The community has a relatively simple choice this election between two people who it knows well and knows what to expect from each. In fact, our leadership styles, track records, overall vision, and thinking are completely different. The community can now see and directly compare the actual results of the two leadership styles and thinking between the two candidates for Mayor. This provides Cochrane a unique and great opportunity to make informed choices this election, where in many elections it can be hard to tell the difference between candidates.
There are plenty of capable leaders in our community. I will promote and lead a council that focuses on creating the runways for ideas and initiatives to develop wings and take-off, engage our civic leaders, then clear the path for them to drive growth and success! Disabling red tape, process, and development barriers will be adjusted to enable progressive success and development.
I would promote a council table that:
- Values the fact that the people’s business is the people’s business and sees the importance to create easy access to itself, the Town Hall, and town information.
- Uses data, knowledge, and information to understand the new opportunities (and pitfalls) before us, and strategically plans how, when, and where we can take advantage of that.
- Values breaking trail as opposed to following the trail of others.
- And that takes great pride in a progressive, build and create, we are capable mantra maximizing opportunity for our community and taking advantage of that.
Together, we would promote a progressive, build and create, prosperous, bigger thinking culture that our community will need to not only take advantage of the post-pandemic new world and opportunities but to bring Doctors back to Cochrane, to actually repair streets and infrastructure, while seeing the importance of keeping taxes low and competitive.
If you’re looking for leadership that will maintain the status quo, minimize, force austerity measures and limits things to simple core needs, then honestly your vote will likely be wasted on me. If you’re looking for someone who will think big, think capable, who will seek to discover and maximize opportunity, who will get out front and lead, while putting all the smart people in our community in a position to reach their full potential while driving their own affairs, then I hope you will consider placing your vote and trust with me once again.
Onward and Upward
Since being first elected in 2010 the hasn't changed!
Throughout the campaign I will release a plank in the campaign platform. Be sure to keep an eye on this page to see it all unfold.
HELP FOR LOW INCOME SENIORS
COMPREHENSIVE ROAD REPAIR PROGRAM
BRING MORE DOCTORS BACK TO COCHRANE
DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE HOUSING STRATEGY
LEAD A PROGRESSIVE AND VIBRANT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CULTURE
Help for Low Income Seniors
Seniors are the backbone of every community. This is why I will advocate for real tangible assistance that helps seniors in two critical areas:
- Support a subsidy on property taxes for low-income seniors who own their homes.
- Return the annual donation (which was canceled by this council) to both Club Amicale and the Second Mile Club.
- Studies clearly show the importance of providing activity and recreation for seniors and the impact it has not only on their personal welfare but on lowering health care costs.
Comprehensive Road Repair Program
Roads are a challenge in every community. It is a large capital expense that just keeps getting more and more expensive, with less and less to pay for it. This is why we will work with the Town and council to be innovative in how we generate additional revenues, how we maximize funding opportunities, and how we use innovative techniques to produce more paved streets..
- We Will Work With Council And The Town To:
- Ensure the ten-year capital roads plan developed by the previous council is up to date.
- Develop a program that will:
- Maximize upon techniques like the “shave and pave” approach to road repair, which will allow much more paving to be done than the current approach of paving and doing infrastructure at the same time.
- Target five kilometers per year which will set us on a course of about 7 years to pave all roads in Cochrane Proper (the Town itself).
- Set aside a separate levy that can be easily viewed by the taxpayer on their bill (as was done with the Water Tower).
- This ensures that:
- The money will be dedicated to the project, regardless of what council is in place.
- That the taxpayer can see progress and when it will be paid down.
- This ensures that:
- Develop a program that will:
- Present This Plan With All Options On How To Pay, And Seek The Support Of The Community To Choose An Option.
BRING MORE DOCTORS BACK TO COCHRANE
The doctor shortage in Northern Ontario has been around for decades. It’s not something that is new. Cochrane previously had a doctor for everyone despite this shortage, and because we collaborated within the complex network of agencies involved, we successfully competed with other communities for their services.
- We Will Re-energize The Social Development Assets, Celebrations, And Recreational Opportunities In Our Community To Help Attract Doctors (and their families) To Choose To Live And Raise Their Families Here.
- We Will Engage The Capable Leaders And Practitioners In Our Community To Develop A Task Force Of Experts To Collaborate, Analyze, And Present Options. Amongst Others, This Important Exercise Will Bring Together:
- The Hospital
- The Family Health Team / Clinic
- The CDSSAB
- The Town
- The Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association
- The Northern Ontario School of Medicine
- We Will Assist In Funding This Initiative While Promoting A Collaboration Between All Involved.
- We Will Donate $30,000 Toward Doctor Recruitment Efforts.
- We Will Work With The Doctor Recruitment Task Force To Develop A Comprehensive Plan As Part Of The Housing Strategy To Develop Both Transitional And Long-Term Housing Options For Doctors That Successfully Competes What Other Municipalities Are Doing.
Develop A Comprehensive Housing and Rental PROPERTY sTRATEGY
To attract and RETAIN folks (including doctors) to our community to increase our revenue base, it's important to have a well thought out strategy that focusses on providing both temporary and permanent housing options. There are over 1,200 lots available in our community, including a 400-lot subdivision that centers like Timmins don't even have. We made this investment in our previous term to put Cochrane in a good position to attract new mines and developers, which is why we are now well positioned to attract the new mining project (First Nickle) here.
- We Will Engage The Experts In Our Community And Launch A Housing Strategy Task Force That Will Include:
- Real Estate Agents
- The Town
- Folks who have moved here and stayed
- Folks who have moved here a left
- We Will Focus On:
- A comprehensive strategy that combines tax breaks, interest-free loans, low-cost mortgages, discount housing costs, and attractive rebates.
- Transitional housing (rentals) to address the immediate shortfall in this area.
- The over 1,200 lots available in town and work with the town to develop a comprehensive strategy on how to make the best use of and minimize infrastructure needs.
- Explore the potential of a dedicated part of the community where tax rates and housing development opportunities can be catered to doctors.
- Subsidies to low-income seniors who own their homes.
- Maximizing social and recreational opportunities that help retain people who move here.
LEAD A PROGRESSIVE AND VIBRANT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CULTURE
Historically, municipalities focus on economic development, which is important. Modern thinking now recognizes that social development is just as important and in fact a key part of economic development. The challenge is not just economic development, but socio-economic development. Part of attracting doctors and others to relocate here is what the community offers to them to raise their families. A vibrant, active, socially diversified community not only attracts folks, but it also RETAINS them.
When we celebrate and recreate together often we not only help our community become a happier healthier place to live, we take the biggest step toward attraction and retention, which includes:
- attracting our youth back from centers that have all of this,
- attracting doctors and their families to choose Cochrane,
- creating important marketing profile for our community,
- and generating healthy community pride.
This is why we will promote a culture that maximizes the opportunity for community celebration, festivals, events, and economic development that includes:
Bringing The Beach & Waterfront Back To Its Glory Days
The beach is a unique asset available to our community that many other communities only wish to have. It has been central to the upbringing of every generation in our community.
While Mr. Clement has publically stated at the Meet the Candidates Night that if elected he will not invest in the beach, we will not only make it a focal point we will bring it back to its glory days by:
- providing healthy, active options for our children which include:
- free waterslides
- nominal costing watercraft rentals
- weekly recreational activities like volleyball and water polo,
- revisiting the splash pad which was canceled by Mr. Clement.
- sponsored community BBQs.
- Generate the revenues to pay for this by re-engaging the community in innovative initiatives (like municipal boards) to directly redirect profits from community celebrations and festivals. This means the money is new money that comes from outside of the tax levy.
Maximizing the Usage of Both The Tim Horton Events Center and the Commando Park Pavillion
When both the Tim Horton Events Center and the Pavillion were created it was with the intention of maximizing community gatherings and celebrations, while attracting economic driving events to our community. These two assets are among the newest and most modern recreational assets in the entire region.
As the old saying goes, a realized outcome is a planned one. This is why we will promote the development of formalized marketing and usage plans for each facility, which lays out exactly how they will be utilized throughout the year. While creating new exciting events for our community we will also re-energize existing successful events such as:
- Live by The Lakeside
- Open mike for local musicians and artists.
- Farmers markets
- Community swim
We will promote a culture that sees these assets as key components of our community and maximizes their potential.
Introducing Community Block Parties
We will promote the creation of a program that will allow the community to apply for Block Party Permits. If the block agrees to have a celebration, they will apply and if granted, can hold their own celebration. The street will be closed off to local traffic and folks can gather on the street to celebrate whatever is important to them.
This will promote an active and engaged community that embraces our unique way of life.
This will also help create a more diverse and tolerant community as it is proven clearly that having fun together is the key to eliminating prejudice and stereotyping.
Re-Establishing A Program That Will Provide Community Assets to The Community For Reduced Rates and Even Free In Some Cases
Part of the bigger picture associated with social development as discussed above is the important role it not only plays in attracting and retaining new folks to relocate but in the contribution it makes toward happy healthy communities. Revenues from festivals and celebrations are redirected back into local recreation (including helping the less fortunate participate in sports programs and events). At the same time, it can be an important economic generator as well. The commercial industry relies on tools like “Loss Leaders” to attract more participation, which in turn generates more revenue.
This is why we will promote reintroducing the program we had established previously which saw our community assets provide to the community for community celebrations and events at reduced rates, and even free (as a loss leader). This generates much more activity than charging exorbitant fees thinking this helps pays for the facilities. The extra activity translates into more celebrations and events, which translates into more revenue, which means more to pay for facilities, more for the recreation board to reinvest back into recreation itself, more to help the less fortunate children in our community participate in sports programs with their friends, and more new money outside of the tax levy not impacting taxes.
It’s all part of a Bigger thinking, build and create approach.
Generating New Money Completely Outside Of The Tax Levy Through Innovative Tools Like The Recreation Board
Volunteerism is the foundation of progressive and motivated communities in small-town Canada. It’s becoming harder and harder to attract folks to give their limited time in today’s busy society to their community.
In order to afford the lifestyles larger urban centers have that attract folks away from our communities, we have to find ways to generate revenue and lower costs. Volunteers are passionate, community champions who drive events, which drive revenues, which pay for the lifestyle. They are also the very folks who will be receiving the service so who better to drive it?
We create tools like municipal boards which engage our community in a more meaningful manner than advisory committees. Volunteers won’t participate on advisory committees anymore which see them make recommendations that don’t get followed and generate revenues that just get lost in the town coffers. There is no real tangible reward for their effort.
A recreation board is an innovation that allows volunteers to have a bigger role in the planning of recreation and the spending of the money they generated for free. The board provides the town and council with an annual recreation plan that has been created between them and the Town. The plan identifies how they would like to spend the money they generated. The previous board, before being shut down by Mr. Clement, had over $115,000 in their account at the time. This money would typically be reinvested back into things like:
- the exciting lake developments,
- underprivileged children being subsidized to play in sports programs with their friends,
- tournaments like the Dudley Hewitt cup,
- parks and green spaces,
- bigger festivals,
- trails around the lake,
- free waterslides at the beach,
- The only free bike share program in Ontario,
- And future park development
This is how we have an exciting, vibrant community while doing so cheaper than the current austerity approach. It’s not paid for by taxes. It’s new money, generated by the very people who will benefit from the service.
A bigger thinking approach!
Splash Pad & Docks Short Video
Here is the Splash Pad Park we had planned to be built in 2019. It was completely funded by the Recreation Board, local community investors, and the Province.
It has been canceled by Mr. Clement.
We will reintroduce this and work with everyone to recover financing and try to get the initiative back off the ground again.
Establish Cochrane As Important Regional Multi-Modal Hub
With Rail, forestry, mining, laboratory, and a number of secondary industries, Cochrane already has one of the most diversified economies in the region. At the same time, the future will depend on how well we continue to rethink and build upon this foundation.
We've built multi-modal transportation into our strategic plan as a pillar for our economy going forward. The plan calls for moving all freight from the south by rail to Cochrane, while off loading onto trucks from here to be delivered nationally east and west. The long term vision even includes exploring other transportation solutions like small zeppelin style airships that carry about 20 passengers and 20 tons of freight at the same time. The scope explores building a port on the coast so freight can leave the Cochrane hub on air ships, trucks, or trains to go in any direction.
We have already invested in the fuel offload components at about $1.2 million dollars and this infrastructure is up and going. We are just about to receive the funding to implement phase two which is agriculture silos and capacity. This is an ambitious and forward thinking plan that will help modernize our economy. It has the potential to be another boom and paradigm shift for our community.
It's critical to have the right leadership, with the vision and modern, progressive thinking required to ensure this does not become minimized and continues to responsibly move ahead.
Pursue the Reopening of Cochrane Power
The decision to shut down Cochrane Power was a political one. The Plant was producing affordable, reliable, renewable green energy for decades before it became popular to do so. The Recreation Board has been working diligently to find the resources to try and re-establish the beach as that core part of our community, that will allow our children and their children to identify with what their parents and grand parents did. If successful, we will have effectively made the beach an anchor for every generation since the town was established.
I believe we can demonstrate to the new government that the Plant can actually save them energy costs. I also have established relationships in the new government and hope that helps get through the barriers that have led to its closure.
This is a complicated, tactical challenge that will require the kind of leadership that can strategically navigate that mine field in front of it and find success. Even with the realtionships we will need to have the fortitude to get through the barriers and sell the upstart.
Develop Affordable Public Transit
With an aging population and an actively developing community creating a variety of services throughout the town for both seniors and tourists, the municipality needs to be building infrastructure with these future needs in mind. If we're just maintaining today's infrastructure, we're not preparing for tomorrow's needs.
A public transit system of one or two buses, set up on a circuit that targets the places seniors and the less mobile need to do their business, and places where we have valuable tourist attractions that we have invested into, would be the kind of modern, progressive and responsible thinking that municipal leadership must be contemplating. The challenge is to do it innovatively and such that the cost is mostly offset and responsible.
For example, the bus would provide access to key banks, the Post Office, Drug Store, Grocery Stores, and shopping centers, while also providing access and driving tourism money to the Pavilion, the Tim Horton Events Center, the Polar Bear Habitat, the Train Station, and the highway business district.
We have secured the rare opportunity at both operating and capital funding. A plan needs to be put in place that will allow us to use the funding to attract a private operator to run the service. The innovation is we use the private sector to run the service so it doesn't become a cost burden on the municipality. While the private sector operates and runs the service, the Town would regulate it to ensure the service is in the public's interest.
We have begun discussions with the private sector and having the kind of leadership that can create the outcome, negotiate it and drive the access to funding to create the incentive for the service to get off the ground in the first place, will be critical to seeing this through. If successful, Cochrane will once again have broken trail for many other smaller municipalities to follow suit, while providing our community another modern, progressive, leading edge service that is responsibly paid for.
Rethink Roads by Creating a Modern, Innovative & Aggressive, Long Term Roads Repair Plan
Some argue we cannot afford recreation and social developments because our roads need repair. Others argue recreation and life style are more important. My position is that it's not an either / or proposition. We have to find ways to do both.
Modern, progressive and responsible strategic financial management is how we have accelled in social and recreational development while also being aggressive on road repairs. This same thinking can be used to accelerate the amount of roads work we do every year. It starts with long term planning that will allow the town to focus on where repairs need to be done, when they need to be done and how much they cost. The securing of funding to do that also is set into motion to ensure that when a particular repair is up, the money is there.
This plan needs to be in place up front and available when periodic funding comes up so we can be "shovel ready" and can go after the funding ahead of others. As well, the methodology we use needs to be rethought to place a higher emphasis on paving production every year.
Once the plan is complete a by-law should be created to solidify the commitment to ensure the reserves are built to pay for the outcomes planned.
The key to all this is money, planning and creative strategy. In today's municipal world where funding is dwindling and needs are growing, modern, progressive and strategic financial management is the fastest and most productive way to address this issue. Out of the box thinking like, an investment in this kind of long term infrastructure should be spread across the generations that use it instead of trying to get one generation to pay for everyone.
The roads and infrastructure challenge is a real one and its the same for every municipality because in large part no one would spend the money when it was needed and now everything has fallen apart. The challenge is a modern day challenge that requires modern, progressive strategic thinking, and the kind of leadership that is forward and leading edge thinking, while also being competent in leveraging money into even more money.
Help Local Commerce Sector Grow & Modernize Through A Progressive Community Improvement Plan
A Community Improvement Plan is a tool used to establish business priorities, focus and investment. These Plans are viewed by upper levels of government as necessary to securing funding and resources to grow commerce locally.
Cochrane has developed it’s first Community Improvement Plan this past Summer. The plan is a comprehensive roadmap for local businesses to follow in organizing their efforts, generating new ideas and securing the resources and incentives to follow them through. Our plan has a series of funds established in it that are available to local businesses that they can tap into to do things like:
- Improve store fronts;
- Invest in tourism tools, such as way finding signage to drive foot traffic to their establishments;
- Improvements to encourage local shopping;
- Marketing assistance;
These funds are customized local funds for local commerce only. They are built from provincial funding accessed through seed money provided by the town.
Community Improvement Plans are generating success stories right across the province and they are a forward thinking leading edge tools that communities need to be driving from the grass roots up.
This plan having the opportunity to bring success and progressive evolution to local commerce requires the kind of modern, progressive and responsible leadership that will make it a priority and drive it forward. The kind of leadership that will put everyone in the best position to make the best of the opportunity and reach full potential.
Implement a Forward Thinking Reverse Migration Strategy that will Rethink Relocation to Cochrane
Historically, small communities like ours have accepted the premise that our youth and others will eventually leave and migrate to larger centers, further south. And until recently, there wasn't much that could be done to change that.
My preference is not to capitulate to external pressure and give in, but to embrace it, understand it, and then go on the offensive to change the outcome for the better.
A new report has been released that points to how technology and modern access to communications now allows smaller communities to go on that offensive and actually reverse migration back to rural Ontario.
The plan is to study what folks in larger centers don’t have that we can provide, then to establish a modern, strategic marketing campaign to target populations and attract them here. For example, forty to fifty year old folks in the south can sell their expensive homes that they’ve paid for, buy a comparable home here for a fraction of the price and free up that equity at a point in their lives when they can make best use of it. We can offer things like:
- clean air;
- family orientated community raising of children;
- and the discovery nature of the great outdoors right in our back yard;
Can we also offer cheaper more affordable homes and life styles, thus access to homes and lives that may not exist in the larger centers?