Tom Sweeney – Regional Councillor Candidate Ward 1 (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?
Active Transportation in Caledon, particularly Ward 1, presents many challenges due to the rural and vastly spread out nature of our roads and communities. I would support the continued implementation of the current Transportation Master Plan. Of special concern is that our roads designated to have bike traffic are updated with bike lanes as they are repaired . I see the reworking of these roads to suit cyclists to be the most efficient method of ensuring Active Transportation can be added in a cost-effective manner. Safety is paramount to me, and by providing wider shoulders for cyclists I feel that we can be assured that the dangers of motorist / cyclist interactions can be mitigated. As well, continued “Share the Road” campaigns need to be used to educate the public as more and more cyclists use our roads.
What will you do to bring in new business that can thrive in Caledon and how will you help existing small businesses succeed?
Most of the businesses we see in Ward 1 are smaller in nature. The Town of Caledon needs to continue its ongoing improvements in customer service in its small business interactions. We need to ensure that when the Town interacts with a business that the memory created isn’t one of regret. Encouragement, empowerment and confidence should be the feelings that small business owners get from doing business with the Town of Caledon. Continuing to work with businesses in a positive, efficient and cooperative way will help to build thriving communities.
If we want small village and hamlet businesses we need to also ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place. Do they have sufficient broadband? Is there enough parking available? Are their properties safely accessible from the road? Some concerns are small, but when you are a small business – sometimes these issues can make or break you.
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?
The issue of truck traffic is real danger in the lives of Ward 1 residents, particularly because the truck traffic is not separate from commuter traffic. As I have mentioned in all candidates meetings as well as to residents, if elected I would like to pursue the possibility of truck only lanes for portions of Hwy 10. While it is likely that a bypass of Caledon Village will be necessary in the not-to-distant future, it is still in the future and safety needs to be addressed now.
The other portion of this problem is the need for more stringent enforcement of truck traffic by the OPP and the MTO. Traffic blitzes are great for a short time, but do not address the dangers faced by us every day. Many years ago, when seatbelt laws were introduced they had to be relentlessly enforced in order for them to become the norm. The same could be accomplished if the routes in Caledon were continuously monitored.
I should also note that bad driving habits are not restricted to truck drivers by any means. As professionals, truck drivers are vital to our economy and infrastructure. We need to find ways to move freight and goods through our municipality in a safe and efficient manner. The increased enforcement on our roads has to also address reckless commuters on our roads that make it very difficult for trucks to operate safely at times. In 2016 an average of 32,000 vehicles a day travelled through the intersection at Caledon Village. We all know that the number has gone nowhere but up since then, and with continued housing developments to the north of Ward 1, its only going to get worse. Reckless and dangerous driving of all vehicular traffic needs to be dealt with in Caledon and I would strongly endorse increased enforcement across the board.
What will you do to ensure council works together in the new term?
While it is difficult to say how others will act on a new council without knowing who will be there, I can speak to how I will carry myself. The position of Regional Councillor would be a privilege in that I would have the opportunity to represent my constituents in the best light possible. With that said, it would be vital that as a councillor I would need to act in a professional, courteous manner not only to the residents of Ward 1, but also to the rest of the people in Caledon including the rest of council, the region and staff. The role I seek on council is a job, one with goals and benchmarks to achieve, and has an Official Plan and other legislations to act as guides. I will do everything in my power to ensure that my work on council will ensure that the residents of Ward 1 and Caledon as a whole are getting the positive results they deserve. The word “collaboration” is thrown around very loosely during this election cycle. I would like to think that all members of council would simply see it as imperative that they simply work together for the benefit of the people of Caledon, get the job done, and most importantly get the job done right.
Previous Questions and Answers:
How long have you been a Caledon resident?
I was born and raised in Caledon on our family farm on Kennedy Road. After my first 22 years as a resident of Caledon, and with university behind me, I left to work in the city and pursue a career in the logistics industry. It was during that time, living and working in various parts of the GTA that I was able to see how privileged the residents of Caledon are to live in such beautiful surroundings, with great neighbours. I also resolved at that time to leave my logistics career in pursuit of a trade that would allow me more time working outdoors and a chance to work with my hands, so I chose masonry. Since 2005 I’ve been self-employed with a small masonry repair and restoration business. After getting married to my wonderful wife Silvia and realizing that I wanted my family to be raised in the same surroundings I had come to love as a youth, we moved ourselves and our new son back to the family farm. We’ve been back on the farm now for almost 12 years, we have two boys aged 13 and 10, and things are good.
What would you change and / or improve in Caledon?
I love the way Caledon is, that is why I chose to raise my family here. However, change or improvement is needed in a situation as dynamic as the one we find ourselves in Caledon today. The changes we need are going to require the community and council members to work together as a coherent team to make things happen. In my mind, there is no time for squabbles on a team like Town Council if it expects to gain ground – that’s the first change that needs to take place.
That being said, I’d certainly like to see more focus on roads, road conditions, and road safety. Highway 10 at Caledon Village and the growing bottleneck of thousands of commuters and commercial vehicles is reaching a critical point where not only the safety of residents, but the safety of drivers needs to be addressed. Moving forward, a bypass might be something to be considered and studied, but we also need to look at opportunities for short-term gains. Things such as better signalling set ups, somehow getting safer access to places like the post office, and more efforts to slow the traffic perhaps through more enforcement or other traffic calming measures can be done immediately without as much cost. There is major work to be accomplished. The Town of Caledon, the Region, the MTO and any other bodies that can provide guidance and assistance need to be consulted with in order to find solutions. There are many other problem areas on Ward 1’s rural roads that deserve immediate attention as well and I’d like to see them dealt with in a timely manner.
If you were to receive a million dollar grant for the Town of Caledon, what would you do with it and why?
Well, a million dollars doesn’t go a long way today, just ask any new home buyer. But used properly, funds like that could go towards some great things for Caledon residents. But in this case I’m going to be selfish about this as a resident of Ward 1. Several years ago, the Caledon pool was shut down due unfortunate circumstances and to the dismay of all of Ward 1. Many that I’ve spoken to over the past few years felt robbed of something that provided recreation, convenient swimming lessons, and exercise for young and old such as aqua-fit participants. While it’s obvious that a million dollar grant wouldn’t build a new facility it would certainly help. Hypothetical million dollar grant aside, Ward 1 has thousands of residents that currently need to drive at least 30 km to use a Town run gym or pool. In collaboration with Caledon Village, Alton, Belfountain, Inglewood and the Cataract a viable solution is attainable. Efforts should be made to identify a method of putting a useable facility in place. Focus and cooperation needs to occur between the Town, our local community groups, service clubs, provincial programs and perhaps with private interests if necessary, to make something like this happen. We have a very small rural population, so in order to make some of these things feasible we’re going to have to remember the roots of our community, how we got things done in the past, and add some modern ingenuity. Ward 1 is small in number but we can make things work when we want to.
What is your favourite place in Caledon and why?
I didn’t have to think much to answer this question. At the back of our farm is about 12 acres of hardwood bush with mostly maple and beech trees. I loved exploring it as a kid. In the fall when I was growing up, I remember the time spent there with my dad in the leaves and the cool quiet of the bush cutting up the deadfall trees for our winter firewood. I still love the smell of the chainsaw running, the freshly cut wood and rewarding work that came with it even today when I go out there. There is a kind of peace there that I rarely find anywhere else. There is hard work to be done in Ward 1, let’s make it happen.
My father’s family emigrated from Ireland and settled our farm in the 1840’s. My two sons are the sixth generation of our family to live on our property. My father was a farmer, and my mother was a career schoolteacher in Caledon. Their guidance, direction, and hard work served as an example for me as I’ve gone through my life. Since getting a degree in History and Philosophy from Trent University in Peterborough, I’ve worked at various levels of business including the hands on labour, supervisory and managerial pieces. I like to think that I’ve always been able to listen and find the right person to work on the right job – and to use their advice and skills to help get things done. My masonry business has provided all kinds of challenges over the years including physical, logistical and those from a customer service standpoint. I enjoy working with my hands, but more so I love a challenge and love to fix things that are in need of repair – I see that sort of challenge currently in Ward 1.
Inspired by my mother’s work volunteering for various community causes over the years I felt I should try to make my own contributions. So, for 8 years now I’ve been a member of the Caledon Lions Club, and had the job of president of the club for the past 3 years. I was drawn by the comradery and work ethic such a small group of Caledon residents showed in raising funds for local and international initiatives. Service clubs seem to be a dying thing in our part of the world and I’d really like to see that turned around in Caledon. Service clubs and not-for-profits help a small community to thrive when it does not have the tax base to get everything on its’ want and needs list.
I’ve also spent the last 6 years working as a Cub Scout leader for the 1st Caledon and 1st Alton Scout groups. The experience of the meetings, games, camping and trips has been rewarding – as well as challenging, as I was never a Scout as a youth. After having this great experience, I wish I had done it as a youth, and I wish every kid would at least give it a try.
I’d like now to continue my effort to serve the community by running for Council. I simply would like an opportunity to act as a representative of Ward 1 at Town and Regional Councils and to use my experience and knowledge of the community to help get council back to work on what matters to the citizens of Caledon. Each little hamlet and village in Ward 1 has its’ challenges and I’m ready to work hard to meet them.
Phone: (519) 278-0678
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