Will you remove barriers during Open Air weekends that block people with disabilities from driving to the bank, local stores, bars, and generally driving through town?

The sixth candidate to answer:

Hi Linda,

Thanks for your question and for doing this for the residents of Amherstburg.

I see Open Air Amherstburg as a living, evolving event that can be tweaked and adjusted in an ongoing manner. It’s a tricky situation as half the businesses feel that it is a great benefit to them and half feel it reduces their business. I know that this year the footprint was adjusted in order to allow some businesses to be outside the closed streets and I know the town did add additional handicap-designated parking spots at the corner of Richmond and Ramsay and the corner of Murray and Ramsay. As well, the parking lot at Richmond and Dalhousie is open for accessible parking.  But as I said before – it can always be assessed and modified to accommodate differing needs and circumstances and I am open to hearing ideas and proposals..

All the best,

the burg watch questionnaire sent September 9; second to answer September 12.

Do you anticipate having to declare any pecuniary interest?

At this time I do not anticipate any pecuniary interest declarations. I do have a spouse who’s family business is in an aspect of the  construction industry – there may come a time when they may respond to a municipal project RFP – at that time I would absolutely declare the conflict.

What does ‘accessible’ mean to you?

Accessible to me, in the context of people with disabilities, means that they are given the same opportunity to engage and enjoy the same services, information etc that persons without disabilities do. I also use accessibility in the context of our municipality regarding amenities, programs etc that we should strive to provide for our residents – here and accessible in Amherstburg.

What community groups do you belong to?

I am on the board of directors for the Amherstburg Community Foundation and I am a member of THRIVE Amherstburg. I have also volunteered for various events and with community groups across town over the years.

What three things would you do to prove the town is committed to Open Government?

  1. I would increase communication between administration and the public and council and the public. I find much of the dissatisfaction from residents stems from misinformation or no information. Council/Administration need to let residents know what is being decided and why, how and when.

  2. I would definitely like to see our town website tweaked a bit to make it easier for the public to access whatever information they need.

  3. I’d like to see more public input on future projects – Talk the Burg is great but generally only gets a few hundred responses. We can’t base decisions on that small a sample so we need to figure out how to get input from a wider demographic.

Who should determine priorities for the town?

It is my belief that determining possible priorities is a job for many different groups. It’s a process that needs to be done in consultation with the public, stakeholders, businesses, community organisations and administration in order to get a bigger picture of all possibilities but in the end the prioritisation of any and all ideas falls to administration in conjunction with council in consideration of the best interests of the municipality as a whole – they need to work together to winnow out what can or should be done.

How will you contribute to maintaining decorum at council and committee meetings?

I would like to see the return of  the use of titles and last names used during meetings. Council using administration or delegates full names is not only a sign of respect but for the benefit of people at home (and in the gallery at town hall) it allows them to know who is being asked a question and who is responding. I’d also like to add a quick reminder of protocol at the beginning of meetings so that the audience understands they cannot just speak from the gallery without first being acknowledged nor should there be outbursts during council or committee meetings. I believe it should go without saying that language should always be respectful.

How will you ensure the Boards and Committees Appointment Policy is adhered to?

I will review the policy in its entirety (I have already read over most policies including this one) when it comes time to choose members and then make sure that myself and fellow councillors are following its guidelines.

How will you demonstrate that your decision making reflects the interests of the community as a whole?

I hope to ensure that any decisions I make will be transparent and accountable in that I will utilize social media, email newsletters, a blog etc to let the public know about the decisions I’ve made or my position on issues and the why and how I came to those decisions. I believe that a lot of dissatisfaction from resident’s is from lack of information so I’d like to alleviate that by being open about why, how and when decisions are made AND implemented.

What civic engagement methods should the town implement?

The town should continue with online surveys, public consultations and public engagement sessions but we must step up our work in getting these things out to the people of our municipality. We need to use all our communication options so that people KNOW they can have a say and how. Perhaps a newsletter that goes out with tax notifications, a council brief in the River Town Times, more social media from town sources and from council members as well.

When did the town hold consultations regarding the proposed Libro Trail?

There were two sets of consultation held that included either specifically the Libro Centre amenities (like the trail) or the Parks Master Plan that encompassed the LIbro trail too. In Fall of 2017 for the purposes of the Parks Master Plan the town held an online survey, Talk the Burg survey, stakeholder interviews and internal consultation between council and administrative staff. In December of 2019 for the purposes of the Libro Master Plan the town held stakeholder meetings and then in January of 2020 there were public consultations and Advisory Committee endorsements from the Parks and Rec committee, the Senior’s Advisory Committee, The Mayor’s Youth Advisory and the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Again though, none of these were specific to JUST the LIbro Trail but to the park plans that included the Libro trail.

What would you do to change the timeframe for the posting of council and committee Minutes?

I always hope that minutes of any meetings or any public records are produced efficiently and quickly so that the public has access as expeditiously as possible. But it must also be understood that circumstances can be such that there could be a delay.

Are you aware of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy implications of the use of social media?

I am aware of the implications of MFIPP and social media. While all information contained in electronic messages to the municipality is subject to the MFIPP and the public should be aware of that – social media posts that are not in the care and control of the town, ie. private social media, and that are not conducting specifically the business of the municipality have sometimes been found to be exempt from a records search. The public should always be aware that while the municipality cannot collect info for marketing purposes, information collected through online forms and such may become part of the public record.

Copyright – this information is protected by Canada’s Copyright Act. Request written permission from the burg watch at gmail dot com.