Category Archives: Politics

THANK YOU! Thank you! Thank you!

Good day everyone.  Thank you so much for your vote of confidence on Monday.  Thank you all for following the issues  within this form of media.  It was interesting and I must say very good for me.  My blogs have allowed me to think through carefully all the issues and what I wish to accomplish during this term in office.  Will they all get done.  Probably not but I will work very diligently to address all the issues in a concise and pragmatic manor so as to allow everyone a say in the solution.

I must also congratulate all the other candidates that worked hard during this campaign.  It was a hard fought campaign with some good issues being brought to the fore front.  You need to be proud of the successes you had and your ability to navigate through a very steep learning curve.   Your issues will become part of my platform and my solutions over this term.

It takes courage to place yourself in front of the public and to work at getting them to believe in your abilities.  To develop a trust factor that will allow them to see you as Their representative.  It is also very hard to prepare yourself for what might happen on election day.  All of us must prepare for that possibility and all us have knots in our stomach until the final numbers are in.

I must thank all the citizens that have placed their trust in me again and returned me to this office.  I am humbled by this trust and confidence.  I am prepared to play a strong role in this council and to find solutions that will help our city and our ward.  We have come a long way in our journey and we continue to move forward in the next 4 years.

Being fiscally responsible to ALL the constituents is critical.  Both your re-elected councillors are very cognizant of the cost of government and the fact that we have some major decisions that will be made during this term.  Stay tuned for updates in my blogs and our bi-annual ward meetings at Tim Horton on Elizabeth street.  They seem to be successful and I need to continue this important format of gathering information from our constituents.  It helps us get the pulse of the community and allows us to garner the information necessary to present to council.

Ladies and gentleman, please be prepared to participate in our budget, regular council, public information meetings, etc.  Your input is necessary for us to make the most informed decisions on all issues.  Believe me when I say you are first and foremost the reason why we are doing this job and the reason we need to continue to hear from you at all times.  Although we are going to have our ward meetings, it is important for you to  contact us immediately with any difficulty. There were many individuals that simply were very frustrated and had not made any calls to either Angie or I.  A small issue that has an easy fix can become a frustrating issue if left to long.

Please follow  us and keep us informed at all times.  You don’t need to wait to speak to us.  My phone number is on the city/ this personal website and on all the literature that was given out during the campaign.  Please keep me up to date on the areas you feel are important to you.  I am prepared to address them  whether positive or negative.

One more time “Thank you” so much and please stop me when you see me out and about or working on my flower beds or just  visit me at home.  I am retired and when not at a meeting I am home.

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Continuous excellence in REPRESENTATION and LEADERSHIP

TODAY is ELECTION DAY and this will by my last campaign blog about the issues.  Please feel free to comment and discuss the issues.  I do not have all the answers but you may contact me to discuss them.

Excellence in REPRESENTATION is critical to getting heard and ultimately resolve critical issues.  I have met with citizens that issues and work with them to find a solution.  The solution is not always what the citizen expects but we always work within the framework of our municipal government that is controlled by laws and regulations dictated to us by The Municipal Act.  It gives us the right to govern as a council but under certain controls and regulations.  If Council decides to ignore the rules, there would be serious consequences that could include suspension of the Council.

Excellence in representation also means that we are prepared to meet with all citizens on a regular basis.  Throughout this past four year term, I have co-sponsored Constituents Meet and Greets with my colleague, Angie Desmarais.  Twice per year we invite Ward 2 constituents to meet and talk to us about their concerns.  The last ward meeting lasted until early into the morning.

These meetings allow us to feel the pulse of this community and find out what issues are important to the community.  It helps us to plan what issues are priority that need to be presented to Council during the next six months.  While some issues have been resolved, others have been presented more than once and others are still pending.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is excellence in representation and demonstrates that Councillor Desmarais and I care about our neighbours.

LEADERSHIP is defined as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task“.

Good leaders can be spotted by the cooperation and strengths as seen by their constituents.  They may not be the loudest but they are effective at problem solving and obtaining consensus.

An effective leader is also honest, straight forward and skilled at influencing others.  They are also successful by gaining the trust and friendship of others around them.

In my 19 years on Council, I have honed these skills and have used them to the maximum benefit of those that I have been honoured represent.

While I am prepared to continue my role of providing excellence in leadership on behalf of the citizens of Ward 2 and the entire city, this can only continue when everyone VOTES today – Monday, October 27.

I will carry on with being reliable, dedicated, committed and professional.  You can continue to rely on me as your elected representative. 

Election 2014 is all about the issues that are important to you.  Read more about me and what I will do for you.  If you have any questions, there may be an answer in my Frequently Asked Questions.  Feel free to  contact me with your own comments and questions.  Thank you for your continued support.

ELECTION DAY REMINDER:  Poll hours today are 10am – 8pm.  If you live in Ward 2 and your address is SOUTH of Killally St. E, your polling station is Community Living on McRae Street.  For those residing NORTH of Killally St. E, you will vote at the Vale Health and Wellness Centre on Elizabeth St.  Please feel free to contact me if you need a ride to your polling station.  For further information, see Election 2014.

Completion of the CBRA (Community Based Risk Assessment)

On this last day before the election, I will blog about the issues as I see  them  and as I have been able to extrapolate from the last 4 years.  Please feel free to comment and discuss the issues.  I do not have all the answers but feel free to contact me.  I am willing to discuss them.

This issue appears to have been placed on the back burner or many citizens are either not aware or have forgotten about it.  I would also venture to say that two of the Ward 2 candidates have no idea what the letters mean.

CBRA is a risk assessment process that is used to examine the environment in and around an area that may have been contaminated as a result of commercial, industrial or mining activity.  These environmental reviews, ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, are not uncommon.  What made this one different was the estimated large scale of the environmental damage and health risks to every resident of the city, especially those in close proximity to the primary subject site in the East Village.  As such, Port Colborne was the first Ontario community to be the subject of a CBRA that included the entire municipality.

When the Ministry announced it, they advised the City that the process should be completed within 2 years.  That was 12 years ago and we are still waiting.  The Ministry is in possession of all of the required documents, comments and final draft report and yet we have heard nothing.  Ministry officials are silent and don’t want to answer any of our questions.  There appears to be no time line for the release of this critical final report.

Some people have indicated that its has taken so long that it no longer matters what the MOE or the report says.  I beg to differ.

In the past few years, the city has been approached by developers that have proposed some significant projects for Port Colborne and, in particular, Ward 2.  Because of the lengthy delay in releasing the final report, these business people have been unable to attract partners, investors or obtain financing.  The lack of a report is costing a lot of people a lot of money.  The biggest loser is the City and its residents.  For every day the report is delayed, another day goes by without new development.  Another day without new development is a day that the city does not receive new tax revenues.  Another day without new tax revenues is a day that the City Council has to continue struggling with decisions that could see taxes raised beyond the rate of inflation and/or service cuts.

The City of Port Colborne needs closure to this long drawn out affair so that this City can proceed with the growth that can happen.  I know that my colleagues on City Council are with me when I say to the Ministry of Environment, please, finish the job!  That’s all I and everyone in this city is asking for and it’s all we have been asking for more than a decade!

FINISH THE JOB!

Election 2014 is all about the issues that are important to you.  Read more about me and what I will do for you.  If you have any questions, there may be an answer in my Frequently Asked Questions.  Feel free to  contact me with your own comments and questions.  Thank you for your continued support.

HOT BUTTON! The TRUTH about Port Colborne Taxes

During the Election 2014 campaign, some candidates have been fear mongering by telling voters that Port Colborne has the highest property taxes in the Region. The problem is, they cannot produce any evidence to support their claims.

The facts are now in!  Recently, the City of Port Colborne staff researched this issue.  The results are: Port Colborne property owners enjoy the lowest municipal residential property taxes in Niagara!  The proof can be seen in this graph.

Among other things, it clearly shows that Port Colborne property taxes are nearly $3000 lower than the most expensive (Niagara-on-the-Lake) and more than $800 below the average of all 12 municipalities.

Anyone that says that Port Colborne cannot retain its current residents or attract new, because it has the most expensive property taxes, has not done their homework.

Maintaining the services that residents expect and providing them as cost effectively as possible is a delicate balancing act.  Inflation is a fact of life and impacts everyone.  Municipalities are not immune to increasing costs.  The challenge has and continues to be the delivery of services that are affordable and will not cause a significant negative impact to the taxpayer.

In my 19 years as a city councilor, I have worked very hard to make Ward 2 and all of Port Colborne a great place to live.  That includes making decisions with the team of other elected officials and staff that would maintain as many services as possible while keeping property taxes in check.  During my terms in office, the councils have strived to keep property tax increases at or near the rate of inflation.   Without any reservation I can say that these councils have done quite well to achieve this goal year after year.

If re-elected, I will continue to do everything that I can to maintain the fine balance between service delivery and the costs associated with it so that Port Colborne continues to be an affordable and enjoyable place to live!

Further reading: Responsible Investment in Infrastructure will explain why property taxes will NOT be rising by 20% or more.  What cannot be explained is why the same candidates are propagating these false statements.

Responsible Reinvestment in Infrastructure

In this last week before elections, I will be blogging about the issues as I see  them  and as I have been able to extrapolate from the last 4 years.  Please feel free to comment and discuss the issues.  I do not have all the answers but feel free to contact me.  I am willing to discuss them.

In the past few years, this Council has requested infrastructure studies so that Council and staff can continue planning the ongoing repairs and maintenance that is required to keep our community sustainable.  Each study allows us to review past progress and look forward up to 20 years.  It is an ongoing process that is mandated by the Ontario Municipal Act.

The release of he most recent consultant’s report on September 8, 2014, was thorough and controversial.  It is true that the Council was surprised at the severity of the issues found in the study, however,  a few individuals have propagated a lot of misinformation to the public that made it sound far worse than it is.

-SIDEBAR- See “Further Reading” at the end of this post for references and links to the reports.  Copies of these and all other reports, Agendas and Minutes, presented to Council can be viewed free of charge at the Public Library or from the city’s website.

The report’s conclusions were not a total surprise because everyone is well aware that Port Colborne has some of the oldest water and sewer related infrastructure in the province.

-SIDEBAR-  Visit the engineering department on the second floor of city hall to see samples of “wood” water pipes and other ancient technology that were pulled out of the ground during Market Square and area upgrades a few years ago.  Even though these pipes needed replacing, it’s amazing how long some of this infrastructure has lasted!  It is a testament to our forefathers’ skills.

City Council has been actively working on this ongoing file.  The repairs and maintenance performed in the last 4 years were in plans that were drawn up by previous Councils as long as 20 years ago.  This report will help Council and staff plan for the next 20 years.

It is important to remember that no government body has all of the financial resources required to do everything on once.  Each issue must, therefore, be given a priority based on the strategy of fixing the worst issues first.  It has proven successful and has resulted in replacing the pipes and sewers that posed the greatest risk to public health and safety.  The proof is in the report numbers:  Water retainment has improved an incredible 12 points to 72% since the last report delivered to Council four years ago!

In discussions with other municipalities, we have learned that Port Colborne is better off than most.

Unfortunately, the media misinterpreted the report and incorrectly reported to the public that the current water loss was more than 40%.  This number represents the estimated loss at the conclusion of the previous Council term in 2010.  What’s worse is that many candidates, some of whom were present during the report’s release and know full well what the truth is, have insisted on propagating this erroneous information as part of their campaign platforms.  They have also spread rumours that taxpayers will be slammed with a 20% increase in next year’s tax bill.  Ladies and gentlemen, any Council that raises taxes that high would be irresponsible to say the least.  The only thing irresponsible here are the candidates that are purposefully discrediting this Council by falsifying the TRUTH about Port Colborne taxes.

Just as previous Councils have received the same types of reports and used them for planning, this report has made this Council aware of the items in need of immediate attention.  Council and staff have already responded by beginning to adjust the planning of future work to reflect this new information.

Anyone that suggests that this Council has no plan is irresponsible and has delivered an insult to all of Port Colborne’s constituents.

Detailed studies are nothing new for Port Colborne or any government.  I have been involved in the same process many times in the past 19 years.  The reports are always good tools to help the next Council with developing appropriate project plans and financing.  To do otherwise is not only illegal, it is irresponsible.

Infrastructure projects cost money and often they represent significant expenditures.  City staff are always looking for new funding from upper tier governments. (i.e. provincial and federal).  It takes a lot of time to locate the right funding programs because each one must be used only for the specific projects that are included in the application.  We take advantage of as many of these programs as possible to minimize the impact on the municipal taxpayer.  Typically, two thirds of a project’s costs come from these sources.  The last third is the responsibility of the municipality and it is usually obtained by issuing “debentures“.

Debentures are bonds that have many advantages and usually help to limit tax increases.  As a debenture matures and is paid off, the funds released are used to leverage the next debenture.  There is no additional taxpayer cost, therefore, it allows the city to plan and execute infrastructure projects responsibly.  The city has debentures maturing in the next few years and as they do, newer projects can be financed.

The city staff did a great job of locating upper tier funding for the current #1 priority project; the replacement of the Lakeshore Road West water and sewer mains.  Through their efforts, the city was awarded $2M, or more than 71% funding!  This was a most unexpected and welcome bonus and means that the city taxpayers are saving more than $133,000!

The city has also applied for funding to upgrade the seriously degraded Ward 2 water and sewer infrastructure in the Nickel Street area.  Upper tier funding of about $4.8M will result in the city’s contribution being estimated at $2.4M.

Another Ward 2 project that is rising to a high priority is the repair and improvement to the storm sewers for Wellington, Humbolt Parkway, Clark and Janet Streets.  The design and engineering is complete and now we wait for funding.  This project is “shovel ready” so that when that funding is awarded, the work will begin almost immediately.

Your Ward 2 Councillors have been active in informing Council of the need to complete these long overdue projects.  Our ongoing efforts to advocate for our east side neighbours is proof of our commitment in getting the job done.  We want to see our neighbours thrive and enjoy a better quality of life.  We also live in this ward and these issues impact us, as well!  We get it!

Further  reading:  The “Water Distribution Needs Study” and “Storm Sewer Needs Study” reports as presented by the consultant to the City Council can be reviewed in this Council Package, 08Sep14.  See “Committee of Whole”, Executive Brief, pgs 7-8, and Reports # 2, 3.

Election 2014 is all about the issues that are important to you.  Read more about me and what I will do for you.  If you have any questions, there may be an answer in my Frequently Asked Questions.  Feel free to  contact me with your own comments and questions.  Thank you for your continued support.