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Mayor Deb says economy will be good in 10 years (updated)

Wednesday, June 04, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

Mayor Debbie Amaroso told the Sault’s business community she anticipates the city’s people and economy will be in good shape in 2024.

However, she said the community faces challenges and a great deal of hard work needs to be done.

That was one of many comments from Amaroso Wednesday morning as she fielded questions from Sault Chamber of Commerce members at “A Dialogue with the Chamber and Mayor Debbie Amaroso."

Questions for the Mayor were submitted in advance by Chamber members and presented by Mark Barsanti, Chamber president (pictured with Mayor Amaroso). 

In one particular question from the Chamber, envisioning a robust economy and a population of 90,000 in Sault Ste. Marie in 2024, Amaroso was asked what role council would have played in such a scenario.

“The role of municipal government is to create the environment to improve the quality of life for the residential and industrial tax base to reach that goal of 90,000 people, to keep taxes reasonable while still providing services,” Amaroso said.

“That’s something we’re working on now and we seem to be doing good with developers from out of town,” but added council needs to encourage more homegrown Sault business people.

Amaroso praised the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC) as “our go-to people” in its efforts to help the local business community grow. 

To help businesses succeed, “we must lobby (the senior levels of government) on energy costs…they’re higher in northern Ontario, higher than anywhere else,” Amaroso said.

Amaroso said council and the Downtown Association is “off to a good start” in revitalizing the downtown core, pointing to city programs to improve storefront facades and the establishment of a Sault Police Services office on Gore Street as a way to address the root causes of crime in that particular part of the city.

Amaroso was asked about helping seniors pay their property taxes.

“We’re working hard to make sure no tax class is overburdened…everything must be balanced and people must be helped to stay in their homes.”

On another Chamber question, Barsanti said the city provides “Cadillac” services in regards to snow removal, for example, but said taxes are high and asked Amaroso if there will be a review to bring some services down to a “Chevrolet” level.

“We challenge that,” Amaroso said.

“Sault Ste. Marie actually has some of the lowest taxes compared to other communities…we challenge that we’re too high,” adding that other northern cities such as Thunder Bay do not enjoy the same level of services in such areas as snow removal compared to the Sault.

The mayor was asked if she supports more city funding for the EDC and its recent involvement in political issues, such as its aggressive push to keep OLG jobs in the Sault, its efforts to keep ACR passenger rail service from the Sault to Hearst alive, and its formal protest to Canada Post’s massive job cuts plan.

Amaroso said because council and the EDC have common goals and a close relationship, it seems like the EDC may have strayed from its economic development strategies, “but I’m the one that’s meeting with the politicians in Toronto.”

While discussing the EDC, Amaroso said the EDC’s own numbers show millions of dollars of investment from many companies has been the result of EDC efforts.

Amaroso said council and the EDC will continue to work together to rein in energy costs for businesses, as well as encourage job growth in niches such as information technology and renewable energy.

When asked how council intends to balance the Sault’s aging population with new, younger people settling in the community to live and work to expand the tax base, Amaroso said “this isn’t unique to Sault Ste. Marie.”

Amaroso emphasized jobs must be created in digital gaming and renewable energy ventures to encourage young people to live and work in this community.

The mayor also praised the work done by the city’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) and Dr. Richard Myers, Algoma University’s president, in attracting newcomers to Sault Ste. Marie.

Barsanti, on behalf of the Chamber, asked where the mayor stood on the issue of Boxing Day shopping in Sault Ste. Marie.

Currently, Sault businesses are closed December 26 under municipal law.

Amaroso said she was in support of Sault stores being allowed to open for business on Boxing Day when she served as a city councillor.

“I’m absolutely in support of business doing what it has to do.”

Amaroso was asked for her input on electoral reform.

It has been suggested by some that instead of the current system in which the candidates with the first and second highest number of votes in each ward make it to council, the 12 municipal election candidates with the most votes on a city-wide basis should form a new council.

The Chamber question suggested this, along with a deputy mayor, would cut down on “not in my back yard” (or NIMBY) decision-making.

Amaroso said her personal feeling is “I’ve found that city-wide running deters people from running for council because it’s more expensive for candidates (to run a campaign).”

“Newmarket has that system, but there’s not as close a councillor-constituent relationship.”

However, Amaroso said “it could be prudent for the next council to form a committee to look at electoral reform, asking people what they want…that should happen every 10 years and we’re coming up to that point now.”

Amaroso said a mayor and a deputy mayor can sometimes work at cross purposes, but added “let’s get the community involved” for its input.

The mayor also said she did not support the idea of term limits for councillors.

“I believe the electorate has a choice…you can lose that continuity if councillors are term-limited.”

Amaroso said that in any case, she has seen new faces on council for every term she has been involved in municipal politics.

A question from the floor raised concerns that the Essar Centre, the Sault’s top sports and entertainment venue, seems to stand empty much of the time, and asked if the mayor and council will be working with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie to help fill it up more often.

Amaroso said “there needs to be more activity generated there…we are doing a study.”

Meanwhile, Amaroso said she is personally pushing “to get things moving (at the Essar Centre), to make sure the place gets filled.”

Wednesday’s Chamber event was sponsored by OLG and held at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn.


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Legend01 6/4/2014 11:50:35 AM Report

HAHAHA No thanks to her for that. The funniest thing about her is she is always talking but says nothing. She has brought zero jobs here so it wont be under her watch.
Shaun233 6/4/2014 11:52:03 AM Report

I'm not 100% sure but i thought it was Mayor Deb serving coffee at Tim Hortons on Bay St today...
AlwaysAWinner 6/4/2014 11:52:42 AM Report

cross border shopping kills this city. the only big employers are tenaris, the hospital, OLG and call centers. that's pretty sad when you think about it. this town has very little to offer for job opportunity in a lot of industries. they could be offering incentives for other companies in different industries to come to this city, but they aren't.

doesn't help this town is mainly welfare/disability/retired. everyone here is dirt cheap and spends their money over in the USA so they can save a dollar on milk and screw people out of jobs at the same time

If OLG pulls the plug, that's a huge amount of money gone from this city. the same goes for the steel plant. you can't say a city will be blossoming in ten years when it's literally hanging by a thread right now
eadiecougs 6/4/2014 11:54:05 AM Report

no direction no new jobs oh but we have a new bug lab yippe.the city is full of druggies pimps hookers and a downtown that looks terrible.yep great in ten years when all the kids move away.
steelworker 6/4/2014 12:07:16 PM Report

She answered "questions submitted in advance" - this means they lobbed some soft balls at her. The downtown area reminds me of Detroit at night.
Pakadeva 6/4/2014 12:08:42 PM Report

I guess you forget that Mayor Deb has been fighting tooth & nail to keep OLG in this city. I'm surprised anyone at all can function in such a negative city! The bug lab is employment, is tourists coming to the Soo, is extra patrons for hotels & restaurants, etc. Wise up!
justsomeguy 6/4/2014 12:09:16 PM Report

Any prediction for results 10 years from now is pretty safe.

10 years from now hopefully my kids will have moved away from here with my spouse & I to follow.
Lostclause 6/4/2014 12:18:10 PM Report

Nobody will wait a decade for things to turn around. Our city hasn't done well since the Steel Plant downsized. We have had multiple opportunities to bring in other large business but those never panned out for various reasons. Now 1/3rd of the workforce in the city is employed at low paying call center jobs. Easily 75% of the people I grew up with, played hide and seek with as kids, played ball with and graduated college with, have left this city. They are now raising their children and spending their money elsewhere. If we as a city don't do something soon, to retain those who want to leave, then in a decade it will be far to late.
Lostclause 6/4/2014 12:22:01 PM Report

As an addition to my post above. How many people that graduate from Sault College or Algoma University will actually find a job here in town? These people represent the future of our city, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that the vast majority will leave for greener pastures elsewhere.
steelworker 6/4/2014 12:30:54 PM Report

Sault College grads maybe, Algoma U not so much.
soowat 6/4/2014 12:34:04 PM Report

I wonder if the power behind the throne AKA "Joe the omnipotent" told her to say that.
Mr. Poster 6/4/2014 12:49:03 PM Report

Does Joe retire in 10 years?
justsomeguy 6/4/2014 12:53:42 PM Report


I spent a few years (unfortuntely) at a call centre in town when I was laid off.
Every other person was a sault college grad wearing a sault college hoodie emblazoned with police foundations, ECE, PSW, etc. So as the college advertises, lots of grads get jobs...
superior87 6/4/2014 12:58:29 PM Report

Hilarious all of the people commenting and criticizing without even knowing what she said.

You're 100x worse than she could ever be. She's at least doing something, you're commenting inanely on sootoday.
steelworker 6/4/2014 1:06:54 PM Report

Algoma U grads probably couldn't make the cut at the call centres.
dadal 6/4/2014 1:11:47 PM Report

City will only be good in more industry comes with higher paying jobs. A Timmies on every corner won't make the city strong.
eadiecougs 6/4/2014 1:17:17 PM Report

one just opened at the esso at the corner of bruce and great northern
eadiecougs 6/4/2014 1:21:35 PM Report

the problem is they dont build any new bussiness here take the old brewery turn that into a water bottling plant or pop or even juice.St mary's could of been turned into wood pellet plantthere is no vision here .The mayor worries about olg but they are other industries that could of been formed.
johnnyc 6/4/2014 1:56:34 PM Report

Build up the downtown core to include modern, youth-friendly stores...base our ideas on what the big cities are Montreal/Toronto...shut down Queen Street during certain times of the year to allow for a better shopping atmosphere, with outside patios etc...

there is so much potential for growth but we are stuck in 1889
steelworker 6/4/2014 2:06:45 PM Report

Get the police to chase the riff-raff of of Queen St. At night it is no place for respectable citizens.
ThinkAgain 6/4/2014 2:19:16 PM Report

"Questions for the Mayor were submitted in advance by:"
To be answered by JoeF,(the puppet master) and presented by the mayor.

What a joke
Ehcadroj 6/4/2014 2:42:51 PM Report

The point that literally everyone never acknowledges is that jobs come form businesses. If you want a job start a business and then more jobs will spring from that.

What all levels of government are neglecting to push is that we need responsible people to be groomed to take on the duties of business ownership. Quite frankly, most people don't want that headache and opt for working for someone else.

The Sault doesn't need another global industry setting up shop here. It needs to turn itself into a Global industry.
Ehcadroj 6/4/2014 2:48:04 PM Report

@johnnyc: trying to do what the larger centres do is exactly what not to do for life in the Sault.

We're detached and isloated, whereas southern ontario has 35 cities within 1 hour of each other. We need to be goverened more like a city-state and build our own solutions to our own problems, rather than mimic larger cities. Cities with worse problems than our own.
scottstewy123 6/4/2014 3:51:33 PM Report

hahahaha she must have dusted off her crystal ball. Give me a break Mayor Deb
Dead End Kid 6/4/2014 4:22:26 PM Report

The only time you see the Soo on the map is during the weather report on the Detroit nightly news.
icemantbi 6/4/2014 4:22:32 PM Report

In 10 years from now, this city will be another Elliot Lake. Mark my words.

Number One Son 6/4/2014 5:21:09 PM Report

She gets called "Mayor Deb", and the cutesy name is supposed to make her the "Teflon Mayor". She has done squat for this city. She is lucky nobody with any guts is running against her so far. I didn't like John Roswell, but at least he got thing moving, ... time for a new mayor.
BrianTheDog 6/4/2014 6:06:54 PM Report

There's a new movie in town.

Debbie Do Little

Anyone else want to take a try?
Nimrod 6/4/2014 6:47:13 PM Report

Mayor Deb please respond!!! Please post a page with two columns. One listing the number of jobs that left our city under your tenure and another listing all the jobs you (council), the E.D.C, and the Innovation Center have created excluding yours and theirs of course!
jojoe71 6/4/2014 7:22:47 PM Report

I believe it is easier and takes less intelligence to always be negative. Try thinking of ways to improve the world logically . It takes more brain power but is ultimately more progressive in the long term. Just a thought.
girlygirl123 6/4/2014 7:25:06 PM Report

Are we counting on tourism for growth then good luck. No one comes here to see the bug lab or walk the hub trail or the casino. So what is here besides nothing. Smaller towns have to offer more than here. Are we talking 90000 people ? where are they going to find employment ? The steel mill brings his own people over here to work. The hospital had many cuts and 2 units closed while people lay in the emerge in the hallways for days. business that come here have to first pay the down town merchants thousand of dollars to be here in the first place. Who will invest in this town with no children left and not to many working? I think our Major is living in a dream world.
Dead End Kid 6/4/2014 8:05:31 PM Report

Don't forget in the future when driving down Bay St., be sure to count the cars in the parking lot of our new four and a half million dollar Old Stone house welcoming center or whatever it's supposed to be. I know I'll be watching.
Oreo cookie 6/4/2014 8:09:46 PM Report

You're 100% correct...after city hall has been purged of all dead weight. Let's begin with the CAO and all of his puppets. The local economy will be in better shape but not for a gain in capital investment but rather less pigs at the fiscal trough.
Floyd 6/5/2014 8:28:00 AM Report

What's everyone whining about......that Ol' Stone House thing will set us up for the next 10 years while we wait!
Rube Goldberg 6/5/2014 9:39:44 AM Report

Ahhhh......Summertime....jumping fish....birds singing.....and motorcycle jackasses. From morning till the dead of night,a conga line of teenage twits... mummified middle aged buffoons... and other assorted clowns,rev up there riding lawnmowers on Queen St.....much to the joy and delight of downtown shoppers.Isn"t there a noise bylaw in this backward city???? "jus sayin"....
ti-guy 6/5/2014 12:28:09 PM Report

People still don't get that Joe still runs this town and until he's out of here, nothing, absolutely nothing will get done without his ok...what has this community got from Joe's ruling?
bubba2006 6/5/2014 1:21:54 PM Report

I try to stay positive about the direction of City is taking but since we have our current council and mayor, I predict that SSM is got going anywhere and FAST. In 10 years, we will have the older generation dying off and very few newcomers coming. The pattern can be seen now. School closures even though the LIBERALS keep building NEW schools with my money, WE ARE DYING AS A COMMUNITY. WE WILL BE THE NEXT ELLIOT LAKE, if there isn't a drastic change on council. WE NEED PROGRESSIVE YOUNG THINKERS, out with the OLD and in with the YOUNG!
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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