SHUNIAH, ONT. — Shuniah could wind up keeping the band together for council this fall.
On Wednesday, current Shuniah councillor Donna Blunt filed her nomination papers, hot on the heels of councillor Ron Giardetti, who filed on Tuesday.
Currently, Municipality of Shuniah incumbent Mayor Wendy Landry and councillors Blunt, Giardetti, Meghan Chomut and Don Smith are running unopposed with the closing date for nominations set for Aug. 19.
Blunt, Giardetti and Chomut represent the McTavish ward, while Smith is the lone councillor for the MacGregor ward.
Giardetti says the familiarity of council can be a benefit to the Shuniah community.
“It does help with knowing some of the issues,” said Giardetti, who has been a Shuniah councillor since 2006. “We have a pretty good group there right now.
“I’m not saying it’s status quo, but we have a pretty good thing going and I’d like to keep it that way. There’s always issues that pop up.on the lake shore with people developing, maybe getting trees in somebody’s face. Money’s always an issue and you always try to get some grants.”
Blunt, who has been on council for Shuniah since 2003, echoes her veteran council colleague’s sentiments.
“I find this council very good to work with,” said Blunt. “We all work well together, we’re open-minded, we’re very respectful. We agree to disagree at times, but nobody leaves the table angry at another council member. We have some good, solid discussions about things.
“I really enjoy working with this council. I think we’ve done a lot of good things and can continue to do a lot of good things.”
The biggest enterprise Giardettii, Blunt and the rest of the Shuniah council looks to tackle in the next term is the Rails to Trails project where the municipality is hoping to purchase the decommissioned CN Kinghorn railway line to link up to the Trans Canada Trail.
Giardetti likes the plan, but sees a few railblocks still in the way.
“(CN Rail) wants to sell the property, however, they still have the fibre optic (cable) running beside the track,” he said, who has been a resident of the municipality since 1960. “I don’t know if (CN Rail) wants to sell it if they’ve got (the cable) there.”
Giardetti finds CN Rail can be challenging to deal with, pointing to the City of Thunder Bay’s problems getting repairs done on the James Street Swing Bridge. (Paving of the road traffic portion of railway-maintained bridge finally wrapped up on Wednesday.)
If a recreation trail is developed, council would have ongoing concerns to address.
“Then we’re going to have the challenge of motorized or non-motorized,” said Giardetti. “That will be a big issue. Right now, you’ve got quads and canoes going up and down there and I don’t think the two mix together.”
Still, it’s a dream worth pursuing and Giardetti would like to see it come to fruition.
“(The Rails to Trails project) would be wonderful,” said Giardetti, who will be attending his first Association of Municipalities Ontario general meeting later this month in Ottawa. “Can you imagine being able to get on there and ride to Nipigon?
“If you go down to (Two Harbors, Minn.), they’ve got that trail along the road and there’s many places that have taken the tracks and made trails.
“If you could ever get to the bridge at Pass Lake and if you can make a trail down off the rail bed and then it’s not too far — maybe a kilometre, two kilometres up the road — that you would be on the Trans Canada Trail, that would take you right out to Silver Islet which is already developed.”
Candidates for Shuniah council still have two weeks to file nomination papers with municipal elections set for Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal