Debbie Schaefer: Ward 5
If elected, what would be your top 2 priorities for King Township and how would you work to address them?
Traffic, traffic, traffic. Our Transportation Masterplan is a valuable one but by its very nature it does not address the challenges of the arterial roads and the impact on King City. Traffic roaring through King City is only increasing and the congestion at the 4 corners grows. Even more concerning is how the local roads are being increasingly used by frustrated drivers who want to avoid the 4 corners which is creating serious safety issues. It is a very tough issue and a fix is not going to be quick. We need a plan. If elected I will work with the Mayor, our Regional Council member, to get focus on the issue to develop a plan. In addition, I will work with our local Staff to develop a holistic plan for the quadrant north and east of the GO train station.
2nd priority: As I have the benefit of 12 years experience, I can see that the connection between the municipality and its clients i.e. residents and businesses is not as productive as it once was. There are clearly COVID aftereffects. Its evident in the poor attendance at some of the advisory committees. The fact that Council meetings are live streamed has been beneficial in some respects, but it is not equal to in person. And my concern is not limited to Council meetings and advisory committees; public, in person meetings, enable cross pollination of one neighbourhood’s perspective about an issue with another. If elected I will work to ensure that we do strike the right balance between leveraging the technology and the traditional in person. Clearly personal health must not be jeopardized and as necessary we will embrace and be grateful for the technology; I just don’t believe it should be the default
- Do you support encouraging future employment growth within King Township and, if so, what kind of jobs would you like to see coming to King and how would you propose to attract them?
My platform has 3 strategies: one of them is leverage our growth to enhance the community. Growth will happen. The job for Council is to facilitate the employment growth so that it does more than simply increase property tax revenue. Our first priority should be on the current business community: how to keep them and how to grow them which is the 3rd question from the Chamber. We need new businesses to install themselves where the zoning permissions exist. This is important as seeking to start a business where the permission is not in place costs time and money. Current Council has improved the ability for someone to identify where to start a business. In the 3 villages those zones have been clearly defined in zoning bylaws for a couple years; in Ward 5 there are employment lands available, and the core area zone has been expanded north of King Road on west side of Keele. And finally, we now have a countryside zoning bylaw…this is critical as 80% of our landmass is in the countryside. The new zoning bylaw enables new employment opportunities as there are revisions to home industries, on-farm diversified uses; it also clarifies permissions for housing for farm help. I want to see new businesses which leverage our unique location and our agricultural heritage. I want to see new commercial and retail in our village cores: at street level of the new apartments and condos being built there should be commercial & retail: shoppers will not come to King City to buy what is available at Vaughan Mills or online. King City core has a valuable rare asset: heritage buildings. King should have a special tax bracket to encourage businesses to locate there and to restore. Many municipalities do this and their unique streetscape shows the benefit.
- What, if anything, do you think the Township of King could be doing to better serve and support our existing business community?
The Community Improvement Plan was refreshed in 2021. The original plan has been very popular; many current businesses have taken advantage of the original one; they have applied for grants to help fund new signage, facades, expansion/renovations. The refreshed plan is much broader in its scope to revitalize the core of villages and the public realm. I am thrilled that the concept is now available to businesses in the countryside. And now that the countryside zoning bylaw is approved Economic Development and Council can aggressively promote it to our current businesses. The Community Tourism Plan was endorsed last year. We need to execute it. A tourism plan does not just benefit a business in tourism; exposure to King in any way is a potential new customer in any business