Opportunities to hear from those running in the Oct. 24 municipal election are being planned, including the traditional Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce meeting for all candidates.
It will be held Wednesday, Sept. 28, and breaking with tradition, it is taking place in the Royal George Theatre.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will get underway at 6 p.m.
It is open to the public. The theatre has a capacity of 300, and seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
Although chamber meetings have been held at the community centre, president Minerva Ward says it was difficult to get a date that would work, thus the switch.
FocusNOTL, a group of residents who organized meetings at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall on King Street in 2018, is holding a series of meet and greets at the same location, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 27, for mayoral candidates Betty Disero, Vaughn Goettler and Gary Zalepa.
Their format four years ago was just to include new candidates, excluding incumbents, but this time all candidates are attending — the numbers are more manageable with fewer candidates than in the 2018 election, when there were more than 30 people running for mayor, council and regional council.
The meetings for candidates hoping for one of the eight seats at the council table have been split into three sessions.
The first is Wednesday, Oct. 5, with Gary Burroughs, Maria Mavridis, Richard Mell and Nick Ruller on the agenda. Next, on Tuesday, Oct. 11 will be John McCallum, Sandra O’Connor, Katherine Reid and Erwin Wiens.
Wednesday, Oct. 12 will be attended by Tim Balasiuk, Allan Bisback, Wendy Cheropita, Adriana Cater (Vizzari) and Alistair Harlond.
And to wrap up the series, on Oct. 18, regional councillor candidates Pat Darte, Andrea Kaiser, Paolo Miele and William Roberts will have their opportunity to speak to the public.
The format will be the same for all three sessions, with every candidate to be treated equally, says Accardo, and candidates appreciating they will each be getting up to 25 minutes of time to speak.
“We have no specific agenda,” Accardo says of FocusNOTL, “but through the meet and greets, we hope residents will elect candidates that put residents and ratepayers first in all issues, unlike those who vote with developers and special interests, such as what went on during the MAT (municipal accommodation tax) discussions and votes.”
He adds they hope residents elect councillors that practise sound fiscal management. Rather than the seemingly automatic tax increases that happen year over year, “elect councillors that have MAT dollars allocated to resident taxes first.”
Other issues he cites are seeing “a functional council, and not the dysfunctional, child-like behaviour that we have seen.” His group is also interested in what candidates have to say about “NOTL getting the short end of the stick from the Region. . . . police costs, return of taxes for NOTL projects, etc.”
Although Accardo has his own opinions, he says, “the meet and greets will allow every resident to hear the candidates’ platform, the way they answer questions from residents and how they conduct themselves — things residents cannot assess just from seeing lawn signs and attending traditional all-candidates meetings.”
All of the FocusNOTL meet and greets at the legion hall will be from 7 to 9 p.m.
The St. Davids Ratepayers Association is holding a candidates meeting at the Lions Hall on York Road Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
The SDRA is a non-profit organization which endeavours to represent the interests of the property owners in St. Davids by enabling members to have an input into the governance of Niagara-on-the-Lake in areas that affect the quality of life of St Davids residents, says association president Rick Pillitteri. “As we have done in the past, the SDRA will be hosting a municipal election debate to pose key questions and discussions to all lord mayor and town councillor candidates. The key topics of concern to the residents in St. Davids include:
- The construction of a roundabout at the intersection of York Road and Four Mile Creek Road.
- The addition of a community safety zone on Four Mile Creek Road, beginning at Line 9 Road and extending to the boundary of St. Davids at Stamford Townline Road.
- The maintenance, replacement, and funding for the St. Davids community pool. The three candidates for lord mayor and the 13 candidates for town councillor have all been invited to participate in this debate.