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Downtown Sudbury Councillor Candidate Evening - Advance Questions & Answers

October 2, 2018

Downtown Sudbury is hosting a Councillor Candidates Evening on Wednesday, October 3rd from 6pm - 8pm at the McEwen School of Architecture. 
Councillor Candidates specific to the downtown wards - Wards 4, 10, 11 & 12 - have been invited to attend.

The following questions have been asked of the attending candidates. There will be follo-up questions asked at the meeting based on the following responses. 


1. How would you promote the downtown as a place to live and work? Ie incentives?

Geoff McCausland – Ward 4
I love our downtown for many reasons, and the community there is a big part of why I decided to make Sudbury my home. This central hub has many excellent and unique restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. The McEwen School of Architecture has brought an exciting energy with many creative minds, and the Place des Arts has chosen to make Downtown Sudbury an important hub for Franco-Ontarian culture. The Up Here festival is quickly putting Greater Sudbury on the map for public art in Canada, all while reminding us that art can bring people together and can playfully reshape our community. We have all the amenities of a bigger city, along with cultural events, easy access to nature, and a lifestyle that many people are looking for. I want us to market Greater Sudbury’s downtown as a place to live, work and play - full of energy, community, and opportunity.

To young professionals thinking of leaving Sudbury (or hopefully returning), to those from Toronto, across Canada, and internationally, we should be advertising Greater Sudbury’s big lifestyle and small price-tag. Move here, own your home, raise a family and play outside. In the coming years, as technology advances, many jobs will be less rooted in place and increasingly exist online. I think this will create an opportunity for many professionals to migrate to places like Sudbury. I believe we need to take advantage of that trend, and try to attract people and families to our city, one that I’m proud to call home.

Sharon Scott - Ward 4
There could be business workshops downtown where owners could have small talks about how they got started and why the downtown is a good place to be. There should also be an area that would display available housing options.

Fern Cormier – Ward 10
Through continued support for the incentive programs that are in place and expansion of those where needed as I would like to see increased residential investment in the downtown. I will also continue working with our Building Controls and Planning Departments in order to assist with the environmental issues that often create difficulties when attempting to convert unused commercial space to residential dwellings. This has lead to large costs for developers that often make the investment difficult to justify. I also believe that our Community Improvement Program needs to remain flexible in order to capitalize on investment opportunities that may come available between budget cycles.

Denis Ferron – Ward 10
I work downtown and l enjoy the close proximity to my home . I would like to see more weekend events and close off some streets on weekends and build an area for downtown parking. A good clean up of old buildings and a rebuild of new shops and condominiums. Incentives and partnerships need to be offered to developers to invest and build.

Steve Ripley – Ward 10
I would promote it by making the downtown more pedestrian/bike friendly and work diligently to help bring in and support festivals and activities in the downtown. I’d also like to see a winter carnival located in the downtown.

John Lindsay – Ward 11
First address citizen perceived problems which for many are parking, safety and cleanliness.  Removing convenient parking opportunities at the former market and the parking area to be occupied by Place des Arts and more spaces to be lost to the Elgin Greenway are counterproductive to attracting people downtown both day and evening.  We are a vehicle centric city and few walk, bike or take transit.  Ever increasing parking rates are also a determent.  Police presence it seems is almost non-existent, and there is litter frequently on streets and sidewalks.  Many in Greater Sudbury they would rather go to a mall, where there is no cost to park, it is clean and feels safe.  So downtown should become more of an open air mall, with better and more economical parking, more security and cleaner for both those who live and work there and for those others that come downtown to whatever reasons.  How to do this: first, stop building over parking areas including the Elgin Greenway  (unless and until parking structures are built if even affordable).  Hire security people to patrol the downtown and also someone to pick up litter.  Our downtown is not a large area so these individual s will be visible and should improve the overall image of the area.

Derek Young – Ward 11
Downtown Sudbury is a good place to live, work and play, however, as I have been out campaigning in various parts of ward 11, many residents do not seem to feel that way and feel that Downtown has had its day. They have a perception that Downtown is dirty, full of drugs, lacks parking and has many issues relating to social disorder. They don’t feel as though they have any incentive to come Downtown.

We have many working documents such as the Downtown Master Plan, Expressing Vibrancy and numerous other reports that speak well to the many positive things that exist Downtown that only lovers of our Downtown can seem to understand.

We must work collectively to address the many issues and perceptions people have with "real actions" otherwise we are flogging a dead horse and nothing we change. We need to be bold and innovative in our approach. We need a strong marketing campaign developed at the grassroots level that tells our story to the rest of Greater Sudbury.

As we continue to build Place des Arts, Elgin Greenway, the Junction and encourage more residential development, we must look at parking concerns and ensure municipal policies and bylaws are reflective of the Downtown environment and align with our City's goals. We must also understand our policies and decision making will impact other Downtown businesses. Some examples may include Residential Parking Permits, and replacing the current winter overnight parking ban with a snow day bylaw instead. I am also hearing that businesses in proximity to Place des Arts will not be renewing their leases due to a lack of accessible parking for their patrons. Before we can actively promote Downtown as a place live and work, we must have a serious look at ourselves and address the very real concerns that people have regarding our Downtown and why they choose to avoid it. If we can figure that out, we can have one of the best Downtown cores in the country.

Shawn Ouimet – Ward 12
By using the CIP and using the incentive programs that the city already has in place to invite and keep new business downtown.  Use the same contest promotion that the downtown currently promotes for new business and use it as a draw for large-scale “anchor” retail businesses to our downtown.


 

2. Many downtown projects are often delayed (ie Elgin Greenway, parking enhancements). These delays then result in substantial increases down the road when they are implemented – resulting in yet further delays. What will you do to ensure that decisions are made and projects move forward without delays?

Geoff McCausland – Ward 4

I am committed to realizing the Downtown Master Plan, the Official Plan, and our Cultural Plan. When decisions align with these documents and are supported by staff, they should be made with expedience. I think one thing that has caused gridlock for some projects is when city council decisions have been influenced by a limited number of vocal constituents, instead of being guided by plans, staff and evidence, alongside public consultation.

I believe that one of the biggest issues the city has is poor communication with residents, and a lack of transparency in the plans and in process. I want to help provide clear and thorough communication on these and other issues with my constituents so that we can ensure that community stakeholders understand the planning that has gone into these projects and the overall scenario and goals.

I am also committed to ensuring that the many towns that make up Greater Sudbury don’t have their own plans, events, and projects neglected. I believe that the rift between Downtown Sudbury and the towns that makeup Greater Sudbury that has grown post-amalgamation stems from a feeling of neglect in those towns. This manifests itself as protest for valid plans if they are concerning the downtown. I believe it is important to recognize that those residents’ frustration is legitimate and needs to be addressed in order for our city to heal and move forward together.

Sharon Scott - Ward 4
The city seems more worried about the prospect of failure than giving people a hand up. If projects are well planned then we need to cut the red tape and move on.

Fern Cormier – Ward 10
I, along with my colleagues, have asked for systems to be developed so that funding for proposals is considered at the front end of projects. Rather than have a great set of plans for something with no funding allocated for them I want to see funding options presented along side the plans so that Council can begin funding these projects right away. We have started this process with our business case models so that all projects have a price identified with funding options presented to Council at the project identification stage or during budget deliberations on an annual basis.

Denis Ferron – Ward 10
The whole process for developers is discouraging future investment and development, building permits need to be processed and approved much faster. Too much red tape and back and forth before anything moves forward. We need to get things changed for the better at building controls. Other communities have done it and we can too.

Steve Ripley – Ward 10
I would ensure I’d keep an open dialogue with the Mayor and the other councillors to make sure that urban renewal efforts are kept on track as they benefit everyone by strengthening the tax base by growing these businesses and keeping them profitable. When the downtown grows, so will the city.

John Lindsay – Ward 11
Instead of providing millions of dollars to the School of Architecture or to the proposed Arts Junction this money might have been better spent to encourage housing in the downtown in existing buildings.  There are very few vacant storefronts in the downtown unlike other communities, but more housing especially modestly priced would be beneficial and should be encouraged with parking for those with vehicles provided off site.  Also parking for government workers and private industry workers should be provided away from the downtown area such as over the CPR tracks at free or reduced rates to allow for more available parking downtown with perhaps first hour or two free.

Derek Young – Ward 11
The BIA and its leadership need to have a better working relationship with Tom Davies Square and not be too afraid to advocate on behalf of their members, although it is hard to so when under the BIA Act the annual operating budget is collected by the municipality through a tax levy. It is hard to bite the hand that feeds you. It's not always the city's fault nor the BIA that these projects get delayed. We currently have situations where board leadership has created a “them vs us” and “Downtown vs Greater Sudbury” scenario where nobody cares and the Downtown is suffering because of it.

To move these projects forward we should have a dedicated Downtown Economic Development Officer who will work with this BIA and be the liaison with City Hall. The BIA needs more teeth and resources. We need to practice what we preach. Under this current term of council, we have seen parking increase to $1.40 an hour and event parking go from $2 to $5 and the loss of 2 hours free parking at Beech Street. The BIA allowed this to happen and the board chair was recommending increasing parking to $2.50 per hour to discourage employees from feeding the metre all day. This unfortunately will also discourage more people from coming Downtown.

Shawn Ouimet – Ward 12
One I believe we should set time limits with development companies and include price guarantees so projects like the Elgin st. greenway cannot go into overages and be voted to cancel or stop work.


 

3. Do you have any specific ideas/plans to revitalize/develop and grow the downtown core and how do you plan to turn that into reality (what actions will you take to make that happen)?

Geoff McCausland – Ward 4
Simple plans:
A big part of my platform surrounds better utilizing and taking better care of our existing infrastructure. I would like to find a suitable space within city buildings in the downtown to establish a co-work and business incubator space in the downtown, as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. By encouraging young professionals with a common space and supporting them through partnership with NORCAT, the Regional Business Centre, and our Economic Development department, I think that we can help to encourage business and growth in Greater Sudbury.

I think we should hire more people to clean up the downtown, as well as more people to take care of gardening and downtown beautification. Memorial Park is usually quite well kempt, but the planters throughout the downtown are often in a miserable state. We need to take better care of what we have, and ensure that once the snow melts there are beautiful flowers and plants to greet people who visit the downtown.

I’d be interested to work with Vianet to see if they would consider establishing a downtown Wifi network. Free wifi could be a small effort that would make the downtown better for work and for play.

Larger undertakings:
Remove minimum parking requirements for new buildings and developments in the downtown. Minimum parking requirements are an incredible contributor to urban sprawl, and a real problem for urban planning. I would work to table a motion to change the requirements in parking and zoning for the downtown in order to remove parking requirements. This will allow the area to be more pedestrian-focused, allow for more residential in-filling within existing buildings, and encourage greater density.

I believe we need to build a pedestrian overpass to energy court. It will solve many of the parking issues, would mean parking is only a 6-minute walk from the current community arena site, less to the Place-des-arts, and would also create a new avenue for pedestrian traffic between Downtown and the West End. I will ask council and staff to reevaluate this option.

This summer in my role of Logistics Coordinator for the Up Here Urban Art and Music Festival, I organized the street shut-down and the Durham Street dome area of the festival. It was refreshing to have that space as pedestrian-only during the festival, and was a perfect venue for a variety of events. Many people suggested we keep it this way all of the time, and I am in complete agreement. We could start with a pedestrian mall on Durham between Elgin St (leaving a turn-around for the YMCA handi-transit) to Medina lane, and then could gradually expand the area to encompass more of the downtown. This would greatly increase the value of the old Roy’s Furniture building, as well as the vacant lot next to it, and encourage development.

Sharon Scott - Ward 4

I would like to see a seniors centre in the library where, once a week, a meeting room would be available where seniors could interact. We could perhaps have a calling tree where those in attendance could contact others they know  and at least make contact if not encourage them to come out. On school PD days seniors could perhaps help young students to build interest in reading or hobbies by having story hours.

Fern Cormier – Ward 10
Working with the responsible city departments and with the assistance and support of the BIA I have encouraged and will continue to advance clean up plans for the downtown. This includes everything from new garbage cans to street cleaning and flower planting. With the leadership and support of my Colleague from ward 12, who shares the downtown area, the process of CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) is something that is being incorporated into all city departments. Training has been provided to many of our key staff who work directly on plans for areas like the downtown. This will improve the design elements of projects while preserving the aesthetics of any given project.

I have and will continue to encourage creative parking solutions in order to secure as much convenient parking as possible. Working with the private sector can assist the city in advancing this cause. These talks are already underway and I will continue to work to advance them. 

Denis Ferron – Ward 10
The city has a good plan in place now for the downtown and we can surely grow from there. With a convention centre, library and arts centre this will surely revitalise the downtown and hopefully bring more new development. We need to clean up the downtown and push out the bad elements that make people nervous to navigate the downtown. Populating the core with new housing has proven to revitalise these areas. A full-time farmers and vendors market would be a great asset to the downtown.

Steve Ripley – Ward 10
As stated before, I would like to see a move to a more pedestrian friendly downtown with more festivals, concerts and possibly start a downtown winter festival that would take on a uniquely Sudbury theme and direction promoting and growing our arts community in Greater Sudbury.

John Lindsay – Ward 11
Promote the downtown as a friendly place by taking a positive approach … “friendly downtown” keep it simple, but have decals in windows – buttons – whatever to create better image and incorporate some of the ideas as expressed in answer one, keeping in mind, cost and convenience with respect to parking.

Derek Young – Ward 11
1. First thing we need to do is the be honest with ourselves and address the issues on the campaign trail why people are not coming Downtown and how we can change their perceptions. This needs to be a grassroots approach. I am an advocate for Downtown and an ally and it hurts to hear the things I am hearing on the campaign trail. However, perception is reality.
2. Downtown and Kingsway can work together. We have an exciting opportunity with Junction, Places des Arts and KED to work in harmony to grow Greater Sudbury together and make it a world-class city to live, work, and play. This can be achieved through marketing, car parks, and express shuttles from the Downtown transit terminal and relationship in the hospitality sector as an example.
3. Be a strong advocate for Downtown Sudbury at City Hall by being the councillor representative on the board of management. I have worked in lobbying and advocacy most of life. Everyone needs to work together to advance common goals and one agenda.
4. Address parking concerns. Specifically, the return of 2hrs free parking on Beech, eliminate event parking fees at municipal lots, enforce parking enforcement from 8:30am to 4:30pm, repeal the current overnight winter parking ban and replace it with a snow day bylaw, look to the business community for solutions regarding parking garages and municipal lots. Replace parking security officers with by-law enforcement officers similar to transit to have more by-law enforcement and uniformed presence on our streets.
5. Advocate for the Market to be a year-round market with indoor and outdoor facilities that are accessible and expand market dates.
6. Support development of the Junction and Places des Arts and ensure there is a net benefit to the business community and that these projects can be sustainable.
7. Foster a sense of community pride and civic engagement in our Downtown. Not only participate in another survey, but work hard with our City, Businesses and Downtown team to implement these actions.
8. Be a strong advocate for mental health and wellness in our community and address the seriousness of social disorder and its impact Downtown. I attended the Downtown Safety Forum and feel the membership was let down. They were pleading and did not get the help they needed. This is not a new problem, but it has become a bigger problem and is having a negative ripple effect on Downtown.

Shawn Ouimet – Ward 12
I believe downtown should have a year-round farmers market and I would love to see the design of the building a mix of the many historic downtown buildings we lost so people can see the historic designs.  I also want to use the various incentive programs set in the downtown and use them to draw an anchor retail business.  I would like to look into angle parking on some streets to see if we can add a few additional parking spots.  


 

4. Over the past few years, a number of positive developments have occurred in the downtown including the School of Architecture, growth in specialty retails/cafes, anticipated Place des Arts, as well as growth in the arts and culture industry (festivals) etc. How would you help to build on these successes and continue to support the continued growth of these areas?

Geoff McCausland – Ward 4
There are many hurdles that get in the way of development at City Hall. I have experienced some of them first hand, and have heard lots of stories about others. I believe that Greater Sudbury needs to follow the lead of other cities and establish a “One-Stop Shop” at City Hall where businesses, residents, festivals, and community groups can go for help in navigating our bureaucracy. Facilitators would open cases for different projects, ensure contact with the necessary departments, try to ensure applicants see clear and consistent requirements from the various city departments, and keep track of the time that everything is taking. They will open a case file when you arrive, and only close it when your project is complete. The facilitators will help streamline projects and be a source for better interdepartmental oversight. This should greatly reduce frustration and confusion, encourage development, and increase accountability and synergy between the different city departments.

Sharon Scott - Ward 4
It might be good to have a week, or perhaps several weekends during the summer when restaurants and businesses could be encouraged to put their business on the street and have people come out and tour what’s available, like a treasure hunt. There could be samples of food available so people might like to come back and have a full meal.  

Fern Cormier – Ward 10
I will continue to advocate for an open collaboration process with respect to any potential new development. Working with our partners in the education, arts and governmental sector has delivered some great results for our downtown. I want to see this continue. The arts and entertainment sector has really contributed a great deal to the downtown over the past several years and it is growing every year. Events such as the Up Here Festival have demonstrated this clearly. I will continue to support these initiatives.

Denis Ferron – Ward 10
The continued growth of this area requires some removal of very old structures and replaced with new venues that serve the whole community and to encourage them to be proud of our downtown and not afraid to spend time there. Create new partnerships with universities and colleges to bring more full-time jobs and students to the centre of town which will benefit existing and new business.

Steve Ripley – Ward 10
With the current ongoing debate in the public “arena” lately I would concentrate on making sure that the interests of the current tenants of these businesses are kept viable by having continual contact with the BIA and offer incentives to anyone interested in opening a business in our downtown. This is a difficult question because the plans for downtown are changing on a weekly basis due to the poor management in chambers.

John Lindsay – Ward 11
The Place des Arts should be located in the “Arts District” not the financial/business area but closer to the Theatre Centre and Arena and other arts and the hospitality area on Upper Elgin.  Remover the Ledo hotel and possibly some other less desirable buildings  - make better use of old railway building for some indoor market activity – art displays, festival activity etc. … I have discussed these matters on my election website:  www. Johnlindsay.ca

Derek Young – Ward 11
Continued growth in these areas is important. We must tell their success stories and ensure these people become our own best brand ambassadors. We need a strong advocate for the BIA at City Hall and need to ensure that our policies and by-laws help to make Downtown a safe, welcoming, and friendly place to be. The relationship needs to have mutual trust. Many of the ideas I discussed in this survey will contribute to growth and build on our Downtown successes. I would also like to see a succession plan to attract new development Downtown as owners of established businesses start to retire.

Shawn Ouimet – Ward 12
With the success of the LU architecture building and the festivals I would like to see if we could get Boreal and Cambrian involved with programs downtown to which we would have to look into additional student housing downtown.


 

5. When considering major changes to the City’s major policy statements such as the Official Plan, Downtown Master Plan and Consultants’ Reports, how would you ensure that due consideration and respect is given to these reports and professional documents?

Geoff McCausland – Ward 4
An immense amount of time, energy and taxpayer dollars goes into those documents, and to me it is very important that we respect them. I will actually read these plans, seek to understand the vision and implications of each document, look at what other cities have done, and what staff have recommended. I would then work to share that understanding and the reasoning behind any change that might be proposed, as I believe that that communication is critical to proper city functioning. I will ultimately balance what I hear my constituents want against the policy and planning in those documents to inform my decisions on how to best serve the residents of Ward 4 and the City of Greater Sudbury.

Sharon Scott - Ward 4
With respect to consultants reports in particular, if the city is going to pay to have a report, it must be properly considered by all council members, even when it means a greater investment in time. Otherwise the money has been wasted. We can’t afford to let members ignore something because they don’t want to listen or don’t think they have time.

Fern Cormier – Ward 10
I believe that these documents need to be part of the Official Plan. It is my understanding that some of them have been included in the OP as part of the review that is currently underway and will be included in the new Official Plan. I firmly believe that when we ask the community to spend so much time on plans such as these that we need to take them seriously and ensure that they are entrenched into supporting by-law documents, long term plans and official plans that are adopted by City Council.

Denis Ferron – Ward 10
The master plan needs to be reviewed and modified as needed every 5 years, you can’t foresee 20 years ahead as needs and challenges change over the years. If the city and council want to change or ignore the plan then public consultation and consensus should be a top priority without making the process long and unproductive.

Steve Ripley – Ward 10
I would hold better organized public consultations to avoid the current battle that was started by flat out ignoring the hundreds of hours and thousands upon thousands of dollars the city invests in order to formulate these documents and guidelines that give our city it’s course for the future. It is completely wrong on every level what has happened in this council.

John Lindsay – Ward 11
These reports should be revisited to determine realistic goals keeping in mind our unique situation as a city spread out and so dependent on the motor vehicle.  Parking is essential and we cannot occupy ground level parking spaces with buildings and no consideration or provision of parking.  A parking garage can cost $50,000 per space.  Even replacing the 60 spaces lost to Place des Arts would cost three million plus the cost of the land where it would be located.  Also parking for the library (which must be free) if located in the Arts Junction also must be considered and also for the Art Gallery component and of course the convention/theatre itself.   Then there is parking required for the new hotel (would this be a franchise like for the KED?).  Where is consideration being given to lower cost accommodations for people to live downtown?    Some of the consultants and even local planners’ ideas are “pie in the sky” and unrealistic.  The Art Junction convention/theatre component is unrealistic for a number of reasons not the least of which it is not really necessary as we have other facilities that can be utilized and the capital cost plus interest and ongoing operating costs are on the backs of taxpayers, and of course the matter of providing parking for the facility. 

Derek Young – Ward 11
These documents are policy statements and in my opinion, are working documents that are evolving and help to guide our vision. We must look to these documents to help guide our decision making, although, we should also have the flexibility to evolve with these documents. It appears that some of these documents are being treated as gospel and I know are being used as leverage for the Downtown's participation in the current KED LPAT appeal. Clear and consistent messaging, leadership, and openness is required when looking at these documents to guide our decision making.

Shawn Ouimet – Ward 12
These documents were not written in a day many men and women researched and took great care in writing these reports; we are doing an injustice in not fully understanding the reason why they believe these roads and building should be built here or there.