Grimsby is undoubtedly a great place to live, and I am proud to be a part of a caring and involved community.
For the past four years I have paid very close attention to how decisions are made at Council. Often, reports are presented and rubber-stamped. I have attended most meetings, spoke as a delegation and carefully read and questioned numerous planning and consultant’s reports, resulting in corrections and changes to important policies.
Residents, on numerous occasions, have been asking the current Council where monies received from the $9M sale of the Town-owned portion of the Niagara Region Broadband Network went, with no clear answers. Numerous concerns and questions abound as to the actual costs and debt burden of another Town investment, the $10M+ biodigester, which have also gone unanswered. The lack of transparency and accountability to the community on these, as well as the Ombudsman’s admonishment of Council for discussing Town Hydro issues inappropriately behind closed doors, demonstrates a need for a change in leadership that respects open and transparent communications.
Change is happening fast. It’s not sufficient to brush important decisions through without due diligence and authentic, meaningful community engagement. The community’s vision for Grimsby must not be lost in the pressures of intensification and development. We can move the Town forward without compromising our shared and guiding principles. I will continue to challenge over-intensification justified as “good planning” that isn’t compatible and just doesn’t fit within our neighbourhoods. We need to work with the community, businesses and other stakeholders in developing innovative and effective means of reducing the residential tax burden. Redeveloping the hospital should not need to be justified by over developing the existing heritage rich, stable neighbourhood. The community has proven it’s shovel ready now by raising over $14M in capital for the hospital.
As a member of the Town’s Transit Committee, I kept hearing residents say that it’s time for a cost effective and workable transit system. We have funded the Region’s intermunicipal transit to the tune of over $1M with Grimsby having nothing to show for. We need to fix the traffic issues, infrastructure and roads we already have, not pave another through the Irish Grove woodlot. Protecting our rich and vibrant heritage and natural resources while balancing sustainable economic growth will be key challenges ahead.
We are not seeing open and transparent communications. Budget deliberations were not open for public participation and meetings were held at inconvenient times. Council and committee recorded minutes omit discussions that formed the decisions and meetings are not available online or using mainstream technology. Aldermen do not have regular, informal ward meetings to update their constituents on what is happening. I will advocate for budget deliberations that are open to public participation, Council and committee meetings that are available using current technology, twice yearly ward meetings or updates, and respectful, meaningful community engagement.