If elected as Sault Ste. Marie’s new mayor in October, there are a few things Ozzie Grandinetti would like to see happen.
The first would be to strive for a zero per cent tax increase in next year’s municipal budget.
“It can be done because there’s enough savings we could find in every department at City Hall. We do not need a tax increase,” Grandinetti said, speaking to SooToday.
City Council approved a total levy increase of 4.07 per cent in January.
“I want to see free downtown parking. Free downtown parking would attract some more retail and restaurants down there.”
The former city councillor would also like to see affordable housing established in the downtown or other areas.
Grandinetti would also push for an audit of every city department in an effort to find savings and would like to see user fees reduced.
For Grandinetti, quality of life in Sault Ste. Marie can be enhanced by improving what the community already has.
“The downtown plaza is not needed,” he said.
“We have the Roberta Bondar Pavilion which is a mere half a kilometre away that’s empty. Let’s enhance that. That tent stays empty most of the time. I ride my bicycle past there four or five nights a week, on the weekends, in the evenings, in the mornings and there’s barely any action there,” Grandinetti said.
“To me the plaza is a waste of money. We’d be better off using that money on much needed affordable housing within our community whether it be downtown or elsewhere.”
The city will be spending up to $6.9 million toward the $8.4 million Plaza Project.
As reported earlier by SooToday, plans for the plaza between Queen and Bay from north to south and Brock and Spring from east to west include a skating rink and water park area, stage, play area, skate change room, a building for an ice resurfacer and mechanical equipment and an outdoor farmers’ market.
“Hopefully this doesn’t happen before the election but I’m sure they're going to pass some of these things through, like the relocation of the bus terminal. Again, not needed. It’s a waste of money. The new DSSAB building - City Hall’s half empty, let’s move the people that work there into City Hall. Leave Mill Market where it is. They want to move it downtown. Again, not needed. They want to have that extension in the P-patch from Princeton Drive to Northern Avenue. That’s a waste of $500,000. They should put that $500,000 into fixing the roads that we have.”
Grandinetti said the city’s roads are in rough shape and need work badly.
Grandinetti said that money saved by not proceeding with current Council-approved projects could instead be put to other uses such as fixing the potholes on the city’s roads and, in a recreational sense, expanding the Hub Trail.
“I would like to expand our Hub Trail more to the west, like Allens Side Road. It could be done. I’d like to see more at Bellevue Park, possibly turning it into a mini-High Park. High Park in Toronto has a rink where they play roller hockey.”
Grandinetti said he isn’t a fan of the way bicycle lanes have been added to existing roads in the city and suggested an alternative.
“I’m for widening the road. Make the lanes wider and make the boulevard a little smaller and then you have a bike lane.”
He wants a more open Civic Centre.
“I want to open City Hall back up to the public because it’s like Fort Knox over there. You can’t get a building permit. It’s like pulling teeth. They’ve built all these COVID walls all over the place. I don’t see why. If everybody was working from home why were we spending money doing this?”
As for economic growth, Grandinetti said plainly “we’ve got to attract some more industry here.”
“We’ve got to diversify our economy. I’ve always said this. We need more places like SIS Manufacturing or Flakeboard.”
So far, Grandinetti and Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker have announced their intentions to run for Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie.
The 2022 Municipal election takes place on Monday, Oct. 24.