Only a handful seeking elected office in Renfrew

By Bruce McIntyre

With the Aug. 19 cutoff date for submitting nomination forms for this October’s municipal election drawing near, the town of Renfrew only has two candidates for mayor and one for reeve.

Kate Windle, owner/operator of Kate’s Barber Shop is counting on the same level of support that allowed her to serve three terms on council (2000, 2006, 2014) is still there for her to ascend to head of council.

Mike Coulas, a local realtor who has served two consecutive terms as a councillor (2014 and 2018) is hoping to swap his councilor’s chair for the mayor’s seat this October.

So far Peter Emon, currently finishing out his second term as eeeve (20014, 2018) is the only candidate as he tries for a three peat as the town’s representative on Renfrew County Council.

Current two-term mayor, Don Eady, has stated publicly he will not be in contention for a third term and for the first time since 2014, an incumbent mayor will not be a candidate for the top job.

Kathryn “Kate” Windle

For Windle, her top priority is to work with the upper levels of government to find a way to build affordable housing for any individual, regardless of income status in what has become a crisis for several people not just in Renfrew, but across the Ottawa Valley.

“Many are being forced into the growing social housing lineup or onto someone's sofa, while they search for accommodations, education and employment,” she said. “All-inclusive housing affords the working poor and business owners an opportunity to plan and budget for themselves and their families.”

Among her other priorities are finding efficiencies in the budget process; ensuring that current facilities are in top repair before building another facility; creating more employment and housing for those who serve at all levels of income.

She said win or lose, she will continue to promote the town which includes drawing on her previous and future artistic endeavors including books and music using the town’s motto of “Let it Flourish.”

Mike Coulas

Over the last eight years,Coulas has gained a reputation as an individual who is not afraid to challenge his fellow councillors on various policies or actions he disagreed with. As the chair of the development and works committee, he did not hold back expressing his frustration and disappointment with his colleagues when they rejected a recommendation from the committee not to tender a multi-million dollar roads contract to a local company.

He argued council was making an error awarding the tender based on what he and some other councillors regarded as a poor track record on previous town projects.

He also voted against investing tax dollars into restoring the CP Caboose in Haramis Park, and he was very vocal in opposition as only one of two councillors who voted against the plan. It was a divisive debate that still does not sit well with some around the council table and the community at large.

He is drawing on his decades of real estate experience to make the case that Renfrew is falling behind other Ottawa Valley urban centres in terms of economic growth and housing sales and new builds.

“I'm privy to the numbers every month on resale and new home construction sales, it's very disappointing to see that this is the only Renfrew County municipality without any substantial growth,” he said. “Therefore, it is my intention to push our town ahead with regards to development which will in turn increase our economic growth substantially.”

He admits when he joined council in 2014 he had opinions and preconceived notions on how things should be done, but he has reversed his stance on some issues which he said is a sign of leadership and willingness to work with others for the betterment of Renfrew.

“The past eight years have been very educational for me as I've changed my outlook on a few things with the added education I have received.”

Peter Emon

Peter Emon’s resume includes serving as both councillor and mayor of Greater Madawaska, four consecutive terms as Warden of the County of Renfrew and the last eight years as Reeve. When not attending to municipal matters, he works part-time as a crisis worker with the Pembroke Regional Hospital’s Community Mental Health division. 

He said the decision to put one’s name forward for elected office is a big commitment and should not be made hastily.

“My decision to run again was for the most part made in July 2019 with the announcement of Highway 417 being built, but I revisited it again in May,” he said. “I want to be part of our town and the surrounding community benefiting from this expansion in business and investment.”

Similar to Coulas, he was bothered by the decision-process regarding the future of the CP Caboose and admits it led to some hard feelings in the town. However, he said working with both sides of the debate allowed him the opportunity to help mediate a solution, an attribute he said is key to his current role as reeve.

“I think the caboose issue could have been handled differently, better and more efficiently,” he said. “I think once I was able to assist in drafting a report to council it moved us to the ability to agree upon info on concept and scope, and then to a calm and focused decision.”

Among his priorities are to actively work to find joint service solutions with Greater Madawaska, Admaston Bromley and Horton; pay attention to the little things and measure response times in order to fix the systemic issues that residents respectfully tell us about like drainage, grass cutting operations, road maintenance, plowing, and parking.

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