Kelly Bergeron is the Executive Director at the Cornwall Innovation Centre, and Lead at the Cornwall Chapter of Canada Learning Code. She does community work such as organizing the TimeraiserX event. Kelly Bergeron is also the 2018 Women Entrepreneur of the Year as voted by readers of The Seeker Newspaper, and she was one of the Top Ten Citizens of the Year as chosen by the editorial staff of The Seeker Newspaper in December of 2017.
Now Kelly Bergeron is among the latest to put their name forward for Cornwall City Council in the upcoming election.
Here are five questions (and answers) with 2018 Cornwall, Ontario City Councillor candidate Kelly Bergeron:
1 – Tell the voters a bit about yourself. What skills and experience would make you a good candidate for Councillor? Also, why are you running for Council?
Back in 2016 I launched a digital literacy initiative called Code Heroes, after returning to Cornwall from San Francisco. I left a lucrative tech career behind in order to focus on building talent in this region. I now run the local chapter of Canada Learning Code and this past spring I successfully secured $477,000 in provincial investment through the Cornwall Innovation Centre to help create the Ontario Emerging Jobs Institute, a new educational institution launching this fall at the NAV Centre.
Most of my adult life, I have enjoyed taking on projects for social good including the building of a school in Nicaragua (in 2014), fundraising $12,000 for St. Columban’s School (in 2015) and organizing TimeraiserX this summer, which raised 770 volunteer hours and helped to support local, emerging artists.
I recently was accepted to a summer program at Harvard University to study Urban Design but had to decline because of the upswing of activity at the CIC but I continue to study at Stanford University (online in Entrepreneurship/Innovation). I have also attended Queen’s, Berkeley, and graduated from Computer Programming and Analysis at St. Lawrence College. Education for me, is key to growth.
I am running because I have the experience of bringing the jobs of the future to Cornwall.
But overall, I can say I am inspired by the thousands of women running for office in the United States. I encourage all women to run since it’s been proven that women actually increase revenues (up to 20%) when they have more board seats. I’m also running for the little girls out there who can’t be what they can’t see.
2 – In what ways could we improve Economic Development and how can we make Cornwall a friendlier city for small businesses?
There are so many factors when it comes to Economic Development, it’s hard to keep this short. Many of my studies have been focused on the decline of the rustbelt regions in both the US and Canada. Urban populations are growing and rural seems to get left behind. The way I am working on this issue and have been since 2016, is to help bring opportunities for digital literacy training to our youth and now, adults. Bringing digital literacy to the masses will help our city remain competitive, not only for talent, but for remote work possibilities. If we can lobby tech companies to hire remote workers, then we don’t lose our talent to big cities. That way, people can afford to live comfortably, with good quality of life, and avoid the treacherous commute.
The other opportunity for Economic Development that I can lend my experience to is Urban Design. Using data and design to build a city for everyone. Accessible, senior friendly, vibrant, and creative. We need to create public spaces in order to promote community and there are proven ways to do this, with positive correlations using data to see how we can save money and increase civic engagement.
3 – What is your vision for arts and culture? Would you support the building of an Arts and Culture Centre in Cornwall? How should that centre be paid for?
One of the things I do when I visit any new city is to visit museums in that area. For me, it’s so exciting to immerse myself in art and that experience has made me appreciate how much I really want an art centre here. I am 110% behind supporting this project in downtown Cornwall. Increasing traffic in the core is not only going to be good for the backbone of our economy (small business) but also help bring new and wonderful experiences to local residents. Following the Benson Centre fundraising approach, we will work to raise money from higher levels of government, as well as through sponsorships and donations. It’s going to take work but by repurposing a historical building, we may have an advantage using historical preservation funding.
4 – Do you support keeping any tax increases to a bare minimum? If so, where would the savings come from, and would you support reducing some services? If you do not support keeping tax increases to a minimum, explain why.
Watching the struggles of keeping taxes low while looking at cutting city services has been a real eye-opener for me. I agree with keeping taxes as low as possible to remove the financial burden from those who are trying to get by. Remaining competitive in terms of taxes would also be a great way to attract new residents to the community. So I definitely agree with that. However, the reality is that with inflation and infrastructure challenges, it can be difficult to keep a balanced budget. So my approach would be to work on attracting better jobs, helping build strong startups, supporting small businesses, and attracting talent to this region through remote work opportunities. These are key elements to bringing in more tax revenue while keeping services in place. Also, looking for funding from higher levels of government when there are opportunities out there to go after. This will help us get ahead.
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?
When Cornwall was designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, that was a huge accomplishment. So many people I know in big cities love bike-friendly places and this put us on the map. I hope we can work to create more opportunities for walkable and bike-able streets since there is an actual return on investment in terms of health dollars.
2018 Cornwall City Hall Election News: Nominations for municipal and/or school board offices for the 2018 Municipal Election have been received from the following persons (as of July 22nd, 2018).
For Councillors: Ryan Acheson, Carson Andrews, Christopher Archambault, Todd Bennett, Kelly Bergeron, Carol A. Boileau, Patrick Dussault, Keith Frost, Syd Gardiner, Jack Lindsay, Heather Megill, Mary Jane Proulx, Gérald E. Samson, and Justin Towndale
Upper Canada District School Board (English Public): David McDonald
Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (English Catholic): Ron Eamer, Todd Lalonde
Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’est ontarien (French Catholic): Michel Pilon
Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (French Public): Lise Benoit-Léger
For the most up to date list of nominees visit the City website. Who else will add their name to the ballot? Stay tuned! The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, July 27th, 2018.
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