As Labour Day weekend approaches, I’m feeling fantastic about how the last few weeks have gone. The last part of the platform will be up next week, and the door-to-door canvassing begins in earnest again after the holiday.
The campaign message is starting to come together – the big issue this year is the economy and the lack of movement our City (and Region) have made in attracting new jobs. As I pointed out in my platform, the time has come for this City to make a serious effort in the area of Economic Development – City Council has (seemingly) placed all of its efforts into revitalizing downtown, and while everyone agrees that downtown is important, we can’t ignore the employment situation throughout the rest of the City.
St. Catharines needs more economic development. We need diversity of industry and an enhancement of our service economy. With the (eventual) introduction of a permanent, daily GO Transit train link to Toronto, we have an opportunity to create a community going forward that caters both to: newcomers coming to St. Catharines to work in areas like New Media Generation, Biomanufacturing and other knowledge-economy areas that we can attract through partnerships with our local post-secondary institutions; and people who are looking for a different (and better) quality and cost of living while still maintaining employment in Toronto and the GTA.
What we can’t do is put all of our eggs in one basket, a mistake previous City Councils have made. A serious and sustained effort needs to be undertaken to build a plan to attract businesses (both small and large), and then policies needs to be created to help maintain a positive environment for those businesses to thrive. This election has the possibility of being a crossroads for St. Catharines – do we keep on the path we’re on now, which doesn’t seem to be getting the job done for residents, or do we chart a new course that will bring labour and living opportunities back to our city?
I think, on this long Labour Day weekend, that the choice is obvious. Have a great Labour Day!