Paul Carr says he is a firm believer in having taxpayers’ voices heard. His says his main priority will be to make sure that taxpayers are being consulted before any big financial decisions are made.
He served on Belleville council from 2000 to 2003 representing Thurlow ward. Carr has worked for the Correctional Service of Canada for 17 years and is married with two daughters.
Carr says he would like to be the voice of the community for Belleville.
RR#5 Belleville,ON K8N 4Z5
Your Voice, Your Vote – The QNetNews Municipal Election Project sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates for mayor and council in Belleville. Here are Paul Carr’s unedited responses.
1. One concern we’ve heard from a number of people is about the future of jobs in Belleville, and where job growth will come from. What role do you see city council playing to help bring new jobs to Belleville? What kind of jobs do you envision in Belleville’s future? How does council help make that happen?
Response – City council needs to provide a significant leadership role in setting the tone for economic growth. City Hall provides the connectivity required between business and the community at large. We need to have an aggressive marketing campaign that relies heavily on the advantages of doing business in Belleville. We need to work collaboratively with existing business leaders to provide testimonials on why their business or operations are successful. What better way to attract new jobs then having other businesses talk about their success in our city.
2. We’ve also heard from a number of people who say, with regards to young people in Belleville, that there’s not enough for them to do here, and there’s not enough to keep them here after they graduate, whether that’s from high school or from Loyalist College. For the purposes of these questions, we’re defining young people as being between 12 and 24. What role does the city play in providing interesting things for young people to do? How does the city keep more of its young population here after they leave school? How do you envision the city working with Loyalist College to do just that?
Response – The city can provide the necessary leadership in order to get young people engaged in their community. A youth advisory committee that actually advises city council and staff on issues facing young people is crucial if we are going to change the status quo impressions that there is nothing interesting for young people to do. It cannot just be a token committee that does not help produce tangible results.
It is important that young people have and maintain a connection to the city. I am proposing a mentoring program where city hall acts as a conduit to connect students (secondary and college) to business leaders in our community. This provides for a greater connection to the local workforce when deciding career options as well as assist companies with succession planning and growth initiatives if they are made aware of students earlier in their academic career. Loyalist College plays a significant role and partnership with the city in encouraging students to remain in the local area. Job matching programs are essential as students transition from academia to the work force.
3.We also heard a lot of concern about poverty in Belleville, especially child poverty. There are two main concerns tied to the discussion of poverty in this community – food and shelter. One in three children in this community face food insecurity issues. What can council do to address that? What role does council have in providing more affordable accommodation for more people in this city? Does Belleville need a men’s shelter for those who are temporarily homeless?
Response – I find the child poverty rate in the City of Belleville personally troubling. Approximately thirty four percent of children experience food insecurity in the city. This means that numerous children are going to school without proper nourishment which impacts learning and development. First of all, City Council needs to take on a leadership role by continually raising awareness to his disheartening reality. City Council also needs to expand contribution to the Food for Learning Program beyond the period of time at Christmas when revenues from downtown parking meters are collected for this cause. We also need to advocate for more affordable accommodation options in the city so that families do not struggle with paying for food versus paying for shelter. Finally, expanding our business base will ensure that there are more jobs available.
The reality is that there are people in our community that face homelessness on a daily basis. I would support a non-profit organization in the creation of a shelter; however, it would have to also include partnerships to ensure there were additional support services available to assist clients with other life issues beyond homelessness
4. Council recently passed a Transportation Master Plan. What are your thoughts on that plan? How would you characterize the existing public transit system in Belleville? What would you do to improve it? What can the city do to improve cycling infrastructure in this city?
Response – The Transportation Master Plan is a comprehensive overview of what is required to meet the transportation needs in a 21st century community. It outlines aggressive changes to compensate for currently inadequate but acceptable planning standards from the past. Changes cannot all occur immediately; however, they can be completed over time in an affordable and pay as you go approach in order that we do not rely heavily on tax-supported debt. The existing public transit system can be characterized as inadequate and inefficient. We need to devise a system that moves people around the city in a convenient and time sensitive fashion. This is the only way that ridership will increase and the operation budget will be less reliant on tax-supported subsidy. The city can continue to improve cycling infrastructure as upgrades are made to roads. Additionally, new subdivision plans can be stipulated to include cycling paths and over time, a fiscally responsible cycling network can be constructed. Also, a cycling paths need to be focused on intensified areas of the city.
5. Sometimes it seems the future of downtown Belleville is a more popular topic of conversation than the weather is. How do you see downtown Belleville being revitalized?
Response –Downtown revitalization requires commitments beyond City Hall. I believe that key aging infrastructure (i.e. water and sewer) needs to be updated. This will ensure that there is adequate capacity for expanded demand. Beyond that, significant private investment is required in order that people locate and congregate in that area of the city. Increased police presence is required for a short duration of time in order to address any public safety issues, real or perceived that are deterring visitors and investment. Finally, existing business owners need to collaborate on a marketing campaign targeting other businesses to invest in the downtown.
6. What role does council play in supporting a vibrant arts community in Belleville?
Response – City Council can provide enhanced promotion and encouragement of arts and culture in Belleville. This includes ensuring that assets and services are available to the arts community (i.e. closed streets, access to city buildings, and increased emphasis in our tourism strategy).
7. Many people pointed to tourism as an important economic driver in this city. What role can the city play in both bringing more tourists to the city, and keeping them here longer? Should there be a better connection between the Bay of Quinte waterfront and Belleville’s downtown? How does the city make that happen?
Response – The city needs to continue our partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce as well as Bay of Quinte Tourism in promoting our city. We also need to heavily market our community to the tourist industry to see increased investment. This will enhance the tourism experience as well as assist in job growth. There should be a better connection between the Bay of Quinte waterfront and downtown Belleville as well as the city at large. Having a waterfront should be the focal piece of our community. Better signage as well as supporting private investment in businesses that complements our waterfront is crucial to maximize this benefit.
8. What are your thoughts on a casino in Belleville? Why/Why not?
Response- The issue of a casino in Belleville needs to be viewed through the context of the provincial gaming strategy. With 29 distinct gaming zones in Ontario, I am not convinced that there will be a significant influx of tourism; however, the presence of a casino will mean that residents within a 100 km radius are more likely to visit a local casino in Belleville versus travelling to another site. This is according to an OLG sanctioned report. Additionally, the tourist draw that current exists to this area will compliment local visitors and enhance revenues. Certainly the added host revenue to the city would assist in funding local projects. The City of Belleville has already indicated to the OLG that it wants to be a host community. The provincial program will unfold and it will be up to local leaders to maximize its revenue potential while mitigating any risks that may be present to the community.
9. Who should pay for upgrades to the Yardmen Arena? How important do you think it is that the Bulls remain in Belleville?
Response – The Belleville Bulls are a valuable business within the City of Belleville. They provide fantastic entertainment, economic spin-off to the local economy and give visibility to the City of Belleville. I believe that there are opportunities that need to be pursued in order to have a public-private partnership on upgrades to the Yardman Arena. Similar to investing in industrial land to attract business, the City of Belleville should work to maintain the businesses we have and excel for increased economic growth.
10. We heard complaints from people in Thurlow that it’s the forgotten part of this city, especially when it comes to city services. How do you respond to those complaints?
Response –The complaints of Thurlow Ward residents are valid. The best way for me to respond to those complaints is to get to work on highlighting the priorities of Thurlow residents and presenting a sound argument to all of council. The city cannot continue to collect the taxes they do, without repairing some deplorable rural roads, improve roads to major subdivisions and enhance connectivity with the greater city.