Election 2020: District 1

District 1 includes the former town of Sydney Mines and part of the former town of North Sydney, plus the communities of Alder Point, Florence and Little Pond.

It’s shaped — well, I’m seeing a ghost, but I see a bat in the map of District 12 and am starting to suspect I’m just obsessing about Halloween:

Map of CBRM District 1

For most of the time since amalgamation in 1995, the district has been the fiefdom of former Sydney Mines Mayor Clarence Prince. But Prince, who was treated for cancer last year, is not re-offering, and five candidates are vying to replace him.

District 1 is home to 7,169 registered electors 4,058 of whom cast a ballot in 2016, when Prince beat his closest rival, Gordon MacDonald, by 307 votes.

 

Andrew Doyle

Andrew Doyle

Andrew Doyle

Why do you want to be a CBRM councilor?

I want to be a voice for positive change in our community. To contribute to solutions and not just be a critic.

What is one issue of concern to you and what is your plan to address it?

Rebuilding and expanding on our tourism industry is extremely important and will be a huge part of increasing sustainable employment. Once we increase our employment we can look at increasing services and mobilizing all levels of government to help better our society and face these challenges together.

Although it now 25 years old, the CBRM doesn’t necessarily function as a single entity. Do you have any ideas for bringing our community of communities together?

Letting everyone know that a win for the CBRM is a win for everyone. Making sure our individual communities are beautified, looked after, and that everyone has a voice and individual concerns will be heard and addressed.

Where is one place in your district you always bring visitors?

I always take people for walks along the water, all times of the year it is beautiful. The new Atlantic Memorial park will be a marquee location when it opens as well.

What is one question you wished I had asked you?

What skills do you bring to the table which will aide you as a councilor?

A direct exposure to a very diverse set of professions, an open mind and willingness to listen, ability to think outside the box and a passion and sense of urgency to improve our world around us.

 

Danny Laffin

Danny Laffin

Danny Laffin

Why do you want to be a CBRM councilor?

I decided to run for District 1 because I want to do more to help our community. I have the skills and know it’s going to take a lot of hard work. We have the best community-families on the island and I want to represent their views before council to build a stronger community. Local solutions are key to delivering results for our district.

We need a positive, forward-thinking attitude and collaboration within council to work towards what is best for District 1 and for CBRM. I am driven by results and for making our district better than what it was yesterday. I love my community and believe that we have so much more potential. Serving my community and giving back is who I am, I believe in our community and I believe in my ability to make it better.

What is one issue of concern to you and what is your plan to address it?

The constituents are saying the shortage of doctors is one of the biggest challenges, and I agree. My platform describes how we need to do better and we need council involved in recruiting doctors, by setting up an advisory-recruiting team of councilors and residents that can attend recruiting sessions to talk directly with potential doctors and share our passion for our community. We are in a crisis and we need better results.

My constituents’ concerns are my concerns. I will bring forward solutions and be proactive to the needs of our community. We need to work together within the CBRM and build a stronger relationship with the provincial and federal government to achieve success. Collaboration is needed, hard work is needed and a hands-on approach is vital to our growth.

Although it now 25 years old, the CBRM doesn’t necessarily function as a single entity. Do you have any ideas for bringing our community of communities together?

I think it’s OK to be different, to have communities that have unique identities. Every community within CBRM is known for its rich history and remarkable individuality, quick example — Hiking Day on Victoria Day weekend, it’s a Northside thing! I believe as long as we are moving towards a common, positive goal of equal prosperity we should keep our unique heritage.

Where is one place in your district you always bring visitors?

We have so many places that are beautiful to showcase in our district, but I have to say, I would bring a visitor to my home first. Around the kitchen table is where we have the best conversations, with a cup of tea or “pop” for those who choose it while listening to the Barras or Bruce. Our communities are built on hospitality and the best place to show this is home.

What is one question you wished I had asked you?

I see so many seniors struggling and that pains me. It’s hard for them to make ends meet at the end of the month. I really believe we need more focus on their well-being, they built our communities and gave up so much for us today. Our senior population is growing, and we don’t have a plan in place to support them. So, it’s not a question, but a statement, that we need to protect and better serve our seniors, they deserve better!

 

Gordon MacDonald

Gordon MacDonald

Gordon MacDonald

Why do you want to be a CBRM councilor?

I have been planning to offer my name up for municipal council for a very long time and I did so for the first time in 2016.

I have been active in my community my whole life, and for the last 25 years I have been representing people in my role as union rep and now the local president.

I was never one to sit back and allow government to attack us here in Cape Breton, whether it was school closures, job losses or most recently, the announced closures of our hospitals, you will find me working on behalf of my communities here on the Northside trying to bring accountability and transparency  to government at all levels.

I volunteer at many levels in my community, with CCYO [Community Cares Youth Outreach] and Northside Rising.

My job with Canada Post and my years as a letter carrier brought me face to face with many social issues we have in my district. Poverty, homelessness, high rental fees and drug use and I have my finger on the pulse for these issues.

I believe I have a vast amount of experience to bring to the CBRM council table, from my experience with my union , as an executive VP with the NSFL [Nova Scotia Federation of Labour] , organizing meetings, rallies or sit ins, sitting on committees and life experience itself.

The biggest reason I want to be a councilor in the CBRM is because I truly care about us here in Cape Breton.

What is one issue of concern to you and what is your plan to address it?

It is really hard to boil this down to just one issue of concern, as there are several, but to your question I must point towards where we are with equalization.

From all the rallies,meetings and media briefings I attended with NSEF [Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness] it is very clear we in CBRM are being short-changed by the government when it comes to equalization payments. These board members are very well-informed people who have a wealth of knowledge on this constitutional issue and should not be dismissed like they have been. I won’t get into all the details, but when a municipal government starts out at a $5 million dollar deficit after paying our cost to the province, it is clear something is wrong.

My plan to address this would be to assist in any negotiation with my fellow councilors to bring unity on this file from all members of council, so we could come at this from a united front. I would then follow it up with contacts and meetings with our provincial and federal counterparts, hopefully with an action plan brought forward from council and those board members of the NSEF.

For some reason I am a believer that this can happen, and when it does, some of our other issues can be dealt with, with real talk and something to back it up, like our tax rate, so our seniors can continue to live in their own homes, the cap, poverty, rental fees and the list is long.

Although it is now 25 years old, the CBRM doesn’t necessarily function as a single entity. Do you have any ideas for bringing our community of communities closer together?

This is a great question. I come from the former County of Cape Breton and have been complaining of the different levels of services between both since amalgamation.

If we in the CBRM are what we brand ourselves, ‘ a community of communities,’ we have work to do. What we hear in those county areas are feelings of abandonment.

In my District, we have Florence, Little Pond, Alder Point and Tobin Road areas that are former county with the town of Sydney Mines making up the rest. While not much industry is left in Sydney Mines, it is still the hub of District 1.

CBRM needs to bring a feeling of community pride back to these areas.

Most of these places, and not just in my district, have had their schools shut down, had their ball fields or recreational areas abandoned and their churches closed, and residents, they feel those things. That’s what communities were built on.

What I can try to do is, I will be present and visible in each of the communities that make up District 1 and will be advocating to get us back to our small communities and lessen the centralization to District centers. Each area should have at least a playground for their children to go to.

Services that cross boundaries, such as snow clearing and road repair, need to be brought in line with the services the CBRM provides. I would negotiate street transfers with the Department of Transportation (DOT) so residents in District 1 are not waiting until Highways are cleared by DOT during storms before our county roads are touched.

Going back completely is most likely long past possible, but making residents feel a part of the CBRM shouldn’t be.

Where is one place in your district you always bring visitors?

There are actually three places I bring people to in my district, when we have visitors.

Lochmans Beach and now the Atlantic Memorial Park in Sydney Mines, that is presently being developed in this area.

The fossil center in Sydney Mines. This is a history of where we came from and the vast amount of fossils along our shores.

Florence Beach to top it off. Sand dunes and sand stretching from Florence to Sydney Mines along the Atlantic coast. It is a must visit.

What is one question you wish I’d asked you?

If you had asked me about how going forward with the removal of the tax cap and the difficulty this would have on our seniors living in their own homes, what could I do to protect them!

I suggested in 2016 a tax freeze for seniors and I am proposing this again.

I would submit a resolution that the CBRM council work with the province of Nova Scotia, to put a tax freeze on seniors living in their own homes, who have resided in those homes for at least 25 years, and this would remain in place until the entitled occupant(s) have passed away.

This way, seniors living on fixed incomes would not have to bear the burden of higher taxes.

 

Daniel (Duke) Pero

Daniel (Duke) Pero

Daniel (Duke) Pero

Why do you want to be a CBRM councilor?

The answer to that is simple, it’s important to me to help people, I have been doing it my entire life. Also, the people of District 1 asked me to offer again to be their voice because they know I will be there to listen to all of the concerns big or small. I want to make a difference in our community for the people, our growth and our development.

What is one issue of concern to you and how do you plan to address it?

There are many issues that concern me in our district, from being overtaxed, underserviced,  healthcare, drug addiction, mental health, affordable and decent housing, our roadways, sidewalks, lack of job creation, recreational events and more.

The big issue of concern for me is our children living in poverty. We need to work together as a team to come up with a solid plan to combat this issue, not just in District 1 but the entire CBRM. One of the best starting points to help this issue is job creation. We need to reach out and help people wanting to set up shop or work collectively to attract big business to our area. We have an almost empty shopping mall in D2 and some empty storefronts and buildings in our main streets. It would be great to see these full and prosperous.

Although it is now 25 years old, the CBRM doesn’t necessarily function as a single entity. Do you have any ideas for bringing our “community of communities” closer together?

Bringing communities together is part of my platform. Over the years, the CBRM has forgotten about the rural communities in these small towns. The best way to bring people together is with recreational events, by taking advantage of our green spaces in District 1 along with our ballfields and beaches. I plan on spearheading projects that will offer small incentives to help entice local volunteers to help make these events happen. Without the help of volunteers, it’s hard to bring back any of these big events we once had, like the Johnny Miles Festival or County Days. I am already in talks around hosting concerts in Sydney Mines. If we can make any of these events happen, it is a great way to boost the economy. These events help local businesses from restaurants, hotels, storefronts and much more. These events are one of the best ways to bring communities together.

Where is one place in your district you always bring visitors?

One of my favorite spots to bring people when visiting my hometown is down to the local beaches. They are usually speechless when they see such natural beauty! We need to capitalize on this with better marketing to help boost tourism.

What is one question you wish I’d asked you? 

Well this is a question that a young man asked just days ago, he said he’s going to be asking all the candidates the question, “What involvement have you had in our community prior to running in this election and how far back does it go?”

I’ve been involved with the community since I was a teenager. At a young age, I was given an opportunity by the Brogan family to open up a spot for youth to hang out and get off of the streets. I also used that spot to host video dances and sock hops, while doing that I came to realize some people could not afford to send their children to such events.  So that is where I came up with the idea to start hosting block parties in my neighborhood to bring events to the children at no cost. We did this for several years, drawing hundreds of people from all over. It was a great way to put a smile on the children’s faces. We provided music, treat bags, fireworks and more. I hosted the first three myself and started to canvas the community for headcounts and small donations due to the growing size.

I helped start-up different youth drop-in’s in the ’80s and early ’90s, working with great people in our communities. To this day, I have helped many different organizations fundraise to raise tens of thousands of dollars for local families, organizations, sports teams and more. I’ve donated many hours to helping seniors at no cost in ways of carpentry work, maintenance, lawn care and snow removal. When we had power outages and floods I would go throughout the community with pumps and generators to help wherever I could. I’ve donated time and services to the Cape Breton Farmers Exhibition for over 15 years. I’ve offered a roof and warm meal to people who have needed it, as well as giving guidance on where to get help. In closing, I do what I can, not for praise, but because it’s important to me to help people.

 

Shara Vickers

Shara Vickers

Shara Vickers

Why do you want to be a CBRM councilor?

Why I chose to run is hard to articulate. It does not come down to one idea or even a few points. I think I can offer a perspective that reflects the needs of many in the community. I recognize the importance of council decisions that are more forward thinking, inclusive and representative of our common needs. I want to work to offer solutions that benefit our collective communities, improve our outlook and make living in the CBRM easier and more appealing.

What is one issue of concern to you and what is your plan to address it?

One issue I would like to address concerns transit. Looking forward, perhaps to a time when COVID restrictions are not as pressing, it is important that we increase transit ridership. There have been improvements tied to the increase in international students at CBU, but there is room to continue to grow transit. Well-used public transportation is an important piece in the climate puzzle, but also offers opportunities to reduce traffic, congestion and parking issues. It is also a service that is necessary for many people in our communities and needs to be maintained.

Rather than simply promote transit, I would suggest a survey of potential transit users to identify barriers to transit use. Cost, convenience, and route schedules are concerns I hear anecdotally, but it would be good to have data to identify current issues. From there, targeted solutions, such as a change in scheduling to accommodate a particular group, like students or call center workers, or a subsidy program, could be implemented with a goal of improving service and increasing ridership in a planned and meaningful way.

Although it is now 25 years old, the CBRM doesn’t necessarily function as a single entity. Do you have any ideas for bringing our community of communities closer together?

Even after 25 years, the old divisions do persist and are of concern. I think that too often there is pressure, perhaps perceived pressure, on councilors to stand up for their districts, rather than looking at the good of our communities. This is likely rooted, in part, in perceptions that everything goes to “the other side” as we tend to say. We need to recognize, and perhaps, educate the public on how things that benefit one district also have potential to benefit the others. I am sure that if 500 jobs were suddenly available in Alder Point, we would benefit in Sydney Mines, North Sydney and so on. I think speaking in concrete terms that explain mutual benefit and the reasoning behind decisions can be beneficial. I also think there is room to stand behind collective accomplishments, rather than thinking in terms of campaign-speak, where councilors boast about what they got for their district, without acknowledging the cooperation of others.

Where is one place in your district you always bring visitors?

I grew up and once again live just minutes from Lochman’s Beach. It’s a nice spot to visit, as in the summer you can walk the beach and in the winter there’s often skating on Edwards Pond. From the “woods” behind the beach, you can also preview the Cabot Trail with a view of Smokey on clear days year round.

What is one question you wish I’d asked you?

Perhaps not a question I wished you asked, but something I have been asked is if I plan to keep using social platforms to connect with constituents, if elected. There have been concerns raised about incumbents not using social media and as someone who hasn’t had a recent presence, prior to the election period, some folks want to know. The answer is, most likely. I accept that many people want to use social platforms to connect and I will work to meet them in that space.

 

A note on this feature:

I decided to send candidates questions by email because, while speaking to each in person would be preferable, I knew I wouldn’t have time to conduct (and transcribe) 55 phone interviews.

And finally…

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