councillor

Cleminson passionate about town and wants to give back

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Frank Cleminson enjoyed meeting with residents when he ran for council four years ago but didn’t get the result he wanted.

He is hopeful of improving his standing this year.

Cleminson is seeking a councillor position in the Oct. 22 municipal election, stating he wants to give back further to the community.

“I really enjoyed the first time I did this,” he said. “It was a good experience to get to know the people.”

Cleminson, a former chair of the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB), said is “very passionate” about that issue. He said he looks forward to seeing the final draft of the policing contract come before town council to see if and how his concerns raised during the process were addressed.

“That’s what re-engaged me to go again and try to have a seat at the table,” said Cleminson.

Cleminson was also a zone president while on the APSB, has been unit chair with IBEW through his employment at Enwin and has served as treasurer with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA). He was also involved in planning a fundraiser for a friend, who had a daughter with cancer.

“I always like giving back,” he said. “It’s always been in me to pay it forward and give back. I think this is the next level I’d like to do it at.”

Teamwork is important and Cleminson advocates for a strong “team concept” around the council table. That would also involve administration so that issues that taxpayers are dealing with can be properly addressed. The taxpayers’ agenda will drive him and he said they will give the focus on what needs to be done.

Roads are a concern, he said, as are sidewalks for residents.

Frank Cleminson is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

As it relates to Belle Vue, Cleminson said the taxpayers come first and that the town needs to explore partnerships in order to get the 200-year-old mansion restored.

“I want to minimize as best I can the cost to the town,” said Cleminson. “We have other projects that need attention.”

Cleminson supports having a boat ramp and boat trailer parking on the Duffy’s site, calling it a “viable option” for the town. Having boaters come into town would be a plus and that a marina with proper parking facilities could also allow for other services and amenities to come to town such as paddleboarding and jet boats.

The extra parking would help other events in the downtown area, Cleminson added.

“I’m concerned about the St. Bernard (School) property,” he continued.

There are concerns over possibly duplicating services that are already at the Libro Centre and Cleminson wonders why additional services couldn’t be provided for at the Libro Centre so that it could be utilized more and help offset operational costs.

The location of the new public high school is also something that Cleminson has questions over. He wonders why the south end of Centennial Park was chosen, thus causing the pending removal of the four baseball diamonds and swimming pool. There are also concerns over traffic in the area once the school is built and what will happen with the remaining 12 acres that were not sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board.

“That’s a nice park area in the town,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of questions with that piece of property.”

Amenities that are removed need to be replaced, Cleminson added, noting he has been at Centennial Park recently for events and they are well used.

“I really have a true passion for the town,” he said, adding he wants to be accountable to residents and to help the town be even better than what it is. He said that he would approach every issue with the passion that he recently showed during the policing meetings.

Courtney promotes teamwork, unity and respect among campaign pillars

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Peter Courtney ran for town council eight years ago and feels the time is right to try again.

Courtney said still has a vested interest in municipal politics since he last ran in 2010 and “I feel I’m in a good point in my life with my children being older.” He is one of 14 candidates seeking a councillor position in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

Noting he has a history of being involved with youth through coaching minor hockey and baseball, Courtney said he also has met a lot of parents and grandparents during that time as well. He said he wants to bring what he has learned about teamwork to the council table.

“Council chambers seems to be divided over the last couple of terms,” he said. “I’m looking to bridge that gap.”

Courtney said he wants opinions put to the side and have council unite in order to stop the “divide” on council.

Continuing to bring down Amherstburg’s debt is another priority, Courtney indicated.

Relating to the Duffy’s property, Courtney said he favours the boat ramp and revitalized marina downtown, noting the sale of Ranta Marina was a major issue the last time he ran for council. He added he is not opposed to seeing an amphitheatre erected at the site.

That said, Courtney believes more consultation has to be done with the public.

Peter Courtney is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

“Public meetings are the way to go,” he said.

The future of Centennial Park and the amenities that are being lost due to the new public high school construction that will be happening there. Courtney said he is happy to see a new high school come to Amherstburg but there is concern over what is going to happen to the amenities being lost, including the ball diamonds and swimming pool. He believes user groups need to be consulted with better and fears losing enrolment in minor sports to surrounding municipalities.

“There’s a lot of concern (over the loss of the ball diamonds) in terms of what we’re going to do,” said Courtney, adding clear guidance is needed on that subject.

The remaining 12 acres of Centennial Park that wasn’t sold should remain “user friendly” for the area.

Belle Vue was obtained for a “good price,” he added, but using it to create revenue for the town is a big question.

“I wouldn’t want it to be seen as the big white elephant,” said Courtney.

Courtney believes the current council has done “a pretty good job” with transparency regarding meetings but he doesn’t think there is enough accountability after the meeting. He says decisions have been made which don’t seem to match what the people have been asking for.

“Tough decisions going against what people want doesn’t sit right with me,” said Courtney.

Citing the decision to go from a five-year contract with the Windsor Police Service to the “last minute curveball” of going to a 20-year contract “doesn’t make me confident as a taxpayer.”

Courtney said it is a “fine line” between being over-aggressive when it comes to trying to reduce debt and being balanced.
“I want to make sure we meet the needs on both sides,” he said.

Courtney is also interested in creating a blog or another type of interactive feature to get residents involved and build a better relationship with them.

“This is our town,” he said, and it has to be inclusive for everyone. To move the town forward, he believes good, logical decisions need to be made based on the facts. Social media can “sometimes be skewed and sometimes may include personal bias or side agendas,” he added. Many questions can be answered by simply contacting a council member or the town.

“Use the resources available to you, focus on the facts and be positive,” he said.

Prue wants to put his experience to work for Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Michael Prue believes he can use his municipal and provincial experience to work for Amherstburg.

Prue – a former mayor of East York, Toronto city councillor and MPP for the riding of Beaches East York – wants to focus on Amherstburg and what he feels he can do for it. Both he and wife Shirley have owned a home in Amherstburg for eight years and full-time residents for four.

“I came to love the town and everything in it,” said Prue.

After watching town council and the developments around town, Prue decided he wanted back in the political arena and threw his hat into the ring for a councillor position.

“I came to the conclusion that I can help a lot,” he said. “I have read the Official Plan cover-to-cover and I had a number of people ask me to run. I gave it serious thought and I decided to do it.”

Prue said a combined 26 years in municipal and provincial politics has “taught me a great deal” and he believes he can put those lessons to use for the residents of Amherstburg. He was mayor in East York for five years until the amalgamation with Toronto and during those five years, they had five budgets with no tax increases.

“We had $8 million in debt. We had swathes of industrial and commercial areas that were vacant,” he said.

Prue indicated they turned it around and saw commercial and industrial areas be developed. It was also the first place in the Toronto area to be fully wired for cable, allowing for projects that employed hundreds of people.

“We brought in businesses we never had before,” he said. “I played a role in cementing the deals.”

Michael Prue is seeking the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

The municipality also paid off its debt, Prue added.

Prue sees similarities in Amherstburg, believing “what the town needs is commercial and industrial rejuvenation.” He said it is an “entirely possible” proposal, particularly if a reworked North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resembles what has previously been in place. If things take a different turn, alternative solutions would have to be developed.

“This is an ideal place for new business, better than Kitchener, better than Toronto,” Prue believes.

Housing development doesn’t provide sufficient revenue for municipalities, Prue stated.

“The way municipalities become more prosperous is through industrial and commercial assessment,” he said.

That is how East York paid its debt, Prue added, believing “the same can happen here.”

Amherstburg has a rejuvenated restaurant scene, he added, but further tourism enhancers like hotels are still needed. The town also has “wonderful festivals,” he stated, but there are ways to get people to walk around and see what is here.

“I have been a little disappointed with the stance of the town as it relates to environmental issues,” he continued.

Prue said this is “a very unique part of Canada” environmentally and wants to ensure that development doesn’t impact native species. He stated there are flora and fauna that is special to the area that needs to be protected.

Prue said he is also disappointed in the number of in-camera meetings the town has.

There should be more opportunities for residents to address council. He suggested that council meetings could be held in River Canard, McGregor, Malden and Anderdon to engage residents there.

The Duffy’s property “needs to be developed” and “I’m hoping people come forward much like they have at Belle Vue” with private donations. Prue is currently the treasurer for the Belle Vue Conservancy.

Plans for Duffy’s and Belle Vue have to be finalized as well, he said.

“Council is going to have to decide sooner rather than later, after receiving public input, to make it easier to raise funds,” said Prue.

 

Lavigne hopes voters will return him to council for a second term

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Jason Lavigne enjoyed his first term on council and wants to bring what he learned to another term.

Lavigne is the only incumbent councillor seeking a return to the position.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this council,” said Lavigne. “I enjoyed the experience of being involved with all aspects of the town.”

Lavigne said he is proud of what has been accomplished this term, stating the town has been placed in the right direction. He hopes voters will re-elect him for another four years.

“We’ve had a really positive council,” said Lavigne. “I think we changed the direction of the town’s image.”

One of the biggest accomplishments of the current council was securing a new public high school. He said obtaining that will allow future generations to be educated in Amherstburg.

“I think that was huge,” said Lavigne. “We spent a lot of time and effort on that.”

The purchase of the Duffy’s site was another accomplishment Lavigne touted. He predicted it will be a “catalyst” for the downtown core but acknowledged there are competing interests for the site, with some wanting a boat ramp and boat trailer parking while others want it to accommodate festivals.

“I think public consultation is of the highest importance,” he said. “We’re trying to get a balance of what the groups want.”

Lavigne believes there can be a compromise on the issue.

“I hope everyone can work together and not form different factions. It’s all of our property,” he said.

Plans that were originally drafted were “a good starting point” and it will be a tough decision for the next council.

Jason Lavigne is seeking re-election as a councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

The relationship council forged with administration is something Lavigne is happy with.

“When we came in, there was a high turnover rate,” said Lavigne. “I think we have a very solid crew now.”

The town enacted the recommendations from the Deloitte report, he added.

Money is put into reserves across town departments and the town is switching to a “pay as you go” model.

Lavigne also referenced the Deloitte report when speaking of staffing. He said the report called for positions to be filled.

Other hires were with the objective to offset costs that were formally farmed out such as legal and engineering. He said there were other requested positions that he voted against publicly.

“Nothing has been done behind the scenes,” said Lavigne.

The town has also been able to invest more money into roads than previous councils, citing Texas Road, Meloche Road and the soon-to-be done Creek Road projects.

Lavigne called the next four years “crucial for Amherstburg.”

Working with the Greater Essex County District School Board on developing the new public high school will be important, he said, as will the decision on what to do with the remaining 12 acres of Centennial Park. Lavigne said he understands the concerns over wanting to keep that as a park and whether the park will be continued to remain named for H. Murray Smith.

“There’s a lot of concerns out there and rightfully so,” said Lavigne.

The town’s festivals should continue as they bring a “sense of community pride most towns don’t have,” he said. Deferment of development charges should also continue, he believes, as it aids development. Further investigation on what other municipalities do should also be done, including what is done to spur industrial and commercial development.

Lavigne said he was opposed to the policing switch, with that decision being based on what he heard from residents. He said he heard “overwhelming” response from people that wanted to pay extra to keep the Amherstburg Police Service.

“I believe the job is to represent the residents of Amherstburg. That’s what I’ve tried to with every issue over the last four years,” he said.

If all decisions were based on finances, there would be no arena, parks or festivals, he added.

Gemmell believes town is corporation, should be run like one

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Pauline Gemmell wants to continue to help the community she lives in so she is trying again to become a councillor.

Gemmell, the executive director of the Essex County Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic, is running in the Oct. 22 municipal election. That is the clinic that is expanding into Amherstburg with plans to move into part of the former St. Bernard School. She said she is anxious to get that going so that local people can access more medical services locally.

As for why she is running, Gemmell believes people should give back to the communities in which they live.

Gemmell said Amherstburg is a big corporation and has to be run that way.

“You have to build a team that can run it as a corporation,” she said.

In addition to her current position, Gemmell’s background includes owning Equity Group Property Managers Inc. and being a senior business analyst for the Ministry of Community and Social Services business transformation team. She has a business development background with the Bank of Canada and she added she has experience working with WSIB claims. Her experience has involved her providing full property management services for municipally-owned housing units and not-for-profit properties.

Gemmell said she would like to see the tax base expanded from a residential and business perspective. She believes now is the time to try and bring in business and industry to Amherstburg.

“I think we’ve had a good council the last four years,” she said. “I’d like to continue that.”

Gemmell said she is “thrilled” that the town purchased Belle Vue and hopes for the land’s development. As for the Duffy’s site, she would like to see that developed in more of a passive sense.

“Active is good too,” she added, “but it depends on what goes on there. Let families enjoy the space. Extend Navy Yard Park all the way across Duffy’s.”

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

The issue of boat trailer parking is best left to the private sector, she adds.

Regarding the policing issue, Gemmell heard during the last election that people wanted a costing. However, the former Amherstburg Police Services Board member said she wanted to keep the existing Amherstburg Police Service.

“I’m sad to see that we’ve decided to have the Windsor Police Service police our community. I would have preferred to keep our policing services here,” she said.

Gemmell is also in favour of having clear lines of communication between the mayor, council, administration and the public.

Among the skills Gemmell said she has are the ability to develop and present monthly financial statements to her board of directors, the ability to develop quarterly financial reports for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the ability to develop monthly financial statements for submission to private and municipal property owners, and the ability to create annual budgets and manage a budget of nearly $3 million. Gemmell is also on the board of directors with the Glengarry Non-Profit Housing Corporation and with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Her background in business and management as well as her volunteer work are what she believes make her stand out among the 2018 municipal election candidates. She said she can relate to people running their own businesses and the difficulties they can face.

“I know how tough it is sometimes,” she said.

Gemmell is a graduate of Lakehead University in psychology and law, has a diploma is gerontology from Confederation College and is a certified mediator thanks to her education at Canadore College.

“I’m very familiar on how government works,” she said. “I’ve worked extensively in management for a lot of years.”