Running for Niagara Falls City Councillor
How would you summarize your political platform for the upcoming election?
I have been serving as a member of the Niagara Falls City Council for the past 24 years – since I was 26 years old – and I have always enjoyed being involved in shaping and molding the future of our city. Throughout my time on city council, I have always brought to the table a sensible and grounded approach to problem solving while addressing the needs of the community in a fiscally responsible manner. It is my hope that I will continue to serve the needs of the community.
What do you believe has been your biggest accomplishment as a city councillor, to date?
I have always believed in taking an active leadership role on City Council. Even when I was in my twenties, I had leadership roles with city council; and that was at a time when the next closest person to me [on council] was over double my age.
Currently, I am the Chairman of:
- The Finance Committee [for over 12 years] – which most notably approves the city budgets. Currently the city is down almost $11 million dollars in debt in this term of council alone.
- The Committee of Adjustments – which deals with minor variances and land severance applications
- The Park in the City Committee – which han- dles beautication projects and environmental issues
- Sleep Cheap/WonderFalls Pass – I was tasked with refreshing the Sleep Cheap program. And I asked myself, what do the people on Sleep Cheap do? So I came up with the idea of the WonderFalls pass – which is 10 attractions in the Falls for $10 dollars [including Niagara’s Journey Behind the Falls, a trip up the Skylon Tower, Screaming tunnels Haunted House and others]. 100 per cent of the funds that are raised from this program goes towards the purchase of accessible playground equipment. In 2018, we are adding 10 di erent pieces of equipment to 10 di erent parks – without utilizing a single tax dollar.
I have also worked on;
- The project which renamed the Highway 420 to the Niagara Veteran’s Memorial Highway
- Lead the process for the new Community Centre – which continues to be our busiest building within the city
- Lead the preservation and purchase of Fireman’s Park and the expansion of Ker Park. One of my goals is to create an entirely accessible area within Fireman’s Park where you have swings and merry-go-rounds and things of that nature that people in wheelchairs can enjoy.
What are your long term plans and/or goal for Niagara Falls?
Niagara Falls needs to follow through on some of our major initiatives; namely, the construction of a new South Niagara hospital and the expansion of the GO Train into Niagara Falls. Both of these initiatives will lead to greater prosperity and more opportunities will be created as a result.
Do you have a hope/dream you would like to make reality that citizens should know about?
We need to build relationships so we see Niagara Falls grow as a city. I want Niagara Falls to be a place where our children aren’t forced to leave once they grow up and a place where they can find opportunity within. We need to create an environment which is appealing to investors who can diversify our industry; working with other levels of government to create an environment where we can utilize our major transportation corridors to diversify and attract more industry is possible.
We can’t leave all of our eggs in one basket – with automotive and tourism. In doing this, hopefully you grow as a Region. Creating partnerships with post-secondary educators and advocating for a medical school in Niagara Falls would attract opportunity.
We need to advance our medical facilities to become a leader in the province. Then we can attract more innovation and partnerships within the medical field. Right now, I think kids find greater opportunity if they leave the Region; we need to entice them to stay. There is no better quality of life than in this Region.
You recently proposed to the Niagara Region and the province to support a fully functional Highway 405; please elaborate on how this highway would change the Region for the better.
Right now, Highway 405 is not fully functional. Any traffic heading north on the QEW from Niagara Falls cannot access Highway 405; similarly, our traffic heading west on Highway 405 cannot access the QEW south. This design flaw needlessly forces traffic (including large trucks) onto local roads. Having a fully functional Highway 405 would diminish traffic on city roads, diminish noise for residents, diminish costs associated with maintenance and reconstruction of local roads and allow traffic to reach their destination quicker. It is a no-brainer.
With so many changes happening within council throughout the Niagara Region – with eight incumbents not seeking re-election – how do you believe this election will change the region?
Everyone has a different view on how the Region should operate and be governed. In the end, a unified approach is always the best. The best example of this is when the Region spoke in unity regarding the expansion of the Go Train in Niagara. Unified approaches that benefit the Region as a whole should be the focus.