Q & A with the municipal election candidates
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux Lookout voters will soon choose six councillors-at-large to represent them on the next municipal council.
The position of Mayor and all three of the local school board trustee positions have been acclaimed.
So, who should you vote for? And what about the candidates who will be representing you through acclamation that you didn’t vote for?
To help residents answer these questions The Sioux Lookout Bulletin posed the following questions to each of the candidates and acclaimed individuals:
1. Tell us about yourself.
2. Why have you decided to seek office?
3. What experience will you bring to the job and what qualities do you possess that you think will make you good at the job?
4. On what issues that you feel matter to the people of this municipality will you be campaigning and why? How do you plan to address these issues? What is your election platform?
5. What do you see as being Sioux Lookout’s major strengths, opportunities, and challenges and how do you think they should be handled?
6. Is there anything else you’d like to say to voters?
The following are the candidates’ responses in the order which they were received.
Reece Van Breda: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
1. Hi, I’m Reece Van Breda. I’m running to help make Sioux Lookout become a more livable community for everybody, from the outlying areas to Queen Street, and from Hudson to Alcona!
I was born in New Liskeard to a Metis Mother from Pickle Lake and a Dutch Jewish father. We moved around when I was younger and settled in Kenora where I grew up but spent many summers in Pickle Lake and in Sioux Lookout with family.
I have a Bachelor of International Development with a specialty in Developmental Economics from Humber College and a postgrad certificate from Algonquin College in Project Management. I spent a few years working abroad for different non-governmental organizations in economics. However, with the pandemic I struggled to find meaningful employment, and it wasn’t until I moved back home to Northwestern Ontario where I finally was able to spread my roots and grow. I am currently a Communications Officer at SLFNHA and work at the LCBO on weekends, and I love both of my jobs!
I wholeheartedly believe I can bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to Town Council. It doesn’t matter if you came to Sioux yesterday or were here your whole life - you deserve to live and thrive here! My lived experiences and exposure that I have gained throughout the 28 years of my life has taught me that we need everyone’s viewpoints at the table to ensure we are getting the three-dimensional perspective on growing this town from the bottom-up.
2. If you’re not at the table - you’re on the menu. We cannot keep on the same path and expect new outcomes. A lot of young and lower income persons in the community do not see themselves represented on Council, nor believe they are being listened to. I am running to change that. Building up Sioux Lookout from the bottom-up means listening to the taxpayers first. I have noticed that there is a large gap between Town Council and citizens. Elected officials are meant to represent the wants and needs of all Sioux voters and make decisions that have these perceptions in mind.
The Town Council needs the voice of the up-and-coming generation to build an equitable and diverse community. I want municipal services to work better for you. I want to bring more community into decision-making.
3. I have worked in economics around the world - from Peru to Argentina, to Israel and Ukraine. Many of these ideas on the international scale can be applied to our backyard. Let’s do some nation building in Sioux Lookout! I have worked previously for Sarah Campbell, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River for summer 2013 and 2014 when I was in university. My father has worked for Municipalities throughout Northern Ontario, so I have a personal know-how to how local government works. I am ready to hit the ground running on day 1. This is my first time running for public office and I have spent my free time walking in different parts of the community talking to a variety of people to get their perspective on what the Town Council can do differently and be more responsible to the people. I will continue to do this even if elected. I love Sioux Lookout and I want to see it succeed. I have the right background, skills, and composure to deliver.
4. Housing. Housing. Housing. I believe that Sioux Lookout is in a rare keyhole of opportunity – we were the only community to gain a sizeable population in the latest 2021 census in the Northwestern Ontario region, which means people are moving here to start a life or to make their lives better, especially younger people. In the next 5 to 10 years the Baby Boomer generation will start to retire, which means if we don’t get our housing strategy right and really get shovels in the ground, we will have even more crucial job openings and less space, and without the housing infrastructure in place, I guarantee to you that the young generation will start to leave. I don’t want Sioux Lookout to be another small Northern Ontario community that is slowly dwindling in population – we can be the opposite.
The Municipality must partner with developers, private contractors, and citizens to help deregulate housing, enact better zoning regulations, and overall decrease the red tape so that more housing can grow in this community. The Municipality should be asking developers “what can we do to help this project?” and “what are some work we can take on to get this project done quicker”? With more housing and businesses, the tax base will grow, putting less burden on the already high property taxes that we all pay.
The Municipality needs an Asset Management Coordinator badly. When working in Ukraine, our first question when talking to different politicians were “who’s in charge of overlooking your assets and ensuring that they are able to keep up with growth and are kept in good condition?” and when there wasn’t a position available – we walked away from the negotiating table. An Asset Management Coordinator will help the Municipality establish and regulate risk assessments and asset lifecycle strategies for sustainable financial planning for our continued growth.
5. In economics terms, we have almost everything already needed for our economy to take off – abundant natural resources, a vibrant and young working population, space for development, and vacant commercial space that can be utilized again. However, the lack of housing is the biggest deterrent to our economic take off. Because there is such little housing available, there is little opportunity for people to settle in Sioux Lookout, and instead rent at higher prices, driving out opportunities, especially tied with our high property taxes! But it’s not just affordable housing, but also transitional housing and emergency housing. Like my mom would say, with every problem, comes an opportunity!
Like I stated in the last question, the Municipality can and must work with a variety of sources to help bring opportunities home. We have the power, but we need the hutzpah behind the Town Council to do the knocking.
6. Let’s build Sioux Lookout together! Anything is possible if we all work together from all walks of life, we can ensure that Town Council is accountable to themselves and the people of Sioux Lookout. I believe Sioux Lookout’s best days are ahead of us, either we can continue waiting for housing to build itself and wait for opportunities to come to Sioux – or we can grab the bull by the horns and do everything we can to build this town up!
Sioux Lookout Residents – yeehaw!
Joan Cosco: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
1. I have lived in Sioux lookout most of my life. Our family moved here in the 70’s when my parents purchased a business.
I worked for the school board for 30 years. I have raised a family in Sioux Lookout. I am retired and run a B and B. I also work part-time for Smarthire Solutions, northern division, assisting in finding staff for various organizations. I assist my husband with his Home inspections Business, and have been a landlord for over twenty years.
I am a hard worker. I am someone who can take an idea and make it happen.
2. I love Sioux Lookout and I have time to help and make a difference. If elected I am looking forward to having the opportunity to work alongside and learn from, Doug Lawrance, Joyce Timpson, and the town council. I want to be part of a diverse group of people working to make a difference.
3. I have strong organizational skills. The last five years of my career I worked with a small team that tracked, planned and implemented programs/ grants, throughout NW Ontario schools. I reported and tracked spending to ensure it complied with spending guidelines. I have a background in accounting. I am proficient at compliance reporting and financial analysis.
I have the ability to take an idea and see it through in a timely manner. I have planned many community events and fundraisers. I have a business mindset.
I strongly believe in the value of having a diverse community where everyone feels welcome. I know the value of removing barriers and allowing people a clear path to success.
4. The issues are all well known, housing, daycare, employee shortage, inclusion, infrastructure, recreation, truth and reconciliation. The solutions are complicated and we need an environment where all voices are heard and respected.
I believe in the importance of removing barriers, so the local investors, developers and people of Sioux Lookout can invest in our community and help solve the problems. I don’t believe any out of town developers are coming to solve our housing crisis. We need to solve our issues ourselves and be ready and willing to work with anyone who is willing to contribute to the solution.
I would love to see a town where the roads are maintained and families can find housing and daycare. Where there are lots of interesting things to do in town. Where everyone feels included and welcome.
5. Sioux Lookout’s people are our biggest strength. The people are strong and resilient. So many creative and interesting people who know how to get things done. Sioux Lookout has so much natural beauty and endless possibilities.
Everyone in town pays taxes. If you own your home or rent, you contribute to the tax base. We need to make sure our taxes are being used to support the community as a whole in a fiscally responsible manner.
I don’t believe the municipality needs to increase taxes, since the MPAC assessment continues to increase, therefore tax revenue will also increase. I think we need to take a break from mega projects until our poorly maintained infrastructure is brought back to an acceptable standard.
One of the municipalities greatest assets is its employees, right now skilled labour is at a shortage. We need to ensure the town employees are supported in a way that will guarantee staff retention and growth. We need boots on the ground to make sure the work gets done.
We need to work with local people to find solutions and make it as easy as possible for businesses and local developers to create what we need. We need to support our local businesses to ensure they thrive to make our community better. We need to find ways to entice local people to help find solutions by offering incentives. We need to make sure everyone is included, we need indigenous voices on council.
6. I am a woman running for council. I am hoping to join Joyce Timpson to bring a strong female perceptive to council. My goal is not to replace her but learn from her. I want to be part of a diverse council which represents the community fairly, without a personal agenda.
I know as a town councillor I will not be able to solve all the complex problems, but I do know Sioux lookout is an amazing place, full of amazing people. If we work together we can make small steps forward until we accomplish our goals.
Steve Poling: English Public – Keewatin-Patricia District School Board Trustee (Acclaimed)
1. The Dryden Board of Education had a job open in the fall of 1983, so I came up from Lakehead University. After marrying in 1985 we moved here and have been part of the community since. It was an honour to serve our community and region for 35 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator. I have also served as a leader in high school athletics at the local, regional, and provincial level. I am now retired and doing some work as an educational consultant in our region.
2. The education of our children is one of the most important services that are offered to our community. The KPDSB and our schools should be leaders in serving our community. I very much believe in community service and hope that by serving as a Trustee with the KPDSB we can work together to create excellent educational experiences for our children! The decisions made by the board must take the best interests of the whole community into account. I hope to be able to bring this perspective to the board of trustees.
3. 40 years of experience in education and a lifetime of service to supporting activities for people. I hope to encourage teamwork amongst all stakeholders and to empower students, families, our communities in the best interests of our children and communities.
4. What drew me to serve as a trustee is the importance of the decisions of the KPDSB in serving each community. The board was a partner in developing three soccer fields in town and then used one for the new High School. We have not heard about the old QE field but if it is unavailable in the future, like this summer, it leaves us with only one field. Not acceptable for a community with hundreds of soccer players. This is an example of the importance of being a responsible partner in developing our communities for the future.
The completion of the facilities work in our schools is also a key focus. Work on full completion of the SNHS project and site is still not complete. This work needs to be finished.
5. Sioux Lookout is a diverse, welcoming, supportive place where people know and care about each other. People and our beautiful region are huge strengths. There are endless opportunities to work together to make wonderful things happen here. In small communities we have the ability to make things happen for ourselves and our communities. Challenge is part of what motivates us … as a colleague shared with me many years ago “Those things that irritate instruct”. Let’s identify those challenges, solutions, and then work together to implement those solutions to help our young people to build good lives for themselves.
6. Get out there and vote.
Dan Rioux: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
1. I am a retired OPP and served as a police officer in numerous locations throughout Ontario. I served the majority of my 38 years in various locations in Northern Ontario; Minaki, Whitedog, Kenora, Thunder Bay, Grassy Narrows, Sioux Lookout and Wawa.
My wife Shannon and I had always planned to retire in the North and in June of this year we resettled in Sioux Lookout.
2. After a long and enjoyable career serving the public as an officer, and being prohibited from running for council, I believe it is time for me to serve the community in a different capacity. I feel I am ready for the challenges this position presents.
Being retired I will now have the time to devote myself to the duties of council.
3. As a senior officer in the OPP and later a Deputy Chief of a small municipal police service, I have dealt with politicians ranging from Federal and Provincial to Municipal. This experience along with years of engaging in conflict resolution uniquely prepared me to undertake the duties of councillor.
4. I do not have a specific platform per se but instead feel that Sioux Lookout needs to pursue different avenues to once again prosper and grow.
I believe all elected officials, regardless of what level, are not there to serve their own agendas but rather are responsible to the people who elected them. In that vein they should ensure they are doing what they were elected to do. We can’t please everybody, and to think so is folly, but we should listen to everybody and hopefully do what is best for the town. I can only truly commit to doing my best and to hold the council accountable to the public and to ensure the public is aware of council’s decisions. There should be no surprises.
I believe the people of Sioux Lookout want to see the town returned to a vibrant community where everyone can feel safe and proud of their town. This is certainly not how people feel today.
5. We were always known as a prime tourist destination for sportsmen as well as naturalists. However, it seems that lately we have lost our way and I believe it is incumbent on council and the people of Sioux Lookout to work towards restoring that position. We need to explore options to revitalize downtown and make it an attractive place for people to go. As it stands now there are no places for a family to go for a meal or to take their children. A quick walk down Front Street certainly does not conjure up a safe, inviting, prosperous community. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame but it’s solutions that we need, and any solutions pursued are not going to be quick fixes. We need to seek input from all stakeholders and look for true solutions and maybe we can find a lasting one.
I am also aware that the current Mayor and Council have identified a severe discrepancy in the Policing costs that Sioux Lookout, and other northern communities, are paying compared to our southern neighbours. As a former Detachment Commander with the OPP I dealt with, presented and administered numerous policing contracts. This experience would enable me to look into our current policing situation and address ways to potentially reduce our costs without jeopardizing our community safety.
6. Not really, just want the people to know that what I bring to the table is simply a promise to be upfront, truthful and work towards making Sioux Lookout a better place to live.
Doug Lawrance: Sioux Lookout Mayor (Incumbent) (Acclaimed)
1. I am now completing my second Term as the Mayor of Sioux Lookout. During my time as Mayor I have made the effort to engage in regional agencies which have impact in Sioux Lookout - currently my engagements include: Chair of the Northwestern Health Unit Board of Health and Director on the Kenora District Services Board. In my two terms I have also participated as a Director on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Municipal Water Association, Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association, and the Kenora District Municipal Association. My bio in terms of places I have lived prior to moving to Sioux Lookout includes my birthplace Scotland, England, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Toronto, St. Lucia, Mozambique, and Smithers B.C. My education includes a BA in Psychology/Sociology and a Degree in Engineering. Prior to moving to Sioux Lookout my work experience included road and water projects in St. Lucia, Moçambique, and Smithers, B.C. In 1985 we moved to Sioux Lookout and for 25 years I worked with Keewatin-Aski Ltd. on planning, design and construction phases of projects throughout Northwestern Ontario. Following retirement from Keewatin-Aski Ltd. in 2010, I spent several years working closely with the Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre as an independent Project Manager including the completion of the Hospital and preliminary planning of a 96-bed long term care facility for Sioux Lookout. In 2014 I was elected to my first term as Mayor of Sioux Lookout.
2. I decided to put my name in for a third term because – I enjoy the work, I see value in continuity, and I believe I have established positive relationships at both regional and provincial levels that can be beneficial for Sioux Lookout.
3. The experience of eight years as Mayor certainly means that I can hit the ground running. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have more to learn. I will continue to strive to lead a Council that respects each other, respects the role of Administration and Staff, and puts the overall interest of the community as a whole at the forefront of each and every decision.
4. Sioux Lookout has many unique challenges and many unique opportunities. We also share very similar challenges to other regional municipalities and municipalities throughout Ontario and Canada. Issues such as - shortage of housing, shortage of labour force, inflation, infrastructure deficit, shortage of long-term care beds, social challenges, policing costs – are not unique to Sioux Lookout, however some of them are exacerbated here by our northern remote location and by our unique role as Hub of the North. Certainly our property taxes are higher than many municipalities and we have continued to address some of the causes – policing costs, social challenges, daycare cost, and relatively small industrial/commercial tax base.
5. As we move forward it is important that: We continue to prepare land that provides opportunities for residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial development. We continue our work to obtain a deeper policing cost subsidy. We continue to work with regional agencies such as KDSB and NWHU related to addressing social and public health challenges in a positive way. We continue working closely with the OPP and a wide-array of community agencies and organizations to implement important elements of our Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. We maintain our good financial position in terms of debt utilization. We enhance our role as Hub of the North and continue working collaboratively with First Nation and Indigenous agencies. We continue and strengthen our positive relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. We recognize and value the good team we have working in all Departments of the Municipality. We move ahead as a Council providing good governance for our Municipality. We continue to value each and every resident in all our forms of diversity.
Luc Beaulne: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
About Me - I’ve lived in Sioux Lookout for 53 years. A husband, father, grandfather. A hockey player and coach. Retired from Canadian National Railway after a 33-year career.
Running for Office - I’m excited to ask for your support for town council. I started thinking about running for council a couple of years ago. I have the time and energy to help Sioux Lookout deal with its challenges and reach its potential.
Experience - I’ve spent the last two years researching how our town council gets things done. I’ve been part of teams, led teams and contributed to committees to improve our community. I have a proven track record as a volunteer in Sioux Lookout. I care about this community and its future.
My Platform - I’ll meet with and listen to citizens of Sioux Lookout. I want to work on the issues you care about: housing, property taxes, long-term care for seniors, infrastructure, parks and recreation, road maintenance, tourism and more.
Joyce Timpson: Councillor-At-Large Candidate (Incumbent)
1. After a couple of years backpacking around the world as a young Torontonian, I came to Sioux Lookout for another adventure - “for a year” - to work with Child and Family Services. From there it was just one interesting opportunity after another. After 11 years I returned to University to pursue my PhD in Social Work. After 6 years of academia and teaching, I was lured back to Sioux Lookout and became involved in research and consultation in mental health for First Nations organizations. In 2006, I put my name in for Council as I had become very interested in public policy and how government works.
2. I never dreamed I would still be on Council 16 years later. Being on Council is like reading a book that you can’t put down – you can’t wait to see what happens next and there are always surprises and twists in the plot. Believing this year that it was time to step back, encouragement from constituents, influenced my decision to put my name forward for one last term.
3. My experience with the northern communities has been valuable to the municipality which serves as a hub for so many services to the North. I am an initiator and introduced the process that resulted in the Friendship Accord, the Municipal Truth and Reconciliation Committee and the Environment Committee. I have come to accept that one will not make a difference unless one commits for the long term and is persistent. I am a slugger and not a quitter and have been described as a “dog with a bone”. I believe this has been beneficial on Council
4 + 5. Our town is dependent on health, education and social services to the north which in recent years have grown exponentially. Housing cannot keep up with the growth, an urgent challenge we must face. But more housing alone is not enough. Staff turnover costs us untold amounts of everyone’s budgets but worse contributes to reduced levels of service in all sectors. The development of amenities that will keep people here must accompany the increase in population and services. We must be a community where people will want to stay and will put down roots. We need diversity in housing, retention of supportive neighbourhoods, and things to do such as libraries, outdoor and indoor recreation, culture. People living here want both the amenities of larger centres such as a swimming pool as well as the benefits of the northern wilderness such as what is offered at Cedar Bay.
We must face the crisis in healthcare and the shortage of healthcare professionals. I believe that the municipality can and should play a part in working with all healthcare providers in addressing this matter.
Recently Queens Park and Ottawa have proposed laws that could have deleterious effects on northern municipalities in general and our unique town in particular. Recent examples are Bill 7, the More Beds, Better Care Act, 2002 and the proposed redistribution of federal electoral boundaries in Northwestern Ontario. We must continue to focus on our advocacy role with higher levels of government to address these issues.
6. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you for the last 16 years. I look forward to the next chapter of this book I cannot put down.
Cory Lago: Councillor-At-Large Candidate (Incumbent)
Hello: My name is Cory Allan Lago and I was born in 1969 to Allan Lago and Suzanne Lorteau here in Sioux Lookout. I attended Central Public School, Wellington (7/8) School, and graduated from QEDHS in 1987. I started to work for my father’s business (Al’s Sports Excellence) in 1989 but decided to try my hand at college and University. I completed 2 years of college and 4 years of university and graduated with my Bachelor of Social Work in 2002. During my post-secondary schooling I worked for the MNR as a fire ranger. In 2003 I rejoined my father and bought into the family business. My brother and I currently own and run the store which is celebrating its 50th year in business.
Growing up in Sioux Lookout was great. That small town feel, knowing almost everyone by sight or by name had its benefits and disadvantages lol. We did not have a lot in town, but there was always enough to keep you active and busy. I still view Sioux Lookout from the lens of a small northern community, that offers a lot if you are interested in the outdoors and are willing to make your own fun and adventures. Our community is what we put back into it. Summers were filled with swimming at the town beach, bike riding with friends, fishing, camping and exploring. Fall brought small game hunting, and later on moose hunting. You were taught at an early age how to use a gun and respect it as a tool. In the winter it was ice and road hockey, skiing and ice fishing.
In my mid 30’s I decided that it was time to give back to my home town, and I encourage everyone to give a little back to our great community when you are able. Again, the community will give back more to each of us if we all spend some time giving back and making Sioux Lookout an awesome place to live. As an avid fisherman and hunter, the logical spot to give back was to the Sioux Lookout Anglers and Hunters. I started attending meetings and within a few years I was president of the club and was forging a new relationship with our community through various club events. I was president for 14 years, recently stepping down in 2021. Through the club I also helped start the Sioux Lookout Walleye Weekend in 2007 and was the Director of this annual event until last year.
In 2018 I decided to run for Municipal Council and was fortunate enough to be elected, and I would like to thank Mr. Leney for twisting my arm to run. I enjoyed my first 4 years as a councillor and did my best to step up to the challenges presented to us at each meeting. I was always prepared for each and every meeting and it is my hope that those attending or watching saw that I took this position as councillor seriously and professionally. I am also open and honest to all those that I have spoken to about any issue they raised to me over the past 4 years, either pointing them in the right direction with whom they should talk to or reaching out myself to find an answer for them. There is only one place I try and not to talk about Municipal politics with the public and that is at my job. I am open to having a conversation any other time. I am running again for the 2022 Municipal election and hope to provide another 4 years as a councillor and bring my individual style to the table. That style may not be for everyone but I will never change who I am or my core beliefs.
For the majority of my adult life I have followed the tenants of individual sovereignty and the sanctity of individual rights and freedoms. The right to freedom of speech, even if it makes someone uncomfortable. The right to defend yourself against bodily harm from others. The right of an individual to listen to their moral conscience and do what is right and good for themselves while at the same time not causing harm to others. And I believe in the right of individual bodily autonomy and being able to make the choice of what will and will not go into one’s body. I believe a smile and being courteous goes a long way in a world filled with struggles. Threats, coercion, mandates, lockdowns or legislation will not shake or remove these inalienable rights and core beliefs. I stood up for my beliefs over the past 4 years and will continue to do so moving forward if re-elected as a councillor. Again, some may not like my positions, but I would not change anything I said or did at the council table.
Issues - in Alphabetical order.
Boat Launches - When I first started on council I was shocked to find that we had a $41,000 debt on the books, and had been on there from when work was done on Deception and Mile 5 launches. It took a few years but this council was able to clear off that debt. During each year’s budget process you will see revenue coming in from sales of boat launch passes and you will also see a wage taken out as an expenditure, this wage exceeds the amount of revenue from the sale of passes. Moving forward I would like to see the wage removed from the “Boat Launch” category and have it taken from another area of the budget. The money raised through the sale of passes should be put into the boat launch reserve each year in order to have available funds to fix them up which would alleviate staff requests at budget time for capital funds. It would also be a great gesture on the Chamber of Commerce’s part, whom receives 50% of the MAT tax to work with the municipality and provide some money to help with the maintenance and repair of the main boat launches.
Homelessness - A few years ago we had many MPP’s come to Sioux Lookout to discuss a host of issues our community is facing. One of the issues discussed was homelessness, and while visiting the Out of the Cold shelter we were all informed that most people on our streets are not in fact homeless, but are here for many other reasons and then end up on our streets. These circumstances could be health related, justice related or a host of other reasons, but for some reason they do not make it back to their communities. It is very sad and unfortunate that alcohol has a hold on many people, but I also feel that the alcohol sold plays a role that ends up on the street and contributes to the involvement of police, ambulance and pedestrians. I think that having the Municipality, First Nation communities, local agencies, police services, mental health services, addiction services and especially the interest and investment from other levels of government will help bring us to a pathway forward. We are all human beings and life can be a struggle, but through dialogue and honest conversations we can find a way. It may not be a perfect or a quick solution but we have to start somewhere, and I believe these conversation have already began, which is a very positive step.
Housing - Has always been an issue in our community. I have talked to people that moved here in the 60’s, 70’s up until today and they all found it difficult to find housing. It will be, and it was an important issue around the council table. The municipality itself does not have the finances or capacity to create housing, nor in my opinion should they, but it will take multiple groups, interested parties and other levels of government to create and satisfy the housing needed in our community moving into the future. There has been a lot of infill within the community with multiple unit apartments being built, but more large-scale apartment developments will be needed to cover the growing population. This will also have to match the increase in job opportunities we will see moving forward over the next 10-20 years. It would be a great thing to see all the agencies in our community work with the municipality and pressure Provincial and Federal governments to fund development of housing for their employees and others looking for work in our community.
Mandates and Lockdowns - I would be remiss if I did not talk about this issue. First of all, I hope we have come far enough along that we never again allow our governments to lock us down. The data for me was clear early on that most people are going to get covid, with or without vaccination, and it should have remained up to the individual to make the choice to get the mRNA shot. I personally do not believe it is safe for myself at this time and will wait for all the studies to be done over the next 10 plus years. I will also rely on my awesome natural immunity that has helped me overcome every cold, flu and covid I got in my life. In early 2020 we went from “we are all in this together” to within a year “if you don’t do what we tell you, you will lose access to parts of society and your ability to provide for your family. I was dismayed and disgusted by these turns of events. The current data out there shows countries that were fully open or fully locked down had minimal difference in transmission rate as well as death rate. We will see how this all shakes out moving forward, but I will not forget how 25% or 7 plus million Canadians over the age 18 was demonized and demoralized by our governments and their agencies. These are my opinions on what transpired, and I have not seen much to dissuade me from this point of view. Everyone is allowed to have their opinion on what we went through. Currently, I have a greater concern for the social, psychological and economic affects left over from the last 2 years and how it will play out in the mid and long term moving forward. In my opinion the policies implement by government fiat only compounded the misery, stress, anxiety and depression of its citizens. At the end of the day, 30% of our population will do what the government asks of them, 30-40% will go along to get along and 30% will question what they are being told. Education not coercion should have been the answer, but sadly education was left at the curb.
Roundabout and Infrastructure - Another issue brought up to me is why a roundabout. Council did have multiple discussions on this at the time. From my recollection there may have been another convoluted option with arrows pointing everywhere to direct traffic. I believe I did inquire about sending this back for a more basic configuration but it would have added 10’s of thousands to re-engineer. As a councillor I do not have an issue with providing needed infrastructure for our community, and this part of our road system needed the work done badly, as well as, updating water and sewer for this area and for any future development. Council made a decision after many meetings with the final breakdown of 63% coming from grants, 23% long term debt and 14% coming from reserves. The LTD portion was just under $600,000 or an average of $225 per rate payer. I also believe that council’s focus should be more balanced and not always directed at new projects. The issue is that government funding is usually geared towards new builds and very little funding is available for repair and maintenance. I would prefer if the municipality received block funding from the other levels of government so the town could decide where those funds should be directed, unfortunately we do not live in that reality.
Taxes and budget - It has been my goal for the past 4 years to work towards as small of an increase as possible from the tax base at budget time. The past 4 years council passed a 1.7%, .7%, 0% and 1.9% increase to the overall budgets (operational and capital). The 2022 increase of 1.9% worked out to $215,000 or on average $80.00 per rate payers. I felt this was fair considering all MPAC assessments have been frozen at the 2020 rate and the municipality received a small increase due to new builds. The municipality usually saw a 3% to 3.5% MPAC increase each year which generates around $350,000, but over the past couple years this has been greatly reduced. When I first started on council MPAC was barely touched upon. It has always been my contention that MPAC should be considered the bonus revenue and little tax levy increases should be required by the municipality. I would carry on doing the same if re-elected over the next 4 years when debating operational and capital budgets. I would also like to see departments work towards operational surpluses each year, if the last 2 years have taught us anything, it is that we can be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars. This would allow council to allocated funds to reserves and alleviate some of the expenses seen in the capital budget each year, and at the same time reduce the need for much of an increase to the tax base on the operational side.
Town beach and docking system - I think the most common question I received over the last 4 years was “when will the beach be finished and opened.” I think a large portion of the community does like the new development, and there is also a portion that does not. I do know that this project concept was done before my tenure as councillor and that there were many years of discussions regarding the large fuel spill from the 80’s which extended the start date. Not only did it extend the start date (by a few years), it also increased the costs from the initial budget. This council was tasked with dealing with this increased cost. We decided on using money out of the reserves and paying it back using the MAT tax, which hopefully will be completed by next year and council will be able to direct the MAT tax revenue to other needed projects in our community. I think the biggest sticking point is the out of place boat docking system. The system works wonderfully for the Sioux Lookout Walleye Weekend and Jr. Walleye event, but that is only 2 -3 days of the summer. I believe a discussion needs to be had on the appropriate spot for this docking system, whether it is moved closer to the main beach, move parts of it elsewhere, or remains in its original position. But this will have to be dealt with by the next council.
And finally a reminder to all those that will cast a ballot this election, just because there are 6 spots open for councillors does not mean you have to check off 6 names. Choose those that you think will provide a good balance for our community. If you have liked what I brought to the council table over the last 4 years I would appreciate the chance to continue.
Many Thanks for putting your trust in me for the last 4 years.
Brent Wesley: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
1. I grew up in Thunder Bay and moved to Sioux Lookout in 2006 for work, choosing to stay and raise a family here. I am Cree and a band member of Constance Lake First Nation.
I graduated from First Nations Technical Institute in 2007 with a journalism diploma that was accredited by Humber College. However, I moved here in 2006 to work at Wawatay News and have worked here ever since for a variety of First Nation organizations in the communications field.
I now work for Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Centre as the Structural Readiness & Strategic Communications Coordinator.
2. As a First Nation person it is important to me that we have more Indigenous representation on our Council. Sioux Lookout has a population of 5,800 (2021 Census) and it has always been estimated that half the population are Indigenous people.
Not only that, First Nation organizations in town employ half the workforce. HALF. We’re major contributors to the economy of this town. So we need to be at the table.
As an Indigenous person, that is important to me, to ensure our values and opinions are represented. I would do my best to serve that need and provide that voice, but I also hope to motivate other Indigenous people to get involved in the overall direction of our town.
I have spent most of my adult life in Sioux Lookout. It is home and it is where I am raising my family. I feel it’s a good time to give back and find meaningful ways to contribute to the growth of our town and ensure our growing diversity is included and represented.
3. I have spent my entire career (mostly in Sioux Lookout) working for First Nation organizations serving Indigenous communities. In my youth, I was an active member of various First Nation youth groups/councils with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Chiefs of Ontario, and the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
Locally, I was a board member on the Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee and the Sioux Lookout Creative Arts Circle before stepping back to focus on family and my career.
This experience has helped me to think outside the box. Working with First Nations and non-profits means finding ways to get things done through creativity and resourcefulness.
I believe it’s important to bring a different view and lens to the table to tackle the challenges and opportunities of our community.
4. There are three main areas I am campaigning on that include a lot of other issues as well. These are:
• Economic Development
• Community Engagement & Representation
• Community Safety & Wellbeing
I am aware there are a lot of Economic Development initiatives and projects on the go, but moving forward we need a strategic approach that aligns with the economy of our town and will ensure our status as the Hub of the North. The two largest employers in town are First Nation organizations. And all the First Nation organizations employ half of the workforce in town.
These organizations exist in Sioux Lookout because it has always been an access point to the North. We are a hub.
However, it’s increasingly difficult to find employees for these organizations because of a lack of housing and services. There is also a lack of meeting space for these groups. Our initiatives should ensure there are places to stay, eat, shop, and gather. And that we create a welcoming environment for everyone.
At the end of the day, we may always be able to attract people here because of the natural splendour around us, but we have to be able to retain people by improving quality of life and access to services.
To me Community Engagement is integral to our overall wellbeing as a town. As a First Nations person, I admit I have not always been engaged in town activities. And there are many others that feel the same as I do.
Of course, we have our connections to our First Nations, but for many of us Sioux Lookout has become home. Yet we often don’t participate in the community.
Which is why we need to increase community engagement so we can get more people involved and feeling part of the community.
We need those voices at the table to help us create a healthy, safe, and thriving community.
Sioux Lookout has created a Community Safety & Wellbeing Plan and it’s a good start. So for me, that work requires an ongoing and sustained effort to address the root causes of the issues outlined in that plan, such as housing, mental wellbeing, substance use and misuse, and employee recruitment and retention.
5. Sioux Lookout has a lot of strengths. We’re a beautiful town surrounded by such natural beauty. We’re deeply connected and tied to the North. That relationship and the use of Sioux Lookout as a Hub has sustained our town.
In both of those aspects lie many opportunities. We can ensure easier access to the surrounding wilderness for residents as well as tourists and visitors.
The most common thing I hear when people visit is “How do I get to Sioux Mountain?” But it isn’t that easy to access. It’s worth a discussion to explore that opportunity to ease accessibility to the abundance of nature around us.
With our northern partners, we can’t afford to take a piecemeal tokenized approach. We need to engage and work with our partners in meaningful ways that support the goals and objectives of the First Nations organizations serving the North.
As far as challenges, I think we all know which ones we face as a town. There is simply not enough housing. Infrastructure needs updating, especially the roads. Social issues are continually at the forefront and the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated these issues.
We have to continue pressing these needs and follow through on the plans already created, but also ensure those plans continue to evolve and grow.
And I’ll continue to repeat, representation is key to addressing these issues. Too many groups are marginalized and we have to take a wholistic approach that will benefit everyone.
6. I’ve talked about representation and what that means to me from my own experience as a First Nation person and wanting to see my values, my issues, my priorities represented and discussed.
But there are also other groups of people that also need to be included and at the table. So to me, representation means having a diversity of genders and identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, races and abilities.
We need to ensure that we’re inclusive and diverse in how we approach the challenges we face as a community. And that means we have to create a safe environment for those voices to be heard and to feel welcome.
In the end, we’ll have a prosperous community that will improve our economy and protect our most vulnerable. Working together, we can create that change.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to vote, especially the Indigenous population. Let’s have our voices heard and represented. Miigwetch.
Joe Cassidy: Councillor-At-Large Candidate (Incumbent)
I was born in Southern Ontario and raised in the more rural farm belt south of Hamilton. I worked various jobs on farms and small factories, but soon realized that the hustle and bustle of Southern Ontario wasn’t for me. I attended college at Sir Sanford Fleming, and during my summers I went North to work for the MNRF fighting forest fires. I graduated with a Fish and Wildlife Technologist Diploma and was able to transfer from my Forest Fire Fighter role to a Bear wise Technician in Sioux Lookout in 2008. I worked various contracts in the MNRF Sioux Lookout office, which led me to my current position as a Resource Management Coordinator. After a short time living in Sioux, I knew that this was going to be my home, it was quite and beautiful and had great people. I eventually met my wife, Ashley, and we have been together for 10 years, with two amazing little girls.
I decided to seek re election for a few different reasons, the first and most important is that I have enjoyed the past 4 years on council. COVID defiantly created some challenges during this past term, but overall, I felt there was a lot of positives for Sioux Lookout, and looking ahead, there is a lot of positives on the horizon for Sioux Lookout. I want to continue to move those forward and keep striving to make Sioux Lookout a great community for employment opportunities and to raise a family.
My experiences from outside council are various, I have coordinated multi-million-dollar contracts, I have been on the ground in Northern Communities during declared states of emergency. I am an active listener and am always willing to listen to different viewpoints. I believe in dialogue and productive conversations. Finding common ground in situations is something I strive to do and believe is a valuable quality to have when serving on Council. I am always willing to listen and discuss matters relating to Sioux Lookout and its residents.
Key areas for Sioux Lookout:
Taxes/Cost of living
• Police Costs- Continue to lobby the province for normalized police costs
• Efficiencies- Keep tax rates low, leverage partnerships and funding sources.
• MPAC Assessment Freeze- This will be coming to Council in the near future, with assessed values of homes being frozen during COVID, Council needs to understand the impact this will have on the community, when MPAC allows assessed values to increase.
• Utilities- Costs are going up which will impact people, development that utilizes existing infrastructure can help with these costs, but we also need to lobby and find funding for upgrades so that all the financial weight is not on the user.
• Continue to move ahead with the developments in place, Sioux Lookout is a growing community and we need to encourage realistic, practical growth in our community.
• Support new and innovative approaches for business or housing, and finding solutions with community members through the bylaw amendment process.
• Promote Municipal land and ensure development occurs that is supportive of the community and its needs.
• Housing continues to be one of the most important areas for our town. As council, we need to support various types of housing in the community, and recognize that there is no simple solution to this. We need housing form bachelor apartments to family homes. We need to maximize the use of existing lands and infrastructure to support the community’s growth.
• Recognizing that our status as the Hub of the North creates specific challenges to our community. Understanding these challenges and working with the appropriate organizations to find solutions.
• Giving people “things to do” in the community was something I campaigned on last term, and since then, I have been one of 5 people to bring Jr A hockey back to the community, promoting Sioux Lookout in the SIJHL and bringing a team for the town that will contribute to our local economy. There is still room for more to happen in this town, and I want to work to see partnerships that can bring ideas and visions to life.
• Supporting new and existing businesses in our community, to provide more amenities for the town.
• I brought forward the motion to establish a committee to update the Cedar Bay Development Plan, and am the chair of that committee. I will continue to work on updating the Cedar Bay Development plan and seeing it through, to utilize Cedar Bay to its fullest potential.
• Continue to support efforts to bring the promised long-term beds to Sioux Lookout, that have been promised multiple times
Sioux Lookout’s biggest opportunity is “Potential”. Our position as the Hub of the North allows us opportunities not available to most other Northern Ontario towns. An interest in development and our flush job market make Sioux Lookout a very attractive place to live. Council needs to support businesses that bring people here and support initiatives that will help retain people in the community. Housing is a challenge and bottlenecks our growth and it is something we need to continue to make gains on to keep up with growth.
One of the most complicated problems this coming council will face is dealing with the mental health and addictions issues. These are not easy issues to face, as they are not something created by any individual in the community, but something we all have to deal with. This starts with the right conversations with the appropriate groups. Establishing common ground and goals is the only way to move forward on this issue. It is not an overnight fix, and is something that requires dedication.
Four years ago, this community humbled me by electing me to Council, I am asking voters to return me to this position, and allow me to continue working for them, and listening to them to make Sioux Lookout the best it can be. If anyone would like to discuss
my positions further, they can reach out to [email protected] and I will happily set some time aside to talk.
Manuela Michelizzi: Councillor-At-Large Candidate
1. I was born and raised in the north and lived most of my life in Thunder Bay, ON. I attended publicly funded schools and graduated from Lakehead University in 2004. I spent a few years traveling and working as a teacher in various places, including
overseas. I have called Sioux Lookout home for the past 13 years and fell in love with this community and the far northwest. The people I have met here have become like family. It is all of you that give me the passion to want more; to want better.
As a resident, mother, volunteer and teacher, I have seen firsthand the uniqueness of our needs and how we are affected by decisions made by our municipal government. I have spent many years improving my teaching practice as a teacher to include and emphasize policies and programs to help our most vulnerable students/families. I have advocated for more adequate
mental health and specialized services for children with exceptionalities and will continue to do so for our marginalized populations if elected.
I have been an active volunteer in our community since arriving here in 2009. I am usually recognized as the “Zumba” lady as I have held dance classes for a number of years for children, youth and adults. I have sat and continue to sit on numerous community club boards and have always strived to make our town the best place it could be. Now, I believe it’s time to take my enthusiasm for family, friends, community to council.
I am confident in my skills and abilities as an effective problem solver, a creative thinker and strong voice and advocate. I know that with new voices on council, we can take innovative approaches to moving our community forward in these very uncertain times.
2. After running in the provincial election in June, I spoke to many citizens about what is not working for them and their families. While a lot of the fundamental issues are greater and more complex than a municipal government would handle, I believe that as a council we can work with our government partners to make necessary shifts and changes that will ultimately benefit the various sectors of our community.
3. As a child, I remember my grade five teacher introducing us to the idea of saving the environment. I recall my classmates and I putting on a school play and raising money to buy an acre of the Amazon rainforest, which we accomplished. That ignited the
spark in me to make the world a better place. I attended university with the dream to enter politics in some capacity. Studying the political structure of Canada, the lasting and generational effects of colonialism, human rights and civil liberties; the fire was fueled by a desire to speak out and even fight for not only equality but more importantly equity for all. Simultaneously, I fell in love with education and teaching children filled my heart with joy. I became a teacher knowing it was a very important position to hold in society as someone that facilitates the growth of the whole child. This was my special way of making the world a better place.
I love our little town and the people in it. I am proud to call Sioux Lookout home and want to continue to see it grow and thrive. I do not enjoy seeing great people leave to seek “better opportunities” when I know we could do better. I am confident that my education, my experience as an educator, an executive union member, a volunteer and active community member; my mission to ensure reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters, my love for nature and the environment, my desire for adequate health and mental health services and my passion for education give me the qualities to represent
the people of Sioux Lookout.
4. I believe we are all feeling the challenges of the cost of living. The gas prices and prices of food and living in general are continuing to rise. We know that we are going to be facing a national recession and interest rates are due to soar. These are major concerns for the people of the north. Our isolation in normal circumstances often makes living a bit more challenging and it will only get worse. It’s imperative that we look for creative solutions to make sure that we are supporting our citizens. We need to explore ways to get investors into our community to drive our tax base and give homeowners a break. We need to support local businesses to keep their doors open. So many wonderful businesses have closed over the years for reasons out of their control and with the added stress of the pandemic on our ever important tourism sector council needs to advocate for these businesses. We need to improve our approach to mental health, addictions and housing which will ultimately help our rising police costs. I look forward to continuing to work with community partners to strengthen our relationships with indigenous communities and ensure we are at the forefront of Truth and Reconciliation. We need to work and put pressure on our provincial and federal government partners to advocate for northern issues, like medical shortages, cuts to education, cost of living, inflation, gas prices, safe highways and infrastructure. I plan to address the issues that are fundamental to all citizens. We cannot be satisfied with the status quo. We need to push until the door opens.
5. Sioux Lookout is one of the most beautifully situated communities. Small town charm and friendly citizens are what makes Sioux Lookout a gem. There are so many opportunities to grow our community, but the barriers are what is hindering this growth, most of which I stated in the question above. Let’s get new minds and voices at the table. Let’s get a council that isn’t complacent and satisfied with mediocrity. We need people at the table that are going to work with voters after election time. A council that will put their inside agendas aside for the betterment of the majority. It’s time to get to work and make this town come alive again.
6. Please get out and vote. We need your voice. We need your support. This is our community and we need every voice at the forefront. Thank you for reading. Please join my Instagram page to follow my campaign @manuela_michelizzi and/or email me with your questions, concerns or ideas; [email protected].
Jim Kulchyski - English Separate – Northwest Catholic District School Board Trustee (Acclaimed)
Cathy Bowen - English Separate – Northwest Catholic District School Board Trustee (Acclaimed)
An All Candidates Forum has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 12, running from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Upper Legion Hall. Community members are asked to come and ask questions of the municipal candidates.
Electors in the Municipality of Sioux Lookout will be using Internet and Telephone Voting. Voting will begin on Friday, October 14 at 10:00 a.m. and will end on Monday, October 24 at 8:00 p.m.
Respond to this article