John McCallum has lived and worked around the world, and after a long career in finance and accounting that took him across North America, to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the Ottawa native has settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake with his wife Helen, daughter of an Irish dairy farmer.
“Almost half of my business career has been outside of Canada,” he says. “I’ve worked in every country you can think of and worked with every ethnic group you can think of.”
Retired, he says he’s 100 per cent available, and has the time, the interest and the experience and is ready to give back to the community that McCallums now calls home
“My wife and I looked around carefully and there are several attributes that attracted us, as I imagine have attracted many other people, and I want to help preserve those attributes.”
That includes the community’s rich history, lifestyle and culture.
McCallum says he loves Niagara-on-the-Lake and wants to “help make certain its small town feeling, peaceful ambiance and attractive streetscapes are maintained, while the many successful cultural attractions and vibrant agricultural sector are well supported.”
The foundation of his successful career was hard work, plain speaking, fiscal responsibility and problem solving with facts, rigorous analysis and solid team-building, and he says he will bring this approach to the role of a full time councillor for the communities that make up NOTL.
“My background, and what I’ve done all my life, is dealing with issues and seeing them successfully resolved,” he says. “I’m not somebody who sits back.”
He believes “if you see a problem, you fix it,” and if you can’t, “find someone who can.”
McCallum has been following local issues and listening as council addresses them.
He says he believes “we are entering a period of scarce financial resources, and therefore prudent financial management is critically important,” and he understands that “we do not have the luxury of making mistakes.”
The lord mayor and council have done a good job in very difficult and unusual circumstances, and he looks forward to joining this team to contribute in accomplishing even more in the coming term of council, he says.
His priorities include negotiating the approval of the new Official Plan with the region and province; expanding heritage districts and ensuring the designation of all heritage assets; and finishing the zoning bylaw review to better manage all new development and preserve agricultural land.
To encourage business and protect communities, he would ensure the major drivers of the local economy – agriculture, tourism and retail businesses – are bolstered, protected and left unrestricted by town policy.
He would move forward with implementing the municipal accommodation tax on tourists and ensuring the revenues are used to improve tourism and enhance tourism infrastructure; and would listen carefully “to the questions and concerns of all the citizens of the communities and farms that comprise Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The transportation master plan must be re-visioned and re-worked “to ensure it serves all community stakeholders.”
He would work with the lord mayor and fellow councillors to promote administration efficiencies, and improve services while maintaining minimal tax increases for ratepayers, and toward establishing a partnership between the private and public sector to facilitate, for example, the growth of supported living environments for seniors.
McCallum is an active bridge player, a new lawn bowler and an enthusiastic walker of his beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Sykes.