Question 2 b. Divisions are developing within Wards and within the County on how to handle significant changes that are coming with the current and planned growth. How would you along with the new Council work to mitigate residents’ concerns and divisions?
Clifford Atfield: Over 10 years ago the plan was to develop the southwest area of Paris by Rest Acres Road. We did not stick to the plan and let it get away from us because government and developers did not back our plan. We need to go back to see where growth should be in Paris.
John Bell: The primary focus of concern with the current and planned growth of Paris is road infrastructure and the associated traffic issues. We should not forget other infrastructure shortcomings as Paris grows (pressures on healthcare and schools, retail, recreation, reducing green space, policing).
With respect to traffic issues – things will simply get worse in the short term. The absence of an agreed (and therefore not implemented) infrastructure program to match the growth in residential developments is a planning failure – even as recently as 2016 when the Transportation Master Plan was updated the volume of traffic coming from developments in the north of Paris (and which is being used for study purposes) was significantly underestimated. The residential development horse has bolted and the infrastructure stable door still isn’t near to being closed.
We cannot deny Paris to would-be residents but not at the expense of the quality of life that current residents enjoy – many recall earlier days and an even more small town feel. Retention of quality of life should be a “red line” issue.
I will work with fellow Councillors and County Staff and always act in the best interests of the community based on law, regulation, consultation, expert opinion and analysis, good science and common sense – so occasionally some individuals or groups may disagree with my actions and decisions but the common good will prevail in my thinking.
John Peirce: Although divisions can be seen in a negative context, in reality there is opportunity to both engage and incorporate different ideas and approaches in a professional manner which ultimately benefits the community as a whole. While Council works within Provincial mandates, it is crucial for us to not only communicate these restrictions to our constituents, but ensure an understanding of the decisions made from the options available. We currently leverage our website (Brant.ca), social media and direct mail for communications, but there is significant room to improve engagement channels including coffee chats, Ward and County-wide town halls and improved engagement with County Staff. I believe an educated and engaged community strengthens decisions and ensures a prosperous future for the County.
Myles Rusak: By being an accessible Councillor, I hope to alleviate many of these concerns. I will have set office hours whereby people are welcome to meet with me and discuss their concerns. I also plan on holding quarterly Ward town hall meetings where I can keep people informed as to what is going on with the municipality and how their voices are being heard. These individual and group meetings will also give me the opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse of the community need and understand the biggest concerns that they have.
Further to this, I would be looking to better publicize the opportunities available to community members within the Council working groups (Economic Development, Parks & Rec, Tourism, Police Services, etc.). By increasing the awareness of these important committees and the role you can play as a member of the community we can get better diversification of membership that will more accurately reflect the community as it is today. e.g. Strong woman leaders, seniors, youth, etc.
Edith Stone: Response not yet received.
Marty Verhey: We know well that the growth is inevitable but as a Council we can control it! We need to develop plans that slow down this growth so we don’t turn into a Mississauga! We can still preserve our ‘small town charm’ and grow at the same time and therefore we need some fresh perspective to make this happen!