Neebing, Ont. — You could say Municipality of Neebing incumbent at large councillor Gordon Cuthbertson’s platform is structured. At its core, its main focus is on the well-being of structures and the people throughout the rural community.
The lifetime chief building official, who is still doing work for Ignace and training a new official there, has interest in seeing a new wash facility for the community’s volunteer firefighters, a renovated Pigeon River tourist building so that it could be used year-round, create new buildable lots and the demolishing of unsafe, abandoned buildings.
The latter two objectives can’t be met without a new official plan for the municipality, which Neebing currently does not have.
That’s the first order of business Cuthbertson would like to take care of should he be elected again.
“What I was interested in is the overall growth of Neebing and that can only be done with changes to our official plan and our zoning bylaws after the official plan is changed,” said Cuthbertson, who was the manager of the City of Thunder Bay’s planning and building department before taking on chief building official jobs with Neebing, the Township of Gillies, O’Connor Township, Conmee Township and now Ignace.
“Due to COVID-19 and the shutdown of public meetings and not being able to meet with the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that project didn’t get completed. We’re in the last steps of getting our official plan approved, hopefully we’re in the last 120 days. There are some significant changes to our official plan that I wanted to see followed through with.”
A big part of the zoning bylaw changes includes a property standards bylaw. Once this is in place, Cuthbertson said council will have the power to tear down unsafe, abandoned buildings.
“(The provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) has said you just can’t pass a bylaw that says ‘this building is old and has to be torn down.’ They make it a little more complicated,” Cuthbertson said.
“In the official plan, they have to put in there that we want to have a property standards bylaw.
“The words usually scare people because when they think of property standards they think they’re going to tell me how to cut my grass and how many trucks I can have in my front yard. It’s a title. It’s just a title.
“What we’re going to be doing when we get our official plan approved, we’ll be writing a bylaw stating that abandoned and unsafe buildings will be able to be torn down by order of the power under the Ontario Building Code property standards section.
“Abandoned buildings that are unsafe, kids play in them, fires can start in them, we can order them down and if they don’t take them down, we’ll take them down and put it on your taxes.”
One of Cuthbertson’s current projects is working on getting a new medical mobile unit out to Neebing after NorWest Community Health Centres moved to a centralized Kakabeka Falls hub, but he’d also like to see a medical facility/corner store built somewhere in Neebing as well as a trail system from Fort William First Nation to Grand Portage, Minn., as part of a reopening of Pigeon River Provincial Park.
Should he get elected, this would be his last kick at the political cat.
“This is the end of the road. A councillor. That’s all I am.”
Jill Cadieux will oppose Cuthbertson for Neebing’s at-large councillor seat, while Obie Egbuchulam is up against incumbent Brian Wright for the Crooks Township position.
In Neebing’s Blake Township council seat clash, Ron Woit, Gary Shchepanik and Katherine Hill are competing for the council position being vacated by mayoral candidate Mark Thibert.
Incumbent councillors Curtis Coulson (Pardee), Gary Gardner (Pearson) and Brian Kurikka (Scoble) ran unopposed and had their positions acclaimed.
In Neebing’s mayoral race, Thibert, the current Blake Township councillor, is facing off against former mayor Ziggy Polkowski to replace the outgoing Erwin Butikofer.
An all-candidates night for the Municipality of Neebing is set for Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Blake Hall.
Municipal elections in the province will take place on Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal