Jeremy Davis is a lifelong resident of Belleville and has spent many years volunteering with various local organizations. He is a freelance journalist and newspaper columnist and has been a member of the Belleville District Chamber of Commerce for 10 years.
He believes that his experience in public service would be a key asset in working effectively with a new council in order to get things done in the city.
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Your Voice, Your Vote – The QNetNews Municipal Election Project sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates for mayor and council. Here are Jeremy Davis’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 – The role of city council in my opinion in bringing new jobs to Belleville is to work aggressively and cooperatively with our Quinte Economic Development Department and staff to facilitate the best possible plan of action to attract new industry to the Quinte region.This will in turn create jobs and further growth in all sectors of our community.
The kind of jobs I envision in Belleville’s future includes manufacturing and skilled trade positions.as a result of those who have attained a higher degree of learning.We want them to reinvest or return home to raise their families and this will in turn build our residential tax based in our community.
Council can help make this happen by doing a better job at marketing our city to the global economy which in turn would attract more private investors to want to come and set up shop here and make Belleville their home.
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 role that the city plays in providing interesting things for young people to do is to continue with the development and creation of more programs through cultural and recreational services.This slate should run through all seasons featuring indoor and outdoor activities and this could be supported through more city partnerships between local businesses and organizations.This would minimize the cost related to running and participating in these programs for all parties.We also should examine all programs being offered at the library and other civic facilities such as the wellness centre The development of a new drop-in centre in our downtown core is another idea and point of discussion worth revisiting.
To keep more of the young population here after they leave school we must do our best to promote more potential job opportunities that would enable our young people to remain in our community.We also must ensure that they feel they are an important part of our community and their input and contributions to our city do matter.
Good communication skills are needed between the city and Loyalist College in order to achieve these goals.
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 – Food insecurity issues with children in our community should be addressed to city council.We have to continue to work with the Ministry of Social Services in all related agencies.This is to make sure we have adequate subsided programs that will hopefully help relieve some of the burden faced by these families.We also must continue to support our local food banks and school breakfast programs
More affordable housing has always been an issue and these problems don’t stop at council we must work with the ministry of social services as well as other levels of government to help improve the overall situation.
Belleville does need a men’s shelter for the homeless because there is a lack of one in this community.Most services are geared towards women and children so we have to try and close that gap that currently exists.
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 an ambitious vision that hopefully can be included into our future strategic goals as we move forward over the next few years.Some of these various aspects of the plan are long overdue and could help stimulate growth as a liveable ,workable city for all our citizens. We have made good strides over the years in our existing public transit system in terms of current routes and accessibility.There still however is room for improvement.
To make improvements,I would ensure that all routes being offered would meet the needs of all our citizens.There is also the continued need for accessibility and sensitivity training for the drivers and in turn this would be an asset to our entire community.
The current council has committed to the development of the cycling infrastructure project and the new council must determine how to continue to support this project.Our city must take a aggressive approach so we are more pedestrian friendly.
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 – To begin with the revitalization of the downtown,we need to eliminate the misconceptions of the true picture of our city’s core.It will never be the downtown of 30 years ago but it can be the bright vibrant progressive downtown of tomorrow.It must be filled with a mix of independent businesses specialty shops restaurants and more residential growth such as apartments and condos.We must remember that we do need something for the average family to enjoy and not just catering to one specific market.With the downtown revitalization this will also be a good asset for tourism and cultural growth of our community.
6. What role does council play in supporting a vibrant arts community in Belleville?
Response –I feel that council plays a great role in the vibrant arts community of our city.It is important to have an open communications between the arts community and council.This can generate new ideas for expanded festivals,cultural and tourism events.In turn this bring tourists into our community and it generates income and growth.
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 role the city can play in bringing new tourists to the area and keeping them here longer is to continue to promote our attractions, events that we currently have and continue to build stronger relationships with our Bay of Quinte tourism and regional chambers. We have a beautiful waterfront and ther should be a good connections between the downtown and the waterfront .Belleville needs to be promoted as a tourist destination for residents and visitors alike.
8. What are your thoughts on a casino in Belleville? Why/Why not?
Response –If we should be fortunate enough to be the host community for a casino in the Quinte region,I feel the benefits outweigh the negative aspects.The revenue that would be generated by the casino could be essential to pay for other services in our community.It could also create more business for our hotels and restaurants.With a casino we are also bringing in tourist to our city and of course revenue into the city.
9. Who should pay for upgrades to the Yardmen Arena?
How important do you think it is that the Bulls remain in Belleville?
Response – Upgrades to the Yardman Arena will have to be made but in my opinion it will have to be a mix of public and private partnerships to make it cost effective and to eliminate any major tax burden to our own municipality.
I feel that the Bulls should remain in Belleville because they started here and do play a fundamentally vital role to our tourism and sports community.We must find a way to assist the team in finalizing to make it financially viable for all parties to remain in our city.We are fortunate enough be blessed with an OHL team in our community and we must not lose it.
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 –I realize that many people in Thurlow feel forgotten and not part of Belleville,we must work to repair our relationship with all citizens in all parts of the city recognizing that even though Thurlow is unique in its own way and faces its own challenges.There is only one Belleville and we all belong to it.So it is time to stop and put aside any misconceptions, we all require adequate services as we pay into them and despite the electoral boundaries and the ward system we all should represent the concerns of all our citizens around the table.