Tom Sweeney – Regional Councillor Candidate Ward 1 (Town of Caledon)
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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