Chomut active in community

·4 min read

Shuniah, Ont. — With parents getting their children ready to begin the first day of school on Tuesday, mother of four Meghan Chomut could empathize with them.

The Municipality of Shuniah councillor for the McTavish ward was busy getting the children out the door and watching the youngest at home. After all, education is a true passion for the lifetime Shuniah resident.

Chomut, who is being opposed for the McTavish seat by Dawn Powell for the only race in Shuniah, said saving McKenzie Public School from the chopping block due to a designation label is her main concern.

“I’m a huge advocate for (McKenzie Public School),” said Chomut, who is the chair of the McKenzie School Council. “Since I’ve been on Shuniah’s council, I’ve been a real big advocate for ensuring that our school is heard by the Ministry of Education.

“That building is a cornerstone to our community and we would be devastated if we lost that school.

“As of right now, (McKenzie Public School) is only 500 metres too close to town. That’s miniscule.

“(A rural school designation) seems like it could just be the stroke of a pen. It’s really hard to communicate to decision makers in (southern Ontario) that 500 metres is very miniscule for municipalities of this size because they’re so much more condensed.

“(Shuniah council) has been working with the Ministry of Education for years. I think that I’m able to help bridge that gap just because I am so active in our school, so that I can ensure the language that is heard at the school board level is also the language that we are using here at the municipality. Government decisions take so long.”

Chomut took over from 2018-elected McTavish ward councillor Duff Stewart when he moved back to Thunder Bay midterm (Stewart is now running for the Current River ward seat in Thunder Bay).

The certified financial planner also wants to see the municipality become unified from year-round residents to cottagers who take in Lake Superior during the summer.

“I think that because I was born and raised here in the municipality and 80 per cent of my family lives here, I think that I’m able to look at the municipality as a whole,” said Chomut, who runs the financial planning business Porte Rouge, which is a term used in Scotland where homeowners paint their front door red when they pay off their mortgage. “We can bring in new members to our community, but also that our seniors here can age in place. So bringing new resources to the community and providing support to those seniors is important to me.

“I’m not biased when it comes to campers versus longtimers or new families versus seniors. Shuniah is so important to me. I want to hear voices from everybody in the municipality.”

Powell indicated that while getting signatures prior to filing her nomination papers that most of the Shuniah constituents told her that they, “didn’t even know the McTavish ward councillor’s name.”

Chomut said you don’t have to look far to find her and she’s a phone call away.

“To be fair, I am really involved in our community,” Chomut said. “If you go to the school, you’re going to see me there. If you go to church events, you’re going to see me there. I try to be approachable and non-judgemental as possible, so that when people come to me with issues, everyone feels very comfortable being completely honest.

“At the end of the day, even though we’re running for the same role, we’re still neighbours. I respect (Powell) and I think she brings a lot of great ideas to the table and I would love to hear them. It’s really unfortunate that she didn’t feel comfortable to call me directly because my number’s on the municipality website.”

The rest of Shuniah’s council doesn’t have to worry about a race, as mayor Wendy Landry as well as MacGregor ward councillors Donna Blunt, Ron Giardetti and Don Smith ran unopposed and were acclaimed.

Giardetti, who has been on the Shuniah council since 2006, said despite Chomut’s political inexperience, she’s been a fine addition to council.

“This will be (Chomut’s) first elected term (should she get in),” Giardetti said. “(Chomut’s) learning through the whole thing and listens to what (Blunt) and I have to say a lot and (Landry). We have a pretty good group there right now.”

Municipal elections are slated for Oct. 24.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal