—-Municipal Candidate Survey —- CASSANDRA FORD

Muskoka Lakes Township — Councillor — Ward A /Ward 1

1.     What actions have you personally taken to support a greener, more sustainable climate?

At a personal level – we compost organics, we recycle plastic and paper and have reduced our garbage significantly. We have implemented smart thermostats for efficiency and LED lights again for efficiency.

As a business owner – we have implemented compostable take away containers, and the restaurant also have smart thermostats for efficiency and LED lights. Our kitchen uses very high efficiency ovens and induction stove tops which are all very energy efficient to reduce our impact. The business also recycles plastics and paper and compost.

We fought the district of Muskoka to pick up our compost from the restaurant since a significant amount of our waste is compostable which has significantly reduced the number of garbage bags headed to landfill. The current district plans do not include businesses in their reduction of garbage for the landfill reduction plan which we found to be quite ridiculous.

2.     What opportunities for climate leadership at the municipal level (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)) would you champion in one or more of these areas: Buildings | Housing | Land use (sprawl) | Transportation | Other

Buildings: A plan should be undertaken to review all municipal buildings to retrofit for efficiency and the associated costs. Building retrofits with the highest impact with a sliding scale could be brought through the budget cycle for implementation.

Housing: The Township of Muskoka Lakes has a chronic shortage of housing, and this should be a priority for the next elected council. There are effective solutions such as 3D printed homes that could be potentially used in the urban areas to quickly provide housing. With more housing, more people could live and work in Muskoka. Currently, there are a great number of people that travel into Muskoka from outside the township due to the lack of housing. With housing solutions travelling to work and the environmental impact could be greatly reduced within the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

Land use (sprawl): The Township of Muskoka Lakes has identified Bala and Port Carling as the urban development areas. The official plan does not identify multi-housing or apartment style buildings which needs to be included to address urban sprawl. There are some other communities as well that could potentially be highlighted as urban areas which could include Mactier, Milford Bay and Torrance. A plan would need to be developed with the district to provide infrastructure such as sewer and water to increase the urban areas and to ensure that Port Carling and Bala are properly supported for any additional housing growth.

Transportation: I do not believe that we have a population in the urban centers that go to one location where public transportation makes sense. Other jurisdictions have opted to use service companies for transportation with support from the municipal government which could be reviewed for travel for people instead of all owning a car or two. Many people within the urban areas live and work in their town.

Other: Given the number of hydro-generating plants that are on the Muskoka watershed – the government of Ontario could implement EV charging stations to provide more infrastructure for the green car transition leveraging the local power. At this point, the infrastructure is not reliable or in place to support an EV draw on our local grids. There are already many unexplained power outages unrelated to storms, etc. There are very few charging stations across the Township of Muskoka Lakes.

3.     A long-term problem requires a long-term solution. What is your 100-year plan? If elected, what would be your first action?

Efficient housing in my opinion in the urban centers could be instrumental in reducing the continuous travelers into Muskoka from outside. It also addresses a significant community need to attract people to live and work in Muskoka. Housing today that is energy efficient will have a lasting impact on the environment.

A compost solution in terms of an animal proof compost bins for pick up or metal containers for composting onsite for the lakefront property owners will greatly reduce the amount of garbage that goes to our landfill locations across the district. It would be an expensive solution initially but, it will have a lasting impact on our environment. Lakefront property owners have little services provided for the taxes spent and it would be a significantly welcomed initiative.