More than 100 people showed up to hear platforms of Georgian Bluffs council and mayoral hopefuls at an All Candidates Meeting in Shallow Lake Tuesday night.
Mayoral candidates Dwight Burley and Scott Catto were both in attendance, as were council hopefuls Ejaye McComb, Nicole Egan, Craig Sanderson, Paul Sutherland, Cathy Moore Coburn, Rick Audette, Grant Pringle, Carol Barfoot and Ryan Thompson.
Council candidates Mac Boulter, Candice Newmaster, Christian Bernard Singer, Dave Skripka and Tom Walter did not attend.
Among the several issues brought up were the pursuit of shared services with nearby municipalities and the continued township ownership of both the Wiarton Keppel International Airport and the Biodigester.
And, of course, the question facing all municipalities ahead of January: pot or not?
Both Burley and Catto have different priorities in seeking the top office in Georgian Bluffs, but hold similar views on some key issues.
Burley says his top priority in office will be to ensure the candidates who are elected to council quickly get up to speed with the issues facing Georgian Bluffs, to be able to make informed decisions for the ratepayers.
Catto says his primary focus is ensuring a more open and transparent council with more collaborative decision-making involving public consultation.
Both Burley and Catto maintain the Wiarton Keppel International Airport and the Biodigester are viable municipal assets.
Both candidates also say they are in favour of having discussions with nearby municipalities for shared services.
On allowing bricks-and-mortar marijuana shops in Georgian Bluffs, Burley is against it and believes the township should opt-out. Catto says he does not have a stance yet as he needs to hear more feedback from the community.
Burley is entirely opposed to any amalgamation of the Inter-Township and Owen Sound Fire Departments, while Catto says he is in support of amalgamation only if there is no cost increases or loss of service to Georgian Bluffs ratepayers.
All mayoral and council candidates in attendance were asked to speak to one issue of their choosing, with six of the 11 weighing in on marijuana stores.
Catto says Georgian Bluffs needs to get ready for marijuana legalization and stresses more public consultation is needed. He does not have a stance on allowing stores yet, as he wants to hear more from the community first.
Burley expands on his opposition to the idea of amalgamating the Inter-Township and City of Owen Sound fire departments, saying he believes Georgian Bluffs should sell use of the Inter-Township Fire Department as a service to Owen Sound.
Among the council candidates, Thompson says he is against the idea of creating a central downtown core in Georgian Bluffs, and believes the municipality must better celebrate the heritage and history of all the communities and hamlets.
Barfoot says an appraisal of the Wiarton Airport found it had tremendous value in land alone, and many people re working to make it a success.
Pringle also spoke about the Wiarton Airport and believes there a positives that can come from it, but there needs to be a major collaborative effort.
Audette says cost considerations aside, any merger between the Inter-Township and City of Owen Sound fire departments needs to make sense in terms of service and response times.
Moore Coburn touched on marijuana saying she would prefer to see government operated, regulated sales stores and not private. She also says the annual cost of about $500,000 to operate the Wiarton airport needs to be addressed.
Sutherland took a firm stance against marijuana, saying he is against it being sold in Georgian Bluffs or anywhere in Ontario.
Sanderson also says he is against the sale of marijuana in Georgian Bluffs.
Egan spoke to the marijuana issue but did not take a position on allowing bricks-and-mortar stores, only saying there needs to be a focus on education and harm reduction as it is becoming legal in Canada. She briefly touched on the airport, saying she doesn't believe it is an economic development driver.
McComb says it is better to have pot regulated properly and coming from a trusted source, rather than the black market.
The Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and noted it was the first time it had held an All Candidates Meeting in a municipality other than the Scenic City.