Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Brock Frost.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I was born and raised in Cornwall, graduated from C.C.V.S. as an Ontario Scholar and earned a B.A. in Economics from Queen’s University.
I work full-time as a Realtor with Storm Realty, own and manage 17 of my own rental properties, campaign full-time and own and operate the Cornwall River Kings.
I am the type of person who doesn’t quit. I have always been a leader and always will be. My ability to step up to the plate when needed and my passion for hard work will not only help serve my community well but will also help shape me into a great City Councillor.
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a more friendly city for small businesses?
This is a difficult question to answer in 100 words but I will say this – it is no secret that small businesses struggle in Cornwall. Simply take a drive down Pitt Street or Montreal Road and the number of vacant commercial properties will speak volumes.
Two things (among many) that we can do from City Hall would be to lower the commercial tax rates as well as creating an online/hard copy small business catalogue. First, commercial tax rates, like our extremely high residential tax rates, make it more costly for commercial tenants to afford to stay in business. Taxes are costs to owners but are simply redirected to business owners in the form of higher rents. (I own a commercial property in Le Village and understand this dilemma firsthand).
Secondly, Cornwall does very little in terms of promoting its’ business owners (although it claims it does). One idea would be to have Economic Development create an online and hard copy catalogue showcasing our many small businesses including a calendar of events, specials, promotions, products and services and contact information.
3 – What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
As per my platform at www.brockfrost.ca, I believe Arts and Culture is tremendously important to our City but we need to start at the ground level. Most candidates will speak of glorious plans for an arts culture but the harsh reality is that Cornwall DOES NOT EVEN HAVE AN ARTS DEPARTMENT.
How can Council truly and honestly say to its’ citizens that Arts is an important part of their vision if we cannot even create an independent Arts Department? Currently, our arts department is a sub-section of Parks and Recreation squeezed into the Planning Department.
We must crawl before we walk and we must create an arts department before we create an arts centre. $50,000 is all we need to start which would cover a one-person department with some administrative costs. The department head could then be the single point of contact for all artists in our city in addition to having a direct line of communication to City Council. This is completely within our budget and a realistic approach to improving our arts community.
4 – Do you support freezing or lowering taxes? If so, where would the savings come from, and would you support reducing some services? If you do not support freezing or lowering taxes explain why.
Cornwall is ranked the highest in terms of property tax rates out of 88 municipalities in Ontario. For that reason alone, I support a freeze on property and water tax rates. It is time for City Council to stop putting the onus of budget mismanagement onto the tax payers.
The recent tax increase by City Council will generate approximately $2,000,000 in additional revenue for the City. While this may seem like a lot in actual dollars, it is a mere fraction of the annual budget. This money could have easily been raised by other methods instead of passing the burden on to the tax payers. For example, there are certain parcels of land in Cornwall that are also conveniently not paying their share of the tax bill. It is absolutely unfathomable that while the average Cornwall citizen pays the highest tax rates in the province, these powerful entities are receiving a tax break! As such, in addition to my freeze on tax rates, I will also ensure that every property owner starts paying their fair share of taxes.
5 – What has been the biggest accomplishment at City Hall over the past four years OR what has been the biggest issue of concern at City Hall over the past four years?
Transparency and Accountability. This is becoming an increasingly “popular” subject at City Hall. From closed-door sessions to law suits to mysterious resignations, our next city council has to lead by example and be much more transparent with its’ actions.
For this reason, I have introduced two platform ideas to deal with this issue. The first is the creation of the Cornwall City Council Code of Conduct (CCCCC). The Municipal Act, 2001 actually specifies that municipalities have the right to create such a code if they choose to do so. Past councils have simply dropped the ball on this. Why haven’t we created a code of conduct that makes our Councillors accountable to the public that elects them? This seems very simple to me and I cannot begin to comprehend why this hasn’t been done as of yet.
The second is the creation of the office of Integrity Commissioner. This office would be an independent, unbiased individual whose sole mandate is to field complaints and inquiries from the public on behalf of conduct done by Councillors. Again, the Municipal Act, 2001 authorizes municipalities to create such an office.
Apparently, past city councils have not taken transparency or accountability too seriously. I think it’s time we did.