BROCKVILLE – A Brockville mayoral candidate says the city’s “downward spiral” of its population “has to stop.”
Mark Oliver, owner of PhotoVisions, opened his campaign office at 162 King Street West on Friday night – the site of a former hardware store – saying people are “by and large very happy” in the city but they’re also frustrated.
With his company as a backdrop, Oliver said he was nervous at first about door-knocking, but after rapping on over 2,500 doors and closing in on 3,000 this weekend, he called it an amazing experience.
“It’s just like a game show. You knock on the door, someone’s going to open the door from your past. It’s a blast. It’s so fun,” Oliver laughed. He’s come face to face with former schoolmates, teachers, relative and coworkers.
In a later interview with Brockville Newswatch, Oliver said it was important to have a physical presence since “most of the people, I would knock on their doors, over half of them are not home.” He said there had been many in the public asking where they could come and get pamphlets and information. “It’s nice to have a physical presence.”
While recapping his platform of attracting business and tourism, his traffic “green wave” plan and boosting the arts community, the businessman then zoned in on Brockville’s declining population.
During the last two censuses, Brockville’s population dropped 2.4 and 0.5 per cent respectively while the Ontario population grew. “We’re going in the wrong direction everybody. We’re falling behind.”
“While other municipalities in the province are thriving, we’re failing to attract new people and businesses. While others are growing, we’re slowly shrinking,” Oliver said.
Like the growth of his photography school business from a one-man shop in the Kensington Plaza in 1990 to a payroll of 40 people on King Street West, Oliver wants to see similar growth for the City of Brockville.
With five weeks to go before the Oct. 22 municipal election, Oliver believes it will be a close race against his competitors, Cec Drake, Kelly Cole and Jason Baker.
“Talking to people and hearing what they’re saying, leads me to believe that this is going to be a very close race. I’m not taking anything for granted. We’re getting an amazing response at the doors. If you looked at that your might get overconfident and I’m not overconfident. I want to earn every single vote,” Oliver told Brockville Newswatch.
The mayoral hopeful believes there’s also a large block of undecided voters in Brockville while he’s proposes “serious change” after almost two decades of the status quo.
But “we’re committed to this city for the long haul,” he said in his remarks.
The campaign office will be open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.