Three vie for Gananoque mayor's seat

hree people are vying for the mayor’s seat in Gananoque, and on Monday voters will get a chance to meet them.

The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce will hold a candidates meeting at the Firehall Theatre on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

There are three people vying for the municipality’s mayor seat - incumbent Ted Lojko, John Beddows and Greg Truesdell. Voters go to the polls Oct. 24.

Lojko owns and operates Turtle Island Bed and Breakfast, and before moving to Gananoque he was a federal economic development officer, a senior urban planner, and helped build not-for-profit housing units.

Beddows has been a resident of Gananoque since 2013. He’s a 30-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, retired in 2020.

As of press time, Truesdell did not respond to requests for comment by The Recorder and Times. According to a statement he gave to the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce, posted on the chamber’s Facebook page, he has been employed by the Kingston Health Sciences Centre as a registered nurse in the operating rooms for the last 24 years, and is a graduate of Gananoque Secondary School.

Lojko said he decided to run for another term because the COVID-19 pandemic affected a number of projects and goals the municipality had.

“I don’t like to leave things half done,” said Lojko.

Those projects include extending public transit from Kingston into Gananoque, encouraging and building affordable housing in the town, and providing services for seniors and youth in the community.

Beddows, a 30-year military veteran, agrees with Lojko on the need for affordable housing in the municipality. However, Beddows questions Lojko’s intentions to combat the affordable housing issue.

“If affordable housing was important to Ted, why didn’t he do anything in the last four years?” Beddows asked, adding that the affordable housing issue in the town is a top priority for him.

“Affordable housing involves everyone, and if someone says what do you think is important for the arts in Gananoque, it’s affordable housing. The reason is that if you’re a professional artist of any kind, the vast majority of artists struggle to make a living working full time doing the thing they love to do. And the cost of housing makes it hard to work full time doing the thing they love to do.”

To that, Lojko said the town has made progress with affordable housing.

“We do have some units being built here in town like the 3D housing project that’s being built on Fourth Street – 30 per cent of that will be affordable housing. There’s also Stocking Hill, the seniors housing project. We have been encouraging different groups to look at affordable housing. For the town to actually undertake affordable housing at this point, we didn’t have the financial resources to be able to do that, plus the fact that we were awaiting until we get clarification from the federal and provincial government on what funding may be available.”

Beddows wants to bring greater transparency and accountability to the mayor’s seat.

“I’m also running because it’s about the money, so there’s a transparency element, an accountability element, but it really is about the way the town’s finances have been mismanaged by the current administration,” said Beddows.

For example, Beddows said the Gord Brown Memorial Canada 150 outdoor rink was mismanaged.

“This was supposed to be completed by summer of 2019, before COVID. There’s no excuse for this (project) not having been in on time, or on budget.”

Voters will have other opportunities to meet their candidates ahead of the election.

On Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., a council and mayoral candidates meeting, sponsored by the Gananoque Rotary Club, is slated to take place at the Lou Jeffries, Gananoque and TLTI Recreation Centre.

And on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., a Chamber-of-Commerce-sponsored council candidates meeting is scheduled at the Firehall Theatre.

Story by Keith Dempsey, Brockville Recorder & Times, for the Local Journalism Initiative