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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Walt Visser - Ward 5

118-760 Woodhill Drive, FergusWalt Visser 2014

Biography

My name is Walt Visser and I am running for Council in Ward 5.

My wife Donna and I arrived here in 1977 to make a home here. We wanted to be part of the fibre of this community so I started to volunteer.

Over the years I chaired United Way, Centre Wellington Advisory Group for Family And Seniors, Credit and Debt Counselling and Rotary. I also sat on the Recreation Board for 8 years before running for Council.

Platform

Why I am running again? I want to protect what we saw when we came here. I want to make Centre Wellington accessible to all and make life better for all.

We had a shortage of health professionals. I helped recruit doctors, our wait list now is less than one hundred. We had a serious problem with teenage suicides we brought in the Family Health team with 6 mental health professionals , Nurse Practitioners and Pharmacists.

We had a problem for people with Accessibility issues. WE wrote a standard for the County, the School board and Homewood. In addition I was on a provincial committee that wrote the standard for the Ontario Accessibility Act. We now have accessible municipal buildings and three accessible parks.

We were losing our forest canopy. We participated in the formation and ongoing workings of the Green Legacy Committee with the result of 1.7 million trees planted in 10 years by 37 schools.

I currently chair Operations and am pleased to report that our new wastewater facility will produce an end product of marketable fertilizer. In cruder words no sh*t. This plant was built without tax increases even though it is the largest facility in the County.

After Walkerton we have improved our clean water system to stand  so much over our neighbours that we are now exporting this expertise to other municipalities.

We have done extensive work in the village of Belwood. Paved roads, pedestrian bridge Accessible park, Improved Hall.

We brought in Fibre Optic cable to save on our communication costs not just for our administration but for all our citizens. In addition we reap the profits from industries such as Wightman hooking into our fibre resulting in an 18 million dollar investment on their part. All this was done with less than 2 percent tax increase over 4 years.

All these projects were done not by one term councillors but by the concerted effort of long term dedicated councillors constantly doing long term planning with significant results.

Please let me continue to be part of this team and produce even more beneficial results to you.

Please mark VISSER on your ballot.

 

Questions & Answers

Question from Sandra Brown for 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?

Visser, Walt: 
I am against the turbines for two important reasons:

  1. They can go against democracy as the public nor the councils have had any input.  until the public can decide, I am against these things in Centre Wellington.
  2. The contracts given at the rate given fare totally against any financial common sense.  Hydro rates are already out of line and climbing, why would we possibly rely on this unreliable source of energy.

As a member of the opposition the mayor and I ensured that County Council also expressed their opposistion to turbines.  Centre Wellington declared itself hostile to turbines and as new parameters are brought forward I will still oppose them.

Question from S. Brown for 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?

Visser, Walt: No response yet.

Question from Jeremy Woods, President, Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No.149 for 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.

Visser, Walt:
This is a good question that I currently cannot answer with any authority.  I would suggest to Mr. Woods that he speak to the planner Brett Salmon for the procedure to change the zoning.  It sounds like a well thought out position and I would have no difficulty in supporting it.

3 Question 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?

Visser, Walt:  
We have an asset management plan on our website that shows the plan for road and bridge repair.  We have 105 bridges and 8 bridges closed and no one is happy with that.  When the engineers say it must close we have no option but to do so.  On average a bridge replacement costs in excess of 1 million dollars.  We have replaced 8 bridges since amalgamation.  We have built three bridges in the last 4 years.  you can see that we still did 5 major road reconstructions.  But we will never have the 80 million dollar deficit work done as these roads continue to suffer from our climate.

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

Visser, Walt:
The mayor is the only one who got a direct answer from our new Health Minister and has been an active leader in that field.

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.

Visser, Walt: No response yet.

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?

Visser, Walt:
Council placed a plan on the table to do exactly that but is was objected to by a few private citizenz.  The plan has been sent back to staff for reworking.  I expect it to come back to Council in the New Year as they settle in.

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?

Visser, Walt: No response yet.

2 Questions from Melanie Cooper, Mosaic Spa for Incumbent Township Councillors

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

Visser, Walt: 
First.  The new Waste Water Treatment Centre which will serve Centre Wellington for twenty years or more.  Accomplished without tax or rate increases and no cost to rural residents.

Second.  Re-organization of the personnel structure resulting in reduction of top management from 12-4.  This was done actively by 6 councillors.  It also resulted in money going from Operating Budget to Capital works.  No level of government has done that and we did two years in a row.  The personnel from one municipality in this county doubled their internal staff in the last three years.

Third The major changes in Accessibility in our township.  Most of our buildings now comply, our website is more friendly, our playgrounds grew from none two years ago to three on the ground and one approved for installation. 

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

Visser, Walt: 
I have been active in accessibility since 2000 and am serving on a provincial and County committee.  I presented the Standard for approval to Council this spring and have been very involved in al issues that I vote on.

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?

Visser, Walt: 
NIMBY syndrome as opposed to DBAAA Don't build anything anywhere anytime.

I object to both and I also support our Home Builders especially the local ones.  I have been responsible for the reduction of development fees for this type of housing.

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?

Visser, Walt: 
I strongly support the Heritage Committee and the principles of Heritage.  I strongly oppose designations against the wishes of the property owners.

 

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