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.
1. What is the most important issue in the Ward? What would you do as Councillor to solve that issue?
I don’t really believe that there is any one issue that is more important than any other issue in the McKellar Ward.
The opiate crisis that every municipality in North America is dealing with has also had a major impact on the McKellar Ward specifically. By downplaying the seriousness of this public health issue we are only missing important clues from the public as to how to address the consequences that everyone is experiencing as a result of this crisis.
The amount of crime that all people are experiencing regularly is also frustrating for Ward residents. This is on all levels, from petty crime and minor civil disobedience to high level gang related violence. This is an other critical issue that must be addressed.
The lack of resources that the Shelter House has to address the demand for those services has created a number spin-off issues that have had an impact on the level of confidence that members of the public have in how safe they feel on the streets in the Ward. This has impacted all areas of the Ward including public spaces like the Kam River Park, religious institutions and churches, residential neighbourhoods, as well as private businesses.
Realistically, it is not possible for any one person to be able to come in and solve any of these issues. The best mechanism for addressing these issues is to take a bottom up approach and reach out to those members of the communities who are most affected and try to address their needs directly. As a councillor, it would be my responsibility to reach out to those members of the public and to advocate for delivering the resources needed to those members of the ward who’s needs are not being met.
2. 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?
It really is not up to the councillors to decide how public spaces are going to be utilized. That responsibility rests on every member of the community ourselves. Currently, the park is being utilized by members of the public.
There are particular issues related to vandalism and crime in the park that have had negative impacts on the public space for everyone that should be addressed with resources that council can allocate, but it is not up to council to dictate how the public will use the space. There certainly is a lot that council can do to create more opportunity for the public to be able to utilize that space and to make it more accessible to everyone and there are a lot of people who have some really good ideas that can be discussed regarding those opportunities and mechanisms for increasing access.
3.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?
The condition of the roadways throughout the city is problematic for everyone. It is not just the main roadways listed above, there are issues with the roads in every neighbourhood in the Ward.
Unfortunately, there is a limit to the funding that can be allocated to maintaining the roads. This means that it is more an issue of setting priorities on which roads are going to be receiving what amount of funds for maintenance. As a councillor for the McKellar Ward I would be steadfast in my purpose to prioritize those roadways in the McKellar Ward that need it the most.
4.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?
I believe that as Ward Councillor I am fully accountable to those members of my ward who elected me, just as much as the members of the Ward who did not vote for me. It is also the responsibility of the Ward Councillors to act in the best interest of the public. As a public servant and a leader, it is not my job to tell people what to do, it is my job to make sure that we don’t do anything stupid.
5.What message would you share with the voters in the ward on why you should represent them.
Democracy is the most powerful tool that exists for community building. Democracy means that it is up to all of us as individuals to decide the direction we want our communities to take. True public servants who are in leadership positions will always put the public good first. It is not about any one person’s ego, or one person’s vision for what they believe will be the best thing for Thunder Bay.
As a public servant it is my responsibility to take actions and make decisions that put every member of the public first, and that ensure we can create diverse, adaptive, and sustainable communities that make every member of the public feel validated, accepted, and safe. Please vote.