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During the election campaign, I am sure that candidates will be asked to identify what they feel the top issues are for the city and/or for their individual ward. I know that I have already been asked to identify the top three issues in both respects.

It would be virtually impossible for anyone, let alone a candidate for council to identify the top 3 issues for the City as a Whole let along distinguish between the top 3 issues of the city in comparison to those for the individual ward in which he is running. There are just too many interdependent issues that will each have a huge impact on the future of the City and which will obviously spill over into each of the Wards. Indeed, the main issue in each Ward may be learning how to adjust to the decisions made by City Council that will impact on their daily life.  

Further, each issue that is on the table for discussion by Councillors is going to have an impact on all future decisions made on all other issues, regardless of whether or not they are considered to be among the top three priorities of the individual Councillor. You will never get twelve Councillors to agree on three top issues.

So the only way you can identify “three” issues is to make them so broad and general that they encompass all decisions at City Council and are more in line with vision statements than actual issues. For example, if you say that one of the issues for City Council is that they will all be accountable and transparent in all of their decisions? That is like saying that all mothers and fathers will be responsible for the care and well-being of their children. What does it mean?  It doesn’t tell you anything.

Let me give you a simple example. Suppose we say that we are going to identify the building of a new multi-pad sports complex as one of our top issues for the City as a Whole. Then what if a condition for getting private sector funding is that ice rental rates must be increased by 50% across the city and two of our arenas must be closed in order to make sure there is a demand for the ice available in the new complex. We will have satisfied a top priority for the City as a Whole, but we will have created a major issue in each of our Wards for the users of our arenas and especially for the people in the outlying areas where arenas will be closed.

And so, I will not paint myself into a corner by identifying any issue as being more important than any other.  As mentioned, they are too interdependent. To the person who has a sewer back up in his basement, there is no other issue as important to him at that time and the top priority for the City is to deal with this person’s problem. That is how I intend to define priorities. The issue I am facing at the time is the most important issue I have to deal with and I will deal with it in the best way I can by becoming knowledgeable as I can and making the best decision possible based on the information at hand when the decision is to be made. Further, those decisions must take into consideration the impact they will have on other areas of concern for the City. I will not vote on building a new arena if it means increasing municipal taxes by 10%. I will not vote for any benefit if it is going to cause hardship on others.

The other problem is that each Ward is so diverse that the priorities in one part of the Ward will be different from those in another part of the Ward. The people living in the Cambrian Heights and Kent Court Apartment area of Ward 5 have a completely different set of needs from the people living south of Lasalle between the Taxation Centre and Madeleine Street, and they both have a different set of needs from the people living north of Lasalle in that same part of the City. Then you have the people living in Blezard Valley, Val Caron, Guietteville, and McCrea Heights. Each is a different community within a single Ward and they all have different priorities compared with the four areas in the Sudbury section of Ward 5. There are actually at least eight community sectors within Ward 5. So how can a candidate identify the top three issues facing Ward 5? It is impossible and will only serve to create friction and dissention among residents who disagree with any of the top three selections that I would make.



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