4. Are you in favour of a casino resort being located in Collingwood?.
The short answer is No. In my 4 consecutive terms on council I did not hear from the public that their vision of Collingwood included a casino. More hotels and resort like amenities yes but a casino, no. I did address a similar question from you the last time you did a thorough interview and ask that you provide a link to that answer. Also please review the link to the Ontario Auditor General’s report that questions the revenue projection benefits to local governments from gambling. http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/OLGC_modernizationplan_en.pdf
How can a local council reach a conclusion if the information fed to them from OLG is suspect in its validity, the old “garbage in garbage out” result will happen every time.
I feel the provincial government’s unwillingness to properly fund the needs of its stakeholder has led to the creation of an alternate taxing scheme called gambling. You may call it entertainment and I respect your point of view but I believe there are only limited consumer dollars out there and to provide another large user such as a casino will only take dollars away from many of the small business owners who compete for the same consumer dollars. A commercial needs study should be provided by OLG in order to understand the impact of this new use on the local economy.
I thought the debate by this council on the slot barn was their finest hour. The comments were thoughtful and heartfelt and I was not surprised it was a 5-4 vote as I do believe this could be used as a wedge issue during the upcoming election. It would be better to have a community consultation phase if a proposal is brought forward by various development interests and let all of our citizens have a say in the future of our community. I recognize that there are people in our community who need employment and a hotel-casino would provide an opportunity for employment so a thorough discussion of the pros and cons needs to be understood by our community before such a development occurs within Collingwood or on our border.
5. The Downtown BIA seems to have become a completely ineffective organization. Reduced to complaining to council about lack of usage of the arena rather than any constructive conversations like unified store opening hours or a much needed revitalization of the downtown core. As mayor how would you rethink downtown Collingwood.
I think our BIA has done a wonderful job for its members albeit with some controversy on particular issues (patio debate comes to mind- DOH!) The BIA was a strong partner in the discussion of the 10 million dollar revitalization/reinvestment of the downtown and all members collectively put their money (1 million dollars towards the project) where their livelihood is dependent upon. They have a significant portion of their lives invested in the success of our downtown and their concerns should be heard by Council. The BIA does have a number of competing and complimentary stakeholders such as retail and office and at times they may be at odds.
I continue to be proud of the work of the BIA Manager and her Team in the many successful programs implemented throughout the calendar year to achieve “animation” within the downtown; one of the key objectives contained with the Vision 20/20 document. The downtown as a group is our largest employer and biggest tax payer. Council should listen to the needs of our key frontline stakeholders. The Town often provides without question unlimited resources to ensure access to vehicles throughout our road network in the winter and so we should but we should also provide better snow removal in the downtown in order for people to access the professional services and commercial interests all of us rely upon to lessen the residential property tax portion. I believe the Town’s Economic Development Officer should attend the BIA meetings as a key resource (note the Town has not had an EDO for 2 years now). Bringing people into the downtown core is essential so once again both the Shipyard development and the Hume/Hurontario projects are key infill projects. Looking at the work that was done in the St. Bonafice (Winnepeg) downtown to bring people to the downtown core would also be an opportunity to ensure continued prosperity of our downtown. If merchants are busy ringing in sales I believe none of us would be surprised to hear less concerns. An economic recession and recovery causes all kinds of stresses and providing for your family and employees wellbeing is probably the highest daily stress we face.
6. Speaking of downtown the last remaining parcel of waterfront land from Mountainview Hotel to Heritage Way has a proposed site plan that is underwhelming at best. Any chance that that could be revisited with you as mayor?
The project will likely be under construction within weeks. All planning approvals and public appeal processes have concluded, all necessary fees have been paid; so NO. (This one was moot sorry.)
7. A blueprint for the possible future of Collingwood was put forward 15 years ago called Vision 2020. You were a councillor at that time. What was your view of that document?
I went into the process somewhat skeptical but saw firsthand the community engagement process and the wonderful work achieved by many non-elected community leaders. A lot of the listed outcomes have been achieved including incorporating the 8 core principles into our Official Plan. I was proud to be a bit player in a grand process and community led vision project. It was a tremendous learning experience for me; a thorough public consultative process can produce great results.
8. How will you deal with the attacks and accusations that your term as mayor was ineffective and dysfunctional?
The facts contradict that assertion but perception must be dealt with and I will address them to the best of my abilities. Many of the votes were unanimous and some of the controversial ones of the 2006-2010 council were 7-2 or 6-3. It was often Sandra and Ian who voted contrary to the majority but that is okay as they were elected because of their views however they did represent the minority view yet managed the majority of press coverage so were effective in promoting unintentionally I am sure the perception of conflict and ineffectiveness instead of the reality of an active, democratic and progressive council. I am proud of the investments made in Collingwood by the Council of 2006-2010 often with funds from both Provincial and Federal government agencies. Many of the capital projects came in under budget and addressed much need local infrastructure renewal and expansion such as waste water sewers, storm water sewers and road improvements. My former colleagues have been harmed by the political rhetoric and electioneering in the 2010 election. None of us were perfect least of all me but my former colleagues did a wonderful job serving the needs of our community.
9. Part of the problem with your term as mayor was your detractors including the current mayor voting as a bloc. I do not agree with voting blocs I find them undemocratic. If you become mayor but the current voting bloc of (pick any 5) Lloyd, Lloyd, Cunningham, Chadwick, Edwards or West become part of your council how do you deal with that dynamic as mayor?
As Mayor I led a Council (2006-2010) that adhered to the procedural by-law and the policies of the community established by previous council and the council of the day. I would do the same again. The public has the privilege to select whomever they wish to represent their interests. I respect the citizens of Collingwood right to choose their representatives and will continue to act with the integrity, openness, honesty and transparency of good leadership according to the circumstances as they present themselves.
10. Are you planning on endorsing any other candidates for town council?