The municipal election this past fall resulted in some new and familiar faces around local council tables, each prepared to represent the needs of their constituents and communities to the best of their ability during their next four years in office.
In the winter edition of our Insight magazine, to be released this month, we reached out to the municipal leaders for the City of Cambridge and Township of North Dumfries, along with Cambridge’s two regional councillors, to get a sense of what issues and concerns they believe are facing the business community and to provide potential solutions to make things even better to conduct business locally.
Each were asked the same series of questions in hopes of providing our business community with a snapshot of what approaches our municipal leaders will be taking over the next four years.
Here’s a portion of their responses to a few of the questions:
1. How do we make Cambridge/Township of North Dumfries even better places to do business?
Mayor Jan Liggett: “Connecting equity to transit-oriented development can mitigate traffic and pollution, generate demand for transit, catalyze the development of affordable housing, and bring new businesses and quality jobs to our community.”
Donna Reid, Ward One: “Council needs to support development because more people will generate more business and needs to consult our businesses as to their needs to ensure we will be providing the services that will assist them.”
Mike Devine, Ward Two: “Our tax base is an issue, and we must see that it’s set in a reasonable manner for businesses, especially since we have moved into more higher-tech manufacturing than we’ve previously seen in Cambridge in the first 30 years.”
Corey Kimpson, Ward Three: “We have to look at the processes we have in place and really look at having a collaborative approach between the levels of government, the community and business community.”
Ross Earnshaw, Ward Four: “For Cambridge to be perceived as an attractive place to do business, our downtowns must be seen as safe, comfortable, and truly fun, public places.”
Sheri Roberts, Ward Five: “Having the appropriate infrastructure in place such as safe roads, well planned parking, and other supports and services for employees and customers, will make it as easy as possible for companies to focus on the running of their business.”
Adam Cooper, Ward Six: “I would like to see improved road networks to get large this truck traffic out of our downtown areas and major roads such as Hespeler Road and King Street.”
Scott Hamilton, Ward Seven: “It’s important that we increase density in our cores to support businesses and large-scale infrastructural projects such as the LRT.”
Nicholas Ermeta, Ward Eight: “We need to constantly review and improve customer service levels at City Hall. We need to always strive to provide timely service and assistance when needed.”
Township of North Dumfries
Mayor Sue Foxton: “We must link quality of life attributes of the community and countryside with the business opportunities of the area and continue with the current program underway to facilitate the installation of fibre to the address across North Dumfries.”
Rod Rolleman, Ward One: “We need to market North Dumfries as the rural escape for city residents to the north and east of us.”
Derrick Ostner, Ward Two: “We can make North Dumfries a better place to do business by being more engaging with prospective businesses.”
Alida Wilms, Ward Three: “I love being part of a rural community and think there are incredible business opportunities here for any aspiring entrepreneur.”
Scott Tilley, Ward Four: “By encouraging and supporting businesses to set up in North Dumfries it will be a win/win for both the residents and business, as they will both support each other.”
Region of Waterloo
Doug Craig, Regional Councillor: “Rapid transit options must proceed, safety in our downtowns must be safeguarded and everything from recreational facilities to health services must continue to be improved.”
Pam Wolf, Regional Councillor: “To attract business to Cambridge we need to make it attractive to their employees. They want good schools, safe neighbourhoods, recreation facilities and arts and culture.”
2. What do you think are the biggest concerns facing businesses in Cambridge/North Dumfries and how will you address them?
Mayor Jan Liggett: “Labour shortage is a North American problem. We have universities, colleges and training facilities close by which graduate high quality staffing for companies. I will continue to work with them to encourage the growth of these educational facilities.”
Donna Reid, Ward One: “Our core areas struggle with the homeless, addicted and those with mental health issues. Our council needs to provide more services to address the needs of these vulnerable people.”
Mike Devine, Ward Two: “The tax base is clearly an issue for businesses and the cost of city services, such as snow plowing, are also an issue.”
Corey Kimpson, Ward Three: “Having things ready to move as quickly as possible is paramount, because when a business is ready to do something, they’re ready to go and can’t be waiting, especially in this economy. Is there a way we can fast track and expedite things?”
Ross Earnshaw, Ward Four: “Business owners do not feel like their voices are being heard by municipal leaders. It is important that we give local businesses a voice at City Hall.”
Sheri Roberts, Ward Five: “The cost of doing business goes up every year. One way that municipalities can help with this is by streamlining the processes around opening a new business.”
Adam Cooper, Ward Six: “We need to lobby the provincial government for long-term detox and rehab facilities while also reconsidering the services offered downtown to prevent our core from becoming the dangerous playground for untreated addiction that it has become.”
Scott Hamilton, Ward Seven: “We all need to work to ensure that we have a skilled workforce, that conditions are ripe for quickly and efficiently importing supplies and materials as well as exporting our products to market.”
Nicholas Ermeta, Ward Eight: “Affordability or lack thereof are big concerns for businesses. I want to minimize future tax increases by reviewing the budget to find greater efficiencies and to find new funding models that rely less on property taxes.”
Township of North Dumfries
Mayor Sue Foxton: “Concerns include the cost attributed to the purchase of land for employment purposes, the timelines and cost for “approvals” to bring a development proposal forward to the marketplace, plus the ability to attract and retain employees for new or growing businesses and access transit to facilitate this. Council in June 2022 adopted a position to streamline the review and approvals process associated with site plan approvals. This measure should witness a reduction in the timelines to secure a decision.”
Rod Rolleman, Ward One: “The three biggest concerns facing businesses in North Dumfries are labour shortages, poor quality internet, and lack of commercially zoned properties. The Township needs to partner with the private sector and bring high-speed internet to our business parks.”
Derrick Ostner, Ward Two: “Biggest concerns are having the available land, and proper internet.”
Alida Wilms, Ward Three: “As more people move into the area, there’s greater pressure on our rural and natural areas because of the increased housing needs.
Scott Tilley, Ward Four: “Planning for future parking and dealing with current parking issues by working with the community residents and businesses to get their feedback, I will assist in making it easier for businesses to be accessed by listening to the people who are in the area regularly.”
Region of Waterloo
Doug Craig, Regional Councillor: “Safety in our community on the streets, in our parks and in our downtowns must be improved to have a safe, liveable community.”
Pam Wolf, Regional Councillor: “One of the biggest challenges to business is attracting and retaining staff. To help with this we need to build more housing including affordable housing to house staff.”
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