South Stormont candidates face business, cannabis questions

Around 200 people fill the South Stormont township office on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 for the first 'Meet the Candidates' night ahead of the Oct. 22 municipal election. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LONG SAULT – Around 200 people filled the South Stormont township office Tuesday night to hear their candidates for mayor, deputy mayor, councillor and school board trustee.

The night started off with English Public school board trustee candidates John Danaher and Marshall Wilson and French Public school board trustee candidates Karen McAllister and Donna Neilsen laying out their platforms. Jim Bancroft, running for English Public school board trustee, was absent.

Then, the nine people vying for three council seats laid out their vision. Those candidates were Earle DePass, Helen Dunlop, Andrew Guindon, Louise Leclerc, Jennifer MacIsaac, Reid McIntyre, Donna Primeau (incumbent), Dale Rudderham and Cindy Woods.

Following the speeches, the event moved into a question and answer session.

The mayoral and deputy mayoral candidates faced two questions from the South Stormont Chamber of Commerce, sent to them ahead of time, on their priorities if elected and how they would attract and retain business.

Dave Smith and Rick Waldroff – both current councillors – are running for deputy mayor.

South Stormont mayoral candidate Bryan McGillis makes a point at the lectern during a township ‘Meet the Candidates’ night on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Also shown, from left, are mayoral candidates Tammy Hart, Christopher Bonneville and moderator Gord Shaver. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

The final question was posed to the candidates for mayor on how they were going to address the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17.

Candidate Bryan McGillis said an answer wouldn’t be reached tonight (Tuesday) but it needed to be discussed at the county level with SD&G CAO Tim Simpson. “There are still a lot more questions than answers. All municipalities in SD&G should discuss this at the county level so we’re all on the same page.”

Christopher Bonneville gave McGillis credit saying the former mayor “hit the nail right on the head” and that discussion with the federal government and the community would need to happen first – but no answer would be coming to the public that night.

Candidate Tammy Hart said the issue was “a little bit disturbing” for her but shared what he understood to be the upcoming regulations.

“The problem I see is how cannabis will be regulated at the municipal level. We’re definitely going to need more resources, support and money…$10,000 is not going to cut it,” Hart said, referring to the federal government assistance for municipalities.

Hart said South Stormont really won’t have a choice on retail outlets when every other municipality around South Stormont will have it. “Having said that, I’m not a real proponent of any of this stuff. It really upsets me the way this has got. I have a 23 year old, we all have children.”

She said, as mayor, she would only be one vote. “It would be a municipal decision. Those decisions are decided around the (council) table.”

South Stormont voters will be able to cast their ballots starting in the advance poll on Oct. 17. Election Day is Oct. 22. Another opportunity to hear the candidates is coming up Oct. 11 in Bonville.