John Shymko (Councillor)

(John Shymko 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?

Key Candidate Quote - “The road is actually the solution, not the problem. If there is access from the lake residents to spend commercially within the Town, then all the Town needs to do is entice them. So it’s a relationship that needs to be worked on between the Town and the lake residents so that we can have commerce going both ways.” - John Shymko

Candidate John Shymko: Not sure, and the reason I’m not sure is because if may have been in the past, but the road is actually the solution, not the problem. If there is access from the lake residents to spend commercially within the Town, then all the Town needs to do is entice them. So it’s a relationship that needs to be worked on between the Town and the lake residents so that we can have commerce going both ways.

Interviewer: 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?

Shymko: My vision is to tailor the road as a lifeline between the two neighbourhoods or communities, and possibly do some kind of promotion in terms of advertising or advertising initiatives to keep the businesses on the lake residents’ mind and to promote general interplay between the two communities.

Interviewer: Okay, very good.  So that’s interesting that you feel it’s the solution and not the problem; that’s very original.

Shymko: Well, I think it’s very obvious but people just kind of overlook it.

Interviewer: So it’s a very necessary connection.

Shymko: Yeah, otherwise, where is the connection?  It’s only boat.

Interviewer: That’s true, the way it used to be.

Shymko: The way it used to be. Now, people tend to have rose coloured glasses when they think about the way things used to be, and there used to be a whole lot of other elements as well. Temagami had a lot more diverse businesses within it and could support that, so it was well worth the trip to come from the lake to the Town when there’s a restaurant, cooking establishment, and lot more shopping diversity; but this needs to be rebuilt again.

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 - "…No, the Tenets are the answer to economic prosperity… We have the most beautiful section of Highway 11 from Barrie to Cochrane, without a doubt… A community like Sundridge, would kill to have the advantages that Temagami has, but we seem to be wasting them.” - John Shymko

Shymko: No, the Tenets are the answer to economic prosperity.

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?

Shymko: Yes. The high taxes, well, the money has to come from somewhere, so just simply slashing taxes is not going to do anything. Putting initiatives to increase the effectiveness in business and then increase the actual tax base is a smarter plan.

Interviewer: Does the townsite and Municipality of Temagami have the infrastructure to support "sustainable development"?


Key Candidate Quote - “We need to attract younger people to the village and to the townsite. In order to do so, we need jobs. In order to promote people to come in, they want to have jobs waiting for them… we need to work on the relationships and businesses that we have at the moment, improve those, and then naturally those jobs will start to come in because a workforce will be recruited because of the lifestyle… Sustainable development is development that does not extract resources without replacing the resource. So intelligent lumber is sustainable: where the planting of trees over rides the extraction of trees, so it becomes continuous." - John Shymko

Shymko: I understand the purpose of the question, but the infrastructure does need to be improved, but it doesn’t need to be expanded. As with almost all towns, the infrastructure is aging because there are other monetary priorities. In order for a town to prosper, the infrastructure needs to be kept up to date. So I would say, no, the infrastructure is not as good as it could be.  However, expanding that infrastructure is not the answer; taking care of it is.

Interviewer: In your opinion what constitutes sustainable development?

Shymko: Sustainable development is development that does not extract resources without replacing the resource. So intelligent lumber is sustainable: where the planting of trees over rides the extraction of trees, so it becomes continuous. And any other development is going to put us in the same situation as we are in now. We survived on two extraction based industries, they brought a very high standard of living to the Town, and when those industries left, we were left with nothing because we didn’t develop any truly sustainable industries to support us.

Interviewer: Do you have any ideas where they’ve used this more recently?

Shymko: Yes, there is a place called the Haliburton Nature Reserve, a really interesting model. It was a mill, and once the industry starting changing, they opened it up to hunting, then they opened it up to fishing with the mine roads. They brought in a domestic wolf pack with one-way glass, which really put them on the map. Then they brought in an observatory, they brought in bands where they would be playing and have folk concerts, where they’re playing on a floating dock. They brought in a canopy tour. And all of this while still harvesting deadfall and producing high value lumber where they would then take that lumber, make canoe paddles, make furniture, etc., etc. And this caused them to actually thrive. They’re in the best situation they’ve been ever since they started, and they continue with innovative ideas that do not deplete anything from the environment.

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.

Shymko: A skilled workforce is the main one, because we have an aging population and we need to attract younger people to the village and to the townsite. In order to do so, we need jobs. In order to promote people to come in, they want to have jobs waiting for them. However, this is a vicious circle because there won’t be any jobs if a company can’t have a base to recruit from. So we need to work on the relationships and businesses that we have at the moment, improve those, and then naturally those jobs will start to come in because a workforce will be recruited because of the lifestyle.

I think the way Council works deters businesses. I know of a few new businesses that have made presentations to Council. I believe their aim was to lower their taxes, but it’s also to create a better environment for the businesses. And their response to them while they were at the Council meeting was, “Wow, I can’t believe this Town functions.” That is a frightening thing for a small business.

My wife is opening a small business in the Town. We’re going to have to deal with that, but, really, we don’t have any other choice because we already live here. If you want to promote businesses in Town, one, we need to make a very stable environment for those businesses to operate, we need to give initiatives for those businesses to thrive, and we need to actively go out to trade shows to try to promote the town to businesses that are starting up.

We have the most beautiful section of Highway 11 from Barrie to Cochrane, without a doubt, and that is our advantage over all other communities on Highway 11. I think any community on Highway 11, especially a community like Sundridge, would kill to have the advantages that Temagami has, but we seem to be wasting them.

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 - “No, it will not, unless that is negative, because we will increase the cost of the infrastructure that we have to deliver and the services that we have to deliver to that without any serious gain in terms of income.” - John Shymko

Shymko: No, it will not, unless that is negative, because we will increase the cost of the infrastructure that we have to deliver and the services that we have to deliver to that without any serious gain in terms of income.

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?

Key Candidate Quote - “From the information that I have, and it could be subject to change depending upon a very valid legal argument, I think the Ferguson Point is something that would be unwise to add infrastructure to because I think the actual financial benefit of adding it wouldn’t really help the Town in any way, but it would put us at far more liability.” - John Shymko

Shymko: This is one that I was originally uncomfortable answering because there’s a lot of history in this, and a lot of interpretation seems to be going around, and I don’t really have any sound legal opinions on it.

From the information that I have, and it could be subject to change depending upon a very valid legal argument, I think the Ferguson Point is something that would be unwise to add infrastructure to because I think the actual financial benefit of adding it wouldn’t really help the Town in any way, but it would put us at far more liability.

Interviewer: Okay. That’s very good. Now, that concludes all of the questions, John, unless you have something more to say.

Shymko: I do have something more to say. Would you please advise your readers that even if they do not vote for me, try to vote for a team that is going to work together and treat each other with respect, because we are at a stalemate in Temagami, and we’ve been that way ever since I’ve moved here, because our Council cannot work together. If we don’t have a working Council, we can’t do anything. And by sitting here at the status quo, everybody is losing.

I just wanted also state that I am accepting no donations to my campaign. I’m funding my campaign completely by myself. I am not formally endorsing anyone, nor am I seeking any endorsement from anyone.

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 - “I am presently the Economic Development Officer for Bear Island, and anything that would occur between Bear Island and the Town, I would act as a conduit of information, but when it came to actual voting, I think I would have to rescind or abstain my vote if I felt that I was actually in conflict for that… My wife, which I would consider a conflict of interest for myself, is developing a bed and breakfast in Town, and anything that directly relates to the finances of that bed and breakfast, I, too, would declare a conflict of interest.” - John Shymko

Shymko: I have two conflicts of interest, if you could put them that way. I am presently the Economic Development Officer for Bear Island, and anything that would occur between Bear Island and the Town, I would act as a conduit of information, but when it came to actual voting, I think I would have to rescind or abstain my vote if I felt that I was actually in conflict for that.

My wife, which I would consider a conflict of interest for myself, is developing a bed and breakfast in Town, and anything that directly relates to the finances of that bed and breakfast, I, too, would declare a conflict of interest.

Interviewer: Would you vote to maintain all the Tenets in any developed O.P. for the Municipality of Temagami?


Key Candidate Quote - “100% yes… The biggest danger that we’re going into with trying to mess with the Temagami Tenets is that we entered a deal and amalgamation had formed because of the specifics of that deal, and if the Tenets are on the table, the entire deal becomes on the table, and I don’t think that would be in anyone’s best interest to even look at de-amalgamation.” - John Shymko

Shymko: 100% yes. I did read a quote, and I won’t attribute the quote to anyone at the moment, but they had an interpretation that the Tenets of Temagami were a recommendation of amalgamation. In my opinion, it was actually the corner stone of amalgamation.

Interviewer: That’s certainly the way we’ve interpreted it.

Shymko: And you’re part of the deal. So apart from them being based on sound advice, the biggest danger that we’re going into with trying to mess with the Temagami Tenets is that we entered a deal and amalgamation had formed because of the specifics of that deal, and if the Tenets are on the table, the entire deal becomes on the table, and I don’t think that would be in anyone’s best interest to even look at de-amalgamation.

The Keep Temagami Beautiful campaign is proudly brought to you by the Temagami Lakes Association, a community group interested in environmental quality and the future of Temagami