- The mayor’s office will be open and accessible – issues and concerns will be addressed.
- A more transparent format to improve financial reporting of budget and actual spending will be developed.
- Some Council meetings will be held in rural communities across Chatham-Kent over the term of Council. As in the past, I will continue to have a frequent presence in rural communities.
- Rural hubs will be supported in developing their own vision for their future. Communities across CK will be consulted in identifying what supports their community requires, what their current and future infrastructure needs are and what they want their community to look like twenty years into the future.
- Residents will be encouraged to familiarize themselves with the CK Strategic Plan and Annual Report so they can see and understand where their tax dollars are going.
Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive and Sustainable Community
- Efforts to reduce or eliminate the downward spiral of our population will be intensified. A change in leadership will be the impetus to make Chatham-Kent a more vibrant community that has something to offer people of all ages and is attractive enough to encourage young adults and young families to move here and attractive enough to retain those who might consider leaving.
- Poverty exists in Chatham-Kent. To assist those in need, emphasis will be placed on improved transportation services, additional day care spaces and the development of a plan for the accommodation of tiny homes within CK to help fill the affordable housing gap.
- Housing: Providing affordable housing in Chatham-Kent is an important issue that needs to be addresses as it contributes to the economic and social well-being of our community. Like other communities, Chatham-Kent is being challenged to bring more affordable housing units on line with a current deficit of over 700 units. Different strategies are available and, under new regulations enacted earlier this year by the province, municipalities will be able to mandate that affordable units for low and middle income families be included in new housing developments to create mixed-income communities. The Tiny Homes initiative is simply one additional concept that a number of communities across Canada are investigating as an possible alternative way to create additional long-term, affordable and resource efficient units. This may take some outside-the box thinking but certainly is worthy of consideration rather than being dismissed by partisan rhetoric.
- Rural hubs, essential in maintaining the fabric of Chatham-Kent, will be vigorously protected and celebrated.
- Cultural and recreational events and activities that define many of our communities will receive a significant increase in support, encouragement, promotion and assistance including elimination of red tape.
- A Culture/Volunteerism Committee will be created to advise council on the elimination of barriers to success and to advise on the steps necessary to enhance cultural events and volunteerism activities.
- Civic engagement that encourages citizens to get excited about and involved in our community in positive ways will be promoted.
- The Festival of Nations that celebrates the cultural diversity in our community will be re-introduced.
- A formal plan to initiate reforestation of Chatham-Kent will be developed.
- A customer focused culture will be fostered. Municipal staff must be given the tools and encouraged to develop a ‘can do’ attitude that is entirely customer focused.
- Regular service reviews will be initiated to examine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of municipal services to ensure resources are allocated to achieve the best outcomes for the municipality, meet the needs of the community and support long-term sustainability.
- The process of providing state of the art services like high speed fibre internet that businesses and families demand will be accelerated – a must do project that will be of considerable benefit to the municipality while creating a more dynamic and attractive community. (High speed internet is slated to service higher population clusters in CK. High speed fibre internet access is a necessity for every resident, not just the residents that live within the larger centres. This is something that should have happened years ago – we are playing catch up. I will ensure that high speed internet solutions will be available for all residents, and in a timely fashion.)
- The practice of prioritizing the reduction of municipal debt will be continued to ensure financial sustainability. (Reduction of debt is a not something that one person decides. A councillor, not the mayor, is selected to head up a budget committee. This committee then gathers information, works with administration and proposes a budget. This budget is voted on by 17 councillors and the mayor who has only one vote. If any one individual person claims they are solely responsible for debt reduction, they are taking the credit for the work of many individuals. Debt reduction is important, but it is an achievement that has been made by past councils and administration and, if we want to continue with our debt reduction strategy, we will need to continue to work together as a group.)
- The CSX railway assets will be sold.
- In everything we do we must be fiscally prudent and strive to deliver superior customer service.
- A Business Advisory Council will be established to help identify and eliminate barriers to businesses, big and small, so that they arrive, remain and thrive in our community. (This Business Advisory Committee will consist of local business owners that will be given the mandate to find out how the Municipality can eliminate the barriers to expand and operate their businesses. Local business owners have actually had to get involved in litigation against the Municipality to resolves issues that that the Municipality controls. We need an active, educated, progressive committee that can take the lead on issues that affect the business community. What we are doing now is simply not working.)
- Red tape and obstructionist practices that stifle development will be identified and reduced/eliminated – Chatham-Kent must be seen as open for business.
- Economic development efforts will primarily be directed to supporting large and small local businesses, the economic driver of our community. (Economic Development needs to start with prioritizing businesses right here at home. Travelling abroad as an independent entity does not make sense. There are Provincial and Federal teams that specialize in recruiting businesses to Canada. We need to establish relationships with these specialists and get on the top of their lists for consideration. A Mayor showing up in a country abroad with little or no Provincial and Federal support is just wasting tax payer funds and the time of those that accompanying them.)
- Economic development department will initiate a concierge service that allows individual businesses, particularly those who are considering locating in CK, to deal with only one person who will then represent them across all municipal departments. (Providing a concierge service is much more than what we do now as assigning a “file manager”. This concierge would not just work with all Municipal departments but help with all levels of Government. This service should also not just be reserved for high priority out of town delegations, but more prudently for businesses located in Canada, Ontario and Chatham-Kent.)
- A change climate will be fostered that supports businesses and encourages entrepreneurs to invest in their ideas, leading to new opportunities and jobs for others.
- Effort and resources will be expended to retain a skilled work force in Chatham-Kent.
- I will continue to support the current infrastructure plan that prioritizes maintaining and improving hard services like roads, bridges and culverts in rural areas.
- Infrastructure is multi-faceted and goes beyond hard services – council and administration must address the declining state of many of the recreational facilities across the municipality and incorporate a plan to upgrade or replace key facilities.
- Building a new twin pad arena in Chatham-Kent has been a priority for some time – now is the time to act since, with assistance of federal and provincial funding, the replacement cost will be roughly the same cost as refurbishing older arenas. (Building a new twin pad arena is the bare minimum for some sort of sports complex project. We need a more forward looking approach to projects that will attract and retain residents. When looking at our neighbors, we were one of the last communities to get a hospice, one of the last communities to start working on high speed internet and now one of the last communities to move on a new sports complex. Let’s start being the first community in forward thinking projects and stop playing catch up.)
- A private/public partnership will be investigated to secure a new indoor soccer facility.
- I support the continuation of downtown revitalization projects in all of our communities.
- Reinforcing and strengthening relationships with senior levels of governments will be a priority.
- Collaboration and cooperation with private sector partners will be strengthened. If we expect the private sector to invest in our community, we must be open to investing alongside them and with them.
- Opportunities to collaborate with senior levels of government and private sector partners to renew or replace outdated recreational facilities will be vigorously pursued.
- Development of the Navistar site will be prioritized, but only with the assistance a private sector partner. Ownership of the site by Chatham-Kent is not an option.
- Barriers will be removed that restrict the municipality from properly maintaining the beach at Erieau to ensure it is a safe, inviting and family friendly recreational asset attractive to residents and visitors.
- The efforts of Rondeau Park leaseholders to renew their long term leases will be strongly supported.