My name is Bob Rogers, and I am running for councillor for Ward 5 Athol.
I was born and raised in Oakville, and I am of United Empire Loyalist (UEL) decent.
I moved to Picton in 1973. I have lived and worked my entire adult life in the County as a mechanic, a service manager and a farmer. I know what it takes to live, work, raise a family and keep them here.
My kids still live, and work in the County. I have owned my farm for 39 years.
Since amalgamation, with the provincial downloads and new provincial legislation, the municipality has become financially unsustainable. We cannot continue doing things the way we used to. We must change, modernize, and innovate to stay viable and to maintain our quality of life, history, and culture.
We have a serious labour shortage. People, especially young people, cannot afford long term rental accommodations, if they can find them. To address labour shortages and support our businesses we must have affordable housing. I will work on Council to work closer with developers, reduce property taxes on long term rental units, and raise the maximum building height from 5 to 10 stories in site specific areas to double long term rental stocks without doubling their footprint.
Since 2014 we have been under funding our roads and infrastructure by $10 million a year, and now that many of our roads have passed their best before date, we must come up with a long-range plan that works. Before entering new ventures and new expenditures, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this project more important than safe roads and sustainable infrastructure.”
In Ontario only 5 per cent of our land mass is arable land. We are losing 319 acres a day, every day, to urban sprawl. I will be a strong advocate for halting non-agricultural development on prime farmland.
Another threat to agriculture and our environment is Invasive Species, which costs the agricultural community alone 2.2 billion a year in Canada, that is not counting their impact on fish and wildlife or the forest industry. We need a 5-year plan for the eradication of wild parsnip and a 10-year plan for the control of buckthorn.
Local government needs to be more transparent, especially at budget time. The budget process is the most important function of Council. It needs careful pre-budget planning at the council level, and a patient, thoughtful process that involves public input. In addition, Council needs to consult with local business on major construction projects, especially on timing for road work.
We need to recognize the work of our citizens in the past regarding the size of council. Both the question on the ballot in 2010, and the Citizen’s Assembly process clearly called for a reduction in the size of council. A smaller council is necessary to increase the efficiency of government and decision making and depending on the model chosen, voter equity. Money saved could be dedicated to attracting more candidates for the 2026 election.
I would be proud to represent Athol on Council and would commit to open and respectful relationships with all County residents and businesses.