Although the chatter has been doing the rounds on social media for a while, Paolo Miele has made it official, filing his nomination papers to run for regional councillor.
The former town councillor was the first name on that particular list. Former Lord Mayor Pat Darte, who served on the 2014-2018 council with Miele, and was defeated by current Lord Mayor Betty Disero, signed up Tuesday.
Aug. 19 is the deadline for registering. as a coandidate.
Miele says the real surprise is the small number of candidates running for municipal council. There were 25 people on the 2018 election list hoping for one of eight seats at the NOTL council table — Miele was on that list as an incumbent seeking his second term, but came 16th in the election.
There were three people running for mayor and four for regional council that year.
At this point, with less than two weeks left to register as a candidate for the Oct. 24 election, there are not enough candidates to fill eight seats around the NOTL council table — Allan Bisback, Sandra O’Connor, Gary Burroughs, Maria Mavridis and Tim Balasiuk had registered by Tuesday.
Two candidates, Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa have filed their nominations to run for lord mayor.
”I’ve never seen this before,” says Miele, and although there is still time left for other candidates to come forward, he interprets the lack of interest as people being “just fed up. They don’t want to bother.”
Miele got his first taste of standing before regional councillors in June, 2018 when, as a member of municipal council, he made a presentation to ask for a four-way stop sign at Line 3 and Four Mile Creek Road, a regional road.
It was an intersection with a high collision rate, he says, and the region agreed.
He would like the opportunity to work for NOTL residents at the regional level, he says. “I have a loud voice, and I would like to put it to work from a regional perspective.”
NOTL pays more than its share of taxes to the region, based on assessment — even more than the city of Welland, he says — and should get its fair share of services, but doesn’t.
Transit falls into that category — regional transit is going to be a huge cost to the municipality, at $1.2 to $1.3 million, he says.
Irrigation is another issue he would like to bring to the attention of regional council. Although the region has an irrigation committee and has been studying the issue with regard to other small farming communities, such as Fonthill and Lincoln, for years, he says, “NOTL has 8,000 acres of farmland that is not getting water,” and despite the studies, the region has done nothing to help.
He’d like to see all four levels of government contribute to ensure all NOTL growers have access to irrigation, and he’d like to start by getting the region onboard.
The roundabout in St. Davids is another issue, one that comes with an expensive price tag, only in this case Miele says it’s neither needed or wanted. The majority of St. Davids residents are not happy about it, and traffic lights would be a better solution for handling the traffic at that intersection, he believes — or better yet, leave it as it is. The four-way stop that’s there now, he says, with the exception of an occasional traffic back-up, “has worked fantastically for decades.”
While Miele has been trying to encourage residents to make their wishes known, he says the region, which originally had three options on the table, has made its decision for that intersection.
However, the money to pay for it will have to be included in the regional budget, likely in the next year or two — Miele says $3.5 million. “If I’m lucky and get on regional council, I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Niagara-on-the-Lake needs more regional housing, he says, and although there might not be many residents in support of it, Glendale would be a good location.
He’s also concerned about health care, the doctor shortage in Niagara, the need to have at least one more nurse practitioner in town, and to hire more paramedics.
When he talks to residents about regional council, “they don’t seem to see it as having as much of an impact on their lives as municipal council, at least that’s the perception I get from them. Most people are just not that concerned, until it affects them.”
Road safety, with the lack of support from the NRP, is also an issue, he says, especially in the town’s community safety zones — the police should be watching them and ticketing speeders.
Miele thinks it’s important for regional councillors from the smaller municipalities to work together. They face many of the same issues, and while they don’t individually have the votes of the larger municipalities, if they support each other, they could.
“When we did the
delegation about the stop signs on Four Mile Creek Road and Line 3, the mayors of the smaller communities supported us,” he says. “I realized these smaller communities weren’t getting what they need. We can help each other.”
“I believe in our town,” he adds, “and I want what’s best for our town.”