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Jaden Calvert - Meaford Council Candidate

Jaden Calvert – Meaford Council Candidate

First of all, tell us a little about your background and overall platform in 100 words or less.

I was born in 1989 and raised in the town of Meaford. I graduated in 2013 from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science, Honours Biological Sciences.

Currently, I am the co-chair of the Golden Town Outreach, coordinating Meaford Community Gardens, managing the Meaford Farmers’ Market, a grower at Sunrise Organics farm, and an active member of Transition Meaford.

As councillor, I will continue to be involved in engaging and working with community members to co-create a sustainable and prosperous Municipality of Meaford. I will ensure that residents are paying a fair amount of taxes and getting the best benefit from them and ensure that our economy is developed in an ecologically responsible way that creates sustainable jobs.

What do you see as the major issue(s) facing business-owners in Grey-Bruce?

Some challenges facing business-owners, and new businesses, in Grey-Bruce are the purchasing of non-local goods and services, sustainability and the affordability of spaces to rent in the Municipality of Meaford.

The increasing interdependence on goods and/or services from far-off lands, is an issue facing business-owners. When possible, we should be utilizing and spending money on local services and locally produced and/or processed goods. When we purchase goods and/or services from a national and/or international corporation, the money is sucked out of the local economy. To the contrary, when money is spent on goods and/or services from a local business, the money circulates repeatedly within the local community and leaks out much more slowly to the outside.

We need to re-localize our economy and purchase and utilize more local services and goods that are produced and/or processed within the Municipality of Meaford.Re-localizing our economy can also improve our health through the consumption of more seasonal foods, our environment through the reduction in the distance that goods and/or services travel, create new jobs and generate more local economic activity. We need to re-localize our economy and purchase and utilize more local services and goods that are produced and/or processed within the Municipality of Meaford.

In order for a community to thrive, its businesses must be sustainable. What does this mean? Sustainable businesses are those that are able to sustain because they supply environmentally-friendly products and/or services, make an enduring commitment to environmentally-friendly principles in its business operations and each business decision and, therefore, have minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society or economy. Every business, and community, is interdependent on the health of its ecosystems and, therefore, in order for businesses to be sustainable, they must also be environmentally-friendly.

Some storefronts are currently empty and many businesses occupying other storefronts are on the verge of shutting down in the town of Meaford. Many current and past business owners occupying storefronts have expressed concerns about the cost of rent. In order for new businesses to be viable, storefronts need to be monetarily-accessible for new businesses wanting to occupy these spaces.

What strategies do you have in mind to stimulate economic growth in the region?

Some ways to stimulate economic growth include:

The Municipality of Meaford should continue to support Dragon’s Den Meaford, presented by the Meaford Chamber of Commerce. This event has inspired many to create a business or to grow their current one and has contributed to the economic prosperity of the Municipality of Meaford.

Continue to support and raise awareness about businesses that carry locally-produced and/or processed goods and support local-services.

Provide support to current and new businesses. A strategy to help new businesses that wish to occupy a vacant storefront in the Municipality of Meaford could be developed that is similar to a program with the Meaford Farmers’ Market. The Meaford Farmers’ Market currently allows youth vendors, 18 years and under, to attend the market for an entire season for their first year for $10. If successful and are still 18 or younger, they can attend the second year for half the cost to regular vendors. If wanting to attend the market for the third year, they are to pay the same price as a regular vendor. Working with the landlords, a similar program could be developed for new businesses where initially there is lower rent costs and then gradually the rent is increased as the business become more successful and generates more revenues.

Farm tours could occur to: meet local farmers, learn about what foods are grown-locally and when they are available and learn about how the food is grown.

Do you feel economic growth should focus on:

A) Bringing in new business developments, or

B) Encouraging small businesses presently in operations?

Economic growth should focus on both bringing in new business developments and encouraging small businesses presently in operation. There is always room for improvement – businesses currently in operation can continue to work towards their business becoming more sustainable.

As councillor, I would ensure that local businesses are paying a fair amount of taxes and that they are getting the most value from them. Do you think local business taxes are should be:

A) Increased

B) Decreased

C) Maintained at current levels

Many local business owners have expressed to me concerns about the imminent tax hikes that are being proposed by the Ontario Liberal party. For some, and especially those struggling to pay storefront rent, this might affect the viability of their business. Many business-owners would, therefore, like to see a reduction in business taxes. As councillor, I would ensure that local businesses are paying a fair amount of taxes and that they are getting the most value from them.

Should there be any changes in the services offered to local businesses?

The development of a business improvement/creation centre could help to stimulate and grow local businesses and create jobs, similar to The Working Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo. The Working Centre is a non-profit, community-based venture that seeks to provide people access to tools and opportunities to become involved in the building of community projects in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding area.

The Municipality of Meaford Facade Improvement Program for 2014, with up to $15,000 in grant funding, could potentially improve the viability of a business in the Downtown Community Improvement Plan area in the town of Meaford by moving more traffic into the stores and therefore increasing sales. This program should, however, be made available to storefronts throughout the entire Municipality of Meaford and not just within the town of Meaford.

It should be noted that the Meaford Chamber of Commerce is currently doing a wonderful job at delivering services and support to local businesses and continues to create ways to better serve and support businesses and grow the economy in the Municipality of Meaford.

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