Greater Sudbury mayoral candidates get down to business
Mayoral candidates in Greater Sudbury pitch ideas for economic growth
In Greater Sudbury, municipal election candidates have been spending plenty of time talking about ways to increase economic development and job creation in the city.
Mayoral candidate Patricia Mills said one of her first priorities, if elected, would be to move the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation out of city hall.
"There have been so many instances of businesses who have been waiting for years for permits to move forward," said Mills. "Some of them have waited so long they've had to re-apply for permits because they ran out after two years."
She said she'd find a way to make the GSDC's volunteer board of directors report directly to the mayor, rather than to city staff.
"I'm going to give the board more autonomy, and less autonomy to bureaucrats when it comes to economic development," explained Mills. "Not less involvement from city staff; more accountability."
Fellow candidate Dan Melanson quipped he voiced a similar idea near the beginning of his campaign.
"Economic development doesn't do well when it has political or bureaucratic masters. They have to have the latitude to be free-ranging that's outside the norms or the constraints of normal bureaucratic oversights," said Melanson.
He added he'd look at turning certain city problems into opportunities, using the example of rising salt content in lakes.
"Mining equipment manufacturing companies here have engineering departments who are capable of designing all kinds of different equipment," he offered.
"It's not a stretch for them to be manufacturing road-clearing equipment that replaces the use of salt. You come up with something like that, it could have world-wide application."
For his part, incumbent mayor Brian Bigger said he'd push for council to appoint a part-time facilitator at city hall, if re-elected.
The role would help "find solutions when both sides face an impasse when finalizing details for development and growth within Greater Sudbury."
Bigger said the cost of hiring a facilitator would be split equally between the city and developers, who would have a say regarding who is selected for the role.
Cody Cacciotti is among the mayoral candidates to note the City Greater Sudbury charges $4.63 per square foot in development fees, compared to the $1.44 per square foot cost in North Bay. Other northeastern Ontario cities like Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins do not charge development fees.
"We need to make sure we're positioning our city to be the place of choice for new business. If these fees are actually deterring any new development from happening here, then it's something we need to address immediately," said Cacciotti.
Cacciotti added he'd work towards creating a "standardized checklist" for all developments and assure city inspectors receive training to perform their duties more quickly.