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Hello all and all the best to you as we close out a difficult and unexpected 2020. With Covid-19 we have seen some of the best and worst of things – and at times ourselves.

However, we are a resilient and persevering community. There is a collective loss in the air this year. It is at times heartbreaking. But with the lows there have still been some highs, some innovation and a sense of deep-rooted community that grows because of what we have collectively been through this year.

One of the things I had planned to do this summer was to knock again on every door in the community as a mid-term check in. It wasn’t possible for obvious reasons but I still will happily take your feedback, ideas and concerns directly at marc.laferriere@brant.ca any time. As you will see below – a lot of the mandate I had has been fulfilled and am always looking for other things to bring to council for the betterment of our community. Please share any ideas you have for the future!

Below is a list of priorities I proposed in 2018 when running to be one of the Ward 2 representatives for the County of Brant. I’ve been updating it and will continue to at https://marcyourvote.ca/platform/ throughout the rest of the term.

Despite being just one vote out of 11 I am happy to share that the vast majority of the items in my platform from 2 years ago have been or are in the process of being fulfilled. Some are paused due to Covid-19 restrictions, some were adapted and some were not successful (that whole one vote thing).

That said people deserve to see the follow up, the successes and the attemps.

All the best to you and yours as we close out 2020 and Happy New Year as we look forward to 2021!

– Marc Laferriere, Ward 2, County of Brant.

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Priority list from 2018 campaign below in bold  (Updates from Late 2020 in Brackets)

For Respectful, Accessible Communication

“Office Hours” for you to meet with your councillor ✓ (Moved to online Zoom on-demand format due to Covid-19)

Quarterly town halls for questions, input and straight talk on local issues (Regular in person town halls on hold due to Covid-19 but participation in numerous townhalls and community meetings in-person and online before and after COVID-19)

Monthly newsletter/blog to help connect our community   ✓ (Here as well as a regular column in Neighbour of Paris On The Grand)

– Responsive social media/e-mail/phone practices  ✓

– Treat citizen delegations to council with the respect they deserve ✓

For Physical and Social Infrastructure

Use experience working with other municipalities, federal and provincial governments to advocate for affordable, diversified and active transit to connect us to GO and other transit services. ✓ (Brant eRide started in 2019, attempts made to partner with Brantford Transit rejected by Brantford elected officials)

Bring justice, education and health care experience to planned expansions of Brant OPP, library and health services to ensure quality service ✓ (New OPP stationed opened in 2020, Health Hub on schedule, New Main Branch Library planned for 2025, connected County with Habitat for Humanity which is starting their first Habitat build ever in Brant, Numerous affordable/public housing projects being applied for, successfully passed a motion to create a needed affordable housing reserve fund)

Will say no to projects that our community is not properly consulted on. ✓ (Voted against numerous development proposals including 12 story building applied for in Paris and the re-designation of natural heritage lands for development)

Advocate that all county proposals include easy-to-read information on fiscal, social and environmental impacts as well as long-term and short-term costs for prudent decision making in the long-term interests of the County ✓ (Began due just before Panedmic, on hold to accommodate further staff training on this Triple Bottom Line reporting)

– Work for a neighbourhood advisory committee to make suggestions about road and sidewalk needs including greening and shading utilizing tree planting for walkability, raising property values and slowing traffic. (✓) (Environmental Planner position created, Brant Safe Streets program created with public bylaw, Tree Planting bylaw update in works, Record Number of public advisory type meetings in 2 year period, Bang The Table app supported and all of these have public advisory functionality to serve this purpose in times when we can not meet in person)

Insist that all intensification projects in the region utilize best practices for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CEPTED) (Being worked on in Official Plan)

For Youth

Our future workforce, innovators and community leaders need a mechanism to be more involved and give their input to council.  I strongly believe a Youth Advisory Council is needed to connect youth to decision makers, committees and local employers. (On hold due to Covid though I am participating in the Connect2Skills program and was working with local business and Community Safety and Wellbeing committee on this up until March)

I will also hold open café hours and invite other council members so young people can ask questions and share ideas about their community. (On hold due to Covid)

For Local Businesses

My focus will be on retention and growth for local businesses while setting the right conditions for our economy to expand. ✓ (As of this writing only .7% of Brant business closed due to pandemic which is a stark contrast to 8-9% that closed provincially and federally at the same time)

Advocate federal and provincial governments pay their share to ease traffic congestion through needed projects like the Green Lane Bridge or another bypass. ✓ (Bypass study approved and underway, 1st step towards asks to other levels of government)

Improve walkability and transit options for residents and tourists to help our local retail and services sectors   ✓ (Approval of eRide public transit system, trails, GRSN EA, Pedestrian Safety Changes to Downtown Paris and Dundas, Walkability measurements, Age-Friendly Community Planning, Delivery of Slow Down Signs, support for hiring of a transportation safety specialist, implementing photo radar, reduction of speed limits in specific spots in Paris, increased safety signage and hiring at full cost to County of at least 2 OPP officers for specific assignment to traffic enforcement.)

Foster successful low-cost/high-impact arts and culture activities found in other communities to help local small businesses grow and to provide affordable recreation activities for individuals and families living here ✓ (Examples include local participation in International Villages Festival, Pride activities ✓, Conferences, ✓ licensed busker activity during specific time periods etc.)

Develop reasonable plans with local small business owners around parking issues including paid pass options and/or parking classification for specific shift purposes. (✓) (Approval of additional spaces at former Downtown Police Station and partnership with Library for a future attached parking solution build)

Work with Chamber of Commerce and BIA on county-specific business retention and growth strategy focused on manufacturing, agriculture, retail, tech and culture sectors. (✓) (BIA Liaison for first year of term and now Brant-Brantford Chamber Liaison, Participant in Economic Development Focus Group).

For Environment

Protect and enhance our trails and parks ✓ (Voted in favour of trail enhancements and re-opening of trails as well as park improvement policy, regularly visit parks and report issues to staff)

Protect our rivers, greenbelt and source water ✓ (One of a very small number of municipal “Friends of the Greenbelt,” voted in favour of compensation agreement with CCOB, numerous motions made pushing province to not make negative changes to greenbelt, source water and environmentally sensitive areas) 

Develop community garden sites with local residents ✓ (Council lead on Victory Garden project with Equal Grounds Community Gardens group which saw 20 active “victory gardens” in county during pandemic growing approx 1200lbs of food which was either donated to food banks or consumed by local resident growers, in discussions for 1-2 Paris community garden sites for future)

Respect for our natural and built heritage, including re-use of historic buildings ✓  (Voted in favour of a Heritage Planner and will be supporting heritage districting)

Support for policy to make sure any new development in the region is built to maximize water absorption into the ground with modern construction and design practices as well as best practices to restrict chemical usage that could harm water quality. ✓ (Part of New Official Plan Process)

Support for green bins strategy/food waste drop off sites ✓ (Carbon foot print for processing would be larger than carbon benefit at this time but working on a motion to help sustain this and other Environmental Services in the future, when public Gardens start will push for food waste drop off options)

Work with and/or put pressure on other levels of government and all major political parties to follow through on commitment to help fund Penman Dam Waterpower Project ✓ (Rejected by province but will support any efforts to fund in future)

For Affordability & Transparency

As a former public and private sector manager, I have always been on, or under budget with any project I have undertaken. My household is like yours – we have to live within our means and so does the county.   ✓ (Balanced budgets, with enhanced services and at or under inflation tax rate increases for all budgets to date)

We can invest strategically, but need to communicate with citizens about those decisions openly and transparently.   ✓ (Voted for enhanced communications resources and supported motion that all committee work be streamed for public)

If elected, I will utilize #OPENGOV best practices so that voters will have complete, detailed and easy to find access to all my expenses, spending, attendance and voting history on my website. You can then make your own choices about the job I am doing for you.  ✓ (Voted for public information widgets, county was awarded the ISO 37210 Platinum Certification by the World Council on City Data , for the highest standard in collecting, sharing and using information to make decisions, will be voting for the “Bang The Table” program implementation for all County of Brant residents see info at https://www.bangthetable.com/)