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Sunday, December 4, 2022
Campaign Walkabout: Incumbent mayor goes door-to-door in Virgil
Lord Mayor Betty Disero continues her campaign in Chautauqua. Somer Slobodian

Journalists from The Lake Report are accompanying Niagara-on-the-Lake’s mayoral candidates as they spend a day campaigning and knocking on doors. The stories will be published in the order in which candidates appear on the ballot: this week Betty Disero, next week Vaughn Goettler and, on Oct. 20, Gary Zalepa.

Bike lanes, inclusivity and sidewalks are some of the things voters wanted to talk to incumbent Lord Mayor Betty Disero about Tuesday as she campaigned in Virgil.

“I feel like (Niagara-on-the-Lake) it’s a little too homogeneous” and then it took “way too long” to finally get a Pride crosswalk approved, said Debra Simpson.

Simpson just got back from a trip out east and commented how positive and inclusive it was there.

“(There’s) nothing like that around here,” she said.

Disero began her campaign walkabouts just after Labour Day weekend. Going door-to-door with her campaign team, she introduces herself and answers any questions residents may have.

“What do you think are your biggest challenges coming up?” asked Simpson.

The town’s budgets, full implementation of the municipal accommodation tax, finalizing the official plan and looking at the town’s tourism strategy are some of the things Disero said are on her list.

Plus “resolving issues like 30- to 40-year-old issues like parking, traffic and accountable accommodation,” Disero added.

“But we’ve got to do it this term and it has to be done,” she said.

Another resident had a few concerns, including a neighbour’s pool that was built with no fence around it.

She told The Lake Report that she’s worried about development and would like more police enforcement in the area. And wider sidewalks in Virgil.

“I think the council has done much better in the last few years. And I think they’ve accomplished a great deal. And I’d like to see that continue,” she said.

Though many people were supportive of Disero, some were still on the fence on who to vote for. Some outright said they wouldn’t vote for Disero.

“She screwed up pickleball. She didn’t know what was going on in her own household with the neighbours and I never liked that tree bylaw,” said one resident.

He said he doesn’t vote for anybody from Toronto because they “haven’t been here long enough.”

Bill Cowie, who ran for council in 2014 when Disero was first elected as a councillor, said he wasn’t voting for her.

“For some reason we’ve always tried to get along but haven’t been able to get along,” said Disero.

“Personally we probably can, but politically maybe not,” said Cowie.

Another resident asked about the current status of the streetscape project in Virgil.

It will be done in 2023, said Disero.

“They went out to do it for this last summer and because of inflation the cost was $3 million over budget,” she said.

The price came down by a million and a half, she said, so the work will be started next spring.

The streetscape project is really going to enhance Virgil, she told the resident.

Disero continued her campaign on Loretta Drive and parts of Concession Road 4, and Line 1 early into the afternoon.

Other Virgil residents had questions about early voting, or simply wished Disero good luck in the Oct. 24 vote.