Very little negativity happened in the two-and-a-half hours of discussion between those vying for mayor, deputy mayor, and council in Tiny Township.
At the virtual all-candidates meeting for Tiny Township on Monday night, every available nominee was in attendance to field resident questions selected and provided by hosts Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce.
President Peter Kostiw was master of ceremonies, keeping the 15 candidates to a relatively tight time-frame for their responses. Everyone was allowed 60 seconds for an opening remark, followed by four questions rotated through the roster at 90 seconds each, and a concluding remark at 60 seconds; most stayed in that limit, as well as dealing with the occasional technical difficulty from the Zoom platform.
In attendance: mayoral candidates David Evans and Tony Mintoff; deputy mayoral candidates John Bryant, Sean Miskimins, and Steve Saltsman; and council candidates Anna Aggio, Dave Brunelle, Ema Canadic, Mario Galluzzo, Kelly Helowka, Stephen McNamara, Erik Schomann, David Sparrock, Steffen Walma, and incumbent Gibb Wishart.
Question 1: Tiny’s crest includes the fleur-de-lis to represent the Francophone community in the area. How will you support this community which has to fight to maintain its culture, and would you be willing to learn the language if elected?
Several candidates stated they would work to learn French or had a light knowledge of the language; some admitted they didn’t know it at all. Miskimins responded entirely in French, appreciating the link between the Tiny community and the culture; Brunelle likewise pointed out his dual-language election signs.
Walma and Wishart, both currently on Tiny council this term, noted that since it was a multilingual community that understood English well felt that they would rather focus on other council matters of importance; Walma also listed off the ways council had provided support to the township’s large francophone community throughout the past term.
Mintoff, Bryant, Saltsman and others pointed out the importance of the much smaller Indigenous community in Tiny Township. This exchange included a verbal faux pas from Aggio, which left several candidates with questioning looks on their faces.
It wasn’t the first instance of Aggio erratically speaking from her heart; despite various unscripted remarks and the occasional obscenity, she revealed during her closing remarks that she was dealing with sudden personal matters and had been on another call during the candidate meeting, prompting responses of sympathy from her fellow candidates.
Question 2: Do you feel that the new short-term rental licensing program and the $1,500 application fee should be more substantial to better qualify renters?
Once again, Bryant, Walma and Wishart took to explaining the current term of council’s reasonings and actions behind the program, noting that it was a starting point aimed to be tweaked as time progressed. Saltsman, a former member of the short-term-rental task force removed after its inaugural meeting, called the program “beyond insufficient”, and quoted bylaws from other municipalities as did running mate Mintoff. Canadic pointed out th7e question wasn’t posed correctly, noting the limitations through raising a financial barrier; it was echoed by others.
Retired RCMP officer Helowka and former OPP officer Sparrock agreed to “bad behaviours” causing the bad apples, while aiming to look at enforcement issues of the new policies. Galluzzo wanted to work for a fair solution, prompting Saltsman to shake his head in disagreement. Miskimins denounced abuse from the public toward council on the contentious issue, and Schomann felt it was “haphazardly slapped together”.
Question 3: Is there any plan in place to allow residents of Tiny Township who do not live on the water better access to the beaches?
Nearly all candidates praised the shoreline alteration study enacted by the township recently, as well as a few giving regard to the dynamic shoreline study also approved.
Miskimins, running on a beach rights platform, noted the cut to delineation funding and pointed out the historic use of access paths; Wishart later countered that they were there for safety access. Bryant wanted to look into unopened walkways for development of an accessible boardwalk.
The topic of discovering and proving deed ownership versus historic ownership was raised by many candidates. Helowka reiterated bad behaviour. Saltsman noted that the township had allowed beach access to “fester for decades”; while Aggio animatedly said she would throw her chair on the beach to sit, and calling out Miskimins: “Sean’s there, he’s like a dog. He’ll take care of everything.” Miskimins reacted with a look of surprise at the comment.
Question 4: Is there a plan to restrict the amount, proximity to shoreline size, and type of structure, when it comes to waterfront development in Tiny?
Once again, candidates responded positively to the approved shoreline and dynamic studies approved by council. Nearly all candidates referred to or spoke of the recent final zoning bylaw which setback boathouses and structures 15-metres from the 178-metre high water flood line.
Brunelle brought up resident perception that Tiny was allowing development to the waters edge as a unique case on a global scale.
Walma additionally pointed out hostilities to council’s delay was a result of the process driven provincially, citing an example where it took 10 years for Tiny to pass its own official plan after the county suffered delays and the province required settling matters with the land tribunal. Some candidates pointed out Tiny staff and committees as contributing to the problem, noting a reexamination should be in order. All candidates disapproved of any blockage to beach access.
With that came the closing remarks, allowing some candidates to touch upon undiscussed items.
Brunelle and Sparrock noted the water protection for the aggregate pits, with Schomann pointing out his gathering of many different parties to protest the Waverley Pit during the 2021 provincial election. Wishart aimed to lower taxes and return the public to council chambers.
All candidates thanked the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce for hosting, and urged residents to get out and vote. Kostiw stated that the all-candidates meeting would be available for viewing at an upcoming date.
Municipal election information for Tiny Township is available on the elections page of the town website.
For Tiny Township residents:
The Township of Tiny will be using the Vote-By-Mail method in the 2022 Municipal Election. This voting method has been used in the last four elections and has proven to be effective in meeting the needs of our permanent and seasonal electors, as well as meeting accessibility requirements.
Eligible electors in the Township of Tiny shall receive their vote-by-mail kit the week of September 26, 2022. The proposed last recommended date to return the completed kit by mail is October 13, 2022.
During regular business hours from Thursday, September 1, 2022, to October 23, 2022 (9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and until 8:00 p.m. on October 24, 2022, eligible voters can register and make changes to their information on the Voters' List with the municipality.
Am I On The Voter's List is available on the Township's Election page at www.tiny.ca/voterlist.
If you are not currently on the Voters' List and are eligible to vote, please visit the municipal office during regular business hours with acceptable identification, or contact the Clerk's Department at 705-526-4204 ext 225 or 229.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca