STOUFFVILLE VOTES: Gloves come off at all-candidates meeting
Oct. 17, 2022
The Whitchurch-Stouffville mayoral all-candidates meeting held at Spring Lakes Golf Club earlier this month was full of barbs. On the stage was incumbent Iain Lovatt and he was receiving heat from challengers, including previous mayor Justin Altmann, Anand Date, Mark Carroll and Sher Ahmad.
“Four years ago, I was elected as mayor with a vision to bring stability back to our town hall,” Lovatt said. “I believe it takes more than one term to really get things moving in the direction our strategic plan outlines. We have lots to do.” Lovatt said he was able to build a unified council and able to work collaboratively with other levels of government, which he said was not the case during Altmann’s four years in office.
While Lovatt was proud of the work accomplished in the last four years, there was a much different tune from the other candidates on the dais.
Carroll was alarmed with where development was heading in the municipality. “I’ve made a commitment not to solicit funds from developers,” he said. “It seems that developers fund campaigns because they're looking for favours. I will not be beholding to an industry that is going to make a profit and affect our communities.”
Altmann pointed much of his displeasure toward Lovatt’s handling of the Bethesda Sports Park. “According to the Toronto Star, our town is being sued $38 million after a land deal for the Bethesda Sports Park fell,” he said. “Think about that for a second. If we, the town, were obliged to pay that amount, it would average out to approximately $2,200 per household.”
Date, who is running for a second time, said it is time for new blood on council as the town is dealing with the same problems it did during the last election and the one before that. “It's the same issues over and over again,” he said. “With all due respect to our mayoral candidates up here, we've had years to solve these problems and we're still talking about the same things.”
Ahmad was happy to put his name forward and wasn’t focused on previous council’s record. “My platform is simple. I'm here I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I'm here for the new generation. I'm here for the seniors. I'm here looking for the opportunity to serve you all here in the future,” he said.
Main Street reconstruction
One of the big items on the docket in the next term of council is Main Street reconstruction. Every candidate had strong opinions on what that should look like.
Ahmad said he wanted the project broken up into small manageable components and not done all at one time.
Carroll remembers what a “mess” Stouffer Street was and didn’t want to see that happen again. “We need to do it and we need to do it right the first time,” he said.
Altmann said the town should learn from the Markham Main Street reconstruction. “I see underground parking with retail on the main levels, professional levels on second floors, with residential going to three floors up facing Main Street,” he said.
Date said in 2018, when this question was asked, he vowed to stake his term on it to get the project done. “We had a golden opportunity. COVID shut everything down. But there was no money to deal with it,” he said. “It's going to be horrible, but it has to be done. It just gets more expensive every year.”
Lovatt said the Main Street reconstruction is back on track. “There is no going back,” he said. He urged the public to look at the current plans. “The project is vital to our community,” he said.
There was a lot of consternation about the town’s sale of SoccerCity. Lovatt addressed the matter saying there will be a new dome facility that will be built. “It’s going to put Stouffville on the soccer map in the GTA, something SoccerCity’s dangerous and poor design never did,” he said.
Carroll disagreed. “We don’t need to sell these things. We need to build on them,” he said.
Date also wasn’t pleased with how the town handled the SoccerCity sale. “We keep doing the wrong things in the wrong way. We've got a pool that is too short for competition. We've got SoccerCity, where the touchline was too close to the wall,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we have to sell it at $2 million to $3 million less than we should have gotten for it.”