MPP

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.

 

Natyshak opens campaign office

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Essex’s incumbent member of provincial parliament is officially on the campaign trail again.

Taras Natyshak, New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, opened his office’s doors to the public Sunday to kick off the campaign season.

The small office, located in the Town of Essex, was packed with Natyshak’s supporters.  A few of them sported T-shirts declaring, “Water is Life,” referencing the MPP’s bout with the Ontario legislature over water quality in Chatham-Kent.

Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak speaks to a group of his supporters in his Essex campaign office last Sunday. Natyshak is up for re-election June 7. He was first elected to the provincial Legislature in 2011.

There, farmers allege wind farms have caused harmful sediment to seep into their well water.  Natyshak brought the farmers’ concerns before the legislature on March 5, only to be ejected from Queen’s Park after producing a jar of black liquid, which he said came from one of the farmers’ wells.  Reports released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs state that no connection between the sediment and the wind farms has been established and, referencing findings by the Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health, contend that the water is safe to drink.

Natyshak stands by the farmers’ allegations, though.  Despite the fact that Chatham-Kent is outside of his riding, he said he will continue to work on the issue.

“It’s not a coincidence,” he said.  “I am fully invested in their fight and will continue fighting with them.”

Some of those affected by the sediment are members of Water Wells First, a group which speaks out against anything it deems harmful to the aquifer present beneath Chatham-Kent.

Water Wells First’s spokesperson is Kevin Jakubec.  He stepped onto a chair and addressed the office.

“I’m here today and our members are here today to thank Taras,” he said.  “He’s been a bulldog on the Ministry of Environment.”

After an impassioned speech, Jakubec stepped down from the chair and Natyshak stepped up.  He said that he cared deeply about the issue of clean drinking water because it’s a health issue, and healthcare is something he is passionate about.

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec speaks at Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak’s campaign office in Essex on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Natyshak brought the group’s concerns before Queen’s Park. He is now up for re-election. (photo by Jonathan Martin)

He said, if elected, the NDP plans to introduce 15,000 new beds into long-term care over four years and inject an additional 40,000 over eight.  He said adding beds to long-term care would free up space in primary care, which is an issue he feels will become even more pressing as Ontario’s population ages.

Another major topic of focus was the de-privatization of Hydro One.  Natyshak said the provincial NDP plans to take the value of the dividends the government has with its 42 per cent stake and buy back stock in the company.  That way, the public would become a majority owner and could deal with things, he said, such as “executive salaries, which are simply extravagant.”  He vowed to reduce Ontarians’ hydro rates by 30 per cent and eliminate time-of-use billing.

Natyshak said he tabled legislation last week that would refund hydro delivery fees for customers who experienced “frequent outages.”

“That’s a big issue here in Essex County,” he said.  “Hydro, across the whole province, needs to be fixed.  I see the path to do that. Seeing this many people turn out, I think they see it too.”