Bernadette Clement – City of Cornwall

If elected, would you make climate action a priority, and if so, how would you ensure that state-of-the art-energy reduction methods are included in the assessment of all municipal activities, spending and investments – both capital and on-going management?
  • Responsible governments need to make climate action a priority, for social and economic reasons. As a community, we have seen the impact of climate damage with the flooding of areas during recent storm events. The City put a program in place to help residents reduce the risks of flooding. We also needed to invest in infrastructure changes to address those risks. Those investments need to be maintained in our budget process. Some occasionally still refer to those events as ”storms that occur once every hundred years”. However, they are now occurring more frequently. We need to be prepared. But we also need to change our way of doing things, so as to be proactive, and not just responsive. I would seek to review our purchasing policies so that they include more references to environmental sustainability. The City has significant purchasing power, and has the capacity to make changes in the way that it purchases items. Affordability must always be a priority. However, environmental sustainability does not have to be sacrificed as a result. Political leadership must be willing to innovate. I believe that our City’s Strategic Plan should be reviewed in the early days of the term, through the lens of energy reduction and that all reports to City Council, be required to highlight how they meet the goals of that Plan, including energy reduction goals. Energy reduction can also represent an important cost savings.
Do you think your main streets/downtown are successful – why or why not?  If elected, what specific actions, changes and improvements would you make to ensure they are healthy and successful?
  • The City of Cornwall is fortunate to have two vibrant downtowns with different cultural histories. Our downtown on Pitt Street has attracted dedicated entrepreneurs who see value in the uniqueness of being in the center of the city. The City recently put development charges in place to help in the fairness of bearing the cost of development. However, those charges will NOT apply to development in the downtowns so as to encourage investment in those areas. Business owners regularly discuss the burden of working through the maze of permits and requirements for opening up a business or for expansion. We need to make sure that the Planning department has the resources to respond more effectively to the entrepreneurs who are inspired to set up downtown, where buildings are older and sometimes more challenging. The City needs to continue to support festivals and community events that take place downtown or on the waterfront, because they will bring awareness to those areas and encourage more regular visits to the downtown for shopping and dining. The location of an Arts Centre downtown will be an economic driver for the city center, and beyond, and this project is to be encouraged through continued public consultation and political leadership in terms of seeking support from the other levels of government. Le Village has a different history, closely linked to the Cotton Mill district, which attracted many Francophone workers who sought employment in the area. From the Monument de la Francophonie in the easternmost part of parc Lamoureux, to the revival of la Co-Cathédrale de la Nativité, with its iconic steeple, there is a vibrant Francophone history that is strongly supported by the community. Le Village has had challenges in terms of supporting businesses, but its successful future could also be linked to the continued development of the Cotton Mill district and of the Port Lands which are co-owned by the City and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
If elected, how would you go about ensuring the replacement of tree cover lost in your municipality as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer?
  • The City of Cornwall put an Emerald Ash Borer plan in place some years ago. It needs to be reviewed by Cornwall on a more regular basis and the investments identified to replace the ash trees, need to be kept in the City budget. We also need to create and enact an urban forest by-law, in consultation with our city arborist. We can always learn from progressive municipalities who have already enacted such by-laws, but we can create something that will not only reflect the need to replace ash trees, but which can also define how we protect and replace other types of trees. Why is this important? Because mature trees are an essential part of a healthy community, not only for their beauty, but for their critical role in terms of clean air and in providing shade, which can be linked to a reduction in the need for costly cooling energy. They improve the quality of life and make for a more attractive community. This in turn attracts investment, which contributes to our community development. The Commemorative Tree Planting program which helps us to honour those that were beloved to us and to the community, is to be nurtured and should be the subject of continued awareness campaigns.
If elected, what waste management initiatives would you support toward increasing waste diversion and what targets would you like to set for your municipality?
  • The City has a comprehensive Solid Waste Management Master Plan. In 2011, we had a very low 24% diversion rate. However, this has improved over the years, particularly with the establishment of a weekly recycling program. A visit to our recycling facility is highly recommended to residents! The Plan aims for the provincial diversion target rate of 60%. This will require a move towards bag limits, organic waste reduction and bi-weekly garbage collection. We are currently updating our Solid Waste Management Master Plan and we need to keep those strong targets in view, which means that we need to prioritize investments towards that process, in the setting of our budget and in our long-term financial plan. Effective solid waste management is not only good for the environment but it also makes good sense as a long term cost savings measure.
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