure, we must get a grasp on our financial position and understand how we can raise the capital needed to ensure a higher level of infrastructure capacity and reliability.

Land use and housing has become a concern for many municipalities as a housing crisis has emerged in the past several years.

If we see young families as the future of our town, we must explore every opportunity for additional housing to accommodate these families who will work and do business here, whose children will attend school and participate in sports and social activities here. Through thoughtful, measured and sustainable growth, we can become the place for families to grow and thrive.

I have entered this mayoral race to make a difference in this community. To hear, understand, and acknowledge your concerns, and if elected, to work with Town Council and all of you to action the most important decisions and projects that need our attention.

I welcome the opportunity to present my opinions this evening on topics of discussion brought forward by you, and I thank The Barnacle for hosting and moderating this event. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: Good evening, everyone. My name is Jamie Myra, as you are well aware.

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your schedules and coming here tonight, and for those of you at home watching, and for The Barnacle for doing this. I think it’s a great start, a great way to do the democratic process, come out and hear what we have to say.

My slogan all along since I decided to run for Mayor has been “Connecting Community and Council”. And the other slogan I have on the back of my shirt is, “Together Everyone Achieves More”. And that is really what my campaign team and I are working towards.

Tonight, my responses to questions will be clear, concise, you will know exactly what I will try to do if elected as Mayor. My answers are not just my opinions, though, it’s what I’ve heard from Lunenburg residents and business owners. 

I’ve listened to you all for the past 25 years, starting before I was first elected to council way back in 2000. I’ve talked with many of you at the grocery store, hockey rink, soccer games, curling club, golf course, at my business at Stan’s, my position at the Board of Trade, school events when I had kids in school – at the market, the Legion and many, many other meetings and social functions. 

I’ve listened to you all over the last three to four years and listened intently and heard what you have to think when I was going door-to-door lately. I’ve heard that you’re concerned about several issues, it’s not just a one-issue election. But most of all, it seems, for some reason, that Council has lost its connection with the residents lately.

When you’re Mayor or on council, I learned a long time ago, that you can’t live in a silo or pick and choose your constituents. You have to listen to all sides and you have to hear all opinions and let them voice your opinions. 

Back in 1998, we had a report done, the Graham Report, and it talked about how lucky we were to actually have UNESCO fall in our lap.

And, you know, tourism really became a thing here in this town in the late 90s. If you ask anyone who lived here before that, the difference between now and then is the difference of night and day. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time, because as we all know, the mid-90s was when the decline of the fishery happened in this area. And a lot of coastal communities along the east coast really didn’t do very well after that, and we had UNESCO to fall back on, which drove tourism. 

I still think that year-round business and year-round residents are the most important in the town because that’s what makes your community thrive year-round. They’re firefighters, they join your Legions, they join your curling clubs, you need those people year-round. But we have to accept the fact that tourism’s a very big, big player in the game right now in Lunenburg.

We saw something happen that we’d never saw coming three years ago, and it was the pandemic. This brought many, many new people to this town. They came here for a number of reasons. One, we were safe. Two, they loved the town and the area. And three, believe it or not to us locals, they could actually afford to live here and they couldn’t afford to live elsewhere at that time. So, they moved here and they now call this home.

With those new people in the town, it became evident that they really want to give back. They want to be involved in the community. They actually come to council meetings. When I served twelve years ago, if we had four people at a council meeting, we got excited. Right? Now you fill the town chambers, so I think that’s great.

You know, the big thing is, development is the big topic, it seems. We need development. But development takes time to do it right. And we need to hear from the people of the community before development is approved, moving forward.

And the only thing I can tell you, because I can’t do anything on my own – if I get elected as Mayor, I’ll try to work diligent with the current council and senior staff of the town to hear what you have to say. I think that before we listen to any developer talk about Blockhouse Hill, I think that this council and its staff have to meet with the citizens and lay things on the table. That’s the first thing I’ll tell you, I say that door-to-door.

Second, I hear a lot about finances. I’d just like to say, one of the reasons I’m running is I believe we have financial trouble. I think all municipal units have financial trouble. But we are the envy of most small towns in Atlantic Canada. We have one of the highest assessment increases in Atlantic Canada over the last three years, and that’s going to continue for another two to three because the assessment board is always two to three years behind when they catch up. So we’re going to keep getting some income rolling in.

So, I think that this year, for example, I was very concerned when I presented to the budget and it was ignored. So that’s probably my TSN turning point, I decided to run for council when I presented facts and figures at a council meeting, at the budget, and it seemed to be ignored.

We have seniors and families right now penny-pinching and the least anyone’s taxes would have went up this past year was eight per cent, because that was the cap. Most people’s taxes went up at least twenty per cent. So, I think that we have to work together, hear what the people have to say, and move forward in the right manner.

Infrastructure needs to be looked after, but infrastructure has to be done in the right manner, slow, and how we can afford to do it. And quite frankly, you’ll hear later on, but most infrastructure gets done in a three-way split. That’s always been the way, and it’s like that no matter the size of any municipality. That’s how most of your capital infrastructure will get done. 

We heard a lot about housing – we hear “housing” every time we go to a door this last week or two, and housing is something we have to work with. But we have to work in a way that we don’t sell off all our town lands as well. We have to work with different levels of government, different non-profit organizations, and we have to take examples that have been done in other areas of the world and go from there.

Again, what I’m hearing door-to-door, is people feel they’ve been disconnected for whatever reason. And the only thing I can really promise is, I will try to bring back community and council together, and connect us all in a positive manner.

Advance question one: on how to address the housing crisis in Lunenburg

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Sal Falk, moderator: “Canada is in the midst of a housing crisis and municipalities are on the front lines. Housing is more than just a roof over your head, but a place to foster a sense of safety, belonging and economic opportunity.

Yet across Canada, safe and affordable housing options are dwindling. This makes it harder for cities and communities to retain residents and attract new businesses – we are seeing the effects of that tourist season after tourist season.

Housing is not considered under the jurisdiction of municipal governments but there is more and more a demand for collaboration between all levels of government to solve the crisis. What role do you see the Town of Lunenburg playing in supporting housing efforts and action plans and how would you ensure council carries out that role?”

Jamie Myra: As I said earlier, housing is very important to myself and my team. And I feel municipalities have a responsibility to help and collaboration is definitely required. 

One of the things that I feel Lunenburg could do a better effort of is, support housing initiatives that have the ability to access federal and provincial grants to buy property in our community, and work with them to hand that property over at subsidized means. We’ve been working with a non-profit group, SSODA [ed. note: South Shore Open Doors Association], lately, and they’ve given us some great ideas.

You have to look at the existing properties for sale in town and identify what ways to work with non-for-profits to create housing on some of those properties, maybe.

Encourage development on open, empty house lots. There’s now a lot of double lots in town that have a lot sitting there vacant – work with those people to maybe put a small house there and give them some type of a tax break, some type of a municipal partnership to get another house in that area.

The other thing is, have first right of refusal for any multi-unit buildings that are for sale to be offered to a local non-profit. So if there is a multi-unit building for sale in Lunenburg, maybe the municipality works with other levels of government to hand it over to a non-profit. 

We really have to look at short-term rentals and try to convert as many of those into long-term rentals as quick as possible. I’m not sure how easy that is, but Halifax and Yarmouth have taken a serious approach to that, and other jurisdictions in Canada have looked at that, so I think that’s one of the areas we have to look at. 

We can do some land banking, tax breaks, and prioritize development agreements that are affordable housing-focused. That’s some of the options.

But another crisis that we’re facing when it comes to housing – currently, Harbourview Haven is in the midst of being rebuilt. And this is real, it’s not a rumour, it’s not a story – it’s gonna be rebuilt. So if I get elected, I’d like to work with the board of Harbourview Haven to make sure it’s rebuilt in Lunenburg. Thank you.

Gale Fullerton: To the question about housing, I see the Town’s role as one of stewardship, to lead with a focus on planning, zoning, land use, and heritage bylaws to support housing efforts.

The Town of Lunenburg is responsible to implement comprehensive and reasonable regulations and to provide servicing for housing. This list includes domestic water, storm wastewater, and sewer, as well as electricity, roadways, waste removal, fire and policing services.

It should be supportive of innovative solutions for housing, looking to assist with repurposing of existing buildings in Lunenburg as short and long-term housing units, and provide guidance for new types of construction.

An example of the innovative solutions approach is a project I am involved with for repurposing a portion of Zion Lutheran Church complex as affordable and accessible housing units. Our Redevelopment Committee is exploring options in response to feedback received at our 2022 Community Roundtable Discussion.

There is also a role for the Town to plan for expanded essential services needed with an increased inventory of housing. Daycare, schools, medical facilities and healthcare staffing, as well as transportation options must be considered even though, like housing, not all of these items are the responsibility of the municipal government.

This is a complicated and urgent issue which needs focus and community engagement and I have considerable relevant experience in this sector to help facilitate discussion.

Advance question two: on how to address a potential solar farm and the future of Lunenburg’s electric utility

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Sal Falk, moderator: “The Town has talked about a solar farm for many years now and has even set aside lands on Starr Street for its construction.

Other towns and municipalities with their own utility have been able to leverage outside funding to make a solar farm a reality.

We also debate whether we remain committed to our own electric utility, whether we connect with other municipalities or towns to operate more efficiently, or whether we sell the electric utility.

With that background, it seems that from an economic viewpoint, building a solar farm would be a win-win as far as improving access to reliable non-fossil fuel electricity generation and as far as increasing leverage to join with another municipal electric utility, and as far as saleability – or price – of the electric utility.

What would need to happen for your government to move forward with a solar plan?”

Gale Fullerton: I strongly believe that a shift away from electric power generated by fossil fuels is necessary and as Mayor I would be interested in exploring options and opportunities.

In February 2023, Council approved a budget item for design work related to the installation of solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant on Starr St. and we await the results.

In the meantime, working with the system we have, we are facing an estimated $15 million investment to address deferred maintenance, updates and upgrades and plans for expansion of services, while at the same time we’re renewing a contract with Nova Scotia Power.

The recent report on the Town’s electric utility presented three options for moving forward: one, to sell it outright; two, to retain it and continue using Nova Scotia Power equipment and resources for maintenance; or, third, to retain it and invest in Town of Lunenburg equipment and resources. More information is needed to choose the best option.

Once the priority decision is made about how to move forward with the Town’s electric utility, and funds are designated, we can then look to the successes of other towns and municipalities to help us build strategic partnerships and to source external funding opportunities for solar and other renewable energy options.

The other piece that I just added before I came here was that there is $350,000 committed for a solar array at the wastewater treatment facility that is in the water capital budget for this year. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: So, the whole solar panel question – solar farm question – this is a really difficult one to answer because of the situation we’re in with our electric utility. Without knowing all the ins and outs of the current infrastructure that’s needed moving forward, that’s a really hard one to answer. With the experience I had serving ten years on the town’s electrical committee back in the early 2000s, I certainly understand and realize that solutions and answers to this problem are not going to be easy.

I attended the electrical study in April that the town presented and I was actually happy to hear them say they felt that we could possibly retain our own utility moving forward, and we could fund that capital needed through the utility itself so it wouldn’t impact our borrowing problems. 

So, personally, that would be my number one choice. But again, I also realize and understand the difficulties of staffing that facility and keeping it going. We had trouble back in 2012, so why we wouldn’t have trouble in 2023, I’m not sure.

So, one of the recommendations was to hire an electrical engineer to be in charge of the whole utility on a two-year contract, roughly.

During that two-year period, the individual would work with our neighbouring electric utilities, like Riverport and Mahone Bay and Berwick, and try to work on a partnership basis to see if that will work out.

In the meantime, in the same report, try to find out if they can find the appropriate staff for that department. If they come back and we can’t, then obviously we can’t run our own utility. But I do think that has to be all looked at over the next two years. At that point, if we decide that we’re going to keep our own utility, or keep our own utility the way it is now and contract NSPI (Nova Scotia Power Inc.) out, then I would fully support talking to places like Mahone Bay that already has a solar farm in place, and looking at a solar farm at that time. But until we know what we’re gonna do with our own utility, I can’t see us investing a whole bunch of money in solar farms at this point.

Advance question three: on how to handle threats identified in the 2023 State of Conservation report

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Sal Falk, moderator: “On March 22, 2023, the International Affairs team of Parks Canada’s Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate invited the Town of Lunenburg to submit a State of Conservation Report for Old Town Lunenburg World Heritage Site. 5 urgent threats were highlighted in the report including the degradation of the civic blocks, lack of inclusivity and climate threats. How do you plan to address the worrying issues identified in the Town’s 2023 State of Conservation report, particularly if federal support does not materialize?”

Jamie Myra: Well, climate threats are definitely a major concern, and as the climate crisis continues to evolve and change each year we need to understand the risks. But this is a much bigger problem than the Town of Lunenburg’s gonna solve on its own. 

For instance, Nova Scotia Environment predicts sea levels in Nova Scotia could rise one metre by the year 2100. But this is where we need to put the correct resources into understanding where we are. This is not unique to us, or small towns, or countries. It’s a global threat and crisis.

Seventy-five per cent of municipalities say they are in a climate change crisis. We only have to look back, I don’t know, ten days ago, to see the Biblical rains we had, for us to understand that climate change is real. MODL [ed. note: Municipality of the District of Lunenburg] is currently developing a local climate change action plan, 2021-2030, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare them for the impacts of the changing climate.

I say, we’re next to MODL, why don’t we jump on board and work with them?

That’s what we have to start doing more and more of, shared services.

Climate change is very big for the province as well, so if we partner with some of our universities like Dalhousie University, who has just done a lot of research on possible climate threats in Halifax, who we’re very similar to in topography, and the Government of Canada announced in April that they’re giving Dalhousie University $154 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant program to embark on the most intensive investigation ever into oceans climate change. We can learn from Dal, right down to the whole shoreline. And tweak recommendations, and mitigate steps to fit Lunenburg specifically. We will see what other municipalities in Nova Scotia have done to share information and costs.

So, basically, to solve climate change, we all have to work together. Thank you.

Gale Fullerton: I agree that our UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site is a prestigious recognition of which we can be proud. As a small town with limited resources and a long list of responsibilities, we need to make this work without it being detrimental to our financial wellbeing.

Addressing three of the five urgent threats, the degradation of the civic blocks and public buildings is a result of deferred maintenance, and it is noteworthy that work is currently being done on roads and sidewalks in the Old Town district.

The restoration of Town Hall and capital improvements on the Fire Hall and the Armouries may require financial assistance through external funding sources, including the provincial and federal governments through culture and heritage funding programs.

Regulation and management for maintenance, restoration and renewal of the buildings in the Old Town district within the framework of the UNESCO designation is in place with our heritage bylaws. We should also look to UNESCO for guidance as we plan for measured growth while respecting our heritage values.

The second urgent threat, with respect to accessibility, anti-discrimination – is the active role the Town of Lunenburg has with the Lunenburg County Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Lunenburg County Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Advisory Committee on accessibility and inclusion concerns.

The third urgent threat of five is climate change. It is a threat to many of our heritage buildings, our waterfront, and our infrastructure. In planning for building maintenance and restoration, and for building on the waterfront, we must anticipate that rising sea levels and extreme weather events are a reality. Understanding system capacity and protection from overload when doing sewer and stormwater infrastructure upgrades and expansions must be taken into consideration. Thank you.

Advance question four: on how to address potential development on Blockhouse Hill

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Sal Falk, moderator: “Council voted in June to spend $151,000 to pursue designs for a potential residential development over 11 acres on Lunenburg’s Blockhouse Hill. This vote came after council had already formally received a petition with 679 signatures from residents of the town who agreed with a statement: “We, the residents of the Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, ask that the Town Council stop the process to sell and develop the lands on Blockhouse Hill until the Town establishes that a majority of Town of Lunenburg residents support the sale and development of the land.”

Council’s current plan is to hold public consultation sessions on the designs once they are ready this fall, and submit designs to Parks Canada to get their judgment on whether developing this design could affect the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for Old Town Lunenburg. If you become Mayor, it will be shortly before the designs are received. How do you believe the Town should best handle the issue of potential development on Blockhouse Hill?”

Gale Fullerton: In the quoted statement requesting that “Town Council stop the process to sell and develop lands on Blockhouse Hill,” we should be clear that Town Council is not currently engaged in a process to sell the lands on Blockhouse Hill. It is exploring opportunities for housing, in response to a housing crisis.

It solicited tenders from multiple design professionals for concepts to present to its citizens for input. A contract was awarded and we are awaiting its completion. Part of the process accommodates people having their say, and as Mayor I would look forward to those interactions.

Only with that level of collaboration and communication can Town Council make informed and intentional decisions about whether or not to proceed beyond design concepts.

The other consideration is, of course, obtaining timely information through Parks Canada and UNESCO with respect to whether designs presented work within the designation’s framework. 

If the Blockhouse Hill, King Street, or other housing developments in the Old Town district go ahead, the Town’s role becomes one of regulation and management through zoning and responsible planning activities, including covenants and controls with respect to future residential developments. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: So, I guess to answer the question – I’ve been stating in all my documents that if I get elected, the first thing that I would ask the current Council to do is hold some public information sessions. What I mean by that is, I mean, Council and the Mayor should hold public information sessions. We’re being told that when the designs come through, the designers are going to hold public information sessions. I think the citizens want to hear from the Mayor and the Council on this, and they want to sit down and hear what everyone has to say.

Once we know what everyone wants with that land, then we will get proceeding or not proceeding, because it’s really your land.

The second thing, we’ve heard all kinds of rumours with the possibility of it being a buffer zone, and affecting our UNESCO designation. Well, let me make one thing clear here tonight. I don’t waver in my belief in the UNESCO designation. We cannot do anything in this town to ever threaten our UNESCO designation. 

So, until we know for sure whether it will impact it or not, I would not be going forward with any type of a plan. Because if we lose the UNESCO designation, that was our Plan B after fisheries – I’m not sure what Plan C is.

And, the last thing I’ll say on the whole Blockhouse Hill thing – I think this goes back to the CCP [ed. note: Comprehensive Community Plan]. Well, in the CCP it clearly states that throughout the entire process, Town Council will hold planning sessions, information sessions, public consultation sessions – well, I think we need to do a much better job than that going forward, because that hasn’t been happening. 

And, lastly, there’s over 700 signatures now on a petition of Town of Lunenburg taxpayers that I think we might want to listen to before moving forward. Thank you.

Advance question five: on how to participate in the Lunenburg County Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Advisory Committee

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Sal Falk, moderator: “In 2020, the Town of Lunenburg established an 8-person Anti-Racism Special Committee with the mandate to develop a municipal action plan for ending racism and discrimination with emphasis on anti-Black and Indigenous racism.

The town’s committee did not develop an action plan but did have notable input in the renaming of two parks and a street in town.

The committee has since dissolved and the town has joined the Lunenburg County Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Advisory Committee.

The mandate is different in this committee as it will “work to identify and address systemic racism and inequity in government policy, legislation, programs and services.”

What role do you think Lunenburg should play in the Lunenburg County Anti-Racism & Anti-Discrimination Advisory Committee?”

Jamie Myra: To give more context, the role of the committee would be to advise the elected bodies of the Town of Lunenburg, MODL, Chester, Bridgewater and Mahone Bay on how to lead and support anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives, and how to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in our municipalities.

Simply, the role that Lunenburg can play is this: Lunenburg would fulfill its commitment and play an active role in the Lunenburg County Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Committee.

As Mayor of Lunenburg, I’d like to welcome their input in revising policies, programs and services in Lunenburg and the surrounding area. That doesn’t mean that Lunenburg would take our eyes off dealing with our own policies, legislation or programs, hiring practices or services, to eliminate systematic racism in our community, and community members. It remains the Town’s duty to ensure that the Town does not offend human rights or constitutional laws.

As a member of the committee, I think the Town of Lunenburg should expect a report annually, because they are paying, I think, $25,000 towards that report, and we’d go from there. 

And, I guess, the question on Cornwallis Street – this has been going for a long time. I think the vote was supposed to be by February 15th and we’re still waiting. So, I think what I’d do if I was elected as Mayor, is I’d revisit the Cornwallis Street renaming to ensure the Indigenous community had adequate input into the renaming.

The entire purpose of a name change was to remove the name and history of Cornwallis. We may need to begin anew with a community-led process to heal the rifts that developed over the failed process. My plan as Mayor is to immediately contact and invite the Chief of the Acadia Band, Chief Robinson, to meet with myself and council and establish a new framework with which to address the Cornwallis Street issue.

Gale Fullerton: The Town of Lunenburg should play a very active role in this group, which also includes representation from the Towns of Bridgewater and Mahone Bay, as well as the Municipalities of Lunenburg and Chester.

We acknowledge our history and must promote the need for reconciliation. We already enjoy a richly diverse and unique demographic in Lunenburg County, and with the ongoing twinning of Highway 103 making the commute to Halifax more convenient, as well as the ability of folks to work remotely, we are likely to see more newcomers.

As a high-profile community, Lunenburg must recognize that we have work to do on mending fences with respect to anti-racism and anti-discrimination, and should embrace all new opportunities for inclusion as we welcome newcomers to our region.

It is also positive that we are collaborating with other communities on this and accessibility concerns. As a collective, the initiative can allocate sufficient staff resources to both programs’ important mandates. Thank you.

Advance question six: on how to have a “more financially stable town”

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Sal Falk, moderator: “It’s no secret that the town is in financial need. From everything to infrastructure to the Academy, the need is a reality, that I fear has gone by the wayside for far too long. What are your ideas to move the needle forward to a more financially stable town and how would you proceed in putting those ideas in motion?”

Gale Fullerton: I have presented my campaign platform with a focus on responsive leadership and fiscal responsibility. It is clear that Lunenburg is overextended financially. Deferred maintenance and the immediate need for electric power, sewer and stormwater system upgrades, and accommodations for the future expansion of those systems is placing our Town’s financial health at risk.

To put into perspective some of the concerns expressed by citizens about overspending, can we agree that if the Town is overspending in its operating budget in any given fiscal year, it represents thousands of dollars? On the other hand, for the Town to respond to its capital needs and wants, represents millions of dollars.

The obvious solution of raising taxes is unappealing to most and untenable for some. Increasing the tax base with measured and sustainable growth, with more housing as well as more businesses and industry, is a more achievable financial goal. 

Selling town assets is a concern, but for the Town to thoughtfully divest itself of buildings and lands for which it does not see of future use is prudent and injects cash for its other needs and commitments.

The obvious opportunity is to achieve growth that generates more growth than infrastructure demand. This will come from infill in existing neighbourhoods and regulating developers such that new construction fits the character of the Town, avoiding the sprawl effect that creates a larger burden for underground sewer and power infrastructure and roads to build and maintain.

We have in-house expertise to analyze and report on our financial position and outlook, and the numbers reported are vetted annually by the Town’s external auditors. We are fortunate to have qualified and competent staff in all other departments as well. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: I guess, when I read this question, frankly, I didn’t really see it as a question – it’s more of a statement.

I just want to start by saying I personally feel that no Council in the past, before this current Council, has ever put finance and infrastructure by the wayside.

To actually say that, and say it repeatedly like some do, is disrespectful and wrong to all former Councillors and Mayors who served before any of us have. 

If elected, I will do what we did for twelve years when I was on before, and that was look at things on a priority basis and rank them. When we do out a proper project management schedule, we apply for levels of funding, and we do the work needed.

Also, our tax base is increasing rapidly because of the rapid sales we are seeing in Lunenburg. Lunenburg is one of the highest real estate market communities in Atlantic Canada. Our assessments alone last year, even with the cap, went up on average twenty per cent in tax revenue. That’s twenty per cent more money than we had the year before. Our deed transfer tax is getting close to a million dollars, and those numbers will continue the next two to three years as the assessment numbers are always two to three years behind.

And, we do need to fix a lot of our infrastructure. But we need real numbers, real reports and real figures in front of us. Not the report we saw a month and a half ago – numbers “between ten and fifteen million dollars.” Well, between ten and fifteen, five million, to me, is a big number. So we need more accurate numbers and more detailed reports.

And, I’ll go back to what I said about the budgets. In 2012, we had an electric utility, and we had 32 staff. 2023, we have no electric utility, and we have 43 staff. Some of the departments had an upwards of a 60 per cent increase in their budget this year. So anyone that’s ever been in business or looked at business knows, those large increases in budgets are not attainable, and we will not survive if we keep going. So we have to take a longer and harder look at our budgets each and every year.

Advance question seven: on the relationship the Town should have with the Lunenburg Academy

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Sal Falk, moderator: “The recent results of a Lunenburg Academy Foundation (LAF) feasibility study determined that the LAF is not currently in a financial position to take on ownership of Lunenburg Academy National Historic Site.  Given these findings, what solutions would you provide as Mayor of Lunenburg, to ensure the long-term viability of this iconic landmark for future generations?”

Jamie Myra: I was actually pleased to hear the results of the study because I’ve stated all along that the Academy is a building that the Town needs to have some role in moving forward. It’s sort of like the crown jewel when you come over the top of the hill on Northwest and see it lit up at night.

My solution would be that LAF, the Lunenburg Academy Foundation, should take over the complete day-to-day operations of the building including getting paid for the leases from other people, the heat, the lights, etc., while LAF works out a plan that allows the Town to step back a bit more over the next three to five years while they get this in place. 

During that three to five years as they plan, the Town can establish an annual funding model to remain as a funding support system for LAF. This could be accomplished by reworking the existing funding models, i.e. parking or fine revenue. Possibly some money from the campground if it continues. Or a combination of both. Another option is use a percentage of the deed transfer tax that’s been off the charts lately. 

But again, instead of giving them a 90-day reprieve and telling them they have to make a decision within 90 days, I think we have to work with LAF over the next three to five years to come up with a multi-phase ownership of the building.

And even when that happens, and even when LAF hopefully is able to take that building over in its entirety, I still think that when major capital projects need to be done on that building, it becomes a provincial, federal, Town and LAF responsibility. There’s no way a volunteer, non-profit association would be able to do that on their own. And again, the federal government and the provincial government have a responsibility to help us maintain that building as well. Thank you.

Gale Fullerton: As a former Lunenburg Academy student, I love our Academy as much as many other Lunenburgers and visitors. It is a gem well worth maintaining and promoting as one of our iconic Lunenburg architectural masterpieces and an historic place for learning. In its current uses, it retains its status as an historic place for learning. 

Of course, it is expensive to repair and maintain a 120+ year old heritage structure. Millions have been spent, and through various funding sources, the recent restorations completed have been done well, and are expected to last for years to come.

Since the building and property are owned by the Town of Lunenburg, the burden of The Academy’s operating expenses has been carried substantially by the Town. Its annual contribution represents about $100, per person, per year.

Operational funding through Parks Canada has been unattainable, although the Academy is recognized as a National Historic Site, and other sources of external funding are not necessarily offered on an annual basis.

With the recommendations presented in the recently released study, the Town will retain ownership of the Academy for the foreseeable future. As Mayor, I am very willing to collaborate on developing a cost-sharing plan with the Lunenburg Academy Foundation, with it contributing more each year as it is able.

In the long term, if the Foundation wants to look at assuming ownership in partnership with the Town, that would seem to be a reasonable approach. This would involve both parties working on external funding annually through all available sources, as well as project-specific fundraising through private supporters.

There are undoubtedly other opportunities to be explored and I would be pleased to start discussions with the Foundation and other partners to identify and prioritize goals as well as options for achieving them. Thank you.

Advance question eight: on support for the new Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use Bylaw

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Sal Falk, moderator: “Do you support the new municipal planning strategy (MPS) and land use bylaw or will you impose new restrictions on building housing in town? If you intend to impose restrictions, how will you ensure they won’t drive up costs?”

Gale Fullerton: Yes, I support the new municipal planning strategy and land use bylaw as a set of progressive and reasonable documents aimed at encouraging much-needed housing and even more walkable, blended neighbourhoods that make Lunenburg the place we all love to live.

When viewed in conjunction with the proposed Heritage bylaw renewal, it gives the Town a complete set of guidelines with respect to new construction as well as improvements, while ensuring that new growth is sensitive to and compatible with our storied culture and heritage and preserves the unique character of this place.

The opportunity for revisions, if needed, will arise with the upcoming two-year review of the Municipal Planning Strategy and land use bylaw, and further, it will be subject to ongoing five-year reviews.

Imposing restrictions on building housing in Lunenburg, viewed in the context of zoning and planning, should not be required, and further, to do so, we run the risk of becoming an exclusionary community where infrastructure costs per household would make Lunenburg largely unaffordable. 

The loss with that is the people from all walks of life who have worked together to form a close community we have here. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: In reviewing the Land Use Bylaw and MPS, I guess, I tend to agree. Most of the document is very up-to-date and I think it’s progressive.

The few things I do notice, and that I think do does have to be reviewed in the two-year process is, number one they took out all parking requirements for all development. 

I think that works in big cities and big urban centres that have a viable transit system, but to take out all parking requirements completely from any development, I think, right now, in our town, just doesn’t make sense.

And I’m not saying that if it’s ten units you need ten parking spots, but I think a percentage base – 20, 30 per cent – would help. For example, there’s an area in town right now building two apartments that I think are five units each, and they don’t require any parking. The area that the build is actually on is almost out of town so you can almost be guaranteed anyone that lives in that area will have a car.

You basically have to have a car almost nowadays in rural Canada to get around and survive. So until we have a viable transit system between other municipal units and ourselves, I can’t see that prior to the land use bylaw being left in there.

So hopefully in the review, that gets looked at and gets taken out, because I think that’s going to create all kinds of problems for snow removal, fires and emergencies. It’s just not going to be not going to be functional at this time.

And like I said, besides that, I reviewed the document two or three times now and it looks like a very progressive and a positive document, and it is a way to get development started in town.

It’s a lot less restrictive than it was before, but maybe a bit more public input as well in the next two year review, because a lot of this was passed while all of us were locked in our basements, so maybe to have some more public input might be nice. Thank you.

Audience question one: on the relationship Lunenburg council should have with other local municipalities

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Kacy De Long, audience member: Thank you very much, and thank you to the candidates for being here tonight. I’d like to rebut one quick thing. I’m a MODL councillor. We aren’t developing a climate change action plan, we have developed it and are enacting it. My question is – I’m from MODL, I don’t vote here, sorry – what will your council do to connect more with other local municipal units?

Jamie Myra: I think we have to start working more with the Joint Services Department of MODL and other areas. I think I mentioned earlier tonight, the electric utility is one area that some of our neighbors have their own units. I think recreation has always been one that I pushed for years that we should look at, maybe, a more regional approach.

And again, we talked about climate change tonight. We’ve talked about the Anti-Racism Committee. I think the more we can work with our neighbours, the better. There’s really only, 50,000 people, say, living between here, Bridgewater and MODL, and we have a lot of elected officials.

So, I think if we worked a bit better together and a bit more in cost-sharing, it’ll be better for all of us.

The fire service has probably the greatest program going. It’s called Mutual Aid, and that’s why every town can afford a fire department, because there’s not many towns that can afford everything you absolutely need if you have a structure fire. But with Mutual Aid, they have 10 or 12 departments within a phone call away, and they work as one, and I think that most municipal units have to take more, I guess learn more, from that approach and do more shared services and regional things moving forward. Thank you.

Gale Fullerton: To connect with other municipal units just makes good sense. Collaboration, as we mentioned earlier with the Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Committee, as well as the Accessible Committees that are already joint, we have a lot more opportunity to share ideas, to share resources and get a lot more done.

To lobby with other levels of government for services as a group is typically received better than as individual municipalities. We already have shared services among our municipalities, we also have contracted services within the town and within the municipality. And I think that for us all to continue to work together and grow, the things we collaborate and do well together only makes good sense. Thank you.

Audience question two: on the Town’s vending bylaw and how to address food trucks

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Alex Astbury, audience member: So, with regards to the vending bylaw, and food trucks – given that restaurants and shops can’t accommodate the current demand during peak months, what’s your view on the current vending bylaws and food trucks?

Gale Fullerton: With respect to the vending bylaw that was presented in the spring, I feel that we need to have a good solid vending bylaw in place in the town of Lunenburg and the one that had been implemented previously needed to be updated.

One of the pieces that needed to be updated in that vending bylaw were the fees that were charged to the folks who came in with mobile shops and food trucks and did business and then left. There were operational concerns with that, and the new vending bylaw that was proposed in the spring tried to address some of those things.

I think just from a theoretical point of view, and to Mr. Astbury’s comments about restaurants and shops not being able to keep up, it’s a real thing. And I think that we want to encourage diversity in our food and beverage offerings if it’s food trucks we’re talking about.

I think we need to expand on what we can offer people, because there are many, many days at this time of the year that people just can’t sit and have a meal. And I think that rather than send them away hungry and angry, we should try to feed them, and in a different way if that’s what we need to do.

I also think that with this we need to be very respectful of the people who have invested in real estate and who have invested in year-round operations in this town and the fee structure would certainly address that in an equitable way.

We also need to make sure that operationally, they’re not in direct competition. The last thing we would want is a food truck setting up in front of somebody’s restaurant, absolutely not. But we have to be careful where we locate these food trucks, because there’s a very good possibility of things like traffic congestion and risky situations for pedestrians, so it needs more work. But I think it’s worthwhile looking at it. Thank you.

Jamie Myra: Well the food truck issue was a was a very hot topic, I guess, back around April this past year, and I do agree that – you know, I’m certainly not opposed to food trucks, I don’t think most of the business community is opposed to food trucks or whatever truck they are, vending trucks. 

The thing is, the bylaw that was presented in April just lacked any communication with the current business owners, with the current Business Association at the time. It was done, sort of, on their own.

In fact, at the public meeting that was held in April – I watched it from Zoom because I wasn’t able to attend – even some of the people around our Council table were questioning where some of the fees came, from where some of the locations came from, and whatever.

So I do believe that there’s a need and a place for food trucks or vending trucks within the community, but I think we have to sit down with our business community. We sit down with a whole bunch of people, staff, council, and work on a bylaw that can work for everybody.

And the other thing is, the fee structure was what really shocked everyone. One of the things that really shocked everybody in April, it was, I think, $350 for six months – so when people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on capital infrastructure on Montague Street, for example, for restaurants and hire 20 people, and pay whatever – the $350 fee might have wanted to be a bit higher, and they might have been accepted a bit easier. 

Even one of the girls that were hoping to have a food truck in town said, when she saw the bylaw the way it was written, was never going to pass that way – she was upset. So, yes, I think we need food trucks, but I think we all have to work together to come up with some kind of vending bylaw that can work for everybody.

Audience question three: on how to attract new jobs and business to Lunenburg

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Faune Creaser, audience member: Thank you both for being here. My question is around economic development. You were both involved with the Board of Trade. And, actually, I’m interested in ‘Plan C.’ So, as Mayor, how would you both help to attract new jobs and also create a more competitive business environment in Lunenburg?

Jamie Myra: Well, first of all, I’ll answer the question, but I really hope it’s never going to be Plan C, because that would mean we lost Plan B and that would be a paramount and detrimental to the whole town, I think if we lost our UNESCO designation, because that’s hopefully going to be our Plan B moving forward.

One of the things we can do to attract business, is some business incentives. Again, you can work with the with the local small business community, you can work with the local Board of Trade to try to attract attract different types of business to the area.

Back in the 90s we brought Stelia here, I guess it was Composites Atlantic back then – this current Council, I’m very pleased with them allowing the expansion at ABCO, I think that was great for the whole community, and things of that nature.

But once again, we’re a small rural town of four square kilometers – so we can do some business incentives, we can make it easier to set up shop in Lunenburg, we can all work together to – you know – get people here and help them when they get here.

Because a lot of things we hear at the Board of Trade is: ‘Well, I wanted to get a permit for my hot dog store, or whatever, you know, restaurant – and it was like eight weeks to get this and six weeks get that.’ And a lot of times, it’s nobody’s fault. They didn’t know where to turn.

So I think if we set up more of a package that you could present to businesses when they wanted to come here, help them through the system, maybe the business association takes them to town hall and introduces them to the Building Guy, the Heritage Guy, the Fire Marshall, all those things. I think basically just being a helpful hand and maybe firing some business incentives into them for their first year or two, that’s about all I have to say.

Gale Fullerton: Yes, with respect to economic development, of course we want to track new businesses here – we want to track new industries here, we have the space for them.

We have numerous ideas of how to attract them and I think that to start, some of the references we made to our land use bylaws, some of the references we made to housing and other infrastructure concerns – I think we clearly need to have our our ducks in a row when talking to new businesses and new companies about coming here.

The option of tax incentives that Mr. Myra mentioned is certainly an option, and I think that we need to just collaborate with others in our area for perhaps companies that wish to expand operations, and we have to look globally at the funding opportunities for new businesses, et cetera.

Then it’s not just a Town’s responsibility, but certainly, we have people on staff who are very capable of going out and finding those opportunities, and I think that we should encourage that. Thank you.

Closing statements

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Jamie Myra: In closing, first of all, thank you all for coming tonight. I think this was a very informative evening. I thank The Barnacle – it’s great to have a local paper that reports news, so I hope you all go out and get a subscription to The Barnacle moving forward.

So, basically, my message in this whole thing has been clear all along – it’s “Connecting Community with Council.”

And I guess everybody’s asked me what I would do – well, it’s not what I would do, for a number of reasons. 

Governments are not meant to make unilateral decisions unless there’s either a public health issue or an emergency. We work as a unit, as a team, and we work with the residents as a unit. So really, the town’s supposed to work together. 

I think the real power after August 12th will come after the election, and I think that if you want me to make a change and make a difference, I think that we need to get a strong message out there by the vote. 

And hopefully you vote for me on August 12th because I think that might send a message to the current Council that there is some problems out there, and we do need to talk.

Obviously, working with the current Council, everyone asks how that’s going to happen. Well I answered it to the CBC and I’ll answer it here – personally, I talk to the Councillors every time I see them. It’s a small town, we see each other in the post office, we see each other in the drug store. 

Municipal politics is never supposed to get personal. You’re supposed to be doing what you want to do for the community, talk to each other, work things out. And guess what? You’re not going to like everybody’s opinion all the time and you have to learn how to deal with that.

But the one thing that’s become quite clear, going door-to-door, the constant message I get everywhere is – New Town, Old Town, Centennial Avenue – is people just feel they have not been heard.

And how that happened, or how we can fix that – you know, that’s my main priority. And in order to do that I have to work with the current Council to get there, and the staff. And I think we can do it.

There’s been many, many situations lately that have come up that I think we can either halt, change, pause, or continue to grow, and continue to move forward. Who knows what the people want until we actually hear from the people personally, because we haven’t heard from them yet. So let’s wait and hear what the people want to say, and want to do, and then move forward on that at that level.

And then lastly, the only thing I promise, and I’ve listened – I promise that as the short-term mayor, I’ll revisit these decisions, and try to take a look at them, and try to get the Council back at the table to talk about them. And I will bring engagement and your voices – your voices, not my own opinions, but your voices – to the office of Mayor, each and every day. I want residents to be less anxious about the future of our town. I want them to feel that this is their town, because it is your town, it’s not my town, it’s not council’s town, it’s the residents’ and taxpayers’ town. 

And for this, we need engagement on every level. It’s great that we see 100 people at some council meetings. I might not think it’s that great if I get elected a month from now, but I think it’s great right now, right? It shows that people are interested. It shows that people that are moving here really show interest in this community. And most people that have moved here have moved here for a reason. They love Lunenburg for what it is, and what it always has been, and what UNESCO means to Lunenburg. And yes, we have to grow, and we have to have some development. But we have to grow at a slow, proper pace that the people want to see.

The number that we heard by many was, in five to ten years we should double our population or we won’t exist. Well, that number to me, quite frankly, is just a little crazy. We’ve never had, in my time – I’m 54, and it’s been between 2000 and, say 2,700 residents in 54 years – so if we can get to 3,000 to 3,500 people in the next five to ten years, I’d say we’re doing pretty good, myself.

So, let’s work together. I ask for your support on August 12th. Remember, you can start voting on the 3rd, the cards were in the mail today, I think, for most of you. So when you go to the computer, I just ask for your support. Myra for Mayor on August 3rd to the 12th, thank you very much.

Gale Fullerton: Thank you all for attending this evening. Many thanks to my campaign team for helping me get ready for this candidates’ forum and to the supporters that have expressed they are happy to see me running for mayor.

Thank you to Mr. Myra for his work on the campaign, and this event, and again, thanks to the folks at The Barnacle.

What I have talked about with people, and what people have said to me, is that people want Lunenburgers to start talking to each other again, and start listening to each other again. They want to go back to working together to do the great things that we can do in Lunenburg when we work together as neighbours.

I see this as an opportunity for me to lead this community as Mayor. Why choose me as your Mayor? I’m a genuine, hard-working person with old-fashioned values, strong ethics, integrity and a fresh set of eyes on these issues. I’m a calm, consistent and collaborative leader, an effective communicator, team builder, problem solver. I have lots of senior experience with operations, human resources, financial planning and financial management. And I have lots of experience with not-for-profit and charitable boards of directors, working with them and as a member of the board of directors for various organisations.

I’m invested in this community, I love it here just like you do. And I’m dedicated to serving its citizens as Mayor. I hope I can count on your support. Thank you very much.

Full list of questions submitted by community members that were not asked at the debate

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  • “There have been a lot of cries for affordable housing, which is not only a town issue, but a Canada wide issue. Realizing that affordable housing does not come from town governments, but rather at the Provincial and Federal level, what are your thoughts and ideas as to how to work with these different levels of government to bring more affordable housing to Lunenburg?”

  • “When the trailer park / campground lease on Blockhouse Hill expires in March 2024, what do you envisage happening with that 2 + acres of land so as not to threaten the UNESCO World Heritage Status?”

  • “Would you support the creation of co-op housing (i.e. multi-unit buildings owned by the residents on a co-op basis built on land leased from the town of Lunenburg) on the north side of Blockhouse Hill facing the back harbour? If yes, how many housing units do you anticipate there would be demand for? If not in support of co-op housing, please explain why.”

  • “What singular event in the history of Lunenburg had a positive, negative or both, impact on the town? What were the effects on you, if any?”

  • “Why do you think the citizens of Lunenburg should entrust you with the office of Mayor?”

  • “What is your plan to address the tens of millions of dollars in unfunded costs across the Town’s buildings and infrastructure networks over the next decade?”

  • “Last year (2022) there was a discussion at Council about a tender for a sidewalk on Tannery Road. At the July meeting this month a tender was approved providing for sidewalk construction on Tannery Road. That tender meant coming up with an additional $300K over and above what the original tender came in at and Council was advised that funds would be taken from the Deed Transfer Tax revenue stream to make up that difference. It seemed, at the meeting, to be a costly result due to the approval not happening sooner in the process. It also seems that it uses up a disproportionate amount of time in Council chambers when it is discussed on a piecemeal basis. Meanwhile, sidewalk repaving for Green Street was deferred because of the plan to do Tannery Road. With the recent State of Emergency and the need for paving companies to reschedule paving work all over Lunenburg County, it seems likely that the Tannery Road sidewalk will likely be held over again into 2024. How do you think we could respond more actively to paving and roadwork in the future to avoid this kind of lingering over one single issue?  There are many roads (and roads get busier every year) that do not have sidewalks and residents (young, old, and in between) resort to walking on those roads in all weather conditions. If we continue to approach on a piecemeal basis and not on a project management basis, we likely will always be catching up.”

  • “Do you believe the Lunenburg Board of Trade should be subsidized by town citizens (vis a vis free lease for campground & no taxes paid) while other Chambers of Commerce are able to fund themselves by their members?”

  • “Do you think the Town should keep the UNESCO designation at all costs?”

  • “Given that it is impossible to have low density, low taxes, and good infrastructure all at the same time, which two do you favour?”

  • “Do you support water metering and would you continue with Council’s decision to adopt it?”

  • “What is your view on the renaming of Cornwallis St?”

  • “What is your view of the proposed development of Blockhouse hill and the King St lands, and, if opposed, how do you propose to solve the town’s housing crisis without it?”

  • “What is your plan to make Lunenburg an affordable place for all age groups and income levels?”

  • “Do you support a ban on short term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO?”

  • “Given the Town’s aging and deteriorated infrastructure, how do you propose to support the growth in housing needed to meet rising demand?”

  • “How do you propose to eliminate or finance those things the town has taken on that are outside municipal jurisdiction? Would you cut core services or raising taxes?”

  • “How do you propose to deal with the 15 million dollars of capital maintenance over the next ten years required for the electric utility? Sell it or increase rates?”

  • “Do you support keeping the Lunenburg Academy if it means substantially increasing taxes to pay for it?”

  • “The tax revenue stream of the Town is substantially enhanced by the income stream it receives through business taxes in the Town. Some suggest that the Town would not exist without its business revenue. How would you, as Mayor, propose to ensure the continuity of the Board of Trade in the Town and its ability to raise funds for community events given that the current plan is to disconnect the LBoT from the campground revenue stream? Please explain.”

  • “Do you support the vision outlined in the Comprehensive Community plan and, if not, what is your alternative vision for the town?”

  • “What are your plans for consensus building between the residents and businesses in Town and the leadership of the Town?”

  • “I am very concerned about the amount of money that is spent on salaries for the top executives of this town. I am referring to the salaries of the Chief Administrative Officer, the Communication Manager, the Director of Community Development, the Economic Development and Funding Manager, the Planner Development Officer, and the Heritage Officer. For a town of only 2400 people, it seems to me that we are top heavy in management positions. We know how much the mayor and the councillors make, but we don’t know how much the CAO makes. Do you think we, the people who pay those salaries,  should know how much we are paying? If so, what will you do about disclosing that information?”

  • “When will the wealthy in tourism, world heritage town of Lunenburg pull up it’s socks and paint the shabby bandstand and shabby street markings, notably the crosswalks?”

  • “There have been a lot of cries for affordable housing, which is not only a town issue, but a Canada wide issue. Realizing that affordable housing does not come from town governments, but rather at the Provincial and Federal level, what are your thoughts and ideas as to how to work with these different levels of government to bring more affordable housing to Lunenburg?”

  • “In specific terms, what do you think is the primary function of the Mayor and Council?”

  • “How would you strive to reduce the cost of government and the consequent property taxation levels?”

  • “It’s become quite apparent that the town of Lunenburg has become a real driving force when it comes to Arts and Culture. With numerous galleries featuring local artists, many of  whom are internationally recognized, organizations such as LAMP, Folk Harbour Festival, The Folk Art Festival, The Arts Walk down at the Harbour, the Lunenburg Theatre Collective, the Lunenburg School of the Arts, the Lunenburg Foundation for the Arts, as well as the numerous local musicians, how, as Mayor of Lunenburg, along with town council will you help foster and grow the arts in this community so that they can continue to thrive?”

  • “As mayor, what will your strategy be to seek out federal funding for Lunenburg to continue to maintain its status as a UNESCO world heritage site?”

  • “Given the list of priorities on your radar, how high does repairing and resurfacing Lunenburg’s streets and roads? Would you be in favor of installing speed bumps on Montague St or other streets where cars frequently exceed speed limits putting pedestrians and other cars in danger?”

  • “As mayor, how would you build relationships with the Town Councillors and citizens of Lunenburg…give specific examples please.”

  • “With the recent torrential rains, flooding and ensuing damage I was wondering what the town is doing regarding climate change, sea level rise and the fact that Nova Scotia is sinking at the same time (crustal subsidence). Rereading the Comprehensive Community Plan there is mention of a 5 year implementation plan re climate change goals. But no details so it appears to be not comprehensive at all. Yet the Town has a very comprehensive document on its website that is not referenced in CCP, “Municipal Climate Action Plan for TofL”, Feb 2015 prepared by CBCL Consulting Engineers.  Succinct recommendations are made for adaptive actions in this document. I don’t think much,  if any information, is being communicated to residents re what, if any, action plans are being done and in a timely matter. Are you familiar with the 2015 Climate Action Plan and will you as Mayor bring it’s climate adaptive actions to the forefront in all matter before council? And will you have a detailed communication plan for the vastly, quickly climate change effects and town’s mitigation actions?”

  • “Until very recently Deed Transfer tax revenues were a relatively modest line item in the budget coming in consistently in the low six figure range. Due to massive hikes in the cost of Lunenburg real estate and the resulting ratcheting up of nearly 30% of town assessments, Deed Transfer tax income has outstripped inflation by mulitples taking that line item to a level at or near the million dollar mark annually. These spiking assessments of course will also drive up the annual income made up of residential and commercial taxes. This windfall has made Lunenburg the envy of every small town in the province. How would you use this windfall to help secure the financial stability of the town for year to come and will you bring down the residential and commercial rates?”

  • “We regularly hear quarterly reports from the RCMP to the Town. Each one deals with $250,000 of services received by the Town in the past quarterly period. What would it take to get a review of the $1M services provided by the RCMP with a goal of cost saving? Given the type of “crime” the RCMP reports deal with before Council, should we be looking at other ways to issue summary offence or parking violation tickets?”


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