Tourism a North Bay priority – Serran

Tourism a North Bay priority – Serran

Jeff Serran

Jeff J. Serran, executive director of Downtown North Bay, is one of 26 candidates for North Bay councillor. Ten will be elected. Municipal council and school board elections will take place on Monday, Oct. 22.

Why did you decide to seek election in 2018?

After serving for four years on city council I have decided to run again because I believe there is still work to be done to move our city forward – to be competitive (not only in Northern Ontario) but globally. We need people who are willing to work for all of the citizens of North Bay. We need people who will not only work with their colleagues at the council table, but hold them accountable as well.

What unique qualities or experience do you bring to the job?

After serving my first term as councillor I have continued to develop skills that I have gained from previous roles as school board trustee and director with the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce. Serving as treasurer of a provincial business association board has allowed me financial/budget experience as well. Being involved at the committee level (on a number of city boards) has allowed me to developed a stronger knowledge base of working with community partners, as well as the provincial government levels, ensuring that the voice of our citizens are being heard by the leaders at Queens Park.

Voters have identified transparency and accountability at city hall as a key election issue. Do you agree? How do you propose to address the issue?

Transparency and accountability are extremely important at city hall. I have strived to uphold this in my first four years as a city councillor, including researching (and getting answers) for anyone that has reached out to me. I have stood behind any decision I have made – knowing that the decisions I made were for the betterment of the citizens I serve. I plan to address this by being straight forward with my responses and once again holding myself and my colleagues accountable for the decisions made at the council level.

Would a ward system improve council accountability? Do you believe councillors need to live in the ward they represent?

Speaking with other municipalities, councillors that serve in a ward system – I see that they struggle to get things done specifically for the areas they represent. I do not believe North Bay (at this time) is big enough for a ward system. The accountability should be the same whether we are ward system councillors or councillors at large. I believe councillor’s should live in the city they serve – the decisions that affect our citizens – should affect councillors the same.

The 2018 election has started off with a lot of job-creation promises. What types of sustainable, well-paying jobs can North Bay hope to attract or create? How do you propose going about this?

Every election we hear candidates promise job creation as a priority (in which it should be) – we (councillors) need to be directly involved with attracting all types of businesses to our city. We need factory and industry jobs and we need to stick by decisions that we make that allow these businesses to come here. We need to also work with our existing businesses – ensuring that they can grow and be part of the job creation, as well. We need to address the gap in employment, find a way to staff our existing businesses while employing our citizens. We are in a great situation by having a college, university and other educational institutions in our city that we can partner with in order to meet our employers’ needs. As stated earlier – we are not only competing locally (in Northern Ontario and the rest of the province) but globally, as well.

What other issues do you see as most important to North Bay in 2018 and how would you act on them?

We need to focus on our local tourism – work with the experts in the field. We have a tourism office that we need to get behind and support. This is all types of tourism that will bring visitors to our great city (including arts and culture, sports, our natural resources and beauty and our heritage).

We need to stop the decline in our population and actually grow our numbers. We need to be more aggressive in attracting newcomers to our country to reside here in North Bay.

We need ensure that West Ferris arena stays in West Ferris – a location that is accessible (and affordable) to those who live in that area (and to those that will visit from other areas within our city).

We need to ensure that we have the proper facilities for our local sports teams.

We need to stand behind our city’s official plan.

All of these important items can be acted upon by forging the right partnerships with the proper community groups dedicated to these issues. We need councillors who are ready to champion these ideas.

What would your Top 3 priorities be for North Bay council’s next four years? What steps do you propose to take on each?

We need to start infilling our business nodes – including West Ferris, Trout Lake area and the central business district of our city which will address the issue of job creation that is extremely important and necessary for our city growth.

Tourism is a priority that will be a huge economic driver to our city.

We need to grow our city’s population – including making our city age-friendly from youth to seniors.

Are you familiar with North Bay’s strategic plan? How would you achieve the goals it has set for the city or what changes would you make to the plan?

The strategic plan cannot be a document that sits on the shelf and collects dust. We need to prioritize the goals established in that plan – and then review where we are on a yearly basis (if not every six months). Action needs to occur and resources are needed to allow city staff to implement the city’s goals of the strategic plan.

Are you familiar with the Baylor Report? Do you agree with its recommendations and is North Bay taking the rights steps to achieve them?

The Baylor Report was presented with many great ideas and we need to re-exam which of their recommendations we want to focus on. This should be a living document that changes to the needs of the time. Like the strategic plan, it should not be a document that sits on the shelf.

What is an acceptable tax increase in North Bay and how can it be achieved?

An acceptable tax increase would be one that will allow work to be done within the city and not be a financial burden on our citizens. We need to prioritize the work that needs to be done currently and at what cost that would be. We also need to make sure that we do not place that financial responsibility on future generations.

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