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Downtown Sudbury Mayoralty Candidate Evening - Advance Questions & Answers

October 9, 2018

Downtown Sudbury is hosting a Mayoralty Candidates Evening on Tuesday, October 9th from 6pm - 8pm at La Fromagerie. 

Due to the high number of candidates for this important position (11 candidates) and in an effort to allow adequate time and opportunity for both questions and discussions – for both Candidates and attendees – the ‘top 6’ Candidates have been invited to attend. The ‘top 6’ were chosen based on the numbers from nightly phone polls conducted by Oraclepoll as of September 18th.

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

1) How would you define your qualities as a Leader?

Brian Bigger
I consider myself a leader who relies on information and accurate details before making a weighted decision. And, once that decision has been made, especially by Council I am a leader who respects that decision and is determined to see it through.

Cody Cacciotti
In my previous leadership roles with organizations like Communities in Bloom, the Capreol Centennial Committee and as the Operations Manager at the NORMHC I have always tried to be firm but fair.  I have always tried to listen first, before speaking. I have always worked to foster an inclusive environment with those I am working with. These are qualities that citizens can expect from me as mayor.

I am confident that I can offer a fresh perspective and a fresh voice for the City of Greater Sudbury. I have been a part of something truly amazing in Capreol over the past few years. Fostering new, innovative partnerships and appropriately leveraging assets has led to unparalleled growth for the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and the town in general.  Given the opportunity to integrate that model into neighborhoods all across our city will allow us to realize incredible economic potential for all of Greater Sudbury.

Bill Crumplin
As an educator, I naturally start from a position of being a communicator and to be a good communicator I must be, and am, a good listener. I listen to learn and to understand with the openness to revise or change my thinking.

I will provide leadership by creating an environment where debate will be welcomed in the name of seeking solutions that best serve the greater good of our communities. I will hold myself and Council responsible for having respectful interactions within and between Council, Management, Staff and Citizens. I will ensure that our Charter and a Code of Ethics is followed.

I am and will always be a collaborative, consultative and decisive leader as evidenced by my clear position on the key issues currently facing Sudbury. I believe in listening, I believe in asking the right people the right questions, I believe in open dialogue especially particularly with those of opposing views points, I believe in getting all of the facts before making a decision but I believe a good leader has to have the courage and strength of character to follow the evidence, take a position and make a decision.

I still, to this day, play team sports and I work collaboratively with colleagues from a host of disciplines in Laurentian University’s School of the Environment, established in 2014.  I understand and live the adage that Together Everyone Achieves More.

Jeff Huska
I feel I have good communication skills and I’m able to make tough decisions. I’m honest and hardworking and I’m not someone who sells out those around me when things go wrong. I take responsibility for my actions and my decisions. I give credit where credit is due. I’m empathetic, loyal and compassionate about what I believe in. I’ m great at navigating from point A to point B and knowing where A and B are respectively. I’m approachable and I am willing to admit to what I don’t know. I can be quite direct. I listen to everyone’s perspective about an issue, because as a leader everyone’s viewpoint should be taken into consideration before a decision is made.

Dan Melanson
Over the past months of this election campaign and for many years previous I have listened to many people who have ideas and opinions about how this city should be operated. I believe these people need to be heard. I would ensure that my door is always open when people have a good idea or a complaint and would do my best to help solve the problem or take a good idea forward.

I am a successful mediator which I have learned after many decades in business bringing companies and people together who were competitors to achieve a common goal.

I do have a business background and founded the Greater Sudbury Taxpayers’ Association that was built around keeping tax increases at or below inflation and promoting transparency in our municipal government.

Patricia Mills
Being a reporter taught me to be fearless. I don’t shy away from asking tough questions. Being an entrepreneur taught me a lot about accountability and the importance of teamwork. As a leader, you have to deliver results. That means you find ways to work with, motivate and inspire people, you have to be creative and tenacious to get things done, you have to listen and respect others and you must have a desire to keep learning.

I have a passion for progress, the vision to see what can be, and the grit to make it happen. Most of my successes have been visionary ideas that came to life because I surround myself with the right people and I just don’t give up.

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

Brian Bigger
Well considering the investments taking place with Place Des Arts, the Junction that includes the Library and Art Gallery of Sudbury – I think we are off to a good start. We have a lot of people working in the core – but we need more people living closer by or within walking distance.  We need a safe, attractive and accessible downtown to make it a place to live and work.

Cody Cacciotti
A city is often judged by the state of its downtown core. In order to promote the downtown as a vibrant part of our city, we need a municipal government that is committed to working with citizens and businesses in the area.  We need to ensure that the vision for the downtown positions it as a place of choice for business, cultural events and an attractive place to live, reflecting the needs of visitors and residents alike.  A clear strategic plan with achievable outcomes must be developed.  We must look at addressing the obvious complaints concerning parking and community safety, making these issues a priority for our next council.

Bill Crumplin
First and foremost, we cannot, as some suggest, continue to ignore our downtown. We must be bold in transforming our downtown business area. The Elgin Greenway is a viable idea but we need to move on the plans.  We also need to do more to support our existing businesses and those who have invested in our urban core and those who want to invest in it.

As I offer in my platform at I am very interested in transforming a significant area of our downtown into a pedestrian only version of Ottawa’s Byward Market. We need to allow our businesses to expand their footprint into the street beyond the sidewalk. The area needs to become a go-to location that is aesthetically welcoming and safe that is home to cafes, restaurants, pubs, pop-up retail and includes a year-round market. Initially paint could be used to decorate the pavement with the goal of, perhaps, rejuvenating the roadway with cobblestones and trees and could be planted to provide shade and be appropriately lit. I believe that this could bring people back downtown because it would become a unique place of which we would be proud.

As also mentioned in my platform, we need to have a conversation with the railway. I understand that it may be costly and difficult to relocate.  In the meantime, however, we could, like other communities, construct a sound barrier that could be the “canvas” for future “Up Here” murals.  This would be a step toward a fresh revitalized downtown.

We all know our young talented people continually migrate to city urban cores. I am certain these transformational ideas must occur if we are going to attract and retain our youth. Theirs is a generation that makes decisions based on lifestyle and we need to give them what they want.  They especially want to live, work and play in an urban core. I will champion a true transformation of our downtown.

Jeff Huska
The downtown has to be an attractive and affordable place to work and live. Look at beautifying our downtown which I feel shouldn’t be falling completely on the shoulders of the BIA. I’d offer incentives to developers to increase housing opportunities. Addressing our homeless and addiction problems. Work with our partners like the School of Architecture, Canadian Mental Health and with the BIA to address these issues. I would be willing to work with our police force to insure public safety for those living and visiting the downtown is paramount.

I firmly believe we already have a downtown entertainment district and I’d look for community partners to revitalize the entire Shaughnessy Street/Elgin Street area and capitalize on the arts in this city. I’d offer more opportunities for eating and drinking establishments to expand and offer patio sections. I’d increase and implement affordable overnight parking so we aren’t chasing people out of the city core.

Dan Melanson
Many people don’t realize that over 6,000 people work in the downtown area and that only about 2000 live downtown.

People living downtown are comprised of mostly young people and seniors and while we do need to entice people of middle age to live in the downtown that will take the development of living spaces suited to middle age professionals etc.. Dalron, for instance, has built many spaces catering to students and I would like to find out if there would be a demand for more upscale living spaces and would need to speak to developers such as Dalron to find out what their research has indicated.  I think we have to continue to provide services for seniors and we need need to think of the future. Young people who live and work downtown today are downtown’s future. If they see the social value, promoting downtown as a thriving entertainment and cultural district with live bands, local dining experiences, they will be more inclined to make a home there in later years.

I also believe we have to dispel the preconceived myths that are circulating about downtown re: it’s dirty, the needle problem etc. which has recently spread through social media. For the most part, I do go downtown often, to events, restaurants etc. While I believe the city could and should expend more time in ensuring the streets are clean, garbage cans emptied, sidewalks cleared of snow etc. I believe that there are ways to dispel the myths. The city can do a better job of advertising all the great people, places and events downtown.

I know currently the city offers Downtown Sudbury six financial incentive programs to stimulate development and redevelopment through grants and loans. I believe that, like other development projects in this city, the application process needs to be streamlined to become more efficient. I think that council needs to become more proactive to encourage developers to take advantage of these incentives and I will work to do that.

Patricia Mills
We need Community Improvement Plans (CIPs) that work, and are predictably funded. Tax deferrals on areas that are behind on investment are a win-win. They encourage investment in areas that are already serviced which means higher long-term tax revenue, for little to no increased servicing cost to the taxpayer.

I would focus on three pillars for growth:

Supporting Businesses. Supporting and expanding existing businesses and attracting new businesses contributes to economic development in several key ways, including helping businesses create jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship, enhancing fiscal sustainability by expanding and diversifying the tax base, and improving quality of life with new services and amenities.

Supporting Workers. Workforce development is important to ensuring that residents can successfully compete for employment opportunities and that all residents have the opportunity to benefit from economic prosperity. The availability of a workforce with a wide range of skills and education levels can help local businesses grow and attract new businesses.

Supporting Quality of Life. Residents and businesses both value a community with a good quality of life. A variety of factors can improve quality of life, such as a thriving downtown or commercial district with neighborhood shops and restaurants; green and open space; a variety of transportation choices, including options for walking, biking, driving, and public transit; artistic, cultural, and community resources such as museums, public art, community centers, religious institutions, and other community gathering spaces; and medical, technical, and academic institutions.

3) 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?

Brian Bigger
Well, we need to make sure they are sound and deliverable first. We have an obligation to the taxpayer – and before we can spend money we need to make sure these projects work for everybody and get through Council. There is a process, and it could be quicker, but there’s no responsible way to promise during an election that projects don’t face due diligence, contemplation and scrutiny – no matter what part of the City.

Cody Cacciotti
The City of Greater Sudbury must ensure that projects are moving ahead at the speed of business.  We must ensure that project plans are shovel ready so that we can capitalize of funding opportunities when the arise. Ensuring that project funding is available will enable the city to proceed promptly with regard to implementation. 

Bill Crumplin
As noted above, as a leader it is important to create an environment of collaboration and consensus. It is difficult for people to get behind projects when the leaders of the community do not promote the “why” behind, or the “when” of, projects.

From consulting during the campaign, I have heard that citizens want the City to “measure twice, and cut once”.  We need to ensure that all of the necessary budgeting and planning is done ahead of time and assign real target dates for completion of projects or project phases.  These dates must be prioritized and realistic.

I will advocate for adherence to the Official Plan and ensure that Council maintains focus on the Plan while communicating to the public why this is important for the smart growth of our community.  As Mayor, and outlined in my platform, I will see to it that the City vastly improves its communication tools to ensure people are informed of what and why projects are being pursued.

In these same tools, I will implement a forum that allows business and citizens to express their desires, concerns (financial or otherwise) and even support for projects. I will insist that Councillors read this communication ensuring the citizens that what is presented in this forum is not falling on deaf ears. In the future if a Councillor says I am hearing from the people, she/he will be referencing a City sanctioned communication tool, not some obscure chat room full of hidden agendas.

Jeff Huska
Delays are caused by too much red tape at city hall. The entire process and department needs to be revisited and overhauled. It isn’t just projects like those mentioned that end up with expensive delays, it is an ongoing issue for almost any development. We need Tom Davies Square working as one complete entity and not many departments working individually without realizing what each other is doing. Problems in planning and issues in delays will only be compounded if anyone feels that moving the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation out of Tom Davies Square is a good thing. Go to any major corporation that is successful and they will tell you that removing silos and integrating ideas and services is the most effective way to move forward and be productive.

Stringent timeframes on city projects with weekly updates are needed. Giving groups like the BIA having direct access to the Mayor’s office should help facilitate the implementation of projects.

Dan Melanson
Once a project developed with input from the community and is agreed upon by the mayor and council based on reports submitted by staff re: costs, site development etc. I would ensure that the project moves forward as quickly as possible. We need to change the way we do things in the city when it comes to any development. We need to expedite all the processes from issuing building permits to performing mandated inspections so that time and costly construction hours are not wasted. Every day wasted increases the cost of any development and that is not bringing value for taxpayers’ money.

Patricia Mills
In meeting with members of the BIA, I am both dismayed and alarmed by the amount of false starts that have been experienced. I can understand the lack of trust the Downtown has when the city makes commitments. Parking improvements promised for over eight years, that would have the bonus benefit of lower costs for snow removal, are finally due to begin under the pressure of an election.

The Elgin Greenway, that had interest from private companies to contribute through significant sponsorships, is still in a holding pattern, only to reach a point where the private dollars are now in question.

Our citizens expect better, and our development community needs us to do better if we want meaningful investment. As Mayor, I will publish a yearly report on the city’s actions and performance on the Master Plan projects and status.

4) 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)?

Brian Bigger
We already have three major projects downtown in the works.  Let’s see them through and see what they spin-off? As well, we need residential options and it needs to be safe for people to come and work, visit, live and enjoy.

Cody Cacciotti
Our current leadership has missed many opportunities to entice more people to live, work and visit downtown.  But it starts with affordable housing.  By removing some of the current restrictions on investment (both financial and bureaucratic) and allowing developers to invest in Sudbury’s downtown we can attract more people to live there. 

Those new residents will also desire a lifestyle that must be developed in conjunction with new housing.  Adding the required amenities (additional parking, improved transit, increased safety, etc) is essential to ensure that residents view downtown Sudbury as a first choice.     

We must also continue to boost our current downtown businesses.  By fostering growth, developing new partnerships and better promoting downtown Sudbury we can help our current businesses and residents thrive. 

Bill Crumplin
I would echo what I’ve outlined above. I commit to championing the Elgin Greenway development and promote discussions for the creation of a downtown pedestrian market while working with the police and social services to ensure downtown is health, safe and welcoming for all Sudburians. I want downtown Sudbury to be a destination spot for the citizens of Sudbury and as part of our efforts to continue to attract tourism to our city.

Along this line, it is imperative citizens and Council understand the concept of ‘urban infill.’ We must capitalize on existing infrastructure by utilizing our multiple vacant sites.  These present opportunities to transform or refurbish existing buildings instead of building in areas where servicing does not yet exist. Again, as Mayor it is important that the City and Council do not take a passive stand on this, citizens need to be educated in what is, and what is not smart growth, otherwise many will continue to support urban sprawl without realizing the consequences on their hard-earned tax dollars.

Jeff Huska
The downtown should be the heart of the city. A place to go where art, culture, entertainment, education and business merge effortless together to create the centre point of the city. I would continue to promote cultural, entertainment and community events. I would increase the number parking lots that include overnight parking. I would create an advisory panel made up of representation of the arts, entertainment, education and the BIA to seek innovative ideas on how we can work together to promote all of these areas in our downtown. We must continue to find ways to keep our heart beating.

I feel that if you want your downtown to grow and thrive you need to have people living downtown. I’d offer incentives to developers willing to design, build new and/or renovate existing buildings to make this happen. I would be willing to work with our police force to ensure public safety for those living and visiting the downtown is paramount.

Dan Melanson
I do think we have the opportunity to grow our arts and culture community downtown. The city funding provided to arts groups is extremely lower than other communities in northern Ontario. I would like to raise this amount from the $8/capita to at least the provincial average which will more than double that. In this way we will be able to give these groups stable funding so that they can plan for the future.

I would like to explore an idea borrowed from Toronto. Artscape opened West Queen West and was the first legal artist live/work building in Toronto. The re-development of this former warehouse helped trigger the revitalization of a then downtrodden part of Queen Street West.  Today, Artscape’s West Queen West is in the heart of a thriving gallery district and arts community and is a stunning example of rent-geared-to-income housing that works. The sense of pride and ownership felt by its artists resonates beyond the walls, through its spectacular gardens, and deep into the community.

There is city-owned property downtown that could be used for this project and according to the Downtown Community Improvement Plan it is set out that council may sell municipal property at below fair market value to achieve goals such as an Artscape Sudbury.

I believe that, with the help of the art and culture community we can make this happen in the downtown area. I have talked to members of the arts community from people involved in Wordstock Literary Festival to Place des Arts and they are all putting in countless unpaid hours to bring more arts and cultural events to our city. All of these groups need stable funding. What I propose to do is to is to create an arms length committee composed of members of these groups from throughout the city to work collectively on strengthening our arts and cultural community who would provide council with the information council needs to allocate grants etc. 

Patricia Mills
We need to fix what I call the Bigger Divide. Poor leadership has resulted in our city fighting each other instead of supporting each other. The downtown has a Master Plan and it needs action, however, all of our communities’ neighbourhoods need focused improvements. The best way for downtown to succeed is when all of Greater Sudbury’s town centres can celebrate their own successes at the same time.

5) 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?

Brian Bigger
First of all, we need to make sure the downtown is suited to attract people to come and spend.  That starts with feeling safe. We also need to work with City staff and downtown businesses to solve the parking issue. Look at Up Here and RibFest – we’re doing well. Success takes time, but I do think we are on the right track.

Cody Cacciotti
We must continue to invest in all areas of the city where economic development makes sense. The mayor and council need to continue to work closely with the downtown to capitalize on any growth strategy and project that complements existing business or develops new opportunity for the area.  Ensuring that the downtown core is safe for residents and visitors alike will ensure that it is a welcoming place for visitors from other parts of the city and from out of town as well. 

Bill Crumplin
I believe along with my re-investment concepts and transformation of the downtown, many of these large project ideas can be housed within existing buildings whether that means a full transformation of our downtown arena or selecting another site in the urban core, we need not be gobbling up valuable parking areas for the sake of a new building.

However, I am a supporter of a convention centre in the downtown as I believe it will bring associations, business organizations, public and private sector groups on a continuous basis throughout the year to our city. A year-round convention centre will result in growth opportunities and much-needed influx of external dollars supporting our existing hotels, restaurants and related retail in our urban core.

Jeff Huska
Again, we need to look at the current costs of developing and creating these successes. The bureaucratic red tape and costs are barriers that we must remove in order for us to encourage growth in our downtown core. If we continue at our current state no matter what success we have achieved they will not be sustainable.

Dan Melanson
Every downtown area in the various communities of Greater Sudbury is the site where mostly locally owned businesses from restaurants to clothing stores to gift shops operate - many have been operated by families for decades. I believe the city should do more to promote this.

I also see Downtown Sudbury as the core of our local arts and culture community with theatre, art, music etc. spread out throughout downtown. I would however, like to work with artists etc in all our outlying communities as well. Uniting Downtown Sudbury with the downtowns of all the other communities in the name of art and culture would draw interest. For example, why couldn’t the summer time Downtown Art Crawl be expanded to include the arts groups found in other communities? Dedicated buses could easily bring in people from outlying communities for the downtown event while people in the core could also explore the art in Dowling or Lively? Yes, this would take some organization but it would be a relatively inexpensive way to bring people into the downtowns everywhere. In past years the art crawl takes place during UpHere Festival and it would introduce more people to that festival as well.

We currently do not have a central database for events that should rightly have a prominent place on the city’s website. Currently arts and culture is located under the heading “Play” along with playgrounds and beaches etc. The dedicated page for arts and culture has links to nine organizations - when we all know that there are dozens more that should be there and the city should be promoting them. Our arts and culture groups bring in untold dollars into the economy with visits to restaurants, hotels, admission paid for events etc. We should aggressively be promoting every event from art exhibits, festivals, musical performances, drama, local authors, dance groups, film, graphic design etc, across the city. I also think that we need to develop a plan to advertise events in other cities which will attract more tourism into our city.

Patricia Mills
The energy and vibrancy that the students from the School of Architecture have added to our Downtown has been amazing. Recently they held a parking-day project that helped citizens re-imagine how the public spaces around them can be better used.

We have seen ground floor retail hit the lowest vacancy in decades. This happened because people believed the city was ready to invest in its downtown after years of false starts. Two consecutive councils unanimously endorsed that plan, however, the leadership of this council fell short on making it a reality.

When our communities come together with a solid plan it’s the Mayor’s job to embrace it and champion it. Our community master plans will be on display in my office, as a daily reminder of what the community expects me to champion. I will showcase these plans to developers visiting our city to encourage investment. And I will challenge staff regularly on how they are meeting the community's expectations and goals.

6) 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?

Brian Bigger
All of these are seriously considered and discussed when projects come before Council. We are not bound by them, but they need to be respected. And we need to know that plans change, and that in the end Council makes the decisions.  It’s a matter of making sure Councillors and residents are informed of these aspects. When items come before Council for a vote, all of us make our decisions based on information we have from reports, plans and input from voters.

Cody Cacciotti
I believe that these reports must be consulted anytime a major development is being considered for the City of Greater Sudbury.  We need to ensure that any time  a change or deviation from these documents, there must be an opportunity for public input and consultation.  We need to ensure that any decision we are making moving forward is done in the best interest of the city and all of its citizens.  We need to ensure that we are accountable to the taxpayer and provide justification for the decisions we make. 

Bill Crumplin
Each municipality must have an Official Plan as this is mandated by the province in the Planning Act. It’s a required plan created by staff with input by the people of the community and endorsed by Council, to ignore it is disrespectful on many levels. I make the same observations of the efforts put into the Downtown Master Plan and the recently approved ‘From the Ground Up’ economic strategic plan that the City and 24 talented citizens created.  Council has endorsed all these plans, yet it has chosen to ignore the goals and objectives of these plans as it pursued legacy projects beyond serviced areas of the City. Council also endorsed commissioning a consultant’s report, that cost in the order of $365,000.00, regarding the location of the arena/event centre, but chose to ignore its findings.

This is a failure of the current leadership to respect the efforts of those who put their best efforts forward to create these plans.

As Mayor, I will insist that I and a new Council attend educational forms on many topics (the municipal act allows this) because I know there are complexities to municipal governance that all but a seasoned municipal staffer understands. I know that only one session was offered to the current Council concerning general governance. That’s not good enough, we cannot expect our Council to make informed decisions when, for many, their introduction to understanding of governance procedure is weak or lacking. As Mayor, I would ensure assistance is provided so that we understand all aspects of legislation. 

As Mayor, I will ensure the community is provided with the “why” are we making these decisions, what legislation, policy, procedure, plan or report(s) are affecting our decision making. We will use the communication tool mentioned above to explain these aspects to our citizens.  Too often our past Councils have focused on the outcome and have seemingly ignored the process that provides guidance for decision making. As Mayor I will speak from a position of leadership that ensures as municipal leaders we are always learning and must not be afraid to ask questions that better inform us so that we can make informed decisions.

Jeff Huska
I feel The Official Plan, The Downtown Master Plan are the standards and criteria in which the city must adhere to regarding revitalization, promotion and the longevity of our community. I believe that the Downtown Master Plan should have been adhered to regarding the KED project and the new Greater Sudbury Community Arena should be located downtown. It’s the responsibility of the municipal government to follow the mandate of these Plan’s that is why they are written.

I don’t understand the reasons why anyone would pay for a consultant’s report and then ignore it. It’s the responsibility of the Chair of Council, the Mayor, to insure protocol, procedure and standards are followed. It is the Mayor’s responsibility to stay focused on point and follow the Plans as they are written.

Honestly, if members of our council don’t/won’t follow these plans, why would we re-elect them?

Dan Melanson
These plans are mandated by the province and countless hours of community consultation, stakeholder input, work by city staff and expensive consultants’ reports have gone into creating these master plans. Any decision to change these documents should not be done on a whim. I would like to create an environment at the city that encourages people to take ownership of their city and of its development. Any major changes would be clearly outlined so people understand the pros and the cons of the change. I would do a better job of advertising community meetings regarding proposed changes so more people would be inclined to participate.

Patricia Mills
The answer is simple, when the members of a community help develop plans, we will respect those plans and work hard to make them happen. When we invest in the expertise of consultants, we will respect the taxpayers’ investment and act on the recommendations made by these specialists.