Municipal Elections are taking place in October. As one of the main media outlets in the City of Cornwall, The Seeker is always eager to getting to know the candidates. As such, we send each candidate a questionnaire requesting for them to give their position on the most pressing issues near and dear to you, our readers. During the upcoming weeks, we will be publishing the answers from each candidate who choses to respond. Every candidate was sent 11 questions, penned by our own, Jason Setnyk. They can chose to answer as many as they want. We will post them online as they come in. Here are Fred Ngoundjo’s Questions and Answers. Click on any question to reveal the answer.
1 – Please give us a brief biography / tell the readers about yourself.
I am a Research Scientist with the Canadian Government, based in Cornwall, and amateur sports organizer. Fluently bilingual and 46, I live with my wife and two young children. I am
a member of the Knights of Columbus and other community organizations.
I seek to follow in the footsteps of Bernadette Clement, and Mayor Glen Grant. Both urged me to seek this office. I am very grateful for their support.
My heart is filled with gratitude as a citizen of Canada and Cornwall. With this spirit, I want to give back by making our community an even better place.
2 – If you were on Council the previous term, tell us about your accomplishments during the past four years. If you were not on City Council this last term, please tell us why you are running and what you hope to accomplish.
I would be a new and fresh voice around Council which needs to take charge of its own agenda. We need to develop a list of priorities and keep plugging away at them until we get the job done. We are going to have to work in greater cooperation, making sure we rise above all pettiness. I believe that my fresh approach of thoughtful vision and consultation, followed by positive action, can help to produce good results. But I must and will work with others to get things done.
3 – With rents skyrocketing, what can City Council in Cornwall do to prevent renovictions like those at Cumberland Gardens that have impacted many in our community?
Renovictions which means evictions because a landlord starts renovations to a rental property and then replaces the evicted tenants with those who can pay higher rents after the renovations are completed, is very harmful to our community.
We already lack affordable housing.
We should turn to the Legal Clinic who are experienced in standing up for tenants for the best legal advice on preventing renovictions and I agree with them that our City Council can and must act to limit renovictions. It’s time to stand up for people.
4 – In 2018, the City of Cornwall purchased the old Bank of Montreal building in our downtown for $450,000 as the future home of Cornwall’s Art Centre. In 2019, Council heard a report that renovations would cost an additional $4 to $6 million dollars. In addition to the fundraising already being done, will you support some public tax dollars going towards a Cornwall Art Centre, or should the municipality pause any additional financial support?
We need to actively pursue Federal and Provincial funding to make the Arts Centre a reality. That’s the only way it will come into existence. We need to get a better understanding that this centre will be for all the people and that it can help our city in many exciting ways, and we need to get a much better handle on those costs. We need to better connect it to our economic progress. If we do this, I think then there could be more community support for a financial commitment from our municipality.
5 – Post-pandemic, what can Council do to improve Economic Development for the city and support existing businesses?
We need to deal with Cornwall’s labour shortage, working closely with school boards and St. Lawrence College to help education match job needs.
Tourism is an economic driver that brings us good things. I would to see us develop a significant tourist attraction on our wonderful Waterfront.
A good working relationship with our colleagues and neighbours in the Counties is crucial to our progress. And we are so fortunate that geography makes us neighbours with the people of Akwesasne. We must also be good partners. The unique Portlands development, a unique symbol of that partnership, must finally move forward.
6 – What are your thoughts on the McConnell Medical Clinic closure? Although health care is a provincial issue, is there anything Council can do to attract more doctors and nurses to our city?
I believe in a stronger and more effective role for our City Council, one which recognizes that our municipal government is closest to the actual needs and well-being of our residents such as health care. We should work more closely with physicians and health care providers as well as with the Cornwall Community Hospital to make sure they feel respected and that their needs are fully met. The City of Cornwall should be represented within the governance of our Hospital. We must also support the work of our outstanding first responders.
7 – While climate change is a global issue, what can the City do locally to keep our neighborhoods cool and protect natural resources like the St. Lawrence River?
The most cost effective way we can deal with the climate crisis while significantly doing better to upgrade the appearance of our community is through the active planting of trees to improve the tree canopy. We are simply not doing enough in this direction.
Strengthening the St-Lawrence River Institute to help it provide effective monitoring and research will go a long way towards protecting that crucial resource.
8 – Many City businesses are open on Sundays, and many events happen on Sundays. Do you support Sunday service for Cornwall Transit?
Most definitely. Cornwall Transit is a lifeline for so many in our community. The idea that we can as a modern community, continue to « roll up the sidewalks» on Sundays is too far out of date. At the very least we need to establish a modified service on Sundays. We also need to make sure that new buses operate with green energy.
9 – What can we do to improve social services in Cornwall? Examples include but are not limited to Cornwall Transit, childcare spaces, or LTR spaces.
I fully support the Poverty Reduction Plan carefully prepared through the coordination of the Social Development Council. Effective and welcoming social services is crucial to this Plan.
When we attract new business we need to make clear that employees deserve a living wage.
Creating more available land for housing is key. We must actively pursue every possible funding from Federal and Provincial programs through a Housing Task Force.
We must finally see to the development of the former industrial lands to open up land for housing. Too much of our city is taken up by these empty, unused, unattractive areas.
10 – Do you support keeping tax increases to a bare minimum? If yes, 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 your reasoning why.
What’s most important is to manage our finances effectively, making sure that we properly protect and serve our residents well. We need to be attractive to industry and commerce and to new residents, in order to grow stronger economically.
But every service, every expense must be justified and bring good value, and I will work to make sure that we live within our means. I will seek a justification for every cost taking nothing for granted.
11 – How can candidates contact you? Please provide a phone number and/or email and/or one website (or one social media link).