CANDIDATE Q&A – Pauline Gemmell

The town is going through a re-branding process. How would you define what Amherstburg is and how it should be promoted?

Amherstburg is a small historical community located on the water where residents enjoy many family activities in well maintained public areas. Many towns and universities have decided to rebrand themselves in order to attract business and people.  In this area, LaSalle and Kingsville along with the university have also gone through a re-branding process refreshing their image. Amherstburg has included the community members in its re-branding process to ensure that the focus reflects what the town is about. Most recently the town has acquired the old St Bernard school with plans to develop a health hub aimed at helping citizens to maintain their health and wellness through access to a variety of primary care services and health education. Walkable streets and an active waterfront aimed at promoting wellness and a healthy lifestyle are areas that we should promote as part of our unique historical town.

Pauline Gemmell is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

 

Taxes and spending will always be election issues. What is the best way to spend money on roads and infrastructure while, at the same time, keeping taxes at a reasonable level?

Corporations must always spend money for various reasons in a planned and deliberate way. Municipalities that promise to not increase taxes over multiple years risk the integrity of their services, infrastructure and municipal assets. Amherstburg must continue to develop an effective asset management plan that will help to optimize infrastructure investments in order to achieve sustainable assets over the long term taking into account service levels required, condition and risk, financial implications and long term sustainability.

The plan needs to be updated regularly and used to determine priority and non-priority investments based on continuous improvement information. Over time the plan will become part of the town’s overall strategic plan and used to set goals for service levels by setting service indicators that can be measured to improve outcomes. Council should use that plan to assess the effectiveness of investments on service delivery levels.  Too often tax increases are said to be necessary for funding needed municipal infrastructure projects without corresponding follow up as to the effectiveness of that investment.

 

 

“Transparency” and “accountability” are words often heard during election campaigns. What specific measures would you undertake to ensure town council lives up to those words?

Town council is accountable to the public for the decisions that they make, the reasons behind those decisions and the process used to arrive at those decisions. These must be made available to the public in a method that is easy to access using language that is easy to understand.

Transparency and accountability is democracy and demands that the interests of the general public are served. Town council and administration create paths of access to information but that also requires energy and the will of the public to access these paths. There needs to be value for both.

Surveys and community meetings to identify what people believe about the current state of affairs of the town and their expectations are essential but not always the clearest method to ensure transparency. Amherstburg has actively participated in these processes but many community members feel that their voice wasn’t heard.

I have heard from many citizens who have an interest in re-establishing the ‘Finance Committee’ and given our town’s concern regarding the debt I believe this is a reasonable expectation and the committee should be returned.

 

 

How would you encourage economic development for the Town of Amherstburg over the next four years (and beyond)?

The town needs to ensure that the business investment community is aware that the town is welcoming business opportunities. This means creating a more supportive and competitive business environment as well as basic infrastructure aimed at reducing the cost to business and facilitating doing business in Amherstburg. We should be offering education, mentoring, internships and training for students in the community who are studying business. I would look to establish a bursary and internship program for a local student studying within a specific area such as urban planning or economic development. This would not only provide the town with valuable information and planning but as a bonus would create an interest in the town’s business for our youth.

For existing business I would encourage the municipality to offer tax rebate targeted at encouraging expansion of existing business and the development of new business.

 

 

The policing issue is still top-of-mind for some of the electorate. Is providing services on a regional level a good way to save money, a detriment to the town and its identity or would you view it on a case-by-case basis?

It has been my experience that not all communities who have opted for policing services other than their own local have been particularly satisfied with the service they currently receive. The primary benefit of keeping our own local police service is having control of the budget and governance. In our community, we have experienced better outcomes – our officers know the community and they’re aware of the issues locally as well as those in the larger communities surrounding us and our officers are committed to our community.  Our Chief and Deputy have been proactive in ensuring that our officers are trained in, and provided with, the equipment and knowledge to keep them and the community as a whole safe.  Our local service has changed and adapted with the needs of the community because our Chief and officers are actively involved in the community and its residents. If there was ever a need for specialized services these have always been accessible through agreements with other police services. 

 

 

Comments are closed.