Cheryl Connors – Area Councillor Candidate for Wards 3 & 4 (Town of Caledon)
If elected how/what would you do to improve Active Transportation within Caledon and how would you improve existing connections between communities?
Like many others, I support Caledon being serious about providing opportunities for active transportation (e.g. walking, cycling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing). All new developments in Caledon should include walking & cycling trails. One of my many concerns about the request by developers to increase density in their projects is that these new developments are being planned without sidewalks. This creates unsafe communities where families must be on the road to push a stroller down the street.
We should also continue to support and maintain our existing trail system to preserve important connections between our communities.
What will you do to bring in new business that can thrive in Caledon and how will you help existing small businesses succeed?
First and foremost, we need to support our existing small business community in Caledon, and especially Bolton. Trite “shop local” marketing campaigns are not going to solve the problems that we have seen in the business community in Bolton and elsewhere in Caledon.
Bolton has seen negative growth in the past 15 years. All of those businesses were promised residential growth when they chose to open their doors in Bolton.
The Town of Caledon’s decision to push for the option (3) for residential development in Bolton north of King Road that will cost the taxpayers of the Region of Peel $100 million more for water and sewage services is just absurd. It was financially irresponsible for the members of Council who not only voted for this option but who then refused to accept the cost-efficient decision of the Region of Peel to put that development in south Bolton instead. We should not be further wasting Caledon taxpayer money in a costly legal battle fighting the Region of Peel at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board). We need to stop fighting that unwinnable case and work to “get the shovels in the ground” and starting building new houses in Bolton as soon as possible. Our businesses can’t be expected to hold out forever, squeaking by on a barely-sustainable existence. They deserve better! We all deserve better!
To illustrate this point, I had a conversation recently with a business owner who used to operate a business in Bolton but moved outside of Caledon. He explained that his costs go up about 2% per year. He said that he needed to see growth every year in Bolton that would support his rising costs. The current Council appears to have adopted an “anywhere but Bolton” residential development plan. If this continues, we will continue to see shuttered windows and closed doors in Bolton. Creating a monstrous barrier of trucks and warehouses will not attract shoppers from Mayfield and the west into Bolton, Palgrave or Caledon East. They will continue to go south to shop. The majority of the workers employed in those minimum wage warehouse jobs, who do not live in Caledon, will also not shop, dine and use services in our community.
We need to stop the freight village and growth of warehousing and reclaim our Town. Remember when we were awarded the “Greenest Town in Ontario” award? While we can’t stop what has already happened, we can certainly work to limit its growth.
There has been a lot of discussion with respect to truck traffic in Caledon and the danger it poses on our main roads. If elected what do you plan to do to address these concerns?
Trucks and commuters have created serious safety concerns throughout our community. As one of the first acts of Council, I would propose the creation of a road safety task force. This task force would bring together residents, Council, and traffic safety experts, to look at traffic-calming measures and what we can do to make our roads safer. This urgent issue is not confined to Caledon. Council should work proactively with our neighbouring municipalities as well as the provincial government to find solutions. This needs to be a top priority for the next term of Council.
I am confident that we can cut the waste at Town Hall and find the savings to put more money into enforcement measures to reduce the speed and stop unsafe driving practices on our roads. Trucking inspections should be held throughout our community on a regular basis to get the unsafe trucks and other vehicles off our Caledon roads!
As the Executive Director of the Canadian Network for Respiratory Care, I am also deeply concerned about the additional “hidden” harm from heavy-duty diesel trucks on our roads. The largest contributor to harmful emissions (both the small PM2.5 particulates and nitrogen oxide) come from these large trucks and result in an increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease as well as hospitalizations and early death. Industrial activity needs to be separated from the places we live, work and go to school.
To be very clear, I believe this is the most important election in Caledon’s history. There are two distinct pathways moving forward. Residents can choose to re-elect a Council who wants to create that freight village, increasing the number of warehouses and trucks on the road, or they can vote for change that opposes this vision for Caledon. I strongly oppose continuing this pathway that will turn Caledon into the freight/warehousing/trucking capital of Canada.
What will you do to ensure council works together in the new term?
Like many others who have frequently attended Council meetings, I was also very disturbed by the toxic, dysfunctional Council meetings that were on full view for the public. I have faith in the residents of Caledon that they will elect a new Council that will put them first, and not special interests. For too long, as a resident, I saw many councillors who have lost their way. They behave as if their top priorities are to protect the interests of big industry and developers. They seem to forget that they are elected to represent the interests of the residents who live here. That duty exists for the entire term of Council not just once every four years, at election time!
I would also like to see the use of in-camera meetings curtailed. Too many important decisions are made behind closed doors. Decisions have clearly been discussed and made ahead of time all too often. Councillors need to come to meetings with open minds and group or block voting needs to stop.
Leadership starts at the top, and the last Council fundamentally showed a failure in leadership. I believe that a new mayor and Councillors committed to representing the people that elected them will be able to work together effectively.
On a personal level, I have worked with Boards of Directors for most of my career, either in an executive capacity or as a volunteer. I have strong communication and facilitation skills to be able to work with individuals with diverse interests and find a respectful way to work towards finding solutions by focusing on the issues and not on personalities. If elected to Council on October 22nd, I promise to work hard and be your voice on Council.
Previous Questions and Answers:
How long have you been a Caledon Resident?
I have been a Caledon resident for 16 years. My husband Paul and I moved here when our son, Jakob, was a baby. He is 17 now!
What would you change and/or improve in Caledon?
I was horrified when I learned that there were plans to turn Caledon into a freight village. This planned freight village will be located in the south part of Ward 4. This is not my vision for Caledon and residents tell me all the time that it is not their vision either. If elected, I will fight to stop Caledon from turning into the freight/warehousing/trucking capital of Canada. We deserve better!
Mr. Thompson talks about how excited he is to have the first freight village in the GTA. Mr. DeBoer, the 15-year incumbent Ward 3&4 Area Councillor, also boasted in his election brochure “accomplishments” about “…working with the industrial development community to attract Canadian Tire and Amazon.” It is not too late to stop this plan, but we need to vote for change that puts our community and your health and safety first!
I am particularly passionate about protecting our agricultural lands, and separating industrial activities from the places residents live, work, play and go to school. I believe Caledon is a wonderful community and there is no reason why we can’t attract better businesses that the people who live here would be able to work at. We should create an economic development plan to invite businesses to Caledon that will provide creative, well-paying jobs in fields like technology, healthcare or services for seniors for example.
We should also accept the generous donation from the Wilson Farm Family to preserve those lands for a future urgent healthcare centre. By planning for that future now, we can start to build a healthcare hub in south Caledon today.
We need to elect a Council that has that vision for our community instead of the lack of creativity we are seeing now that is only bringing us minimum wage warehouse jobs.
If you were to receive a million dollar grant for the Town of Caledon, what would you do with it and why?
I would put that money into the creation of festivals and tourism programs that would support our existing businesses. Other communities have very successful programs that bring in tourism dollars and support local small businesses (e.g. Tottenham Bluegrass Festival, Kleinburg Binder Twine). Why don’t we see this in Caledon? This money could be used to support arts and culture, sorely needed in our community.
What is your favourite place in Caledon and why?
Like most others, I would say that my favorite place in Caledon is my home. When we moved here 16-years ago, my husband and I always thought that we had found our little piece of paradise. We would look out in the morning and see deer grazing in the backyard. Our son grew up with his best friends living next door, and they spent their childhoods outside running in the fields, tobogganing down hills and having an idyllic Canadian childhood.
Our little piece of paradise has been put under threat recently by nearby industrial activities that do not belong in residential neighbourhoods. I believe that we can grow our community fairly and responsibly in a way that puts our health, safety, and the environment first.
I am currently the Executive Director of the Canadian Network for Respiratory Care. I worked as a strategic communications planner in the Ontario government for six years. I have an Honours BA in Political Science and certificates in marketing and communications. I founded the non-profit Palgrave Residents Association to defend our community and the Oak Ridges Moraine from improper industrial activities and have worked with the Caledon Chamber of Commerce.
For a list of all the registered candidates click HERE.