Grey Highlands council inspired by volunteer work

·3 min read

Grey Highlands council candidate Reid Dennison has been interested in municipal governance since childhood and the interest grew while he worked on a climate action task force locally.

Dennison grew up in Kitchener, the seventh in a family of eight.

He studied film production at Conestoga College and has worked for business, government and for himself as a documentary film editor. In 1997, he won a Gemini Award for Best Picture Editing in a Documentary [Jesus in Russia, Associated Producers]. After retiring from that career, he became a renovator, salesman and lately, an artist making sculptural lighting.

Ten years ago, a career change to the construction business allowed the family to move to Flesherton. His interests include: playing pickleball and table tennis, alpine and cross-country skiing, scuba-diving, live music, building and making things.

“I am grateful nearly every day that we get to live here in this beautiful setting,” he said.

“I’ve been interested in politics since I was a child. I grew up in a large family; many nights around the dinner table, we had lively political discussions. A lot of it was about municipal politics, the level of government that affects most people most of the time. All you have to do is pull out of your driveway and into a pothole on the street – there you are in municipal governance.”

Dennison said he enjoys volunteering in the community.

“I just started working with the Flesherton Beautification Committee to replace a mural in downtown Flesherton. I also like working on infrastructure, budgeting, and human resources,” he said.

He sees housing as a major issue for Grey Highlands.

“Our young workers, families and seniors need affordable places to live. Our municipality has tools to back projects developed by community groups and others, to provide moderately priced rental and ownership housing. Perhaps the deep well of agricultural co-op experience in this part of Ontario could help with Grey Highlands’ housing difficulties,” he said.

Recently, Dennison has been actively involved with the efforts in Grey Highlands to fight climate change.

“I believe small municipalities can make a big difference to our climate woes. For two years, I served on the Grey Highlands Climate Action Task Force to develop climate mitigation and adaptation policy for the municipality. Partway through the process, I was elected chair. Our report was received by council in 2021; I'd like to see that through to implementation,” he said.

He supports efforts to involve the community in decisions made by council.

“I want to find ways to bring people into the decision-making process on a regular basis, whether it’s town-hall meetings, digital surveys, public brainstorming sessions, or “dotmocracy” sessions,” he said. “A little more time and money spent on citizen engagement can go a long way towards better decisions.

"I think we could have had a better process on the Talisman sale and on the waste management contract. Being elected to public office is just the beginning of engaging citizens, not the end.

"Many politicians want people's attention for just as long as it takes to get them elected; I would want to seek out Grey Highlanders' ideas and opinions throughout my term in office, should I be chosen to serve.”

The municipal election is Oct. 24, 2022. To confirm you are on the voter's list, or to find out about advance voting options, visit the Grey Highlands website here.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca