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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Don Fisher - Ward 1

58 West Mill Street, EloraDon Fisher

Biography

Resident of Elora since 2001.  Retired lawyer with 30+ years of experience as a municipal solicitor with City of Kitchener, Region of Waterloo and City of Hamilton. Specialized in planning and development law.

Platform

Improved communication between Township and residents.  Township decision-making needs to be more transparent.  Residents want greater involvement in the decision-making process. Residents need better access to timely information regarding how, when and why key decisions are made.

Manage the major redevelopment proposed for the Elora Mill Inn and related properties for maximum public benefit respecting heritage, environment and shoreline access.

 

Facebook: Don Fisher for Council Centre Wellington

Twitter: @DonFisherWard1

www.Don-Fisher.ca  |  519 846 2713  |  donfisherward1@gmail.com

 

Questions & Answers

Question from Frederick Schuett, owner One Axe Pursuits for All Mayoral and Township Candidates

What will you do to support small businesses and signage for tourist attractions?

Fisher, Don:
As I understand it, Centre Wellington Township has a directional and event signage policy and program already in place, together with a Sign By-law regulating the type and location of signs in general so as to prevent the "visual pollution" we often see elsewhere.  As a community with an economic development focus on the attraction of tourists and visitors, effective and adequate signage must be a priority.  If there is a perception among the business community that the present program is inadequate or ineffective, the Township should consult with individual business owners or their BIA's on how to improve it.

Question from Tammy Rutherford for Mayoral and Township Candidates

The Township Of Centre Wellington web page has a Termite Management Area map for both Fergus & Elora, dated May 2012.  There are more than 1300 properties within the boundaries, and there is no doubt the numbers are higher now.  The City of Guelph has a termite management program which was recently presented to the City Of Kitchener in light of the recent termite activity involving just 23 properties.  Do you think our township should adopt a termite management program to prevent the spread of termites?

Fisher, Don:
There has been a termite problem in Elora for a long time.  The Township has a Termite Control By-law in place together with a policy of obtaining and making available the latest information and guidance on how best to mitigate or eliminate an infestation on individual properties.  This approach is common to many municipalities including the City of Kitchener. I am not familiar with the program offered in the City of Guelph but, as a Councillor, I would be open to exploring its applicability to the situation in Centre Wellington. Just as a thought, I wonder if anyone has looked into the possibility of appealing a property assessment on the grounds of a termite infestation?  If such an appeal resulted in a reduction of the assessed value of a property, the property tax payable on that property would also be reduced..

Questions (2) from Steven Wright, Wrighthaven Homes for Mayoral, Township and County Candidates

Nimby Syndrome:  Not in My Backyard or "NIMBY" is a major concern for builders and developers who are faced with community opposition to important new developments including affordable housing, higher density housing mixed use developments and other housing options that provide choice for everyone.  Do you agree that NIMBY needs to be addressed?  If so by what methods will you address NIMBY attitudes in the community?

Fisher, Don:
The "NIMBY" phenomenon has been a part of planning and development as long as anyone can remember.  A combination of provincial policy and legislation and a growing realization of the true cost of greenfield development and sprawl has exacerbated this situation.  As more development involves the intensification of uses on infill sites, existing residents directly affected can be expected to intervene in the approval process more often.  The onus is on municipalities and developers to recognize this as a fact of life and try to deal with it through improved, up-front consultation and communication regarding any development or redevelopment proposal.  Public input can have favourable impact on plans and project design and the acceptance of same by proponents and municipalities can avoid costly and time-consuming political and legal battles.  At the end of the day, however, a good proposal, arising out of a comprehensive public consultation process and conforming with the planning regime already in place at the time of application should be, and will be, ultimately approved.  As a Councillor, I will do my best to facilitate consultation and communication between proponent, residents and the Township.  An approval process front-end loaded in this way will save much grief on the back side. 

Places to grow legislation has increased pressures on planning departments to adhere to new rules and density requirements encouraging intensification in existing residential subdivisions and particularly downtown areas whereby often homes and buildings of heritage value exist.  Quite often these older buildings are in jeopardy as a result of requests to demolish so as maximize density requirements when a developer submits new plans to develop these building consistent with the places to grow legislation.  As a councillor do you feel you have the fortitude to resist pressures of the act and vote to deny the requests to demolish heritage resources?

Fisher, Don:
I agree that provincial legislation forces developers and municipalities to deal with intensification of existing built up areas.  In Centre Wellington, these areas often include valuable and irreplaceable built heritage.  I would not support or vote to approve any development application which involves the demolition of a designated heritage property.  I believe there are many opportunities for an innovative developer or property owner to adapt and reuse existing heritage properties in ways that preserve their historical significance while meeting provincial intensification targets. The municipality should support these kinds of proposals through flexible zoning, Community Improvement Plans, tax incremental financing mechanisms and a coherent, policy driven approach to heritage preservation and designation.

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