Development main focus in Grand Bay-Westfield mayoral race
Political newcomer Adrian Webb takes on longtime incumbent Grace Losier
The two people running to be the next mayor of Grand Bay-Westfield have different ideas for spurring more development in the town.
Incumbent mayor Grace Losier and political newcomer Adrian Webb both say they're keen to attract more commercial businesses to the community that borders the City of Saint John.
"Colonel Nase is an investment in the community's future, but the truth is, we opened it up in 2010, and at about the same time the global recession hit," Losier said Monday in an interview on Information Morning Saint John.
"There's a lot of opportunity there. Some of the land is sold, we're presently in discussions with another land owner with intentions, so there's going to be activity there and I would like to be around to be part of that."
Losier says the current "flat economy" remains a challenge for the province, and the small town with a population of approximately 5,000 is no exception.
"A community like ours is not going to buck the trend of a global recession, [but] we're more than confident this is a good project. It's clear we need more commercial space in this area," she said.
"We were bound by the railway and river, and we needed to identify that. Now that we have, I'm extremely confident that we'll move ahead."
Losier says she has a number of other projects she would like to tackle as well — like finishing up plans for a new dog park, doing conceptual work on a new splash pad, and lobbying to get a new school for the area added to the province's list of construction projects.
"It's just the when now," she said. "We've always been big supporters of planning, and working our plan so we're focused, and that money is directed to where it needs to be to get the greatest bang for our buck."
Losier says she decided to re-offer because she loves her work.
"I've lived here all my life, I know many people here and they always know they can call me and talk to me anytime," she said.
"The ability to engage a community is so important — to let them know you care what they think, and what they think matters. So that's been extremely rewarding."
Challenger wants development restrictions removed
Losier is the only mayor the town has had since the communities of Grand Bay and Westfield amalgamated in 1998.
"In the last election, no one [else] was running, so it put the bug in my ear to run at this juncture if nobody else was going to run," said Webb.
The political newcomer says he also intends to attract commercial development along Colonel Nase Boulevard. He says he would start by removing restrictions on the development of land in that area.
Webb believes the key issue that stalled development is an infrastructure charge known as the road frontage tax, which is $451.21 per metre of road frontage.
"I believe that investors see that and are scared away by it," he said.
"It's not helping, it's something that's not done in the majority of our area. Land is not necessarily at a premium, so why are we charging a premium bonus taxation onto it when it's unnecessary?"
If elected mayor, Webb says he would also like to revisit garbage removal in the town. It doesn't appear to be a high priority for residents, he said, but it could be an option if money becomes available.
"I know a lot of senior families are getting on in age, and it's getting harder for them to bring the garbage to the dump," said Webb.
Webb grew up in the Saint John area and moved away in 1993. He returned to Grand Bay-Westfield in 2008 and currently works as an industrial electrician.
It's his first time running for political office.
"I'm a terrible liar. When people ask me a question, I want to help them and answer their questions as best as I can," he said.
"That may not make for a good politician but I believe people have the right to know when they ask a question that they're going to get the best answer I can possibly provide, and if I don't know, I'm going to tell them I don't know."
With files from Information Morning Saint John