In announcing his re-election bid, Steve Peters observes, that you can ‘move an agenda along quicker at the municipal level’


city_scope_logo-cmykHot on the heels of Joe Preston’s announcement he is seeking a second term as St. Thomas mayor, Steve Peters has made it known he too will pursue re-election.
We caught up with Peters at the end of the week and he stressed, “There is a lot of work to be done on a lot of issues and, honestly, that’s why I chose to seek re-election.”
His political career was launched at the municipal level before Peters moved on to represent Elgin-Middlesex-London at Queen’s Park.
“When I reflect on all my years in politics and my service on different fronts for me, I’ve always been a huge fan of municipal politics, where you can say it is black, I say it is white and collectively we find the gray and get on with it.
“You can make things happen and move an agenda along quicker at the municipal level.”
Sitting in the council chamber, Peters looks to provincial politicians now and is convinced there is an ongoing role shift that is leading to an imbalance for municipalities.

“We have got to have some serious discussion with the provincial government. We are being asked as municipal taxpayers and municipal politicians to get involved in things historically we played a role in but not a significant role.
Steve Peters“We’re making significant investments in housing and it’s only scratching the surface. We’re involved in healthcare and mental health both directly through Southwestern Public Health but also indirectly through some of the things we have in the community.”
Peters then shifts to a hot-button item with St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge.
“We have attorney general policing issues of a catch-and-release policy that is causing huge strains on our police service.
Yes, we have a role to play as a municipality, but we need to be compensated. It’s not fair to put a lot of these costs and burdens on the backs of the municipal taxpayer when these are issues that are driven and created by provincial policy.”
As the term of this council begins to wind down, Peters leaves no doubt he has savoured his return to the horseshoe at city hall.
“For myself, I’ve really enjoyed the three-and-a-half years. We’ve got a good council, we haven’t always agreed on things but we left the room or the Zoom meeting still as friends.

“I would really like to see us re-engage our discussions with the County of Elgin on how we can better work together. Are there areas of duplication?”

“We’ve tried to advance an agenda that I believe is good for the city. Is it everything that everybody wants?
“No, but there is only so much money that goes around and I recognize that as well.”
With only a fixed amount of money available without burdening taxpayers, Peters makes it clear it comes down to priorities.
“As a council, we’re trying to make the important investments in the infrastructure of the city. We’re trying to do our part in building and creating housing. We’re strong on the economic development front. We’ve got a lot of potential going forward.
“Residential development in the city has been phenomenal . . . but future growth is going to be an issue.”
Relationships with neighbouring municipalities have always been a critical focal point for Peters.
“I would really like to see us re-engage our discussions with the County of Elgin on how we can better work together. Are there areas of duplication?

“We owe it to the taxpayers of the City of St. Thomas to make sure we’re getting best value for their money.”

“Land ambulance has worked very well. Social services have worked very well. Why can’t we do that with our library system? Why can’t we do that with our homes for the aged? Why can’t we look at other areas of shared services?
“We’re both doing things with tourism, we’re both doing things with economic development.”
Duplication in these two important areas is not in the best interest of those footing the bill, points out Peters.
“We owe it to the taxpayers of the City of St. Thomas to make sure we’re getting best value for their money.”
Echoing a sentiment from 2018 when he launched his campaign to return to municipal politics.
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THE SOUND AND LIGHTS SHOW RETURNS TO PINAFORE
As he told myFM during the week, “the event is the fireworks.”
And, the pyrotechnics will return to Pinafore Park, assures Mayor Joe Preston, for a spectacular celebration of Canada Day on July 1.
Canada Day celebrations in 2020 were restricted to a virtual presentation in St. Thomas, while last year Preston encouraged residents to celebrate in their own fashion as the pandemic restrictions continued to curtail so many things we had taken for granted.
“Yes, we will do celebratory fireworks for Canada Day,” confirms Preston.

“Hopefully people will come to the playground and to the splash pad and come throw a Frisbee in the park. But, the event is the fireworks.”

“We will have a couple of our not-for-profit organizations in the park from four o’clock on, the Kinsmen and the Optimists, doing what they would normally do from a barbecue point of view.”
Unlike in the past, there will be no formal events or activities scheduled that day instead, people are encouraged to enjoy an afternoon in the park with family and friends before taking in the fiery finale that evening.
“We will have a great fireworks celebration,” assured Preston, “and the park itself will be there for use during the day.
“Hopefully people will come to the playground and to the splash pad and come throw a Frisbee in the park.
“But, the event is the fireworks.
Preston reminds us there will be limited parking in the park, however, off-site parking may prove more convenient as vehicles in the park at the end of the fireworks will be held back until pedestrians safely exit the venue.
In other words, count on delays if you choose to park in the park.
CLIMATE ESSENTIALS SUPERSEDED BY FREEDOM ESSENTIALS
He is, without a doubt, the most intriguing Elgin-Middlesex-London candidate in next week’s provincial election.
For Dave Plumb, Freedom Party of Ontario representative, there are issues at play where, in simple terms, “the government should get out of the way.”
This is his second run for provincial office, with Plumb garnering 278 votes in the 2018 election.
dave-plumb-freedom-party-candidate-may-2022That put him just under 29,000 votes in arrears of Jeff Yurek, easily elected for his third term in office.
That didn’t deter Plumb from tossing his name in the ring again although, in this campaign, climate change is not the focal point.
We’ve had more than two years of pandemic restrictions with gross infringements on personal freedom, says Plumb, and that attack on freedom forms the foundation of the Freedom Party of Ontario’s four-pillared platform.
“We’re focussing on four primary issues here,” informs Plumb.
“We’re focussing on truth, rights, justice and freedom. It seems to us, with everything that’s gone on in the last couple of years that there are bigger and more immediate issues to face right at the moment.”
Plumb has a Bachelor of Science degree with a biology major from Western and is the author of Inconveniently Screwed, which deals with what he refers to as the “fear-mongering and shameless deception” associated with climate change.
That led to a second, self-published book entitled Climate Essentials which Plumb notes “For those ‘time-challenged’ readers who crave the truth, it may be just the ticket!”

“Affordable housing is an issue but affordable everything is an issue.”

While the other candidates in Elgin-Middlesex-London have outlined their party’s policies dealing with top-of-mind issues like housing, the Freedom Party of Ontario admits it has no specific strategy.
The issue, Plumb argues, is affordable living.
“There are an awful lot of issues that seriously need to be addressed and affordable housing, I suppose, is one of them.
“Affordable housing is an issue but affordable everything is an issue.”
In any event, adds Plumb, housing should not be a government issue and, in fact, “government should get out of the way.”

” . . . . to ensure that the kinds of infringements upon freedom that have happened . . . are much less likely to happen ever again.”

He and his party argue the Doug Ford government has engaged in gross violations of individual freedom during the pandemic and the hope is whichever party forms the government will take notice of the number of people who voted for the Freedom Party.
“The idea is if we can get enough support at the ballot box to make whoever gets in sit up and take notice that X percentage of people voted for this party and maybe there is something in their platform we should look at and start to implement because it seems like it has quite a bit of support.”
Locally, Plumb will have to campaign hard to build on that 278 number from 2018.
He says provincial laws need to be changed so these infringements upon individual freedom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are less likely to ever happen again.
The Freedom Party of Ontario advocates for investigating and thoroughly evaluating the government’s response to the spread of the coronavirus.
IT’S ON THE WAY, NO DOUBT
Curious to find out why the delay in issuing a media release announcing the city’s new fire chief, Dave Gregory.
Obviously, there is plenty of other business council and staff have to deal with.
But, now that you mention it, the city also had a touch of difficulty with the media release announcing Kevin Welsh as the new fire chief back in November of last year.
The one-paragraph devoted to Welsh reads, “With over 27 years of experience, Chief Welsh currently serves as Chief in the Town of Renfrew after spending many years with Kingston Fire and Rescue.
“He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Queens University and a Bachelor of Arts from Waterloo.”
A little light on relevant details.
When we talked with Welsh at that time, he noted he and his wife “are looking forward to all the opportunities St. Thomas presents to be engaged and become familiar with the community. It’s about making friends.”
We observed he leans on the word opportunity throughout the conversation and it was our impression the city and its residents were being presented with a refreshing opportunity with the arrival of Welsh on Nov. 15.
Without a doubt, the Dave Gregory media release – surely on its way this coming week – will provide more insight into why all the opportunities Welsh referred to went south so quickly.
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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.

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One thought on “In announcing his re-election bid, Steve Peters observes, that you can ‘move an agenda along quicker at the municipal level’

  1. I like the idea of shared services within the city and County of Elgin per Councillor Peters comments .. Why don’t we start with Police and Fire Services? Is it time to form a regional police service like Chatham -Kent and fire service as well ? Surely there must be saving in those areas …. It’s time to break the mould of doing things the traditional way and “think OUTSIDE the box” !..

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