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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Kelly Linton

457 Avruskin Street, EloraKelly Linton 2014


As a long-time resident of Centre Wellington, Kelly and his family are firmly rooted in the community. His two children attend local schools, and he has coached them in both soccer and hockey. Most recently, he has been your Town Councillor for Ward 1. Kelly has a passion for Centre Wellington and is convinced that there is opportunity for our great community to become even better. He and his wife Michelle are partners in their management consulting company, Imaginate Inc.

After receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Administration, Kelly has built a reputation over the past 15 years as a government change specialist. Through Imaginate, Kelly works with towns, cities and other government organizations across Canada to help them change to become more successful. Over the past 5 years, his municipal clients have included Halton Hills, Milton, Newmarket, Waterloo, Whitehorse (Yukon), Okotoks (Alberta), Essex, and Leamington.


Kelly is running for Mayor of Centre Wellington because he believes that after 8 years of the status quo, it’s time for change! He believes that only with a change in leadership will our community be positioned to achieve its potential.

Kelly has been hearing a common theme from citizens and businesses across the Town – people feel that our local government has lost touch with what matters to our community. Kelly’s top three priorities are:

  • ENGAGED COMMUNTIY. Taxpayers and business owners have to be consulted on a regular basis –not just during an election campaign. There is a wealth of skills, experience and resources within our own community that we need to tap into.
  • OPEN & HONEST GOVERNMENT. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations, we need to have open and honest discussions about sensitive issues – both at a community level and a Council level.
  • PRIORITIZED SPENDING. We need to establish clear priorities that are consistent with our community’s priorities. These priorities need to direct all of our funding decisions. Local government needs to understand that it is YOUR taxes, YOUR government … and it’s time for YOU to TAKE IT BACK!

Towards an “Open for Business” Town

Kelly believes that we need to take a hard look at economic development in this Town and be much more aggressive in attracting investment and business growth. Unbalanced residential growth will not pay for itself.

Despite words like “prosperity” and “jobs” sprouting up on websites and print material, Centre Wellington’s record over the past 8 years on net new, non-retail employment and investment has been poor. Our local government cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

If elected Mayor, Kelly will have three areas of focus:

  • Re-engage our business community to identify real action that can be done quickly to help businesses to succeed. 
  • Review our development fees, costs, and incentives to find ways to reduce barriers to growth and attract new investment and jobs in the short term.
  • Roll out an aggressive business attraction, retention, and expansion plan to see substantial and balanced growth in both the tourism and industrial/commercial sectors.
  • Shift the focus towards finding alternative sources of community-based funding, not just tax-based solutions (e.g. going cap in hand to other orders of government at every opportunity).

Kelly is committed to partnering with our local businesses and industries to take the action required to re-balance our growth model and provide high-quality employment opportunities!  It is time for us to take action to make Centre Wellington an even greater community where people can live, play and WORK!


Questions & Answers

Question submitted by Anne from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Linton

How are you going to manage the demands of office with the demands of running a business?

Linton, Kelly:
My business Imaginate Inc. has given me excellent experience and a wealth of knowledge about best practices in municipal government. Because I own the business, I have the luxury of taking on as much work as I want to, and I also have the ability to bring in additional consulting resources. As Mayor, you have my commitment that I will put in the time/effort required to get the results we need. With my business partner’s help, I will continue to provide oversight to Imaginate because it gives me (and by extension it gives you) a great source of best practices and lessons learned in municipal government. In addition, my relationships with other Mayors, Councils and CAOs will be invaluable. However, my primary focus will be on serving you as Mayor.

Question submitted by Stephen M. from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Linton and Ross-Zuj

What is your plan to bring employers to Centre Wellington to provide local sustainable jobs?

Linton, Kelly:
Balanced growth is critical. Currently we are experiencing substantial residential growth as well as some growth in the retail sector. However, over the past 8 years, our industrial/commercial growth has been stagnant. From my experiences with other municipalities, I know that there are options to more aggressively pursue investment and high-quality jobs. My “60 Days of Change” commitment introduced at the Elora All Candidates Meeting, includes a commitment to create an Economic Development Blue Ribbon Task Force comprised of selected business leaders, senior Township staff and elected representatives. The time for writing plans is now over. The mandate of this new partnership will be to recommend bold, strategic actions that will drive real economic growth and investment.

Question submitted by Marg Green from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Mayoral Candidates

What changes do you plan to do if you become mayor?

Linton, Kelly:
Citizens and businesses will see immediate changes in my leadership approach. I will be using a variety of new methods to actively engage citizens and businesses, including four Seasonal Town Hall sessions. I will also host additional informal and interactive face to face sessions on a regular basis. I will be in the schools speaking with our next generation using communication methods they understand, and will introduce a Citizen Survey that will be used to get your thoughts and ideas for positive change. You will also be able to connect with me through on a day to day basis through social media. I will be working hard with your Councillors and Town Staff to establish clear strategic priorities to more effectively drive budget decisions. The bottom line for me is that connecting with my community is my number 1 priority! While discussions and interactions with other levels of government and other organizations are important, they are not as important as you are.

Question submitted by Vic Dockrell from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Linton

What is your stand on a public bus between Fergus and Elora as it is needed for people without a car and since they want people out of their cars?

Linton, Kelly:
Members of the Centre Wellington Social Justice Working Group have spent considerable time and effort on trying to find a public transportation solution that works for this community. The initial effort ran into some challenges, and there is a need for us to learn from this experience. To support this group, I have begun to research the experiences of other mid-sized urban-rural towns, including the Town of Milton. One of the fastest growing communities in Canada, Milton has gradually transitioned from their initial one vehicle, “dial a bus” service to a full-fledged transit service. We can learn from this incremental approach. I believe that the next step is for our Township to play a key role in building a private-public partnership to provide a public transportation option.

Question from Mark Druery at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

What is your proposal regarding the traffic congestion and deplorable road conditions, from Belside-North #6 to Gordon Street?  Our roads are worse than many country sand and gravel.  What is the plan?  Enough damage to taxpayer vehicles – these issue demand immediate attention and answers.

Linton, Kelly:
I know that we have a lot of roads that need attention, and that the traffic on some of our main artery roads is getting quire heavy. Addressing these issues will cost money, and we always need to be careful how we spend your money. We have to make a clear distinction between needs and wants, and make sure that we fund what needs to be done. We have to establish clear priorities on these infrastructure projects and then fund only these things. It is then our job to communicate these priority decisions back to our businesses and citizens. We will not make everyone happy, but at least people will understand that we have a plan in place.

Question from Cindy Hayes at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

What is the percentage of C. Wellington budget taken up by the OPP?  In many smaller municipalities these costs have escalated as high as 35%.  What is your view on these costs and the fact that they are imposed on us by Provincial government, OPP and Social Services, like subsidized housing cost?

Linton, Kelly:
The 2014 policing contract between the County and the OPP is approximately $17.8 million. This represents an over 7% increase since last year. In my interactions with other Ontario municipalities, increasing policing costs is becoming a real concern. The Province has to work with us and other municipalities to establish a new model that appreciates the increased burden of these costs on taxpayers. We all recognize the important role for our police in our communities, however common sense needs to play a role here. The price of policing cannot continue to rise at the current rate – this is not sustainable.     

Questions from Sue Thompson at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

You have said you wish to pursue taxpayer/voter engagement.  What is you view on having a rate payer association?  Many very small communities have them and I view them as an easy way for citizens to become involved in municipal governing without running politically.  Also an easy way for concerned citizens to keep apprises of issues of interest and concern to them.  Such an organization may cut back on the numbers of councillors serving by acclimation, a very disturbing # at this time.

Linton, Kelly:
Some municipalities I have worked with have a ratepayers association, and this might be a good idea for us to explore. I share your concern with acclimation's – people should have a choice. A ratepayers association might have a positive impact on this.

What is your position on the inclusion of councillors in OMERS and the 1/3 tax free allowance including increased dental and medical benefits?

Linton, Kelly:
I don’t really have a problem with councillors being included in OMERS. As far as benefits and dental, the monthly cost did not make this an attractive option for me and my family. 

What would you say regarding public referendums on matters of local spending expenditures above an established amount?  To avoid issues like the Fergus library?

Linton, Kelly:
I would be supportive of public referendums from time to time on issues of importance to our community. The library would have been a good project for such a referendum.

Do you feel that CW has achieved the objectives of amalgamation?  Namely
     a. Streamlining of public service
     b. Reduced taxpayer costs
     c. Efficient gov't not excessive.

Linton, Kelly:
a. Streamlining of public service - we are just now starting to see some streamlining going on under our new CAO
b. Reduced taxpayer costs - while Township cost increases have been moderate compared to the County, we have not seen the cost reductions that were anticipated by the proponents of amalgamation. Other amalgamated municipalities that I have worked with over the past 10 years have also had disappointing results in this area.
c. Efficient gov't not excessive - we have to do a better job defining our “needs” vs our “wants”. We also have to do a better job asking our front-line staff for their thoughts on how we can do government more efficiently. I have spoken with many of our Township staff over the last 4 years, and they have some really good ideas. One of the things that I would do as Mayor is provide an opportunity for our staff to provide their input on how we can achieve greater effectiveness, improved efficiency and better customer service.

What is your position on the current policy of leaf collection?  Why are those of us who compost leaves paying for those who are not.  If citizens wish this service, they should pay for it.

Linton, Kelly:
I think this is the perfect example non-core Township service that we should explore the pros and cons on introducing a user-pay system.

Question from Bill (cannot read last name) at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

Following the breakdown in negotiations between the Templin Board and Township staff, I phone you twice to explain why we were unable to arrive at an agreement.  You never responded to both of my calls.  As council representative on the Senior Centre Board, do you not think it important enough to get our side of the story or did you rely solely on a staff report!

Linton, Kelly:
I have worked extremely hard to be responsive to every email, phone call, letter that I have received since becoming a Councillor in 2010. I did not recall ever receiving a call from anyone related to the negotiations between the Templin Board and Township staff. Of course it would be important to get the Templin Board’s side of the story!

Question from Linda Lane at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

Mr Linton I am sure that you are aware that an elected official has a responsibility to attend community events, ribbon cutting, river clean ups etc. it has been noted that Ms.Zuj has attended hundreds of these events during her term. During your term as councillor we in Ward 1 rarely saw you at any community events whether it be the Farmers Market, planting trees or ribbon cuttings etc.. Mr. Linton, explain to the panel how you intend to make an equal presence when your current business interests remove you from the community and take you travelling across Canada?

Linton, Kelly:
Since 2010, I have attended 114 out of 128 Council and Committee of the Whole meetings - despite operating a successful consulting business with clients from across Canada. My company has provided me with excellent experience and a wealth of knowledge about best practices in municipal government. In addition, as a father of two very active and involved children, I have chosen not to sacrifice important family events to attend every ribbon cutting and ceremonial event. That being said, I still was able to attend many ribbon cuttings and was at 1 of the 2 river clean ups. I was also very involved in the committees where I was the Council representative – Heritage Centre Wellington, Victoria Park Seniors Advisory Committee and the In Motion Advisory Committee. On these committees, I went way beyond just attending meetings, including writing 8 Heritage Matters articles in the local papers, overseeing the completion of two heritage promotion videos, volunteering for Doors Open and the Home Show events and participating on the sub-committee for the Victoria Park Senior’s Committee expansion project. It is important to remind citizens that the Councillor role is a part-time role for a reason – it is not in our best interests as a Town to have a slate of Councillors who are all retired. This does not provide us with a balanced perspective when we are setting priorities and making decisions.

As Mayor, I recognize that there is even more of an expectation to attend ribbon cuttings and ceremonial events. While I intend to do these, I will go much further than this, including facilitating seasonal Town Hall Sessions, speaking to students in the class room, introducing Community Online surveys and setting up a CW Mayor Facebook page. My role as Mayor will be my primary focus, and I will commit the time/effort required to make sure that I exceed your expectations.     

Questions (2) from Sheila and her parents at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton

Mr. Linton states in his platform that we need a “transparent” government, indicating that we do not and haven’t had this with previous councils. I would like to hear Mr. Linton’s examples of how the municipal government of Centre Wellington, including himself as councillor, has not been open, honest and transparent with the tax-payer?

Linton, Kelly:
“Open & Honest Leadership” is one of my priority areas for change. It is about embracing democracy. It is about opening up the doors of how we do government to let citizens and businesses be part of the process. For example, a month ago I introduced a motion to council, seconded by Councillor VanLeeuwan, with a recommendation that an independent consultant be engaged to conduct a fiscal impact assessment to determine what could be done to assist downtown Fergus businesses who may be negatively impacted by the loss of parking as a result of the library expansion project. To avoid any discussion at all on this motion, the Mayor and three Fergus Councillors used a procedural technicality to end debate before it even began. That is not open, honest and transparent government. That is not embracing democracy. Bottom line: we need a new leadership approach.       

Mr. Linton; how many meetings as councillor of ward 1 Centre Wellington did you attend to better yourself as a councillor in order to represent the people of ward 1 and Centre Wellington more effectively? You also indicated in you closing speech, in Elora, that the meetings that the current Mayor of Centre Wellington attends are unnecessary. If that is so how do you intend to do the job as Mayor, if elected, as successfully as Mayor Ross-Zuj; who has dedicated the past 8 years of her life to the full-time position of Mayor?

Linton, Kelly:
I did not say that the meetings the current Mayor attends are unnecessary. I said that tracking the number of meetings as a measure of success is old style government. I have a Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Administration. In addition, over the past 15 years I have facilitated hundreds of sessions and meetings with other Mayors, CAO, senior executives and front-line municipal staff with cities, towns and other government organizations across Canada. These projects have given me a solid understanding of best practices in municipal government. While I did attend a select few seminars and conferences to provide me with some targeted Councillor-specific training, because of my education and background in the public sector, I did not feel like I needed to spend tax-payers money on attending as many conferences as some of my Council colleagues.

Question from Silvana Sangiuliano at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton and Joanne Ross-Zuj

When the Fergus library re-opens, will you be closing the Aboyne library?

Linton, Kelly:
I will do everything that I can as Mayor and Council Councillor to keep Aboyne open.

Question from Ron Parsons at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton and Joanne Ross-Zuj

How would you correct the unsustainable  county budgets?  Ie.  The police budget.  Many people wonder how we are paying a three (3) year police (so called veteran) gets (approx) $90,000 yearly.

Linton, Kelly:
The Province has to work with us and other municipalities to establish a new model that appreciates the increased burden of these costs on taxpayers. We all recognize the important role for our police in our communities, however common sense needs to play a role here. The price of policing cannot continue to rise at the current rate – this is not sustainable.     

Question from Brent Bouteiller at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton and Joanne Ross-Zuj

Does Centre Wellington have a Climate Change Resiliency Plan?  If not, will you consider this plan and do you have ideas to include in the plan?

Linton, Kelly:
The Township does not currently have such a Plan. Some other municipalities have been a little more proactive on this front then we have been, and we should learn from their experiences. As we continue to grow as a Town, we’ll have to be more deliberate in introducing climate change-related policies and standards into our capital projects and our operations.   

Question from Steven Wright, Wrighthaven Homes at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Mayoral Candidates

Recently in Ward 4 a new home building project was constructed that featured many new technologies and building methods that were consistent with a new type of housing program that sees homes constructed that actually produce and conserve more energy than it uses. In addition it used technology that actually reduces water consumption for flushing of toilets and lawn watering. Seeing that this type of technology and homebuilding is actually less taxing to municipal services would you as Mayor for the Municipality support this type of new home building projects and be willing to support it in the form of tax breaks or an incentive program to help offset costs to homeowners who would be willing to purchase such homes?

Linton, Kelly:
This energy efficient home is a great example of practical energy conservation, and the Township should do everything it can to provide incentives encouraging more of these homes to be built. Several other municipalities are ahead of us in actively promoting environmentally friendly and energy conserving home building. For example, the City of Whitehorse has a Specialist of Environmental Sustainability. The job description of this individual is to working with all departments (especially Planning & Public Works) and developers to introduce incentive programs that result in new ways of building energy efficient, environmentally-friendly neighbourhoods. The next Council needs to establish clear direction for this as part of its new strategic plan.

Question from Fred Hiller at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton, Joanne Ross-Zuj and Stephen Kitras

What do you forecast for industry in Centre Wellington and what tax relief are we able to provide to enhance industry to locate here?

Linton, Kelly:
We have to be more aggressive in attracting industry and financial investment. While we have residential and some retail growth, we have not been effective in building our industrial base. Using the recent Business Retention and Expansion plan as a framework, we need to introduce real incentives to convince companies to relocate here, and once they are here, to continue to grow.

Question from Sandra Brown at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Kelly Linton, Mary Lloyd, Fred Morris, Stephen Kitras, Walt Visser, Vinnie Green, Stephen O’Neill, Rob Black, Diane Ballantyne, David Gohn

What is your opinion on wind turbines?  For or Against?

Linton, Kelly:
With the wpd wind project, I declared a conflict of interest at the first opportunity in Council since I have extended family involved in the project. I have never been involved in any discussions regarding this project. Going forward, I will not be supportive of any other wind turbine projects as long as the majority of residents who are impacted do not support them. In addition, I will be pushing for additional municipal influence in this area.

Question from S. Brown at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to All Candidates, except School Board

Micro chip scanner for dogs.  Most dogs have micro chip identification and when I bought my dog licence learned Elora does not have a scanner – why not?

Linton, Kelly:
This sounds like something we can look into. Not sure that my two dogs would support me on this though (smiley face).

Question from Jeremy Woods, President, Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No.149 at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to All Candidates, except School Board

The unit owners and tenants of the Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No. 149 (The Beckett Centre), at 820 Gartshore Street in Fergus would like to know the candidates’ views of the current Commercial Tax Rates and Classification.  In particular the possible creation of Commercial and/or Industrial Condominium Classifications.  We feel that we are being unfairly taxed – as an example, each of the 26 units are being taxed as if they are stand-alone buildings on their own lots, instead of one building, on one lot, broken into 26 units.  MPAC does allow for this in their assessments, and other municipalities in Ontario have created these additional classes.  By creating these classifications and reducing the overall tax base on these companies, may encourage more of these commercial condo buildings to be built.

Linton, Kelly:
This topic deserves real attention beyond a 1-2 sentence response. I would like your involvement in these discussions along with our Finance staff.

3 Questions from Karen Hudson for any wishing to respond  (her 4th question was asked at the meeting on October 1st)

We have roads and bridges in poor repair.  Is there money to repair these, and is it really our money, or are we operating in a deficit?  Is there actually any plan?

Linton, Kelly:
We have a 10-year Capital Plan that establishes a sequence of our capital projects, and we budgeted $13 million for such projects in 2014. Sometimes we bypass this 10-year plan and our budgeting process. For example, we “found” approx. $750,000 of unbudgeted funds to support the County’s Fergus Library Expansion project. Such actions make it difficult for us to convince citizens that we can’t find additional money to repair their road, bridge or park.

What can we do to have influence over the slow progress in the building of a new hospital?  Genuine influence.

Linton, Kelly:
This falls under the responsibility of the province, and our influence is limited.

Why did the mayor agree to such an elaborate expansion of the Fergus library?  It needed work, but this is far beyond what is sensible.

Linton, Kelly:
I have had the same questions and concerns about this project from Day 1.

Question from Frederick Schuett, owner One Axe Pursuits at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to All Mayoral and Township Candidates

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

Linton, Kelly:
The Township has recently passed a sign bylaw that controls the number and size of signs across our Town. However, we need to work with our partners in the tourist industry to make sure that this bylaw does not negatively impact their ability to be successful. Sometimes we focus too much on simply applying the rules, and we do not put ourselves in the shoes of our business owners.

Question from Tammy Rutherford at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to 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?

Linton, Kelly:
In my discussions with citizens, it has become very clear that the Township needs to be more proactive in looking at options of providing some real assistance to property owners who are spending thousands of dollars per year to manage their termite issues. 

2 Questions from Melanie Cooper, Mosaic Spa at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to Incumbent Township Councillors

Would you briefly provide us with what you consider to be your top three major achievements during this term of Council?

Linton, Kelly:

  1. Responding to every inquiry, concern or idea by email, phone, Facebook over the past 4 years as the Councillor for Ward 1 – the Town’s largest ward.
  2. Representing the views and opinions of taxpaying citizens and businesses in Fergus with the Fergus Library Expansion project despite being an Elora-based Councillor.  
  3. Proactive involvement in recommending an alternative corporate organizational structure to the one proposed by the Town’s external consultant. With a few minor revisions, my recommendations were ultimately implemented by the Township.

What have you brought to council for approval, versus just voting on?

Linton, Kelly:
In addition to being deeply involved in discussions on many strategic issues/projects, I introduced two motions:

  • Motion to have the Township become a Fair Trade Certificated municipality
  • Motion to Conduct a Fiscal Impact Assessment to Address Potential Negative Impacts of the Fergus Library Expansion Project on Downtown  Fergus Businesses

Questions (2) from Steven Wright, Wrighthaven Homes at The All Candidates' Meeting on October 1 to 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?

Linton, Kelly:
Affordable housing is within the scope of the County, and your County representatives have to address the NIMBY attitude by remaining consistent to their land-use planning strategic objectives based on makes sense for the entire community and is consistent with provincial and County guidelines.

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?

Linton, Kelly:
Whenever we can legally protect our heritage properties, we need to do so. As a member of Centre Wellington Heritage, I have had the opportunity to provide Council with recommendations that balance property rights with heritage conservation. The most attractive development properties are the ones that have retained their heritage attributes.


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