Riches’ aim would be to bring city together if elected mayor
In a telephone interview with The Advocate, Jim Riches detailed what motivated him to run for mayor, and what changes he hopes to make in Kawartha Lakes if elected.
“As an experienced negotiator in the health care sector I understand the stresses people are working under because of the pandemic. I see an old guard that doesn’t want change. I see politicians who really don’t have answers but instead are only concerned with risk management. People feel they have no control when they are looking for certainty in their lives,” Riches said.
“There is so much negative energy today because folks don’t like being told what to do. It is difficult to build trust with the voter when governments are not honest and open about their plans,” Riches added.
Riches, who says he is a “libertarian in his wiring who realizes he has to work within the system as it is” tries to see the bright side of things while recognizing that big institutions generally “don’t know what they are doing.”
Riches said there is an essential difference between people from rural areas and those from urban areas that needs to be bridged by the city and the new mayor and council.
“Country people are wired to survive,” Riches said. “City people are wired to ask government for help. I believe you get character from doing things yourself.”
If elected, Riches plans to use community centres right across the city as important gathering places that will bring healing to the community (post-pandemic).
“We need more showcase events like the Lindsay Exhibition, Ribfest, and live music and culture that will bring rural and urban people together by choice,” Riches said. “We need to create community programs that gives people something to look forward to.”
Riches wants the city to be at the forefront of the geo-thermal movement.
“We need to look seriously at creating a geothermal utility,” Riches said. “I fear natural gas will be banned in the next decade. We need to give people options. We need to start a pilot project in a small village like Cambray. If it works, geo-thermal could be the future. There must be a change in city planning that will force the change to geo-thermal in new builds.”
Riches said he will be a very different kind of mayor who “stands out” and is seen in public addressing and engaging the electorate. He also wants to assist individual councillors, helping them to deal with constituent complaints.
“I realize the job of a councillor can be overwhelming. They are only part time. I want the mayor to be more involved. I want to tell councillors to bring send their complaints to me,” Riches said.
Riches also said that different solutions to problems need to be looked at like the building of tiny home communities to help address the affordable housing issue. He also wants to see a more scientific approach to decisions made about what roads are repaired.
“People don’t see their tax dollars being spent wisely on roads right now,” Riches said.
Riches supports the city taking over service of unassumed and private roads, a hotel tax being applied to short term rentals as Ottawa has done to provide the city another revenue stream and internet service to all rural areas in the city through the installation of fibre optic cable rather than towers “because they are too visible.”
“It is important for the city to leverage as many revenue streams as possible moving forward,” Riches said.