Candidates see best shot at economic growth in small-scale businesses

Erin councillor and mayoral candidates were grilled on their specific platforms on sparking economic development for the town – without raising taxes.

The question was posed to selected council and mayoral candidates on Oct. 2.

Mayoral candidate

Candidate Rod Finnie said “that is the crux, how do you generate more revenue and still keep costs down?”

Finnie agreed it will be a challenge.

“The biggest way we can increase revenue is by bringing in more industrial and commercial development.”

He said that means when someone proposes to build a whiskey distillery on the 2nd Line, “council should look at ways to make it happen rather than ways not to happen.”

He said that approach needs cooperation of staff and council.

Council candidates

Candidate Shawn Wilson also agreed that increasing the tax base in the commercial sector is essential.

He said a potential private partnership could generate the funds for a sewage treatment system and in turn provide the stimulus to attract new commercial business.

In turn, the increased commercial tax base would help to lower taxes for residential properties.

He added tourism also holds great potential for the town and there are beautiful rivers in Erin and Hillsburgh which could be tapped.

Candidate Craig Porterfield said “without a sewage treatment plant we’re going to have trouble attracting larger industries into Erin.”

However, he considered the area ideal for smaller startup or tech industries because of its close proximity to Toronto.

“We also need to encourage rural industry like the whiskey proposal.”

He stressed such proposals must be agricultural and tourist friendly.

“We don’t want to introduce new contaminants into the natural environment.”

Incumbent Josie Wintersinger clarified that the proposed whiskey business was one block from her property – and she had favoured the idea.

“I think it should have been allowed,” she said.

Wintersinger stressed, “Soft business is what we can attract. We cannot attract large industry … they’re gone. They left for China.”

She added, “Let’s not kid ourselves that we’re having any factories coming here, because they are not.

“As such, the town needs to focus on the business it can attract.”

*Not all candidates were offered a chance to speak to every question at the Oct. 2 Ballinafad meeting.