Civic Election 2022: The Economy: Candidate for Mayor Peng YOU

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Peng You

THUNDER BAY – THUNDER BAY VOTES – In our continuing civic election coverage NetNewsLedger sent questions to all the candidates running for Mayor.

Here is what was sent:

The economy impacts all aspects of our city’s potential.

Thunder Bay has fewer manufacturing jobs. The largest employer is the TBRHSC with 2,824 employees. That is followed by the Lakehead Board of Education, Lakehead University and the City of Thunder Bay.

Resolute is at 419 at the paper mill, and 223 at the saw mill.

Thunder Bay in perhaps one of the more telling statements from outgoing Mayor Bill Mauro, has been found by the national media.

Between scandals with the former Chief of Police and former Mayor in court, to the ongoing situation with the Thunder Bay Police Service and the Police Services Board, national coverage of Thunder Bay is often not the brightest picture that our city wants.

Questions:

  1. What as Mayor of Thunder Bay would you do to boost solid good paying jobs in our city?
  2. As Mayor how would you market our city to companies to attract them to Thunder Bay? What experience do you bring to the table in this area.
  3. Do you feel that “Legacy” projects like an Event Centre and an Indoor Turf Facility are major factors needed to bring in new companies to Thunder Bay? IF so why?
  4. Our city’s reputation due to national media coverage has struggled as what many see as the truth of the state of our city has been shared across the world. Being the “murder capital” and “overdose capital”
  5. Thunder Bay’s motto, “Superior by Nature”. In a world where diversity matters, some suggest this motto could be – based on some of the racist actions of Thunder Bay in the media – as saying “We are better than you”… Should it be changed?
  6. How would you as the Mayor make our economy stronger?

Here are Peng You’s Answers:

1. What as Mayor of Thunder Bay would you do to boost solid good paying jobs in our city? 

One of the pillars of my future plan is that of growth. Without it we are at risk of losing services that are so vital to our way of life and cannot grow services where there is a need. Residential tax rates pay for the bulk of operating costs in our city. This was not always the case, as you point out. As we have lost manufacturing and business tax, the burden has been on the residents and that has now peaked. 

Government agencies, while they employ persons, do not generate growth. Business does that and we need to encourage and welcome more business into our community from manufacturing, resource services to small business including retail, food service and tourism related efforts. It is vital we focus on growth and that means making our city attractive. 

I would like to help to bring new investments to our City and encourage the indigenous communities and investors and/or companies to work together. 

2. As Mayor how would you market our city to companies to attract them to Thunder Bay? What experience do you bring to the table in this area. 

As you may be aware, we have limited ability to provide incentives to new business by law, however we can do things that make us more competitive. This begins with a customer focussed attitude . . . what is it that we can do. An aggressive outreach to those industries that align with services we currently have and/or can grow. Take care of our existing industries and lobby heavily for future projects either with public or private sector funds and finally improve our image overall. I am an active and experienced promoter and have a solid and positive relationship with governments overall. 

As a business owner myself, I understand the needs of business owners which is a solid base necessary to dialogue with potential businesses. I also have many connections with business communities both nationally and internationally. I am also on the Board of Directors of the CEDC, am a recipient of the Chinese-Canadian Entrepreneurs Award and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Award. 

3. Do you feel that “Legacy” projects like an Event Centre and an Indoor Turf Facility are major factors needed to bring in new companies to Thunder Bay? IF so why? 

I believe a variety of services, including recreational, the arts etc., do better to attract new business because we also are able to better attract families who will be employed by them. Attracting employees to our area is a challenge, not only because we are considered remote, but because we have a challenged reputation when it comes to the sophistication of our community and what it has to offer. Some of this is fact, much is fiction. Unfortunately, we may have focussed more on legacy than the recreation or service itself. In the case of a turf facility, we could provide a place to play indoors with the collaboration of community partners and user groups, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the project as it was envisioned. 

4. Our city’s reputation due to national media coverage has struggled as what many see as the truth of the state of our city has been shared across the world. Being the “murder capital” and “overdose capital” 

5. Thunder Bay’s motto, “Superior by Nature”. In a world where diversity matters, some suggest this motto could be – based on some of the racist actions of Thunder Bay in the media – as saying “We are better than you”… Should it be changed? 

I am going to combined 4 and 5 because basically what we are speaking to in both of these is image. Too often “slogans” are taken to be more than their intent. Superior by Nature, of course, is a play on words, designed to attract tourists to Lake Superior, where we have superior natural beauty. For someone from outside the community, who is the main audience, it provides a vision in words to where they may wish to visit and is not meant to indicate anything more than that in my opinion. 

It is unfortunate that our community has experienced primarily negative coverage of criminal activity and the issues of racism that exist. Some would say that the emphasis by the national media is on the negative aspects and do not fairly represent those living here and those attempting to make change. This may be true however, without a focused effort by all of us to make positive change and to promote that outside, we will continue to be characterized in this manner. Change of attitude takes work not just outside of our community, but in instilling pride within. We need to actively work on this. 

6. How would you as the Mayor make our economy stronger. 

As indicated earlier, one of my main pillars is growth. This requires a diversity of our economy from strengthening natural resource industries, providing policy and support that supports this, incorporating affordable housing and availability to families that wish to move here, providing services to these families and the list goes on. The main things is emphasis and evaluation of growth. The arrow has to go up, not decrease or be maintained as we do now. That takes effort and focus. 

I believe that Indigenous business will be a strong part of our economy.