THUNDER BAY – Civic Election – McKellar Ward is one of the key wards in Thunder Bay encompassing a wide area including Intercity, the downtown areas of both sides of the city.
NetNewsLedger reached out to all of the candidates seeking to represent the ward on a number of questions. Cory Bagdon, Stephanie Danylko, Brian Hamilton, and Lori Paras are the candidates in McKellar Ward.
All of the responses are run verbatim.
What is the most important issue in the Ward? What would you do as Councillor to solve that issue.
- The McKellar Ward is very diverse. Needs and aspirations vary from one neighbourhood to the next. However a common concern through the entire ward is the addictions crisis and it’s collateral effects; crime, vandalism, community safety and deep poverty. As anyone involved in this crisis knows, there are no silver bullet solutions aside from hard work. I see my role as your ward councillor to not only advocate for increased funding from upper government but to be a facilitator between front line organizations and the various departments of the city: bylaw, land development, TBDSSAB, emergency services and the various committees and strategies tasked with this work. I have earned a seat at the various tables because I’m highly involved; as a peer support, system navigator and friend to the people at the centre of this crisis. The work continues, the road is long.
Kam River Park – NetNewsLedger has repeatedly said that park is a hidden gem. With the failure of the COTB to maintain the James Whalen and the VIA Train, as Ward Councillor what would you do to ensure that the park is there for the people?
- Kam River Park is one of the few waterfront attractions in the south end of Thunder Bay. The James Whalen and Via Rail trains served as a beloved backdrop to the park celebrating Thunder Bay’s heritage. Kaministiquia River Heritage Park should be explored as a suitable location for a future transportation museum. Having an anchor tenant at the park would generate visitor traffic to the site and serve as a focal attraction in a newly revitalized Fort William Business District. The park is beautiful, culturally significant and reflects our symbiotic relationship with our most cherished resource, water. Partnerships should be explored. A couple years ago I set up a full patio cafe on the board walk. It felt great. Lots of potential here.
Roads and Infrastructure: McKellar Ward has some of the busiest and most important roads in the city. Memorial Ave, May Street, Simpson Street, Algoma and Court Street. Many of those roadways remain in very rough shape. What would you do as Ward Councillor to solve this?
- There is no ‘solving’ the roads dilemma. Roads will always be a work-in-progress in a northern climate. The performance of our road network is often tied to our underground infrastructure. Water main breaks continue to cause significant road damage, leaving drivers to navigate the ugly utility cuts(See Simpson St & Algoma St S.) I have supported increasing capital spending by a minimum of 5% each year and the finance plan to rehab our waterworks system. Rough roads with well performing sewers underneath should be considered for repaving, like the upcoming Simpson St. resurfacing scheduled to begin next year. Investments in storm water management will be essential in preparing for the extreme weather of the future.
Over the past four years, the issue of Dease Park Pool has remained a focal point. Saving the pool saw one of the largest public petitions submitted to City Council. Do you believe as Ward Councillor you should listen to the people in the case of such petitions? If so why? If not, why not?
- Iterations of councils have ignored maintenance of Dease Pool which ultimately led to its closing in 2018. Not to cast blame, budgets are tough, but the lesson here is that we need to be able to maintain our current asset portfolio before building new. Notwithstanding operational challenges in aquatics right now, a new pool at Dease would mean less infrastructure dollars to properly maintain other important assets(Port Arthur Stadium, Widnal Pool, Facilities, Roads, Lead Pipes) Ironically, the same status quo approach that led to the closure of Dease Pool. The petition spoke to the love of the historic pool, which is palpable and appropriate. However a petition cannot replace good urban planning, asset management or equitable distribution of services.
What message would you share with the voters in the ward on why you should represent them.
- My last four years on council have been busy. I have advocated tirelessly for residents’ issues in every department of the city: Bylaw, Development Services, First Response, Garbage, Roads, Engineering, Traffic, Tourism, Economic Development, Social Services, Finance. I know how to get things done. As well, my knowledge of the most pressing issue of our time, the addictions crisis is informed by relevant, street level experience. I understand this issue well and if elected, and with your support will continue to move the dial forward, ensuring Thunder Bay has a safe and bright future for all.