Tag Archives: infrastructure

New beginnings

 WHEREAS seniors living In our community have indicated to Councillors and elected officials that they have a limited ability to pay property taxes – forcing them to consider selling their homes;

AND WHEREAS many seniors live on a fixed income and often live at the poverty level once retired;

AND WHEREAS it is desirable and cost effective to individuals and their communities for seniors to continue living in their homes for as long as possible;


1 . That the Government of Ontario be requested to develop a new system of calculating property taxes, which in addition to assessed property value, takes age and income into consideration so that seniors pay less in property taxes than the average working individual.

  1. That this resolution be forwarded to the Premier of Ontario, the Ontario Minister of Finance, local Members of Provincial Parliament, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Region of Niagara and Local Area Municipalities for support.

The motion above was passed on Monday November 24 at our last meeting of this term of council.  It should begin the process of discussion and resolution to the hardship that some of our seniors experience.  They can often live at the poverty level once retired.  There already exists a program that presently helps seniors with their property taxes.  It is managed by the province of Ontario.  Go to this link to get more details to see if you qualify for this program.  It indicates that individuals can receive up to $500.00.

Port Colborne is starting to replace all city street lights  with LED lighting.  The information we now have indicates that it will pay itself off within a short time-a few years.  These lights are warrantied for 10 years and all indications are that they will all be up and running by May of 2015.  The company that won the tender will be starting in December by replacing all lights that CNP report are out and need replacing.  Everyone must realize that these lights are very directional and will light the street and not inside the houses as the present lights do.   Light will go where the fixture is directed.  The LED lighting is considered the most efficient form of lighting.  Only time will tell if we can save a considerable amount of money in doing so…..  Have a great week.  Remember inauguration of the new term of council was on Monday December 1 at 7:00 pm in council chambers on the 3rd floor of city hall.


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.

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.