BROCKVILLE – After 28 years as a businessman, Mark Oliver has launched his campaign to be Brockville’s next mayor with a promise to be fiscally responsible with public dollars while also address the city’s “two jewels.”
The 52-year-old owner of PhotoVisions on King Street West outlined his “Moving Forward” platform before roughly 100 supporters at Luna Pizzeria Friday night.
Before laying out his platform, Oliver felt it was “necessary” to address the city’s money problems. With the city’s operating budget around $50 million, Oliver pledged to spend any public dollars “with care.”
The railway tunnel has a shortfall of roughly $2 million, which is currently the subject of an audit. The city has coughed up $400,000 in less than a year to cover operations at the Aquatarium.
“I will be working with key partners on the city to understand what caused those unexpected costs and put in measures to prevent that from ever happening again,” he said to applause from the audience.
“We have to dig into what’s happening over there and my plan is I’m not going to end until we figure out a way to make that thing (Aquatarium) self sustainable.”
Oliver’s plan includes moving the local economy forward by spearheading a campaign to attract business to the City of the Thousand Islands, in conjunction with city’s economic development office and the local chamber of commerce.
Oliver characterized the opening of the railway tunnel last year as a “true renaissance moment…Brockville is back” and that the city needs to continue capitalizing on tourism.
He said the Brockville railway tunnel and the Aquatarium are the “two jewels in the city.”
Oliver’s platform includes focusing on seniors, with 21 per cent of the Brockville population identified as such, and city hall will focus on their needs. “Thank you,” exclaimed one woman in the audience.
With three daughters, he also focused on the young. “I will advocate responsibility for the twin pad arena and the new school project on the old Philips Cables site and I will work with the Ontario government to ensure their infrastructure funding will be included in the next step of this initiative.”
As for moving people forward, Oliver said he has already met with MPP Steve Clark about pushing for having six lanes on Highway 401 through Brockville.
Then there’s the traffic in the city. “For the most part it’s pretty good but Parkedale Avenue and Stewart Boulevard drive me crazy. It seems…it’s red light, wait, red light, wait. We want to do is implement immediately a pilot project called green wave. Once you wait for your first red light and it’s green it’s going to be wave after wave of green lights in the city!”
He also wants “traffic calming” measures on residential streets.
When it comes to arts, the mayor hopeful wants to work with arts groups to make affordable access to spaces for visual and performing arts. “our focus on the arts is what makes Brockville a truly special and vibrant place to live, visit and to celebrate.”
As for involving the community, Oliver wants to have city council meetings live streamed and to have public input into the city’s $50 million municipal budget by having a portion earmarked for projects submitted by the public and voted on by the electorate.
Oliver closed his address, paraphrasing Wayne Gretzky. “We have to skate to where the puck is going to be. We don’t skate to where it was. We need to stay competitive to continue to keep Brockville a great place to live, work and visit.”
The deadline to file for the municipal election is next Friday (July 27).
Right now, Oliver is facing one challenger – Cec Drake, who ran for mayor in 2014 and was most recently the vice chairman of the Brockville Taxpayers Association.
We go to the polls Oct. 22.