I am trying to connect the dots on a few issues but am having difficulty doing so.
Take the current election as an example. The Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre is there to serve the community.
Many candidates, under a democratic political process, are running for NOTL council seats to serve the community. But an event to enable the citizens of NOTL to be informed of what the candidates propose if they are elected is not allowed at the community centre “because it is a political event.”
So help me to understand the local logic here – and is anyone thinking?
Another example: Short-term cottage rentals. Residential areas have been developed in town as places for residents. Now these “R-zoned” areas are being increasingly occupied by commercial businesses disguised as short-term cottage rentals.
Many neighbours in these residential areas no longer have neighbours. Instead, they have businesses next door to them.
The town (council and staff) believe the solution to what many residents see as a major issue is to write stiffer bylaws with more enforcement.
The problem is, the right question hasn’t been asked. That is, “Do we want to continue to see the continued growth and existence of commercial businesses in designated residential areas or not?”
Why can’t we develop specific commercial areas in town for these commercial short-term cottage rentals? It would be helpful if underlying policies are addressed before the regulatory and enforcement cards are played.
One more – Important policy issues for this election: During the candidate meetings, there seemed to be much attention to parking issues.
This one I do understand because parking is something that everyone is familiar with and for which each wants to share their opinion.
However, there has been little discussion on more complex issues such as the future of the town and the seniors and others who live here, balancing residential, commercial and tourism development, sustainable financing, having an appropriate level of taxes (probably higher and not lower) to afford the services we demand, town and region relationship and cost sharing, town council and staff relationship and power, available health services, and other longer-term and important policy issues.
With the Oct. 24 municipal election, now is the perfect time to press the candidates on the important future policies and issues for the town, some of which are touched on above.