Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Ken Gansel says as the new chair of the Niagara Regional Police Services Board, he is looking forward to a productive year, but there are challenges ahead.
Gansel replaces Niagara Falls Regional Coun. Bob Gale, who remains a board member.
To earn the appointment, Gansel said, he expressed interest in the position, and won it with four of seven votes.
Gansel is a former police officer with the Ottawa force and a retired citizen employee of the NRP. He was first elected to the police board in 2012, and has served three years as vice-chair.
He began his career as a police officer in the ’70s in Ottawa, he said.
He then worked for the province, in the office of the Chief Justice of Ontario and for the Ministry of the Attorney General, in IT security. He also worked for the Niagara Regional Police, again in computer security.
The job of chair of the services board “is a good way to end my career,” he said, putting his experience to good use in retirement while having time to travel with his wife Karen.
“I’ve always been a believer in work and life balance. This job allows me to try to limit work and spend time with family.”
There are two “major irons in the fire” for the board to deal with early in the term, he said.
The first is the 2019 budget of $147 million, a 6.5 per cent increase over last year. That was approved by the service board last Thursday, and was to be presented to regional council this week.
The other is “getting a shovel in the ground and construction underway” for the new police building in St. Catharines, on a piece of property on Welland Avenue, a brownfield that cost the Region about $3 million to purchase in 2014 and clean up.
That and the unanticipated high tariffs on steel has put them over budget before beginning construction, he said.
The budget for the building is about $17 million, said Gansel.
Another “critical piece of work” to be developed is the 2019 to 2021 Strategic Plan, which will include priorities identified by the NRP members and the community.
As board chair, Gansel said, it will be his job to ensure the board asks the right questions, and with the with the the facts before them “consider all options and viewpoints of service management and of individual board members,” and that the board “engage in the discussions and debates necessary to tackle those challenges effectively.”
Gansel is an active member of the community and currently serves the Town as the chair of the Committee of Adjustments and is a member of the Community Safety Committee.