Familiar names enter the draw for mayor in Renfrew.
With the August 19th deadline approaching, and ahead of the fall municipal election, the town of Renfrew has only received two nominations for mayor, and one for reeve.
Local business owner, Kate Windle, is counting on the same level of support that allowed her to serve three terms on council. Owner of Kate's Barber Shop, Windle's top priority is to work with upper levels of government to build affordable housing.
Windle says this isn't just a problem affecting Renfrew, but across the Ottawa Valley as a whole. "Many are being forced into the growing social housing lineup or onto someone's sofa, while they search for accommodations, education, and employment," she said. "All-inclusive housing affords the working poor and business owners an opportunity to plan and budget for themselves and their families," she said.
She acknowledge the work of the current council that helped reshape the management structure by hiring a CAO. "Congratulations to the current council for continuing to make the changes that will put Renfrew on the World Wide Web and top marks for the senior management team and corporate employees," she said. "Their planning strategies and grant writing skills are second to none."
Windle's priorities are finding efficiencies in the budget, ensuring that current facilities are in top shape, and creating more employment and housing for area residents.
Mike Coulas, a local realtor who has served two consecutive terms as councilor, is also adding his name to the bid.
Over the last eight years as a council member, Coulas has gained a reputation as a tenacious man who is not afraid to challenge his fellow councilors. As the chair of the development and works committee, he does not hold back in expressing frustration and disappointment with his colleagues. Most recently when they rejected a recommendation from the committee not to award a multi-million dollar road contract to a local company.
Coulas says the council was making an error awarding the contract to a company he thought had a poor track record when it came to town projects. He also voted against investing tax dollars into restoring the CP Caboose in Haramis Park and was very vocal in his opposition.
Coulas is drawing on his decades of real estate experience to make the case that Renfrew is falling behind other Ottawa Valley townships in terms of economic growth and housing sales. "I'm privy to the numbers every month on resale and new home construction sales. It's very disappointing to see that this is the only Renfrew County municipality without any substantial growth," he said. "Therefore, it is my intention to push our town ahead with regards to development which will, in turn, increase our economic growth substantially."
Coulas added the last eight years serving on city council has changed his outlook on how things should be done.
So far, incumbent reeve, Peter Emon, is the only candidate for the position as he tries for a third term as the town's representative on Renfrew County Council.
Reeve Emon has served as both councilor and mayor of Greater Madawaska, four consecutive terms as Warden of the County of Renfrew, and the last eight as reeve of Renfrew. Emon also works part-time as a crisis worker with the Pembroke Regional Hospital's Community Mental Health division.
"My decision to run again was for the most part made in July 2019 with the announcement of Highway 417 being built, but I revisited it again in May," he said. "I want to be part of our town and the surrounding community benefitting from this expansion in business and investment."
His priorities include working to find joint service solutions with Grater Madawaska, Admaston/Bromley, and Horton townships. Emon says he wants to pay attention to the smaller things and measure response times in order to fix the system issues that residents are facing like drainage, grass cutting operations, road maintenance, plowing, and parking.
Current two-term mayor Don Eady will not be seeking a third term, and for the first time since 2014, an incumbent mayor will not be a candidate for the job.