Riel War­rilow, city coun­cil­lor can­di­date

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FORUM -

Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion

Born and raised in Owen Sound. Af­ter high school, like much of my co­hort, I moved away to find work. I started my ca­reer in Search and Res­cue with the Cana­dian Coast Guard out in New­found­land, and have had the good for­tune to work coast to coast to coast since then. I had the op­por­tu­nity to move back to Owen Sound so I took it. My roots run about seven gen­er­a­tions deep here, and it was im­por­tant to me to be closer to fam­ily, and to have the high qual­ity of life that Owen Sound of­fers.

Why are you run­ning? Why should peo­ple vote for you?

I’m prob­a­bly run­ning for the same rea­sons that any­one else would run - I love this town, and I think that it’s a place that has great po­ten­tial.

I think that I can of­fer this city thought­ful even keeled lead­er­ship, ad­vo­cacy for marginal­ized folks, and cre­ative op­tions for per­sis­tent prob­lems.

What do you con­sider the two most im­por­tant is­sues fac­ing the next coun­cil?

Two po­ten­tially defin­ing is­sues for the next coun­cil might be the is­sues of cannabis, and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism. The way that the city deals with these is­sues, and other is­sues like them, will serve as a lit­mus test for progress. For the most part, young peo­ple are at­tracted to pro­gres­sive, in­no­va­tive com­mu­ni­ties - so if we want to bring that type of res­i­dent to Owen Sound, then we have to act ac­cord­ingly.

What is your vi­sion for Owen Sound in 10 years? Should the city spe­cial­ize in one sec­tor for ex­am­ple tourism, in­dus­try, small busi­ness, re­tirees?

Ten years from now my dream Owen Sound has a har­bour full of vis­it­ing sail boats, a bustling down­town, and a healthy com­mu­nity of folks who get to call this their home. That is an at­tain­able dream.

I be­lieve that Owen Sound should have a di­verse eco­nomic base. In­dus­try, and good union jobs mean that the av­er­age Owen Sounder is more fi­nan­cially com­fort­able, which in turn means more money to spend in the small busi­nesses. When small busi­nesses can count on money com­ing in from lo­cals, they can be more ad­ven­tur­ous in their en­tre­pre­neur­ial pur­suits - which make for more lively down­towns, and that brings in tourists. A healthy di­verse econ­omy is ben­e­fi­cial to young fam­i­lies, and re­tirees alike, where ev­ery­one has their part of the puz­zle and we’re all the bet­ter for it.

The cur­rent coun­cil ar­guably had a man­date to grow the tax base to help pay ris­ing city costs. Has it suc­ceeded? Should such ef­forts con­tinue?

This is where the cur­rent coun­cil is do­ing a fan­tas­tic job. The “Are you most” cam­paign is fan­tas­tic, and aimed squarely at the folks who will grow the city in the in­ter­est­ing ways we all hope it will go. Not enough time has passed for us to know how ben­e­fi­cial their work has been in this re­gard, but I think that they’re on the right track, and we should build on their ef­fort.

Should city coun­cil at­tempt to cut costs? If so, War­rilow where do you think sav­ings can be found? How would you bal­ance cuts with the need, and pub­lic de­sire, for city ser­vices?

I think that ev­ery ser­vice the city pro­vides should be as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble. We should al­ways be look­ing to make sure that our ser­vices are be­ing de­liv­ered in the most cost ef­fec­tive way we can, but that’s not go­ing to amount to sub­stan­tial sav­ings. Rather than look­ing to cut costs, I think the city should be fo­cused on grow­ing rev­enue. We should re-ex­am­ine the break on devel­op­ment fees, and see what ser­vices we might be able to pro­vide to neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that might be­ing in rev­enue. Grow­ing our pop­u­la­tion will go a long way in in­creas­ing our rev­enues, and we need to make sure that we have in­fras­truc­ture in place for that growth.

Should the city give spe­cial sup­port to the down­town area? If so, what would you sug­gest be done?

Yes, I do think that the down­town should re­ceive spe­cial sup­port. I think that a vi­brant down­town is some­thing that most peo­ple want, and now it’s just a mat­ter of fig­ur­ing out how to make it work. We have some re­ally won­der­ful busi­nesses, and we should be do­ing what we can to sup­port them. Open com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and sin­cere con­sul­ta­tion go a long way.

Should the city work to cre­ate or en­cour­age more affordable ren­tal hous­ing? If so, how?

Yes ab­so­lutely. In­clu­sion­ary zon­ing is the first thing we should be look­ing into. We have a mar­ket that is starved for en­try level hous­ing, and I think that man­dat­ing a cer­tain per­cent­age be affordable hous­ing is a very rea­son­able place to start as a city.

The province plans to al­low pri­vate sec­tor sales of recre­ational cannabis in On­tario by April 1, 2019, and coun­cils elected in the fall will have a short win­dow to opt out of hav­ing pri­vate re­tail pot shops in their com­mu­ni­ties. Would you sup­port Owen Sound us­ing this opt-out op­tion? Why or why not?

Owen Sound shouldn’t opt out of al­low­ing cannabis sales. If his­tory has taught us any­thing, pro­hi­bi­tion of sub­stances drives us­age un­der­ground, and the only peo­ple who ben­e­fit are crim­i­nals. In my opin­ion, we would just be de­lay­ing the in­evitable, so we may as well go ahead with a good plan, and by­laws in place. Anec­do­tally I will say that a down­town with pot users is a lot more palat­able than a down­town with folks us­ing other sub­stances.

Should the city do any­thing about the har­bour? If so, what?

Yes, I think that the city should make an ef­fort to de­velop the har­bour as a tourism des­ti­na­tion. We should in­stall more float­ing docks along the har­bour wall and charge a dock­age fee for vis­it­ing sailors. There are al­ready bike rentals, a gro­cery store, beer store, and pub all within sight of the har­bour wall, re­ally an ideal place to come and tie up. The tourism of­fice is right there, and un­der-uti­lized, I be­lieve we can be do­ing so much more around the har­bour to make it world class.

As far as what our next step is en­vi­ron­men­tally speaking - I don’t think that dredg­ing the har­bour is a safe or nec­es­sary op­tion. Small craft can al­ready get in there and that’s what we should fo­cus our ef­forts on at­tract­ing.

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