The consequences of unprecedented growth in Cavan Monaghan Township — good and bad — need to be weighed and balanced with a practical plan to ensure long-term sustainability and prosperity for all residents, says Coun. Ryan Huntley, who’s looking to become the municipality’s new deputy mayor.
Huntley, who represents Millbrook Ward, now known as Ward 3 following a redrawing of electoral boundaries last year, made his candidacy official on July 29.
Huntley is serving his second term on council after first being elected in 2014.
He’s running against former Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro.
After stepping out of the political arena for eight years, Del Mastro filed his nomination papers on Wednesday.
Matthew Graham is Cavan Monaghan’s current deputy mayor.
Graham hasn’t yet filed to run, nor has he declared whether he plans to seek re-election. He has not responded to requests for comment from The Examiner.
Candidates have until Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. to throw their respective hats into the race ahead of the Oct. 24 municipal election.
In an interview with The Examiner, Huntley said his priorities as would-be deputy mayor will focus on navigating and managing Cavan Monaghan’s explosion of growth.
“There’s going to be unprecedented growth. Are we built for it? Do we have the infrastructure? Once we have all these people here, what are we going to offer them? So the challenge is going to be, how do we accommodate newcomers while at the same time respecting our past,” Huntley said.
“If you grow too fast, the wheels will fall off the bus.”
From 2016 to 2021, Cavan Monaghan’s population swelled from 8,829 to 10,016 — a 13.4 per cent spike and it’s expected to nearly double by 2050.
The municipality has seen new subdivisions take shape, and the area is experiencing rapid commercial development. A massive revitalization project is in the works at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, and developers are moving ahead with a new industrial park on Syer Line that’s poised to bring in hundreds of jobs.
While Huntley welcomes new development, he said growth is a “double-edged sword.”
A ballooning population will mean encroaching social issues like homelessness, addiction and mental health will need to be confronted — something Huntley aims to do if elected.
“As you grow and you have prosperity, you’re also creating a bigger wedge and a deeper divide between the haves and the have-nots and these social problems will start to creep to the forefront. These are the things we’re going to have to take way more consideration of and make sure we can accommodate for it,” he said.
In terms of specific projects, Huntley is prioritizing the expansion of the municipality’s community improvement plan (CIP).
The initiative is a land use planning tool that aims to revitalize, beautify and promote economic development.
“It’s a fantastic program to kick-start improvements around businesses. Some of it is esthetic and some of it is functional. Millbrook has two sidewalk patios now which was a direct result of the CIP program. The next step is expanding that out to the entire township, not just the downtown area,” Huntley said.
He said voters can count on him to bring experience and a “balanced approach” to the role of deputy mayor.
“I like to listen to both sides. I don’t go into things with preconceived notions. I think I’ve worked very well with the last two councils in terms of getting our priorities done and making sure that if we’re not on the same page, we at least understand where the other person is coming from,” Huntley said.
“If I’m not successful, I do believe I’ve left this place better than I found it and I hope that trend continues.”
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at email@example.com.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner