Candidate For Council Matthew Uhrig

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Matthew Uhrig

Questions for Candidates for Councillor:

What are your top three priorities for the coming four years of Council? How have municipal priorities since the last term of Council?

Three key facets will be paramount throughout the next four years: Long-term planning; sustainable emergency management; and departmental accountability. 

Planning: North Dundas’ future successes hinge on getting ahead of critical infrastructure issues – dwindling space in the lone municipal landfill without an approved expansion or innovation identified for how trash will be handled without more room; and a crippling shortage of accessible water for the municipal system. 

It is becoming more and more clear that trash is a regional issue, which should see North Dundas leading the charge at SD&G Council to find a collaborative, forward thinking outcome. And it is obvious that North Dundas’ water solutions run through South Dundas, meaning this channel for dialogue must continue.  

Emergency management: The North Dundas Fire Service took a loss in this year’s budget, despite an expensive, and ongoing,  modernization process. Service leadership continues to plot for training standardization. Compounding matters is a firefighter recruitment and retention effort. As a critical municipal service, it is important the men and women at each station know the municipality doesn’t see the Service as a line item to cut. 

Accountability: There is a disconnect between North Dundas’ population and the township departments meant to serve it. Right now, the township has a recreation department spending dollars, though it isn’t clear where the value is. The department is top heavy, but for what? New, innovative ideas are needed, as the accepted status quo is failing residents. As well, economic development all but dried up due to pandemic shutdowns and absence of the North Dundas department responsible for overseeing economic success. Too many business owners in this township aren’t aware of our economic development officer – shameful representation. It’s time for renewal – time to show the township’s business community they aren’t in it alone.                  

What would you bring to Council this term that hasn’t been there previously?

I intend to bring a missing perspective to the council table – that of a young family in North Dundas. My wife and I, along with our two children, care for this community. This is where my kids are going to grow up. This is where they are going to seek opportunities. As a council member, I want to ensure those opportunities are there not only for my children, but for all of those in North Dundas. Full credit to the current council members who have raised their children, and have seen them grow into successful adults. Now is the time for a new voice, and a new vision – to make a commitment to North Dundas, and show those living here or those looking to move here, that they shouldn’t have to look elsewhere for opportunities.   

Do you think more can be done to involve the community in the affairs of Council and being part of the decision-making process?

The short answer is yes. During 10 years with the Winchester Press, I covered hundreds of council meetings, and too often it appeared that elected representatives were speaking at community members rather than with them. There is room for conversation at all levels and no municipal politician should be sitting at the council table with a belief that they know more than North Dundas’ residents. Of course, the township is bound by constraints within the Municipal Act, and meetings cannot become a free-for-all of questions from the audience. This doesn’t mean concerns should be dismissed. Consultation is the beacon of a prosperous community. But, it’s incumbent on residents to pay attention. Of the meetings I attended, rarely were there audience members. Resident attention ebbs and flows – often only arising when a questionable decision is made. This election is proof of creeping community apathy, with both the mayor and deputy-mayor positions being acclaimed. North Dundas council votes on issues that impact the entire municipality, and it is imperative that taxpayers be informed.

How do you think future development in North Dundas – infrastructure, economic, environmental – should be directed? What new initiatives need to be undertaken in those areas?

Based on the current infrastructure issues facing North Dundas, it’s important the next council be steady and measured in its decision-making. An overwhelming number of building permits issued, celebrated by the township not that long ago, is a wonderful thing. Though that came with known water and sewer capacity issues. Targeted, and affordable development is crucial, throughout all of North Dundas. For instance, Hallville is a burgeoning community, with housing developments ongoing, and the expectation of modern, improved parkland. Dependable infrastructure will net North Dundas economic success, and moving forward in a sustainable manner will provide room for focus on new and continued environmental concerns.    

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