municipal

Open government, active transportation and tourism among McArthur’s vision

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Donald McArthur has covered his share of council meetings and now is trying to be a councillor.

McArthur, a former Windsor Star reporter and former executive producer at CBC Windsor, is running in the Oct. 22 election.

McArthur said the people he’s been speaking with “want to see us grow. They want to see us develop. They want to make sure there are jobs in town for their kids.”

McArthur said he wants to build on the momentum that he said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and the current council have given the town.

Tourism needs to be promoted further, he believed, including landing a hotel. With a hotel, he said people will stay and spend money in town, which will create jobs and expand the tax base.

“We have to promote commercial and industrial development,” he continued.

McArthur cited a downtown incentive plan launched in Windsor, one that brought nine projects worth about $60 million. He also noted that construction activity in Leamington tripled due to cuts in development charges.

Similar ideas could work in Amherstburg, he believes.

“We need commercial and industrial growth,” he stated. “We can’t have residents paying for everything.”

Amherstburg “is the sum of its unique communities,” he said. The Cypher Systems Greenway is a “gift,” he continued, and “we have to leverage it.” He advocates a paved shoulder on Alma St. from Fryer St. to Meloche Road and said that could connect residents from McGregor to the downtown core through use of trails and bike lanes.

Regarding policing, McArthur said he is hearing concerns including whether the service people are used to will continue.

“What people are saying is ‘let’s move on and let’s make sure it works for Amherstburg’,” he said. “They don’t want to rip up the contract and cause a big fuss. Let’s see if it works as promised for Amherstburg.”

Donald McArthur is running for the position of councillor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

McArthur believes in open government and pledges to keep constituents informed through social media, a website and a newsletter. Having open meetings is key, he added, and that he will lobby for as many meetings as possible to be held publicly.

Live streaming council meetings is something McArthur wants to explore, so more residents can watch meetings online.

“The more people are informed and invested in the democratic process, the better it will be for all of Amherstburg,” he said.

As for the Duffy’s site, McArthur believes the best use is an amphitheatre and festival plaza as it will help tourism.

“I don’t want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot,” he said, adding he is open to a creative solution.

McArthur said he supports using Belle Vue for such things as weddings, showers, and conferences but noted “it doesn’t come cheap.” There has to be a solid business case for Belle Vue and that fundraising avenues such as grants as well as supporting the Belle Vue Conservancy should be done.

“I think if you ask yourself if Amherstburg is better off today than it was four years ago, there’s no question it is,” said McArthur.

McArthur said DiCarlo and council “inherited a mess” and turned things around.

“They had to fill key positions and shore things up to make sure the right things were getting done,” he said.

McArthur believes the town should have hired a communications co-ordinator to focus on economic development and celebrate local success stories that highlight the benefits of living and investing in Amherstburg. LaSalle, Lakeshore, Leamington, and Essex all have one and Windsor has several, he said.

McArthur also would like to see a seniors advisory committee established to ensure seniors are engaged in the town. He also supports exploring the feasibility of an outdoor rink that could be used for other purposes in the warmer weather. He also would like to explore an off-leash dog park, noting that Amherstburg is home to the Woofa-Roo Pet Festival.

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.

Town to stick with traditional method of voting for the 2018 municipal election

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Residents can expect to go back to the polls next year for the municipal election rather than mailing it in, phoning it in or going online.

The town of Amherstburg has chosen to stick with the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, scheduled to be held October 22, 2018.

Town council passed a motion to use the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, but rejected an administrative recommendation to allow Internet voting for advance polls.

A report from municipal clerk/returning officer Paula Parker listed advantages being that electors are familiar and comfortable with the traditional method; privacy is ensured during the casting of votes; accuracy in the counting of ballots; election results are prompt, timely and accurate; the ballot is tabulated immediately, notifying the voters of any errors on the ballot, reducing the possibility of rejected ballots; there is a paper trail should a recount be necessary; the municipality maintains care custody and control of the election process including but not restricted to the safeguarding of ballots and the counting thereof and candidates are able to campaign up to the close of polls on election day.

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Disadvantages listed to the traditional method were that it limits the flexibility of the voter as they cannot vote anytime and are provided parameters, there may be difficulty in finding accessible voting locations in that previously used voting locations present barriers which negatively affect the ability of electors to access the facility; the weather may have a negative effect on voter turnout; the town may be deemed by some as “old school and non-progressive” and it is more labour intensive and thus increases workload and staffing.

“No one method has proven to be superior to another with respect to voter turnout. Those wishing to vote will do so despite the method chosen. Those that do not wish to vote will not, no matter the issues or the candidates running for office,” Parker stated in her report. “The method of voting will have no effect on those individuals who choose not to vote. It is up to the council of the municipality to choose the method which in its opinion best suits the needs of the electors.”

Parker added: “The statistical data for Amherstburg however, shows that in the 2010 election, Amherstburg used vote by mail as its alternative voting method and received a 67 per cent voter turnout using this method. In the 2014 election, Amherstburg used the traditional method of voting with optical scanning tabulators and received a 47 per cent voter turnout.”

Parker pointed out that the vote by mail method used in 2010 saw “numerous complaints” from both the public and the candidates over the validity of some of the ballots cast, delays in reporting the results and value for dollars spent on the election.

While Amherstburg will use traditional polls with electronic tabulators in 2018, Essex, Windsor and Chatham-Kent also propose similar methods. Kingsville, Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh propose Internet and telephone voting.

“The 2014 municipal election was run as traditional method with optical scan vote

tabulators. In 2014, the cost to run the election was $93,902.80. In preparation of the upcoming 2018 election, the approved 2017, 2016 and 2015 budgets currently incorporate additional funding to adequately manage the considerations identified by the 2014 election,” Parker’s report states. “The election reserve will have $120,000 set aside for the 2018 election to cover cost by election time, should the current budgeting process be followed in 2018. To add internet voting as an additional option for electors in the 2018 election, additional funds of $112,500 will be required in the election reserve budget for 2018.”

As the RTT reported in February, there will be a reduction of the nomination period for next year’s election. Candidates used to be able to file from the first business day in January to the second Friday of September, but new legislation sees the 2018 nomination period lasting from May 1-July 27, 2018. Another change is that candidates now have to be endorsed by 25 people before they can officially get on the ballot.

Parker said that now that the decision has been made on how the electorate will vote in 2018, planning will now commence for the election.