Transparency, programs for teens at Brooke-Alvinston all-candidates

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Vanessa Beniot addresses the crowd of about 250 at the Brooke-Alvinston All-Candidates meeting.

Jamie Armstrong says the one thing that is needed in Brooke-Alvinston is more transparency in municipal government.

Armstrong, a one-term councillor, is running against the incumbent mayor, Dave Ferguson in this year’s municipal election.

When asked at an all-candidates meeting in Alvinston Sept. 27 what one thing needed to be done in the community, Armstrong answered; “I would like to see some clear transparency in the municipality and more communication with their stakeholders, and make sure that everyone’s being heard and there aren’t things that are going on behind closed doors without the rest of the council knowing.”

Armstrong and Ferguson have butted heads a number of times, most notably about the plans of the Alvinston Optimist to invest in the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre. Armstrong, who is an Optimist, has advocated for the project at council with Ferguson questioning whether the project should be a priority.

There was a theme of transparency at the event which saw about 200 community members come out to hear what the candidates were proposing.

Les Douglas, Greg Hilliard, Jenny Redick and Craig Saunders all mentioned the issue saying the community needs to know what is going on at council.
That seemed to stun current councillor, Jeannette Douglas, who believes council has been very open. She urged the taxpayers in the room to call her with their concerns saying she always answers her cell phone and will try to help.

Incumbent Frank Nemcek agreed adding council has “done a pretty good job the last four years. We spent your money very reasonable. I think we didn’t waste any… I think we’ve done a real good job spend your tax dollars the best way we could.”

Wayne Deans agreed saying a councillor can only use their best judgement to make good decisions for the taxpayers.

Don McCabe, a candidate for councillor, said the township has to find a way to win back provincial grant money which has been cut over the years. Brooke-Alvinston has lost millions as the province reduces the Ontario Municipal Partners Fund.

“I would like to see a strong budget that is supported by provincial government – not cutting back the funds that we’ve seen cut over the last year – to allow us to expand the community and get an emergency shelter, or how health care emergency base back into Inwood.”

Vanessa Beniot said she would rely on experts to help her analyze the budget to make sure the money was being well spent.

Candidates also expressed concern for the lack of opportunities for youth and seniors in the community.

Ferguson suggested there should be more emphasis placed on the recreation needs of seniors. “We have a great place for ball and hockey, and some youth activities but as we get older, the seniors are looking for a place, in my opinion, to meet in the mornings for an hour or two and a half, to make sure that we’re well and to talk with each other,” he said.

Both Hilliard and Redick wanted to see more opportunities for children who don’t like sports.

“We’ve got this facility right here. Maybe we could reach out to somebody within the community and try to try to find some volunteers that are talented, musically talented in acting…who might engage the younger people in our population that skate about as badly as I do,” said Hilliard as they stood at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre.

“I have tried for years and years to get some programs running through this arena through the summer after school programs so that our youth do have some work to go other than walking the streets and getting into mischief because they’re bored,” said Redick. “We need to make sure that we’re supporting our youth, as well as our elderly.”