(John Harding speaking at Temagami Candidate Night. To learn more about the candidate's stance on key election issues, read their interview for Keep Temagami Beautiful below.)
Interviewer: The Temagami Access Road (aka The Mine Road) provides a convenient and centralized access point (and parking) to the Hub area for cottagers, camps, contractors, deliveries, tourists, and guests. In addition, Temagami First Nation manages a sizeable footprint in the vicinity of the Mine and Manitou landings. The Mine Landing is the most convenient trash and recycling point for much of the Lake. However, the road’s location results in many users bypassing the services and access points offered in Town, resulting in lost revenues for businesses.
Q.1a: Do you feel that the Temagami Access Road (aka The Mine Road) has negatively impacted business in the Town of Temagami, and allowed/encouraged lake visitors and residents to shop elsewhere and perhaps not even go into town?
Q.2b: What is your vision for the Temagami Access Road and associated landings to balance access, convenience, and services for the users listed above (including TFN), with the Town of Temagami and its local businesses' economic needs?
Key Candidate Quote - “Having a good road would make better access so you could go back to the Town… perhaps the TLA would have some type of office space in Temagami so that maybe the TLA members and that would have an association in the Town.” - John Harding
Candidate John Harding: Yes, I do [to Q.1a]. The road I vision is, it should be brought up to a standard that would make travelling on the road much more convenient for the user groups to use, and then it would be a better access to go to Temagami if it was in good shape. So I think that would help. Having a good road would make better access so you could go back to the Town.
Now, is this a question that I’m still answering, or was it just a yes or no?
Interviewer: No, this is an opportunity for you to give your thoughts on the landing itself.
Harding: That perhaps the TLA would have some type of office space in Temagami so that maybe the TLA members and that would have an association in the Town, where they could stop at an office and then work their way back down, and then you could do other things, like if you’re looking at invasive species, things like that, then you could have a central area in that area also.
Interviewer: You mean like a boat washing station or -?
Harding: Like a boat, but - like they do have their little canvassing that they do in the summer; perhaps an office would even be better. Then if people wanted to come in and have a place, that’s an option., because they are trying to develop the Town and there could be an office space for seasonal businesses conducted.
The other thing about the TLA building at the landing, it does have a footprint with guests. I didn’t know if you meant just for the parking area, but the building. I always thought that perhaps the TLA building could be relocated out onto an island. So that’s my vision on that. So we could have less impact on the landing that has to do with buildings and -. So that’s sort of my impact on that.
Interviewer: Temagami’s pristine natural environment, which the Tenets endeavour to preserve, gives the region a priceless brand that could be sustainably exploited for the broader economic benefit of all stakeholders in the Temagami community. Further development of Crown Lands surrounding the Lake devalues that magical Temagami brand. We also live in a time when new technologies and work patterns might create new more sustainable and clean paths towards prosperity than past drivers of economic growth. With these thoughts in mind: Do you view the Tenets as a significant inhibitor of economic activity?
Key Candidate Quote - “I think it’s a very seasonal area, and I think there needs to be more done in the core of the Town of Temagami, where there could be a sustainable grocery store, which is not open all the time now; there could be perhaps more restaurant… Your taxes should reflect a fairer value for what you’re getting. After the core taxes are allotted to the core, there should be a fair value return for all five areas” - John Harding
Harding: I believe in the Temagami Tenets and the view. I believe there should be more trails in and around the area for scenic, photographic; more than buildings, obviously. I don’t think there should be mainland development, if that’s sort of part of the question. I think we could have more of an intense trail system, especially in the Town up where the Caribou Mountain is, which also would help trails. So I’m more of the outdoors type style thing is what I believe in.
Interviewer: Are there other factors that are deterring investment and household formation in the area — for example, do high business and property taxes discourage both "clean" industry and remote workers from relocating to Temagami?Yes/No/Not Sure
Harding: Yes, I think it’s a very seasonal area, and I think there needs to be more done in the core of the Town of Temagami, where there could be a sustainable grocery store, which is not open all the time now; there could be perhaps more restaurant, if there was more year ‘round in the Town of Temagami, as the hardship out on the taxed properties out on the lake, I think it’s so seasonal, it’s hard to run a business there. And I think it takes care of itself in the tax venue. Are the taxes reasonable? I think the taxes are a little on the high side, but that’s an impact issue, more than -. I think what we need is fairer value taxes for fairer value paid, and I’ve always ran on that.
Interviewer: Please say that: fair value taxes for fair value pay?
Harding: How would you say it? Fairer value taxes for fairer value paid.
Interviewer: Take your time. For fairer value paid?
Harding: So, yes, your taxes should reflect a fairer value for what you’re getting. After the core taxes are allotted to the core, there should be a fair value return for all five areas. That’s sort of what I’m trying to say.
Interviewer: Does the townsite and Municipality of Temagami have the infrastructure to support "sustainable development"?
Key Candidate Quote - “…We need to get a little more infrastructure, but more in the core of Temagami… I believe you could put in a small industrial building there; and I believe we also have an industrial park which has no real sustainable water and infrastructure, but I believe we can work on that.” - John Harding
Harding: Yes, I believe they have the infrastructure, but I believe it needs to be more sustainable for newer development. I believe they have a lagoon system that is going to be updated in Temagami North, which is more residential, but the downtown area, I believe, can take in about 200 more households on the lagoon that’s there, and it can be expanded.
So the infrastructure of the downtown core could be expanded for infrastructure and sustained development. I believe you could put in, like a senior home; I believe you could put in a small industrial building there; and I believe we also have an industrial park which has no real sustainable water and infrastructure, but I believe we can work on that.
Interviewer: In your opinion what constitutes sustainable development?
Harding: Sustainable development, to me, means supporting businesses in the area that will support a bank, support a restaurant, support a gas station, so you don’t have to travel outside of Temagami. I believe at this time, a lot of times you are leaving the area. I believe we need to get a little more infrastructure, but more in the core of Temagami.
Interviewer: What are the main factors deterring investment and new-comers to the area?Select the top two from the list below: Tenets; business obstacles; property taxes; non-property taxes; internet services; skilled labour; or, other things we might not have listed.
Harding: Business obstacles.
Interviewer: In what way?
Harding: Where the infrastructure needs to be upgraded, and the school system - I guess it’s the support itself. So what I’m trying to say in the obstruction is that you can’t buy local. That would be my point, that you have to go out of town to get your supplies in.
Now, there is trucking that you can get things, but it’s not quite the same. So I believe it’s an obstruction to business that they’re always running and waiting for stuff. They can’t have hands-on equipment. Even when you go to the garage, it’s a little garage, so you got to order everything in and out. It’s just such a small area.
Interviewer: You have a bank that’s open two days a week.
Harding: A bank that’s only open two days a week, which I think is a hardship, and which I’d like to see open, you know, at least three days a week, minimal. But, I mean, I’m still grateful that we have a bank because they were going to take it out in the past.
Interviewer: Any of the others? The skilled labour or internet service?
Harding: I believe internet service could be upgraded in the rural areas much more. I think that’s another thing, where business people, home businesses especially in the rural area just don’t have the proper infrastructure service.
Skilled labour, I believe, on (f). I believe the problem with the labour skill is our kids are leaving because there’s more work outside the area than inside. So I think if we could build a core, then that would hold some of the families, then we would have three or four generations like they used to have. You know, not to say when they had mining and they had Milne’s and some other places, it had four generations of family and we’re lacking that now that everyone’s leaving in the community.
Interviewer: Barrett was telling me his two kids are the only two kids that get on the bus here in the morning to go from the lake.
Harding: When I went, we had 22 kids went to the public school, and 15 kids went to the high school when I grew up. And that was just from Lake Temagami, as the households down here are - it’s turned into a little different situation down here.
Interviewer: Will further Crown Land lot development on or near Lake Temagami generate lasting /re-occurring economic activity on a meaningful basis?
Key Candidate Quote - "…I believe Crown land development should not happen on Lake Temagami, and I don’t believe we need Crown land development… I believe there should be minimal development in island properties too, and if it’s government owned, I believe that there should be no development on them.” - John Harding
Harding: Crown land development on Lake Temagami: I believe Crown land development should not happen on Lake Temagami, and I don’t believe we need Crown land development.
Interviewer: Including the islands?
Harding: I believe there should be minimal development in island properties too, and if it’s government owned, I believe that there should be no development on them.
If it’s private islands and they go with the Official Plan where you need the two acres, and you need your setbacks, then I believe that could be developed for sure.
Interviewer: Keep Temagami Beautiful respects the rights of patent property owners. Likewise, we are opposed to any additional development of the Lake Temagami mainland as detailed in the tenets. With this in mind would you support development of the Ferguson Point and Ferguson Mountain properties if development included the purchase of the adjacent waterfront Crown Land strip from the province?
Interviewer: Conflicts of interest arise in many different ways, some overt and others less obvious. The clear avoidance of conflict of interest, or even the appearance of a conflict, on the part of public officials is essential to building trust among your constituents, to providing good governance and to attracting and enabling sustainable economic development.
Bearing that in mind, keeping in mind your [current] professional occupation and/or your ownership in any business or other entities that are active in the municipality, do you have, either directly or indirectly, any conflicts of interest and, if elected, how will you manage these conflicts?
Key Candidate Quote - “When I do the dump wagon, it’s a contract job. So when it comes up as to an issue, I always sit back as a conflict… I don’t belong to groups, as TLA, Permanent Residents and other groups, because I would find that could be a conflict…” - John Harding
Harding: If I do have a direct conflict, then I’m going to sit down and stand back from the conflict and declare a conflict of interest. When I do the dump wagon, it’s a contract job. So when it comes up as to an issue, I always sit back as a conflict. It’s a monetary value. If there’s safety issues, I will always speak up for them. No matter what the situation is. But when it comes to that issue, that’s one that I do stand down a lot on.
I don’t belong to groups, as TLA, Permanent Residents and other groups, because I would find that could be a conflict, if it’s a monetary value, to any of the parties. So as past president of the Permanent Residents’ Group, I stood down on that issue because I didn’t want to make it a conflict. And that’s pretty much on a lot of the groups.
I’m involved in the Fish Hatchery, I’m a member there, so that issue I don’t find is monetary, so I don’t mind standing up and talking to that. I’m a Legion member, which I believe is another one that I don’t stand down on. I think that there’s things in that area I don’t call it a conflict of interest. So I believe it’s a person’s convictions, what they’re going to stand for or not stand for. So if it’s a conflict of interest I believe of a monetary value, you’d definitely have to stand down, in my views.
And if it’s a land issue, then that’s one that I would stand down because if it’s an Ontario issue or a First Nations issue, I’m on the M.O.U., but we only talk about things that are in common. We don’t talk about land claim values. So that’s something that, if it came up, I would have to stand down on that.
Interviewer: You have a contract for the dump. You have a contract with the Municipality, do you?
Harding: Yes. So any contracts for the Municipality is not a conflict of interest. And we went through lawyers twice and it’s not a conflict of interest to do things on the side.
Let’s just take an example: if I was the Treasurer for the TLA, I would stand down when there is issues of monetary value for the TLA, but I could still do it as a contract. That’s not a conflict of interest as being a Councillor, and you’re allowed to take on other jobs.
If I wanted to do a catering business in Temagami, like some have, it’s not a conflict, but when the issue comes up of monetary value, what you’re going to charge for the price, well, then you sit down on that.
Interviewer: Would you vote to maintain all the Tenets in any developed O.P. for the Municipality of Temagami?
Harding: Yes, I would. Yes. Would I tweak some of the by-laws? Yes, but I would stand with the Tenets, yes.
[Please note: The candidate voted to adopt the Terms of Reference for the New Official Plan for Temagami, which recommended a reexamination of the Tenets, vegetative buffer zones and local neighbourhood policies in the new OP. Here’s a link to a letter from TLA to Council (which Council voted not to recognize) outlining TLA’s concerns. Fortunately this motion has been withdrawn, for now.]