What are your thoughts on economic development?

As part of the all candidates meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on October 9, we were asked to submit responses to five questions about economic development and business in Port Hope. My responses are below. You can find the responses of the other candidates at http://www.porthopepolitics.ca/election-2018.html

What is your plan for the Municipality over the next 4 years?

There are five key things that I believe the municipality needs to focus on over the next four years to ensure a stable long-term community:

  • develop the second phase of the strategic plan (2019-2021), and prepare for the subsequent plan (2022 onward);
  • revisit existing waterfront plans and create a consolidated master plan that we can actually act upon as the PHAI clean up progresses;
  • tackle the affordable housing crisis through changes in zoning and bylaws, provisioning of land, and acquisitions or partnerships with developers;
  • continue the work the current council has done to build our financial reserves;
  • improve open, frequent, easy-to-understand communication from the municipality on our plans and actions.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the business sector in the Municipality and how do you plan to address it?

The municipality has seen successes over the last term in attracting new business investment to the municipality. Now we have to figure out how to staff those businesses. The biggest issue we face is affordable housing – without it, finding or keeping employees will be difficult.

I believe the municipality needs to: update zoning and bylaws to allow more accessory units; work with developers to add affordable units (e.g., through accessory units, a required proportion of affordable units, etc); provide land or financial support to our community partners engaged in this issue; and examine the feasibility of acquiring and/or partnering with developers to repurpose the vacant properties in the municipality.

Explain your understanding of economic development and describe the significance to our community.

Economic development is the strategic and tactical efforts we put into both attracting new businesses, residents, and investment to our community, and supporting and growing the economy we already have here. Without economic development, our community will stagnate.

We need to increase revenues to provide better services – through development charges and net new property tax payers – and to have a community and culture that is welcoming, engaging, and attractive – through increased employment, increased tourism, and increased resident spending within our community.

In light of the fact that the municipality does not have staff with a direct economic development portfolio, how will you address this potential gap in services if you are elected?

The new Community Development director position that is actively being hired will focus primarily on economic development. It is also my understanding that we had an Economic Development Task Force comprising several engaged, intelligent people – I would like to see a group of community experts recruited to work with the new director/department.

The downtown core is an integral part of the business community, however there are businesses throughout the municipality including, but not limited to, home based and agri-businesses. What do you believe the municipality can do to support the businesses throughout the entire community and not just in the downtown core?

We must ensure that we are listening and giving just as much weight to the concerns of our non-downtown businesses, and advocating just as staunchly for their continued growth and improvement.

We could increase the visibility of our rural businesses in the downtown core – showcase them in our planters and flowerbeds,better promote the businesses at the farmers’ market, and have more frequent marketplaces like those during the summer artsmarket and Cultivate. Our own citizens are not aware of all of the great things we have at our doorstep.

While the municipality is not a telecommunications provider, we should be pursuing any opportunities to work with or be part of provincial or federal initiatives that are improving rural high-speed internet access.

We should hold more meetings and events at rural spaces (e.g., the Community Hub in Canton).

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