Here are Five Questions with 2014 Cornwall Ontario City Council candidate Justin Towndale.
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Council?
I’m 31, was raised in Cornwall, and attended the University of Toronto, graduating with an Honours Bachelor’s of Arts. I’m involved with the 2015 International Plowing Match and Rural Expo, the Agapè Centre’s ‘Within These Walls’ campaign, and the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals. I spent five years working at Queen’s Park, getting to know the ins and outs of politics at the provincial level. I learned who to go to for specific requests and how to get things done. Living in Toronto for twelve years, accompanied with my work, exposed me to new concepts. I can bring fresh new ideas, and forward thinking.
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a friendlier city for small businesses?
We need to actively pursue companies to set up operations in Cornwall. We also need to partner closely with the provincial and federal levels of government to promote Cornwall as they attract new companies to Ontario.
For small businesses, its all about giving local entrepreneurs the tools that they need to succeed. We need to ensure that they have financial assistance available for expansions, and other projects. We need to ensure that the city supports them, and factors in local companies when accepting tenders. While the lowest price is always attractive, sourcing services locally would improve the overall economy of the city. We also need to ensure that small business owners aren’t overburdened with red tape, which can affect productivity, and profit. Finally, we must ensure that our tax rates are fair and reasonable.
3 – What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall?
I am a fan of the arts. I enjoyed attending Worldfest with my parents when I was younger. I absolutely support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall. While Aultsville Hall is an excellent facility, we would benefit greatly from having a stand alone Arts and Culture Centre. Having such a centre would also attract visitors to the area of the city in which it is located, which would have a positive economic impact in that neighborhood. I think we should find a suitable location in, or around, Le Village.
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.
At this time, I do not support a tax increase. If we continue to push for growth and development across the city, tax revenues will increase without actually raising taxes. New businesses create thousands in tax revenue for the city. We need to encourage and support new businesses and developments. The recent decision by City Council to halt the development of the residential complex on the former Courtaulds lands has now cost the city tens of thousands in future tax revenue. We cannot risk making a mistake like this again.
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?
The city has been extremely successful as of late in attracting new businesses and industries to the area. We need to continue this success.
At the same time however, the city needs improvement in the areas of accountability and transparency, especially at the council table. This is why I am calling for the posting of City Council expenses online as a first step. City Council is elected by the people to serve the people. It must act as the leaders of the community, and set the example. The people should know how City Council is spending tax dollars at all times.