Lora Petro Answers Questions 6 through 11

Lora Petro’s answers to 6 through 11, posted on the Questions page, are below. All of the candidates’ answers, if they answered, can be read on the candidate answers page.

6.  I will absolutely commit to obtaining cost comparison policing for the municipality. It would only be prudent to ensure the policing is both cost effective and maintains the level of service we have come to demand and expect. Although the OPP has been discussed before, the Town would benefit to ensure that cost comparison of a regional policing strategy option, or RCMP policing be discussed and entertained. The decision of a change, or to maintain the current service of policing must be done in the best interest of the community that provides the best service and cost for residents.

The clause in the contract would require negotiations to eliminate thereby ensuring the security of our civil servants. If OPP takeover were to occur, pensions and seniority of service would need to be factored into negate the clause in fairness. If and when members of the service and Union felt a fair offer was made would the clause thus be eliminated.

I would only commit to the removal of the clause if a fair trade was negotiated for our police officers that have worked hard for us in any change of service.

7.  I believe the budget expanded to allow for the promotion of the anniversary of the War of 1812. Tourism may not directly impact everyone, however it does account for an impact to the community at large. By promoting the town, while attracting new developers, new residents, and increasing tourism allows a positive cash flow into the town itself thereby reducing debt ratios, increasing money spent at our destinations, and potentially courting new residents to our Town. A base salary should be determined for the department (eg. $100,000/yr) and would not represent any one time funding for events deemed major. Furthermore, new business is attracted through community promotion, marketing, networking and contact development and is retained through fostering sustainability and growth. All of those are, and should be, the focus of tourism and economic development.

8.  An audit of all departments should occur to identify any unnecessary or duplicate programs or services as a way to buffer cuts to core services that may not be able to reduce their budget. Although restructuring of Town Hall may be necessary to shift responsibilities, and may lead to position elimination this may be lessened if individual departments find the means to ‘cut’ their budgets. These monies should be set towards to debt and reserves funds.

Spending must be reduced by all parties (including Council expenses). This should be looked at closely with budget cuts made as necessary. As part of my campaign platform I have mentioned that cutting of the budget and cost savings need to be maximized before any of the burden is placed on the residents of Amherstburg.

9:  Creating a ‘walkable neighbourhood’ within our municipality will allow for the creation of safe, sustainable and independent mobility. This task not only encompasses the communities above, but the entire municipality. Serving such a large catchment area, focus should be initially on those of highest population density with the most in need (ie. seniors, those with disabilities etc.). With such a task, in a grand scheme, partnerships should be developed to ensure we as a Municipality are following guidelines that have been established and found to be effective and beneficial in other communities. These agencies include: Walk Friendly Ontario, Pathway to Potential,  and the Transportation Association of Ontario, just to name a few. Collaboration between municipal departments, other agencies, the private sector, non-profit organizations and community groups will allow the creation of a powerful relationship to aide in this process of creating a walkable neighbourhood.

10:  The establishment of regional transit has been discussed many times among the current and past county Councils. Official Plan policies of both the County of Essex and the City of Windsor acknowledge that comprehensive regional transportation policies and implementation strategies are needed to effectively address regional transportation needs now through to 2021. (Essex-Windosr Regional Transportation Master Plan, 2005). With a secondary initiative planned to connect smaller areas with low ridership potential, Alternative Service Delivery methods such as TransCab service (contracted cabservice) could be extended from the end of a fixed bus route. (EWRT – Master Plan 2005). This must continue into a long term model to include our Municipality for bus service to our residents. I would continue to work with these organizations and advocate for our residents for the establishment of regional transit or alternate service delivery method with community agencies to allow for increased mobility for our residents, alongside a decreased carbon footprint for our area.

With discussion ongoing regarding the realignment of hospital health care, and The Mega Hospital, the municipality needs a voice at the healthcare realignment table to ensure our Town continues to receive the care and services needed for the health of our residents. Advocation of outpatient clinics would also allow for increased accessibility to services. As a Nurse Practitioner, and previous Volunteer Paramedic I have seen what detriments occur when people cannot see their providers, specialists etc. due to transit issues. I advocate for my patients on a daily basis, and would advocate for our Town to ensure these needs are emphatically voiced.

11:  Financial and economic issues that the current Municipality of Amherstburg is facing are sadly not unique. With the downturn of the economy and loss of jobs in surrounding communities (eg. Heinz, Honeywell, General Chemical etc) our residents as well as others in neighbouring municipalites are suffering. Financial and economic issues affect Amherstburg, Essex County, Ontario and Canada. Without the remediation and risk reduction multiple issues can and may arise.

Societal Issues  – Societal issues facing the Municipality of Amherstburg include social disorganization, with a risk for a negative impact on infrastructure and the importation of new developments and business opportunity. Our financial issues also impact stakeholder trust and relationships negatively. We must maintain these relationships in a positive light to continue for long term success, competitive advantages and resilience. The need to build and maintain appropriate working relationships with all relevant levels of government to promote a healthy business environment, advance business interests, achieve timely approvals and maintain their social ability to operate is of significant importance.

Environmental Issues – Currently in our news is the blue-green algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie that has the potential to choke the mouth of the Detroit River and impact our water quality. Our Town also faces several unique to the area issues, such as its proximity to Fermi 2, Regional Land Fill, Air and Water quality in proximity to Detroit and surface water contamination from agricultural practices. We also face environmental impacts from the construction of the Rt. Honourable Herb Gray Parkway and the New International Trade Crossing encompassing the above as well as impacts on wildlife. As a Councillor, I would advocate for a stronger Federal pressure at the international level to mitigate these risks and development of best practice policies and procedures. Ongoing vigilance is required to keeping on top of the fast-evolving business impacts of key environmental and social issues. Informed council asking the right questions will make all the difference.