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Council candidates talk about their big ideas

Is there a big idea or priority you will push for and champion if you get elected to council?
2021-06-06 Sault Ste. Marie Civic Centre File BC (4)
Sault Ste. Marie Civic Centre file photo.

In the latest survey of council candidates we asked: Is there a big idea or priority you will push for and champion if you get elected to council? Here are the responses we received:

Brent Derochie Ward 1

There are many big ideas and priorities that I have (view them at brentderochie.ca) as there are many issues facing the community.

The first priority of many if elected is transparency.

Saultites have lost confidence in their municipal council and are seeking individuals who will have their best interest at heart. My priority on council in the first few months will be to restore transparency and establish fundamental practices that will allow for easy access of constituents to myself as a councillor, which in turn I hope my colleagues would adopt.

This has been a major concern that I have been hearing at the doors.

Constituents want access to the government and councillors that would work in an open, available, and accessible way who listen and act upon the concerns of constituents.

Because transparency allows for more checks and balances, accountability is a must have. I would set forth the acceptance and responsibility for my own actions on council and will actively advocate for fellow councillors and council to take responsibility for actions they set for.

This means providing reasonings, allowing for public and open discussion by constituents, allowing for evaluation of my performance, and putting the public’s will first.

Sandra Hollingsworth Ward 1

There are several ideas that I want to push forward from pushing forward the “slow down speeder campaign” that I initiated in Ward 1 to revamping the tender process.  

The tender/bid process for city projects including infrastructure, renovations and building of new city structures are costing the city dollars.

Many projects have gone over budget.

The tender process needs to be overhauled with penalties for not meeting deadlines.

Too much project “creep” continues to occur.

As an owner of a business, whenever a project is negotiated, clear deadlines, an agreed upon quote and some variance is written into the tender and contract. A final payment is given after the project is completed up to the agreed upon contract. It seems that “unknown” variances occur during the projects that impact the budget. Therefore, something is failing and an overhaul is needed.

Jonathan Lalonde Ward 1

I would push for affordable housing initiatives, small houses and laneway housing.

More housing options and different types of living accommodations are needed in Sault Ste. Marie.

We need to be more creative in developing the city without letting the housing market and rental market decide what our city looks like.

Initiatives like these can help to solve multiple issues and create a positive snowball effect for the city. This will increase the number of houses in the city that first home buyers and young families can purchase and build equity in.

Small houses are less expensive to build and can be built quicker to increase supply. Affordable houses and affordable taxes mean people can continue to afford to live in Sault Ste. Marie. Increased population will increase tax revenues for the city without raising taxes. Increased population will support our local business and local economy.

Laneway houses are the perfect solution for elders and single persons who want to downsize to a private residence without having to rent an apartment. Initiatives like these are already happening in cities across Canada.

Instead of Sault Ste. Marie falling behind or playing catch up, we can be on par or even a leading city in affordable housing initiatives in Canada. 

Let us use our imagination and bring this city into the future instead of living in the past. With my knowledge and skills in Community Economic and Social Development, along with a future thinking mindset, I can help to steer the Mayor and City Council in the right direction.

You can email me at johnathanlalondeward1@gmail.com if you have any questions. I am also open to chat in person or on the phone at 705-257-6447.

Sonny Spina Ward 1

With your support, as the next councillor for Ward 1, my focus will be to work collaboratively with city council, the mayor and city staff to help create local jobs, renew a focus on economic development, and work with city officials and first responders to foster a safer community.

Far too often we see criminal activity happening as a result of the fact that people are not able to access the supports they need for things like housing, counselling, addictions and any number of services we offer here in Sault Ste Marie. By improving our treatment and health programs, we can help to prevent criminal activity and make our community a safer place. 

I will work for better coordination of services between the Ccty and front line workers like police, EMS and mental health teams. I will work with my connections at Queen’s Park and Parliament to improve collaboration between all levels of government, so that we can deliver crucial services to those who need them most in our community. 

As we emerge from the global pandemic, we must capitalize on the remote work movement to bring the nations best and brightest to our community. 

This new job market has the potential to help us create local high paying jobs like never before.

Luke Dufour Ward 2

All of the big ideas that I will push for if re-elected to Council will be building off of the successes of my first term.

We have made historic investments in our municipal homeless shelter system. We will soon have two brand new shelters.

Our shelter staff no longer make minimum wage. And for the first time, we have transition units as part of our system so folks are no longer forced to only stay in poor quality rooming houses. But we need to keep going.

We are in the midst of a health care crisis, one where folks who struggle with mental health and addictions cannot access the services that they need.

We must find a way to build and operate more supportive housing, where folks in crisis can access more of the health care they need where they live.  

We are beginning to build for this approach, with purpose built space for a local physician in our new shelter, but as we have seen the past two years, the depth of need in our community has grown exponentially, alongside with these new investments.  

The next big thing I will also continue to push for is an expansion of the work done by the Building and By Law Task Force.

We passed a brand new Property Standards By Law that gets tougher on vacant buildings but we have not fully tackled the financial pressures that would be created by going after larger buildings.

We need to have that conversation around Council and find creative solutions to fund the infrastructure investment that our assessment base sorely needs.

Dennis Murphy Ward 2

In order for the City to thrive as a whole, I would push for and champion that immediate action be taken to address the issues in the downtown and Jamestown core which are located in Ward 2.

As the only candidate that truly lives in the downtown core, I feel for the small business owners, the residents, the addicted and homeless populations.

It’s time to come together and declare that we are in crisis.

It’s time to call together the Emergency Management Team (including our MP and MPP) to take action to address the numerous problems that are affecting our city.

By now, we know them well: the opioid and homeless crisis, lack of affordable housing, derelict buildings, food security, the high rates of crime (thefts, break & enters, violent crimes) that are happening not only in the downtown but throughout the city, unsafe downtown streets, not enough emergency resources to deal with these issues which are 24/7 etc.

Throwing money at the Downtown Plaza and Mill Market is not going to fix the problem.

The City needs to accept responsibility for the state of emergency that we are in and take action now. We are all in this fight together.

Lisa Vezeau-Allen Ward 2

I have been involved with youth work for many years and I was past Executive Director of the now defunct Sault Youth Association.

Within the city's programs for funding we currently have:

1. Mayor Youth  Advisory Council Youth Fund (micro-grant of $500 to support mostly events and activities that support youth)

2.  Community Development Fund - has four funding streams; Economic Development Fund, Culture and Arts, Green Initiatives and Social Equity

My plan is to develop within these confines a dedicated Youth Economic Development Fund that would support new business ideas (both for profit and not-for-profit).

I would also want to develop a team of volunteer mentors who would be matched with the young person to assist them in their journey and provide business related advice and help them to succeed. 

I have personally witnessed the struggles and the lack of solid financial support for youth to start or grow their business. We do have the Summer Company Fund, but that is only for a specific time frame.

A dedicated Youth stream would help to grow our economy and definitely be a catalyst to attract and retain young people in our community.

Luis Moreno Ward 3

Sault Ste. Marie is a beautiful city, I am proud of our community, and It’s time to make a city that works for everyone. 

With the support of Ward 3 residents, I will work non-stop to make sure Sault Ste. Marie has a strong and robust economic blueprint that focuses on creating more jobs and supports residents and businesses in all corners of our city.

If elected to city council, I’m committed to building a solid foundation to:

- Keeping our taxes low for our fellow Saultites

- Work collaboratively with the mayor, city council and all levels of government to keep our city thriving

- Help small businesses stay open and successful

- Create more job opportunities for all of us

- Diversify our industries 

Our city needs new, bold and innovative ideas to keep our city moving forward together. Advance polls will be held at City Hall on Saturday, October 8th (10:00 am to 6:00 pm), Wednesday, October 12th (10:00 am to 8:00 pm) and Saturday, October 15th (10:00 am to 6:00 pm). I need your support to make Sault Ste. Marie a City that works for everyone. To learn about me, my platform, and my vision for Ward 3, please visit www.luismoreno.ca

Ron Zagordo Ward 3

There are two areas that I wish to champion if elected to council.

Both of these ideas affect not only every constituent in Ward 3, but also the whole of Sault Ste Marie in one fashion or another.

Wreaking havoc and invoking a great deal of frustration for all are the lackluster conditions of our roads and the snow piles at the end of the driveways following snow removal.

There definitely needs to be a long term strategic plan to tackle the problem of road conditions in Sault Ste Marie.

My suggestion would be to examine and approach one ward at a time and then move our way across the city.

This would take a few years, but at least we would know that our roads are getting the necessary repairs for us to all feel safe.

When it comes to snow removal, there should be a plan in place to remove pile ups at the end of driveways.

I have spoken to many residents for whom this has become a source of major frustration. I am aware of equipment that could be placed on existing snow removal equipment that would alleviate this problem.

I would be thrilled to alleviate this problem for many.

Angela Caputo Ward 3

The biggest priority I would push for is trying to end the opioid epidemic in our city with 3 main objectives:

1. Having funding reinstated for our Day Treatment program. This is an amazing program that has helped many residents who cannot commit to leaving for a treatment facility and would help many more on their path to sobriety.

2. Building a safe consumption site. Ensuring that current users are consuming safely would have many benefits for all citizens. It would decrease the amount of discarded needles left around town, remove a large strain on our health care system, ensure that other emergencies could be treated in a more timely fashion, remove some of the strain on hospital staff and ultimately make accessing public spaces safer for all citizens. 

3. Free and accessible programming for vulnerable youth. I would love to see more free organized sports around town as well as a program that brings together cooking with relationship building between youth and emergency service workers. 

I would also like to bring forward a plan to have snow boots put on our graders so that residents are not left with heavy messes at the end of their driveways throughout the winter. 

Waterfront development is also on my list. With my business background, I do intend to push this city forward for tourism and development, but I do believe we need to put the opioid issue ahead of all else. It is life saving and it is a component to our tourism. I would not recommend a push to welcome tourists until this opioid issue is under control. 

For more on my campaign, please follow my socials @ac4ward3 or go to my website www.ac4ward3.com

Marchy Bruni Ward 4

I have several ideas but the most important priority for the Ward 4 residents if re-elected is the flooding issue. 

Back on October 11, 2018, Councillor Niro and I sent in a resolution to staff regarding the flooding issues in several areas in Ward 4. At that time, we requested an environmental assessment to determine a course of action to address surface flooding in areas of People’s Road, Hillside Drive, Elliott Road, Hill Street, Johnson Avenue, Diane Street, Pozzebon Crescent, Wilson Street, Grosvenor Avenue, Trelawne Ave, Duffernin Street and streets surrounding the streets listed. 

This resolution has been a massive task for the consultant and staff involved. Due to the unprecedented times in our economy these last few years, this project has moved slowly, however we are anticipating some information in the near future.

The below list consists of the actions that have already taken place:  

  • Flooding Class Environmental Assessment Consultant selected on January 6, 2020
  • Finalize alternative solutions and evaluations
  • Undertaken a Public Information Centre
  • Finalize DRAFT reporting
  • Issue Notice of Completion is expected in late fall 2022

Once the Consultant receives these actions, City Council and staff will have deliberation on what will be the next course of action.

If re-elected, I will advocate very hard having this project completed so residents in Ward 4 will not incur major insurance costs to recover from flooding damages.

I know there have been constituents that have more than two flooding claims already filed. Should anyone have any further questions regarding this project, please email me at marchy_bruni@hotmail.com or phone 705-971-0029. 

Dave Celetti Ward 4

Homelessness drug use issues and treatment must be dealt with before this community can move forward. We are losing our youth at an alarming rate. Remember our youth are our future. Without them we have no future.

I also srongly feel our people are over taxed. 

I feel this new council will have to hold the line when it comes to taxes.This will give our citizens money back in their pockets at a time when they need it most.

Right now they are facing High food costs, high gas prices.and many other things that are putting our people behind and without. The city must hold the line when it come to taxes. Better yet, give the taxpayer a nice tax rebate at about 2%. This would be a huge help for the taxpayer to put food on their table, heat in their homes and help them get on their feet after the long lock down from COVID. 

It's time to give back to our community. That would be a good start.

The PUC I feel by raising the rates have put everyone behind the eight ball with no concern for the customers. 

They too should be holding the line and maybe give a rebate to all customers since we are all in this together. Since they used a million of our hard earned dollars to give to Algoma University. They certainly are in a position to contribute funds  to our community and be a part of the solution.

Stephan Kinach Ward 4

My priority, if elected councillor, will be physician recruitment.

We have 10,000 people on a waiting list for a family doctor and currently only one OBGYN in the city.

Access to healthcare is a fundamental right in Canada. Currently we cannot provide that to Saultites.  

My idea to address this issue is to implement an ultra low interest loan program to recruit new graduates to Sault Ste. Marie. The only rule is they must practice in Sault Ste Marie city limits until the loan is repaid in full.

I believe with an investment of $2 million we would be able to recruit around five new doctors. As the loan is repaid, we can re-invest those funds into future recruitment. 

You can find more information about me Stephan Kinach and my platform at www.kinachward4.ca

Marek McLeod Ward 4

One of my priorities would be to bring back the city’s public daycare’s as we continue to see younger families struggle to find childcare that is affordable.

My goal would be to provide good paying jobs while allowing families to access affordable childcare that is supported through the provincial and federal government’s $10/day childcare program.

Supporting young families is critical to growing our city and it’s tax base. It will also aide with the cost of living of crisis we’re experiencing.

On the flip side I’d also like to see our city promote and incentivize developers to build smaller, accessible, and affordable housing or units for our seniors as they look to downsize.

As it stands we don’t enough of this kind of housing to support our aging population. Long-term planning is needed to see this issue solved over the next term and beyond.

If you agree or want to know more, feel free to reach out to me by social media at @votemarekmcleod, email at marekmcleod@gmail.com or by call/text at 705-975-3662.

Martin Poirier Ward 5

I will push to address the cultural issue we have in our building department.  

Everybody in the construction industry I have talked to has the same complaints about dealing with our city’s building department: inconsistent application of rules between staff, obtuse interpretation of the Building Code, lack of justification for their decisions, and absence of a complaints process.    

It becomes a city wide problem when this cultural issue impedes investment, and thus growth.

Ask contractors and construction workers; our City has a reputation to be one where it is harder and costlier to build than almost anywhere else in the province.  

This is a management problem, and our role in council is to evaluate management.    

For council to evaluate management, it needs data. We can’t correctly evaluate something we do not measure.     

Therefore, council should require our administration to measure our citizen’s experience and satisfaction in dealing with the City, and require management to provide council with its statistics on a regular basis. For example, we can easily measure the staff’s consistency in application of rules by doing surveys with permit holders once permits are closed. It is cheap, efficient, it doesn’t need additional staff, and we can find there a treasure trove of information on how to improve our interactions with citizens.    

A complaints/appeal process can easily be implemented within our building department. When permit holders do not agree with inspectors’ requests, we should not leave them with the courts as their only recourse. An internal appeal procedure can not only improve relations between permit holders and the City, but it can save inspector visits and is an occasion for continuous learning for our employees.    

I’ll finish with a note of hope: in management, things we measure tend to magically improve. And our staff is not alone: we will always be there to support them.

Gideon Down Ward 5

I only want to represent the members of my community. 

Because of this, and with affordable housing and quality jobs being a major concern for the members of my ward, I would like to help facilitate a modular home manufacturing plant coming to our city.

Modular homes cost 10-20% less, are built 30-60% faster, are more energy efficient, and are generally safer, by being able to stand up to flooding and hurricanes better, and can be built as apartment buildings to tiny houses to raised bungalows, etc.

Canada has five modular home manufacturing facilities compared to 129 in the United States. Goldman Sachs is currently building a facility that will produce 4,000 homes a year.

With a lumber mill, flakeboard plant, steel mill, truss manufacturer, and floor joist manufacturer, we should have no reason for a lack of housing if we are able to efficiently use these resources.

I would also work to remove the red tape in place to allow residents an easier time to provide apartments or tiny houses on their own properties, as was started in Hamilton in 2020.

Corey Gardi Ward 5

I had a big idea that I initiated a couple of years ago. 

The Federal Government is establishing a new Canada Water Agency (CWA), that will focus on  the science, research, governance and stewardship of fresh water. It was and is my opinion, that we are uniquely situated to be the home of the CWA. 

Located at the hub of the largest fresh water bodies on the planet, with an already internationally established reputation for biological science and research, being home to Algoma U and Sault College, coupled with our neighbouring communities of Garden River and Batchawana, and being experienced in a "shared  waters" approach with our Michigan/US partners, we have the ideal qualities which makes us a logical choice. 

We established a task force, held broad and inclusive community consultation, and I have actively engaged reps from the Federal Government to make our case. I am confident of our chances. 

Establishing this agency, would contribute millions to the local economy, enhance our post secondary schools' opportunities and reputations, and provide knowledge based jobs with tremendous opportunities for spin offs. 

We will establish ourselves as leaders in fresh water science, governance and research, and play a pivotal role in our planet's most precious resource; fresh water.  I am committed to following through on this tremendous opportunity.

Matthew Scott Ward 5

If re-elected, I would love to champion an open data platform for the city of Sault Ste. Marie.

Many other communities across Ontario have wonderful open data programs and I believe we could do the same with current resources.

The city has highly skilled IT staff that would be able to implement the program which, ideally, would create relatively unaltered datasets available for the public to review and analyze.

The datasets would come from internal ideas and community requests, we have plenty of interested residents who would love to see this information freely available for the public to view.

I believe in this idea because, as taxpayers, we deserve to have easy access to data that we are paying for.

Not only would this lead to residents being able to suggest improvements for services, it would also create stronger accountability and transparency for our tax dollars.

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