Interviews: Q&A with Ward 3 Councillor Candidates: Top Issues

Question 2a. What do you see as the top issues facing Paris as a whole, and Ward 3 in particular?

Candidate Responses:
Clifford Atfield: We need a bypass around the downtown core. Protect the downtown.
Fix parking downtown.
John Bell: 1. Top of my list, and based on conversations with many people in Ward 3, residents feel a reduction of the quality of life (increasingly congested roads, reducing green space, insufficient community infrastructure, and a threat to the charm and attraction of Paris and the County) – a loss of that distinctive and attractive small town feel. What is the root cause? The sense of unrestrained residential development in Paris coupled with a failure to engage sufficiently with residents and failure to provide the necessary infrastructure to support this residential development in a timely manner.
2. Ensuring continued economic prosperity of the County. We want more good paying jobs in the County and we want to ensure a sufficient separation of residential and commercial lands. We don’t want Paris to become a predominantly bedroom community.
3. The County, to their credit, is working to try to rationalize employment lands and concentrate them around major transport routes. Also, as a member of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, I am working with others to develop a new Economic Development Strategy – the new Council will need to sign off on it early in the new session.
4. Assuring effective and efficient (value for tax dollar) provision of services. Being efficient will allow us to do more or direct funding to areas such as increasing support to our growing seniors population or retention of our small town charm.
5. Speeding – on all roads and in all parts of town. I will advocate for traffic calming measures and the introduction of speed cameras on some roads.
John Peirce:
– Growth: As mandated by the Province, the County of Brant is an identified Area of Growth and changes will continue in the foreseeable future. While we cannot stop the change, what we can do is manage it where possible to ensure our community infrastructure (roads, schools, health care, fire, policing) are prioritized within our Strategic Master Plan. We need to ensure the County can handle the growth, while still preserving what we love about our Community and holding onto its charm, culture and small town appeal.
– Traffic: Traffic is an ever increasing concern in the County and a very serious issue in Paris. While engaging with the community, one of the most prevalent concerns that has been raised is “how are we going to handle the increased traffic from all the new homes when downtown is already a bottleneck?”. To address the growing traffic concerns, we have prioritized completing the Watt’s Pond road reconstruction which provides an alternate route to bypass downtown Paris for those that are just passing through. The completed GRSN Environmental Assessment report will allow us to determine the best course for near-term actions in support of the north-end growth, even as we look forward to long term strategic investments such as the Green Lane bridge.
– Financial Management: As the tax base within the County continues to grow there is both more opportunity for strategic investments and new responsibilities to consider. A sound financial plan is critical for the future of the County, not just in creation but adherence to ensure risk mitigation. Near-term projects with no tangible benefits need to be weighed and considered against longer-term investments that will support our growing community for years ahead. Additionally we must keep tax increases to a minimum and line with the provision of services, understanding and communicating what we are spending and be accountable for these decisions.
– Transparency: We must continue to improve information flow between County Council and you. As taxpayers, we have a right to know what’s happening, transparency is a MUST, and leveraging a changing and adaptive communication strategy will be our priority to ensure community awareness, engagement and understanding.
– Programs and Services: The County does a good job to make certain there are things for our children, youth, adults and seniors to do. We can’t afford cuts to any of these programs and in fact must continue to expand on them with the impending population growth and shift in demographics that is coming.
Murray Powell: Response not yet received.
Myles Rusak: Our new Council will have their hands full to say the least. Councillors will need to address:
– Growth/Development: Creating a plan and policies to mitigate the suffocation of our current infrastructure due to large volume development over a short period of time
– Traffic: Create traffic calming measures which focus on the big picture (e.g. future development of bridges and bypass roads) while not losing sight of the day-to-day measures which should be taken in the interim (e.g. proper cross walks and sidewalks in high volume areas. Finding better solutions than roundabouts in areas where they may be deemed dangerous or impractical. Better identifying safety zones to vehicles to protect our seniors and youth etc.)
– Unbalanced economic drivers: Arts & Culture are now and have long been viewed as a by-product of a healthy economy. I disagree with this statement and say that Arts & Culture should absolutely be viewed as one of our cornerstone economic pillars. We have a rich and vibrant cultural community here in Brant and the community has organically moved itself in this direction, often with minimal support from the County. The three largest tourism/cultural events in Paris (DT Concert Series, Rafting on the Grand and Bike Night in Paris) have
brought over 100,000 people to this town in 2018 alone. These are initiatives which are hosted by individuals/private groups in the community. The County needs to acknowledge the role that Arts/Culture plays in an economic portfolio and plan better activities and supports to engage with this often overlooked community of people. To that end, I will be creating the first ever Brant Arts Council to bring a cohesive voice to this group and hopefully see this area flourish as an economic driver for the County.
– Lack of cohesive plan using current data: The county is working towards a “master plan”. However, this master plan in it current visionary state captures one frozen time-point for the County. It is also utilizing antiquated studies as a ground for its information (e.g. a traffic study completed in 2008 is now irrelevant based on our growth patterns). The community is feeling out of touch and there is a lack of understanding as to why decisions are being made. A strategic plan for the County would encompass all facets of development and would paint a very clear picture as to where we are headed, why and how we will get there together.
– Healthcare: As we continue to grow we will need to better develop our healthcare system to meet the needs of our expanding community. This will mean additional resource allocation to the Willet so that urgent care can be open during the hours it is most needed and the infrastructure of the building can be brought up to code and additional beds brought in. All of this means resources allocated to entice Doctors to come to our County. Further to this, enticing specialists to bring a continuum of services model to the County would be massively beneficial as our demographic continues to change. Specialists with an understanding of life for seniors, youth and specialty medicine would be of tremendous benefit as we continue to grow.
– Transit/Transportation: The County is lacking in quality of life services and access to resources. At this time it is unlikely that we would be able to build these programs, buildings and services overnight. Thus, we need to develop the means for us to connect our residents to these services elsewhere. A public transportation system which could bring people to Brantford, Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge, etc. would open new doors and improve overall quality of life in the County.
– Communication: Residents in the County are begging for information to be disseminated in a clear, concise and timely manner.
Edith Stone: Response not yet received.
Marty Verhey: It’s the same as what I am hearing from almost everyone that I talk with in the Ward and County; the amount of development, the speed of development, the lack of planning around infrastructure (Roads in particular) and the effects its having on our County. Please visit my Facebook page to see more: https://www.facebook.com/martyforparis/videos/271678726888546/

Go to next Question 2b: How to handle coming changes and divisions within?
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