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 is Steven Robinson’s Questions and Answers. Click on any question to reveal the answer.
1 – Please give us a brief biography / tell the readers about yourself.
This is always the toughest question because I don’t really like to talk about myself. I am a 41 year old father of two handsome boys aged 12 and 14 and a stepdad to three beautiful girls. I am a graduate of Glengarry District High School. I was born at the old Hotel Dieu. I am a salesman for a local HVAC company. I am not the typical politician. I am honest, sometimes to a fault. I find myself unhappy with the current direction of the city and would like to try to make Cornwall the great city that it deserves to be.
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.
If elected, I hope to realize Cornwall’s potential. We have one of the least expensive labour forces, cheapest utility costs and most affordable real estate markets. We are also in a prime location with Ottawa to the north, Montreal to east, Toronto to the west and an international border crossing to the south and North America’s busiest highway going through the city. Despite all of the above gifts, Cornwall doesn’t grow, doesn’t thrive and doesn’t realize its potential. I hope to bring my experience and perspective to attract new investment to grow the city in both population and in financial success. My personal motivation in seeking election to the council table is to increase access to mental health services for our youth. Mental health needs to take the priority it deserves. We don’t wait for you to break a leg if you seek treatment for a broken arm, we don’t make people wait for lung cancer is they seek help with a skin cancer so we shouldn’t make our children wait until they try to commit suicide before we treat their depression.
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?
The situation at the Cumberland Gardens has been happening on a much smaller scale for years with other investment properties. Owners add value and improve their properties, as is their right, but then expect to garner a much larger rent increase than the law permits. We must ensure legislation is free of loopholes to protect the rights of the tenants. We should launch an education campaign so that both tenants and landlords know their rights and responsibilities. We must also ensure that development of low income housing is prioritized so that we don’t find ourselves with hundreds of citizens desperately seeking a place to live.
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?
Whether it is for Cornwall Arts Centre or any other investment, I fully believe in a cost/benefit analysis being performed. I am a supporter of the arts. We need to find new ways to attract tourism to the area and the Cornwall Arts Centre would do that. We just need to appreciate that every dollar spent was previously earned by a taxpayer and treat it as such.
5 – Post-pandemic, what can Council do to improve Economic Development for the city and support existing businesses?
Improving economic growth in Cornwall is a subject 3 decades overdue. Our population has grown by approximately 700 citizens since 1991. While other municipalities grow much quicker, we have stagnated. City Council needs to encourage both the Amazons and the Mom-and-Pops of the world to see Cornwall’s true potential. The unique advantages of Cornwall I listed earlier need to be advertised to the world. Large investors don’t skip Cornwall because they don’t like us; they skip Cornwall because they don’t know we exist. That is a huge failing of previous councils and would be one of my first projects to correct if elected.
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 closing of the McConnell Medical Centre was a terrible thing. The McConnell Medical Clinic was a convenient way to access medical care for less urgent ailments in a timely manner. Any loss of access to medical care is unacceptable. Canadians pride themselves on our healthcare system but it is failing us now when we need it most. I would support attracting doctors to the area. Depending on the cost/benefit analysis, I would support everything from tax breaks up to free housing for doctors who agree to live in and set up practice in Cornwall long term. We must also encourage nurses to choose Cornwall in much the same way. We must expand programs and/or subsidize nursing programs at St. Lawrence College for anyone who agrees to remain in Cornwall after they get their RN or RPN diplomas.
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 many things we can do to expand our city and remain environmentally responsible. Trees are one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to keep our city cool. I encourage all property owners to plant trees and take advantage of Cornwall’s tree planting programs. As an HVAC salesman, I am acutely aware of how many homes have old and inefficient heating systems. We can easily support home owners who choose to improve their home’s efficiency with programs and incentives. When we all do our small part, the environment of tomorrow will be much cleaner for our children.
8 – Many City businesses are open on Sundays, and many events happen on Sundays. Do you support Sunday service for Cornwall Transit?
I do support a pilot program for one full year for Cornwall’s transit system for Sundays. Based on its usage, we can then determine the size and scope we would continue with afterwards. I do find it shameful that those who wish to do business on Sundays are limited. The typical 9 to 5 is becoming less typical and we need to ensure that all citizens have access to our transit system.
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.
To improve social programs we must do two things. The first is to always be prepared to ask when our provincial and federal partners are seeking to invest. It has been four months since the Federal Government announced that it would be investing millions of dollars to support local mental health groups in Ontario. Where is the plan to ask for our share of that money? We must have plans for transit, senior care, infrastructure, housing and any other program our government partners may offer. The second is to expand our taxpayer base so we can afford to improve things ourselves. Increasing our population by 700 people in 30 years is not conducive to expanding our social services network. We need to grow our population, attract tourism and develop/attract new business partnerships, so that we can afford the services and programs we want.
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.
If elected as a city councillor, I would treat the taxpayers of Cornwall like my boss, with respect. Every tax dollar is a dollar that is given to the city with the expectation that it will be treated with respect and spent wisely. I would endeavor to have every line of the budget analyzed and scrutinized. My overall budgetary goal would be to keep increases to an absolute minimum while balancing the needs of the community.
11 – How can candidates contact you? Please provide a phone number and/or email and/or one website (or one social media link).
People can write to me anytime at [email protected] or call me at 613 363 2699. Thank you for your time and “Let’s Realize Cornwall’s Potential Together”