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 Jason Riley’s Questions and Answers. Click on any question to reveal the answer.
1 – Please give us a brief biography / tell the readers about yourself.
am a lifelong resident of Cornwall. I am a husband, father, and grandfather. I graduated St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School, and St Lawrence College here in Cornwall.
I started my professional career working for a local computer store where I worked in the service department helping businesses and individuals with their tech related issues. From there I moved to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino where I worked in the IT department for four years. I have spent that last 15 years working for a software brand at IBM where I manage some of our largest clients.
My parents raised me with a sense of community and giving back. They taught me how rewarding volunteering can be. I have been volunteering in Cornwall since I was a child for a variety of non-profits and youth sports organizations. Most recently I have spent the last 5 years serving on the board of directors of the Seaway Valley Soccer Club.
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 am proud to be from Cornwall and see so much potential. I would love the opportunity to help the City of Cornwall be better, be more fiscally responsible, attract talented individuals to our city, create a better partnership with Awkesasne and the counties, and attract more tourism.
If elected, I would fight for a balanced budget. The City of Cornwall is 52 million dollars in debt. We as a city need to stop overspending and passing the burden on to the taxpayers. The City of Cornwall has increased property taxes by 3.1% each of the past 5 years. It’s time for the city to be fiscally responsible.
We also need to do a better job of attracting and retaining talented individuals and create a city where our residents love to live, work and be part of our diverse community.
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?
Sadly, Cornwall is not the only community that is dealing with renovictions. Unless the issue is addressed soon, I unfortunately believe that more and more communities will be affected. I don’t believe that the City of Cornwall could pass an effective by-law to stop renovictions. What we need to do is work with our Provincial and Federal members of Parliament to pass proper effective legislation.
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?
I am a big supporter of the arts however; I am not a big fan of the Cornwall Art Centre in its current format. The Cornwall Art Centre as it sits now is going to cost millions to build. I think it might be time to re-evaluate the Art Centre. I would like to see us partner with Akwesasne and build a new Arts Centre in the portlands. This way we can celebrate all the arts in our community.
5 – Post-pandemic, what can Council do to improve Economic Development for the city and support existing businesses?
In a post pandemic world, I believe that more and more employers are seeing that their businesses can continue to strive when employees work from home either full time or in a hybrid model. I envision that Cornwall will become an attractive place for these individuals to come live and become part of our community.
I also believe that we need to look at some tax incentives for businesses. We need to attract new jobs to the city of Cornwall, all while supporting our existing businesses.
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?
The City of Cornwall has a couple of programs now to help recruit doctors to the city. We have a medical scholarship program where the City of Cornwall may award a medical student up to $25,000 per year. Cornwall Economic Development and the Cornwall Community Hospital have a joint program where doctors can apply for funding to help offset the costs of establishing medical practices in Cornwall. This program provides up to $25,000.
I know other communities offer similar programs but with larger incentives. We would need to evaluate if increasing the incentives has been effective in other communities as well as the feasibility of augmenting these programs.
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?
There are three things that I feel we could do that would help make an impact. The first one is planting new trees. The Riparian Restoration sustainability project was a good start. I think we can augment this program and others like it.
The second is that I feel we need to take another look at a composting program. This would help cut down on waste while making a positive impact on the environment.
The final item is education on our recycling program. Better education on what can be recycled, and how items need to be prepared to be placed in the blue bins. Simplicity and understanding is how we can get more recycling and less waste.
8 – Many City businesses are open on Sundays, and many events happen on Sundays. Do you support Sunday service for Cornwall Transit?
Yes, I do support Sunday service for Cornwall Transit.
Cornwall Transit has always been a cost-effective way for residents, and we absolutely should look at Sunday service. I do think that we should look at operating on reduce schedule or maybe we even look at a new modernized dial-a-bus program like we had previously here in Cornwall. I think with new technology that we could run a successful dial-a-bus program.
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.
There is a real need for affordable daycare centers in the city. I’ve spoken to taxpayers who tell me that they need to get on a waiting list for daycare when the mothers are still pregnant. That is a shame in my opinion. We really need to look at city run daycare facilities again. If more parents can find affordable daycare, it could help get more parents back out into the workforce.
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.
Property taxes have increased each of the past 5 years and that is above and beyond the property assessment increases. The city of Cornwall needs to be fiscally responsible and stop passing the burden of our overspending onto the taxpayers of Cornwall.
We need to be creative at budget time and be prepared to make some tough decisions all while identifying new revenue streams for the City of Cornwall.
11 – How can candidates contact you? Please provide a phone number and/or email and/or one website (or one social media link).
I am always happy to speak with the voters of Cornwall. You can reach out to me via my website www.votejasonriley.ca or by sending an email to [email protected].