Re-Elect Brian White for City and County Council
It didn't happen overnight, and there's no quick fix. We've been adding more money to infrastructure over the past two terms and I'm committed to moving forward with even more in budget 2023. Residents are frustrated at how far things had been left to fall apart. Debt includes infrastructure and if it takes smart borrowing to work through the real debt, we must take action. Investing in our community sends a signal that residents' lived experiences matter and that Sarnia is open for business. I recently made it very clear to the Minister of Infrastructure that our residents need the Province's help and the city needs more stable, flexible funding.
After a recent conversation with Ontario's Attorney General, I'm convinced that opportunities for a safer Sarnia are on the horizon. But we must be prepared to advocate for new provincial strategies to help those who've been falling through the massive gaps in the system. That will allow those who struggle to get the help they need, develop new skills and finally live with the dignity they deserve. This will circle back to making a safer community for all. Safer cities happen when people have options before hitting rock bottom, or wrap around services if they do. Mental health, addiction, life skills deficits and housing are just some of the needs we must address upstream; and that takes collaborative efforts with all levels of government and community services.
Master Plans aren't just a buzz term. They are an integral part of receiving community input and putting extensive resources into planning for the future. Previous to my time on Council, Master Plans often sat on shelves. That culture is slowly changing. It takes investment, but when we invest in our community, we attract new investment. I am committed to following through with the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, an Active Transportation Master Plan, and the Waterfront Master Plan, to name just a few. And let's not forget the Climate Change Adaptation and Implementation Strategy, for which I was at the grass roots level since it's inception. These plans alone will address some critical needs in our community, including prioritizing of the safety of all, and building better opportunities for respite from our daily stresses. It also prioritizes the Environment as we transition into restoring some of our spaces into ecologically diverse habitats and promoting more human powered transportation. We're also preparing for a more resilient community, complete with better infrastructure while mitigating our own contributions to climate change. This is all good for human health, morale and good for business.
For decades, Sarnia hasn't kept up with multi-residential units. The focus has been on single family dwellings, alongside a stagnant population. That is now changing. We're finally seeing growth in our population and we're encouraging densification. Over the next few years, we'll see potentially thousands of new units built on existing infrastructure. That not only starts to address the critical shortage in housing units, but it maximizes the efficiency of our existing services by providing a larger tax base to pay for the same roads, sewers, buses, snowplows, etc. It also promotes a greener city by easing the pressure on greenfield development and keeping folks closer to the services they need. I've been working hard with developers over the past few years to address this much needed shift in direction. I believe we're on the cusp of seeing intelligent development become the norm here. Let's keep on going!
This issue is stitched through my above points. It's complicated. But one thing we can to to further add to our truly affordable housing shortage is to directly invest. Whether it's providing infill lots to community partners, or by directly paying for the builds at the County level, it's time we stop waiting for the province and feds to step in. Obviously, I'll continue to push for more money from all levels of government, but it's time we at County Council adopt an attitude of "us first." That means, we don't wait. We must start putting money away into reserves each year to directly fund construction now. The private sector is an important partner in this. But if we wait, we'll be subject to the skewed term "affordable" when we know it's not truly affordable for those who really need it to be. We must build truly affordable units now.
Whether part of the actual "job" or not, my life involves being active in the community and abroad. It's how I become a better Councillor, but most importantly, how I become a better father, husband, friend and person. Our community thrives when we participate. Council is no different. As a Councillor, we are expected to serve on at least 1 Committee. I have served on 4 Advisory committees this past term, and 5 the term before. We've seen a huge increase in applicants to committees, making your voice even stronger. Volunteers live and breathe the issues represented at the Committee level and having their input is one key tool in how I represent critical issues in the Council Chambers. I will continue to serve on as many Committees as my schedule will allow. I will continue to seek out new ways to help facilitate stronger Committees.
Whether it's at the community level, the County of Lambton or provincially, we all do better when we collaborate. Building relationships has been a key goal in my last 8 years. I've had incredible conversations with cabinet ministers, leading to millions of dollars of investment in our community. I've been able to bring our priorities to the provincial government by attending AMO and at the federal level by participating in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Working with community organizations and grassroots advocacy groups, I've been privileged to learn and truly appreciate the value of collaborative government.
It's been a real pleasure to serve. We've laid the groundwork for a truly progressive and forward-thinking city. If you'd like me to continue to be your voice in building an active and progressive Sarnia, I'll need your help. Taking a sign, helping me canvass or simply talking about this coming election with your friends, family and neighbours can help keep the momentum going. I'm here to listen, and I'm here to learn and I'm here to serve. Our time is now. We're making great things happen.
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