What Barbara Worthy lacks in political experience, she makes up for in her ability to thoroughly research and understand complex issues, a skill that served her well when she was looking at such issues from the perspective of an investigative journalist.
Worthy is a long-time Niagara-on-the-Lake resident who has been involved in many aspects of community life, region-wide. She has chosen to run for regional council, she says, because the region needs help, a problem she delved into and discovered while researching the region’s finances to better understand them.
“You know the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It is broke, and it needs fixing,” she told The Local, explaining her fear that the region is in financial trouble.
“They are using reserve funds – and how long can that last,” she says. “They are going to run out of money.”
This is the right time for her to jump into politics, she says. After years of “living in the freelancing mode,” busy but not at regular hours, she now is working at the NOTL Museum, giving her a steady schedule that will accommodate a seat at the regional council table.
And bringing an investigative lens to look at the region as a whole, she says, is important. “We can’t do it alone. I realize this is the time for making a difference, and I have the time to do this.”
As she researched, the more she got into financial issues, and other regional concerns, such as transportation and irrigation, the more it seemed the right time, she says.
“People have taxpayer fatigue. They need to know where their money is going. That requires transparency and accountability.”
To accomplish that, communication is key. “And that is something I can do.”
She feels it’s an important time for NOTL at the region, considering the amount of taxes that go to support it.
“The region is very important to NOTL, but I think people don’t know a lot about the region, what it it does, and why it’s important.”
Through the many services it provides, services we need and use, it helps to create “safe, liveable communities,” she says.
It could also use a little more diversity around the council table, Worthy adds.
Known as Babs to most people, Worthy is an independent, creative arts producer, a former Shaw actress, instructor, writer, and long-time CBC Radio producer, well-known in the Niagara region for her stage and video multi-media productions. She produces short documentaries focusing on Niagara’s history and current affairs for the NOTL Museum, where she is their community engagement coordinator. She has taught at both Niagara College and Brock University since 2006.
As well as short historical documentaries, her media productions include Parks Canada films, such as the War of 1812 multi-media, Canada-wide touring production, Flames of War, and she is a co-recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Award for Heritage Conservation for the Voices of Freedom Interactive Park.
Her depth of understanding the history of NOTL, and the need for preserving it into the future, helps give a different perspective to other issues, such as the importance of diverse economic growth, active communications, protecting living heritage as well as building and land heritage, the importance of development charges as revenue, and good community planning.
The region and regional councillors have to work very closely with town representatives at all levels, she says. “That’s the kind of synergy that will make the region work.”
“It’s important to have one voice,” she adds, with the regional councillor elected to represent NOTL able to work well with the lord mayor.
“One loud voice, loud and fearless.”