Ward One Candidates

By John Swartz

This week SUNonline/Orillia will publish information about each of the candidates running for Orillia council. Election Day is October 24. All candidates were asked to forward a brief bio about their connection to Orillia, and paragraphs outlining two of their platform issues.

In addition they were asked to answer two questions and all were subjected to a word count limit. So let’s meet the Ward One candidates.

Paul Cain: I am running as a candidate for Orillia City Council in Ward 1. I currently work as a business analyst at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital where I have worked for the last 28 years. Previous to my analyst role, I worked in IT as a programmer and database administrator as well as a system administrator. Every day, I work independently and as part of a team to realize improvements and deliver exceptional quality. Having always been in Orillia, I have lived in Ward 1 for 19 years with my wife, where we are raising our three children. Previous to COVID, I volunteered at Excel Taekwondo, and later on, Alliance Taekwondo teaching both children and adults martial arts. I served as president for a year before leaving the organization. I hope to be elected as your councillor. I am running for Council because I want to serve the community and improve the quality of life for everyone. I want Orillia to have a fiscally responsible, accessible, and accountable City Council.

David Campbell: For the last 4 years, I have been one of your councillors in Ward 1. I was born and raised in Orillia and have lived in Ward 1 for the last 26 years with my wife Nancy who works at OSMH. Our daughter Emily grew up in Ward 1, went to Regent Park Public School. I am an I.T. coordinator working for a neighbouring municipality. In 2018, when I was asking for your vote, I felt very strongly that I was ready for the role of Councillor. I had worked for a municipality for many years and had taken courses to further understand how things worked from a governance standpoint. Then COVID hit, an emergency was declared and the Emergency Management Team was activated. Rather than take a back seat, I chose to say involved. I joined the Economic Recovery Task Force in hopes of helping our businesses and the local economy survive this unprecedented crisis. Through the See You on the Patio program and other initiatives, I’m proud to say that we did help. I have personally had business owners tell me that, without those initiatives, they would no longer be in business.

In those 4 years on Council, I have never missed a council, or council committee meeting. Along with the ERTF, I have served on the following committees: Orillia Food, Farmer’s Market, Recreation, Transit, Active Transportation, Grants, as well as Sustainable Orillia Board of Directors and Orillia Cyber Security Hub project. I have been absolutely committed to doing my job as Councillor to the best of my ability and, if you choose to have me continue, I give you my word that I will continue to do just that.

Robert Kloostra: I am married with two boys age17 and 20 and enjoy calling Orillia home. I am vice president of operations for Happy at Home support services. I worked for Loblaw companies for 25 years returning twice to help out during the Pandemic. I have lived in Orillia for 29 years. I transferred here and never left. I love living here. I am currently vice chair of the Orillia Police Service Board, a member of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Downtown Orillia Management Board, Affordable Housing Committee and the Transit Advisory Board.

Mathew Lund: I am a husband and father of 2. I am a small business owner running a litigation practice that specializes in business to business litigation, contract law and Landlord Tenant Board issues. I have been in and out of Orillia my whole life, growing up as part of the satellite community of Orillia. My father was the former fire chief of Rama Township. I currently have the pleasure of serving on the board of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition as their fundraising chair. Previously, I was on the board of directors of the Orillia Chamber of Commerce. While with the OCC, I worked on the advocacy committee and was set to lead the waterfront committee, before Covid-19 closed the waterfront for events in 2020. I am currently a member of both the Orillia Lions and the Orillia Rotary Club. I have long been a progressive advocate in the community for environmental sustainability, small business and human rights.

Rick Sinotte: I am running in Ward 1 the south end of the city. I am pretty much a local guy having lived in Orillia for 52 years My mother and grandmother and 3 of my children were  born here. I’ve been coming here since I was a baby to Orillia Motor Camp (Tudhope Park). I own and operate Sinergy Clothing in the West Fittons Mall. I operated CLUB 404 non alcoholic night club for teens and then Rix. I managed Wizards night club hiring tons of Canadian bands to perform as well as Company Dining and Dancing. I am a former member of the DOMB and President of Orillia Slopitch, and the executive of the AAA Predators. I was an executive with Orillia legion ball. As an umpire and referee for over 20 years, I was a former umpire-in-chief of Orillia Slopitch and vice president of Trillium High School Football Referee Association.

Whitney Smith:  I am the founder and CEO of The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., a nationally known & nationally trusted private investigative firm. Operating in six provinces, the company is currently the largest in Canada. I was was born in Orillia and is a fourth-generation entrepreneur here. My great-grandfather owned and operated Smith Meat Shop, and my grandfather Reginald (Reg) Smith was a prominent businessman, car dealer (Reg Smith Motors) and philanthropist. My father, Michael Smith, was a prolific developer in Orillia, building four apartment buildings and investing in other housing projects to bring affordable housing to Orillia. I have travelled extensively while expanding my business across Canada. I have always called Orillia home and am thrilled to be running in my hometown. I looks forward to working with a new council and Orillia citizens to bring effective and necessary change here.

Issue Number 1

Paul Cain: Right now in Orillia there is a housing crisis. House values have gone up and this has left many people out of the market. Rental costs have increased as well. As homeowners deal with large mortgages and increasing interest rates, the monthly payments required for these properties to carry themselves has gone through the roof so to speak. This contributes to the homelessness issues facing the city as well because there simply aren’t enough affordable spaces available. The city needs to work with developers to build up instead of out. Four and six story apartments, condos, and townhouses need to be built within the city. Townhouses, along with duplexes and triplexes can help to infill the city also. This will put us on course to meet the province’s expectations for population growth. These homes should keep a facade in line with Orillia’s history and charm where possible.

David Campbell: We are living in very difficult financial times. The cost of living continues to increase along with interest rates. One of the first challenges the new Council will face is the 2023 budget. Some tough decisions will have to be made. Finding that balance of moving the City forward, looking after our infrastructure while keeping tax increases to minimum will be more difficult than ever. I want to continue to be that common sense voice ensuring that money is spent wisely. Often times, that takes innovative thinking. A good example is our LED street light replacement program. The City secured a low cost loan and those payments are being made through the savings realized by electricity reduction. I look forward to more opportunities such as that.

Robert Kloostra: Did not provide details.

Mathew Lund: My primary issue has and always will be about the housing crisis.  It has become apparent that many of those running for Council this year are simply paying lip service to what truly is the most detrimental issue facing all of Orillia. My plan is to change zoning to allow micro housing developments that would lower the cost of living by up to 80%, while increasing supply, which by proxy lowers demand which in turn organically lowers the rental unit costs. Pre-fabricated micro-housing is the future of housing. We don’t need more waterfront condos; we don’t need more skyrise apartment buildings and we don’t need urban sprawl destroying our natural green spaces. We need pragmatic approaches that work to the future and not just to making the rich richer. Having a factory locally to build these pre-fabricated microhomes, could also bring up to 1000 well paying jobs to our community.

Rick Sinotte: My number 1 priority is to make council accountable for the taxpayers money and where it goes by keeping them informed. Making sure money is spent on needs not wants.

Whitney Smith: Orillia needs affordable housing. We all know this. There is not unity on how this decision will come into effect as a portion of residents does not want any more development, and a portion does not want to grow out or up. I am proposing we grow within. If we have more properties on the market, we can see the demand for housing and the price decrease. I would like to see the city offer permits in a much faster and easier process, allowing residents to complete basement apartments, build ensuites, exterior garages with apartments above, etc. This would allow homeowners to make money and provide housing in town without building up or out.  

Issue Number 2

Paul Cain: I have talked about intensification within the city limits. It is important also to talk about the environment and keeping our parks and lakes in the best condition possible. Orillia has a stunning waterfront that stretches around Lake Couchiching. Lake Simcoe is important as well. We need to preserve our lakes and ensure they remain healthy. The trail system throughout the parks will continue to be maintained and lighting should be improved where possible to improve safety. We also need to protect the wetlands in Orillia and avoid encroaching on them. There needs to be balance if Orillia is going to maintain its appeal and attract new business and investment now and in the future. We get to architect what Orillia will look like twenty and thirty years from now. It is important to get this right.

David Campbell: Exacerbated by the pandemic, we are seeing record levels of mental health, addiction and homelessness in our community. In Orillia we have many different organizations trying to deal with these issues. We need to get everyone at the same table, working together to find solutions. Of course, enforcement is part of the equation but getting people the help that they need will reduce the strain on enforcement. Providing supports for people to get the tools they need to lead happy, productive lives is the starting point. There are help wanted signs throughout the City, so opportunities do exist. Increasing the affordable housing supply will also help. I am very encouraged to hear many other candidates talk about this issue and commit to addressing it if re-elected.

Robert Kloostra: Did not provide details.

Mathew Lund: I am running on Participatory Democracy. The biggest problem with politics today is voter apathy. We have grown apathetic, because of a rigged system that gives far too much control to too few, while largely ignoring the needs of the community. You get professional, career politicians who learn to speak circles around you, but all it is, is word salad. Participatory democracy is the concept that everyone’s voice matters. We need to have a clear and more present process wherein voters can have their issues heard. If roads need to be fixed, the community should decide which roads not bureaucrats and council. If there is a surplus in the budget then the community should have a voice in how to spend it, not just the council and staff. And if there is a wedge issue, the community needs to have their voices heard first. 

Rick Sinotte: I want to increase road expenses so snowplowing and paving of street and curbs are put where they are most needed.

Whitney Smith: We need to bring in restrictions around short-term rentals. Especially in my ward, there are dozens of short-term rentals which disrupt the neighbourhoods they are in. I am friends with a nearby mayor whose council has adopted rules restricting short-term rentals (anything under 28 days). I would like to see the city of Orillia bring in: 5-7 nights minimums (which would bring in more of a family crowd rather than a party crowd, and ensure no short-term rentals within 300 metres of another one; they must be licensed and pay yearly fees as well go through a more thorough process with safety measures, site maps, etc. in place. No fireworks at any time. Having these measures in place at a minimum is needed.

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 1

With regard to recent council decisions about Sweet Dreams Ice Cream and the Opera House story pole, along with other matters before council over the years, it looks like City administration sometimes puts information before council in line with what they’d like to see happen, even if that direction cannot stand up to scrutiny. The question is: Are you open to third options staff have not recommended when it becomes apparent all the information is not being presented to council?

Paul Cain: I believe it is the duty of the Council to perform their due diligence to get all the facts regarding anything before they choose to vote. Council should be able to stop and ask questions of anyone bringing items forward for review. If any individual councillors feel they don’t have all the relevant information on any matter they should delay until such time as they feel their concerns have been addressed in order to move forward confidently toward a resolution. There is a difference, however, in these two opinion articles. In the first article the totem was presented as an emergent matter because of the cracks, and because of the slight it caused the visiting dignitary. This needed swift resolution, and where public safety was concerned, the choice was made to remove it. The Sweet Dreams issue was that two ice cream vendors were very close. Maybe they could have been accommodated further down the boardwalk.

David Campbell: When it comes to decisions at the council table, to me, all options are on the table. Staff reports generally contain a ‘recommended’ option and other options. I honestly believe our staff care and try very hard to provide the information and options in a fair and balanced way. But that doesn’t mean that they have all of the answers. That’s why it is so important that each member of council read their agendas thoroughly, do their own research. Council’s job is to set policy and staff’s job is to work within that policy. Sometimes that policy can get in the way of the best solution. Collectively, we need to ensure that there is an environment at City Hall where anyone feels they can put forth any idea that could lead to a solution.

Robert Kloostra: Regarding Sweet Dreams a viable location will have to be sourced to operate at the waterfront. The construction for Centennial Drive reconstruction is going to be completed in the spring of 2023. The Centennial Park boat launch and park design does integrate a food stall area; these will be put out for RFP and all vendors will be able to submit. I always weigh out the options when presented from Staff. The Story Pole seems to come as a very last minute item with not a lot of background information. I am sure the deterioration of the story pole did not happen overnight. I look forward to any new sculptures or repairs in the near future.

Mathew Lund: I have noticed this issue with staff acting in bad faith. I don’t want to mention names directly, but I have seen current council butt heads with staff several times. The whole point of a representative democracy is to have the people elect someone to represent them so that their will, will be done. Staff’s purpose is to work for people to execute their will. The system is broken, and I believe it begins with a CEO who onboards the elected council and tells them what they are allowed to do, and the majority of elected officials accept this without push back. If elected, I pledge that I would do all of my own independent research and avoid the nearly $2 million a year that the municipality spends on the approved list of consultants. I am confident my experience in contract law, would help mitigate and navigate municipal politics.

Rick Sinotte: Yes a 3rd alternative or 4th. Without knowing a lot I believe in my eyes Sweet Dreams was not dealt with fairly.

Whitney Smith: As a council, we need to make wise decisions. With Sweet Dreams, the council could have amended the by-laws to allow a one-time exception for them to continue business as they have for decades. This is the least we could have done for Sweet Dreams, given their years of service to Orillia residents. With the Opera house, there is no reason I could see to now allow Mr. McKee, who I have known my entire life, to come in and fix it on the spot and save taxpayers money.

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 2

Council has had two initiatives on its agenda this term that could position the City nicely at the vanguard of the digital economy, especially in terms of job creation. With the existence of the OPP, Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Lakehead University and Georgian College – and a North/South and East/West communications hub located in Orillia it seems to make sense the Innovation Hub and developing a cyber security cluster are good projects to aggressively pursue. The question is: Would you be in favour of the municipality putting more resources toward those projects? Why?

Paul Cain: Cyber security is a growth industry because it is more important than ever. Ransomware resulting in the encryption of entire networks of data, crippling businesses, are on the rise. I worked in IT for many years and we spent a lot of time hardening systems. There have been many cities extorted for great sums of money. If we can create a group of experts that would be helpful for those in need. The Innovation Hub is interesting and time will tell if it will be effective and yield results. It is worth pursuing if it can benefit Orillia and the surrounding area. I am sure there are many businesses that could benefit from some expert consultation where they are seeking knowledge to expand or market their resources in new or existing markets.

David Campbell: As the Councillor representative on the Cyber Security Cluster project, I know firsthand some of the challenges and opportunities that we face when it comes to making these initiatives bear fruit. I will absolutely commit to continue to work with these groups (and others) to try and bring good paying technology-based jobs to Orillia. The first step is to remove as many of those identified barriers as possible. I will commit to bringing those issues to Council during the first year in order to create an environment where we can move forward.

Robert Kloostra: Regarding the Innovation Hub. I do support this but I don’t think we need a new bricks and mortar facility to make this happen. The partnerships with our Post Secondary Institutions will have to be the major driver of these types of projects as the City has not put a clear budget forecast for this. The connectivity in the City has a lot of work to be done as yes we do have fiber and digital networks in some areas not everyone is serviced yet.

Mathew Lund: I definitely see investment into the future as the way to go. Areas like Silicon Valley only have become digital hubs by years of investment into future infrastructure with which business owners have been able to utilize to build roots, which then likewise attracts other organizations to an area to grow with. Mayor Clarke has done an exemplary job helping shape the future for Orillia. But one of the areas still lacking is internet infrastructure. Less than 50% of Orillia residents are able to receive CRTC minimum levels of Internet. Many of these issues are managed through the county level. If elected, I would champion on behalf of Orillia a proposal to undertake the development of internet infrastructure under the municipality’s hat rather than the counties.

Rick Sinotte: I would need to know more I’m not overly familiar with this.

Whitney Smith: Yes, we are in a tech era and want to see businesses come to Orillia and provide jobs for our residents. The more benefits we have as a city, the better.

UPDATE: Whitney Smith provided answers to her two priorities post publication and these replaced information used from her website.

NOTE: SUNonline/Orillia would have done the same for Robert Kloostra (used information from the candidate’s own online source) but none was found.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Supplied)


Ward Two Candidates

Ward Three candidates

Ward Four Candidates

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