Candidate Info

General Info

Robert Kirwan

Ward 5
Contact info:

Telephone: 705-929-2778
Email: robert.kirwan@greatersudbury.ca
Website: robertkirwan.ca
Twitter: @ValleyEastToday

Biography:

-  B.A (Math & Economics) from Laurentian University
-  M.A (Education) from Central Michigan University
-  OCT Designation – Ontario Certified Teacher
-  Life-long resident of Greater Sudbury Area
-  Retired teacher of 28 years with Sudbury District Catholic School Board
-  Taught for 25 years in Ward 5
-  Licensed Mortgage Agent with HQ Mortgages Inc. FSCO License #14001299
-  Education, Training & Staff Development Consultant
-  Publisher of Valley East Today community web site
-  Administrator of Valley East Facebook Group
-  Host of The Learning Clinic Radio Show on CKLU 96.7 FM
-  Currently completing first term as Trustee of Ward 5&6 with Rainbow District School Board
-  Lives in Val Therese, which is central to Valley East and is expected to be in Ward 5 when the Ward boundaries are addressed for the 2018 election.

Provided by the candidate via e-mail, July 29, 2014


Transportation


Platform Statement:

“The next four years will be critical to the future of the City of Greater Sudbury for a number of reasons, but one of the areas that we need to be more focussed upon is with respect to the promotion of what is referred to as “active transportation” in all corners of the City and within all twelve wards. We are doing this now in Ward 5 and 6 in the Valley and Sudbury North, but it must become a City-Wide focus.

This is consistent with the recommendations made in the Leisure Master Plan, which I was excited to see and am looking forward to implementing. The survey results clearly point to a desire among the vast majority of our citizens for more to be done to promote activities like walking, hiking, cycling and other outdoor recreational pursuits that encourage a healthy lifestyle that is family focused and accessible to all residents, regardless of their age or ability. Many of the recommendations of the Leisure Master Plan are related to transportation so this means that as we revise our approach to both public and general transportation we need to be cognizant of including policies and infrastructure that will promote a healthier lifestyle.

This means that when City Council is approving new developments and roadways, we must take into consideration how we can create a system that is going to promote these types of activities and help people shift from motorized to non-motorized forms of transportation. It also means that we must find ways of expanding our public transit service in order to promote the use of alternative means of transportation for residents. We need to allow space for safe bicycle lanes and ensure that there is ample and secure bicycle parking throughout our city. We have a lot of green space and wonderful streams located in all parts of the community, so if we can create walking and biking trails connected by pedestrian bridges, think of how much more attractive our city will become in the near future.

Creating a Healthy Community for the entire region is going to be one of my top priorities in the coming four years.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/SustainableTransportation.html, last checked July 31, 2014

Re transit:  “I am committed to doing whatever we can to maintain the level of service we already have and perhaps improve on some of the routes, especially in Valley East.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/Public%20Transit.html, last checked July 10, 2014


Transportation Survey Responses:

1. What does sustainable transportation mean to you?
Sustainable transportation consists of a plan of action that will reduce the dependency of residents on automobile usage while promoting more active transportation such as cycling, walking and any other form of non-motorized travel from place to place. It is also about providing options for residents so that they can perhaps combine public transit and take along their bikes for part of the trip or walk for part of the way.

* 2. How are you going to support it in our community?
It is my intention to aggressively promote a planned approach which will result in an expansion of the network of bicycle lanes, trails, multi-use pathways and even paved lanes and sidewalks which will encourage residents to use an alternative form of transportation whenever possible. I will also be suggesting that vehicles which have multiple passengers be provided with some incentive in the form of reduced or free parking at municipal parking lots in order to drastically reduce the number of single-passenger vehicles operating on our roads. This should not only be done with new construction and new developments, but we should begin adding these to existing infrastructure. I think the suggestion of an integrated transportation and land use policy which allows for a more active transportation options. This is something that the planning department may have to start looking for when they approve new applications for developments and retail centers. We should also begin to construct a network of trails and bike paths that allow for people to go from subdivision to subdivision without the need to use vehicles. We should also be trying to encourage people to plan their shopping trips so that they can get everything done in one outing rather than going back and forth numerous times to different destinations.

* Above includes answer to Top Public Question 3. What are you going to do to enhance walking, bicycling and transit usage in Greater Sudbury over the next 4 years?


Level of support for:

(a) Dedicated annual funding in the municipal budget for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure
I will vote in favour
(b) Adopting a Complete Streets Policy that details how to implement streets that are designed for all users
I will champion that
(c) Improvements in transit service and fares to meet the needs of citizens
I will champion that
(d) Implementation and coordination of Transportation Demand Management
I will champion that
Explanation:


Water Quality


Platform Statement:

“We have a lot to be proud of in the “City of Lakes” and it bothers me when I see the blue-green algae springing up, and I hear about the increased pollution in our lakes and rivers. I am hopeful that during the next four years we can provide more support for the work being done by the Nickel District Conservation Authority. They have such a tremendous responsibility that goes much further than simply warning us about spring flooding.  The Conservation Authority must be given more funding and help to become much more significant in the development and establishment of policies with respect to our natural environment. I also want to provide support to the many small organizations that already exist in the twelve wards, such as the Valley East Trailsmen  and some of the local groups that work directly with the environment. These men and women have so much to provide us when it comes to improving the water quality in the area.

I also want to work with the schools to develop effective education programs for our students, and bring them to places like the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area where we can shape positive attitudes in the area of protecting our natural environment in order to sustain our quality of water and our quality of life in the Greater Sudbury Area.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/WaterQuality.html, last checked July 31, 2014

Water Quality Survey Responses:

1. In your view, what are the most important steps the city needs to take to protect water quality?
We must start conserving water as much as possible and put an end to the use of hazardous products in our residential and commercial sectors of the community. We must also take care to reduce the recreational use of boats on our lakes and rivers. Anything the city can do to encourage people to cease contributing to the pollution of our water supply is important to the long term protection of our water quality. It is important to have a program of testing of the water quality in our lakes and rivers so that we can take positive steps to deal with problems as soon as they are detected.

* 2. How are you going to support it in our community?
I will first of all make sure that our city is being a good role model in demonstrating to our residents the adoption of the most visible and effective conservation efforts. I will also see if I can convince Council to provide special grants and incentives to encourage residents to adopt good practices in their own homes and property. This will include everything from replacing worn out septic systems, planting trees and shrubs, using green products around the home, and reducing the consumption of water on lawns, washing cars, etc. While we cannot pay for all of the upgrades, we may be able to offer other incentives that have a high value to residents and a low cost to the city.

* Above includes answer to Top Public Question 1. What plan do you have to protect and sustain our many lakes? What actions will you take to support your plan? What resources will you devote?


Level of support for:

(a) Requiring larger shoreline buffers
I will champion that
(b) Dedicated annual funding in the municipal budget to complete priority watershed and subwatershed studies
I will champion that
(c) Rejecting development in floodplains and wetlands
I will champion that
(d) Adopting higher standards for storm water management, and expanded capacity in vulnerable areas
I will champion that
(e) Support for the Vermilion River Stewardship’s opposition of proposed modified run-of-river hydroelectric dams on the Vermilion River
Unsure
Explanation:


Natural Environment


Platform Statement:

“ I have been working with local groups and organizations to generate more use of the major walking trails and parks in the Valley East area and hope to convince fellow Councillors that the development of walking trails and parkland will benefit our region so much in the coming years. Just generating increased awareness among members of the walking trails that are available to them will stimulate people into using these wonderful parts of our city. There are several potential areas in the Sudbury portion of Ward 5 where new multi-use trails could easily be created with little financial investment. This will be a cultural shift for a large segment of the population which is accustomed to spending a lot of their recreational time inside. We need to get people using our outdoor facilities so that they become more connected with nature and it becomes that much easier to protect our natural environment. When people value something, they are more likely to take care of it on their own.

I intend to partner with local schools to see if we can develop a relationship that fosters young children and teens becoming actively involved in caring for our trails and parkland. This can be simply a way of keeping the trails clean in return for volunteer hours, but it will be done in a way that hopefully creates a life-long love of nature among our youth and a desire to protect the environment for their future.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/Environment.html, last checked July 31, 2014

Natural Environment Survey Responses:

1. How will you balance development with protection of the natural environment?
Our city is having problems growing. We are aggressively promoting more growth and development and we want more businesses to locate in Sudbury to create more jobs which will in turn require more housing development and subdivisions. At the same time, we don’t want to destroy the reason why most people wanted to live in this area in the first place. People value the natural environment, so we don’t want to ruin it with development and industrial parks. Recognizing this, we must be always cognizant of the impact proposed developments will have on sustainable transportation and water quality, while also being aware that we have a growing demand to reduce spending to lower taxes. Planning is necessary in order to balance the needs of both and we just need to establish a long-term vision so that all decisions must fit within that vision.

2. How will you champion opportunities in your ward to fill gaps in parks service and to protect unique natural areas (identified by the Green Space Advisory Panel)?
In relation to the points made above, I think that the time may have come for us to examine our long standing desire to “fill in” land space that we already have when it comes to development. I think it makes far more sense from an environmental point of view to leave our natural space that exists close to the core of the former City of Sudbury and begin to encourage development in the outlying areas. For example, if you build the Maley Drive extension, you will be encouraging the development of houses north of the development in the New Sudbury area to reach out to the new Maley Drive road. That will destroy the natural environment closest to the city core. However, if you build the Barrydowne Extension to Hanmer, you will be encouraging more development in Valley East and Capreol without destroying a lot of natural environment in the meantime. There are numerous examples of this throughout the region where we can start to encourage outside development instead of forcing development to take place closest to the central part of the city. The current policy may result in less costly infrastructure, but if we destroy our environment, no one is going to want to live here anyway.


Level of support for:

(a) Dedicated annual funding in the municipal budget to implement the green space acquisition strategy
I will champion that
(b) Policies in the Official Plan to recognize and protect important natural areas
I will champion that
(c) Removing the “Laurentian link” road from the Official Plan transportation schedule
I will champion that
(d) Re-assessing proposed roads on the Transportation Schedule that impact natural areas
I will champion that
Explanation:


Local Food


Platform Statement:

“I am involved in the development of a new Fall Festival that highlights the historical roots of farming in Valley East. We hope to initiate a local farmers’ market and encourage residents to purchase produce that is harvested locally. When I am elected I intend to do whatever we can to set up a Valley East Farmers Market for the outlying areas.

While many think that Sudbury is a mining community, the truth is that much of our early success was due to the rich farmland that we have in this area. We can stimulate and develop our rural communities by purchasing their produce, their eggs, milk, meat, poultry, etc. This not only helps the farmer, but also provides good jobs for some of our residents. It is money that stays in the community and is reinvested in the Greater Sudbury Area, not funnelled to other cities.

The next four years will be a time for us to divert more resources to the local farming sector in order to help them thrive for the sake of our overall community health and wellness.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/LocalFood.html, last checked July 31, 2014

Local Food Survey Responses:

1. How do you see the city’s role in food system sustainability, access to local food, and the connection to health?
I can’t see how anyone would find anything against the position that we need to ensure that our local farmers are able to continue to grow food and provide their products to people living in Greater Sudbury. Our City Council cannot ignore the fact that some of our policies will have a direct impact on sustaining our food system and we must give consideration to the impact in all of our decisions regarding land use.

* 2. How would you develop local agriculture and fresh water and forest foods?
I think it is important for us to make sure that local residents are aware of the sources and benefits of our local agricultural sector. To that end, I am part of the organizing committee for the first annual “Spudsbury Potato Festival” which is being held in Blezard Valley on September 13, 2014. One of our objectives with the festival was to highlight the heritage of the potato industry in the Sudbury area and promote the use of local potatoes by restaurants and grocery stores. Another area that we must examine is providing more opportunity for local farmers to attend food markets, perhaps not just centrally located in Sudbury proper, but also in the outlying areas. We must also make sure that we provide incentives for local farmers to use their land to grow crops rather than to sell off and build houses. Good farmland should be protected and developments should be directed to land that is not suitable for growing crops. I also have given my commitment to helping promote community gardens such as the one at Balmoral Place on Bruce Avenue. I think the community gardens not only can add a lot to the growth of local food, but can do wonders for community spirit and bringing people together in a given neighbourhood or subdivision.

* Above includes answer to Top Public Question 2. What is your commitment to encourage a local food economy?


Level of support for:

(a) A food action plan for the city
I will champion that
(b) Developing targets for procurement of local food in municipal institutions
I will champion that
(c) Providing support for urban agriculture initiatives
I will vote in favour
(d) Expanding the amount of land preserved for agricultural use and avoiding incompatible use
I will champion that
(e) Designating the market as a Farmer’s Market
I will champion that
Explanation:


Citizen Engagement


Platform Statement:

“One of the best ways for a Councillor to remain connected with the community is through the promotion and development of one or two strong Community Action Network committees. Ward 5 should have one for the Valley East part of the Ward and another for the Sudbury portion. Both should be active and must count on the support and assistance of their Councillor. One of my first priorities if I am elected is to meet with the existing CANS and find out what I can do to help them become stronger than ever.

When candidates say that they intend to keep in touch with their constituents, it is necessary to identify a particular strategy. For me there are a number of very specific initiatives that I intend to pursue.

  1. I will make sure that we have two strong Community Action Networks in operation. One for Valley East and the other for the Sudbury section of Ward 5.
  2. I will make every attempt to revise the Neighbourhood Playground Associations in Ward 5. That means I will help organize public meetings in each playground catchment area in order to see if we can find volunteers willing to act as the driving force behind these associations. I will also utilize the Playground Associations to obtain feedback about what is needed in order to improve the local neighbourhoods.
  3. I will hold regular Town Hall meetings at local schools or the public library and invite residents to come out to discuss specific topics of concern. My plan is to hold at least one of these town hall meetings every three months.
  4. I will continue communicate with the residents of Ward 5 through Facebook and the internet. People will always be able to get hold of me.
  5. I will continue to host a weekly radio show at Laurentian University and invite people to call in with their concerns and opinions. These Radio Shows will include special guests who will be able ot shed light on some of the underlying principles behind the issues facing City Council. The Radio Shows will be video taped and archived so that people can access them on demand.
  6. I will use You Tube to produce short informational video explanations for my constituents similar to what I have done with the issues on this web site”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/CAN.html, last checked July 10, 2014

Citizen Engagement Survey Responses:

1. How will you ensure that community consultation is done effectively and openly, with productive dialogue from start to finish for municipal projects and decisions?
Consultation is not something that I have to work at to make happen. It is “who I am” and “what I do”. I already facilitate several forums where the community has an opportunity to provide their input and feedback on all municipal projects and decisions. The Valley East Community Facebook Group has over 2500 members who are actively providing their input and concerns in an open discussion. This is a community social media forum where members are encouraged to engage with each other and where I am able to put out ideas and concepts that generate discussion. I also operate the Valley East Today Community Web Site which has been in existence since 2003 and which is a community resource that is massive. I also host The Learning Clinic Radio Show, a weekly live radio talk show on CKLU from Laurentian University. On this show I bring in guests from all walks of life and we discuss concerns and issues of the day. The shows are video recorded and archived so that they can be viewed on demand at a later date or used as part of future presentations.

2. How will you ensure a consistent culture of openness and support for public input across all city departments?
I will ensure a consistent culture of openness and support for public input across all city departments by continuing to use my open forums to seek public input and to educate the public on policies that are being considered by City Council. We can hold Town Hall meetings, but usually only a handful of residents attend these sessions so it is difficult to judge the feelings of the public from those meetings. Instead, I will continue to remain immersed in my community so that I can listen to the people, watch what they do, and let them speak to me through their actions. That is how I intend to find out what the silent majority truly feels so that I can be their “voice at city hall”. I will also encourage open communication electronically and by phone so that people can talk to me in confidence. I will also make sure that I develop healthy, trusting relationships with staff so that they understand that I am a person who they can approach with concerns and recommendations on how we can improve our city operations.


Level of support for:

(a) Adopting an enhanced system for resolving all issues and complaints, including tracking numbers and prescribed timelines
I will champion that
(b) Requiring proactive engagement of citizens and stakeholder groups when forming policies and developing projects
I will champion that
(c) Requiring agendas and background material to be publicly posted two weeks in advance, and minutes to be posted one week after meetings of Council and Committees of Council
I will champion that
(d) Providing timely, fair and transparent support to citizens and citizen groups for community projects that contribute to the community
I will champion that
(e) Ensuring easily accessible, complete and searchable information on the City website
I will vote in favour
Explanation:


Climate Change


Climate Change Survey Response:

I feel that we need to listen to the advice that we receive from the science experts who have the experience and knowledge to guide us in our deliberations. We should be putting in place policies and initiatives that will address the long-term goals and requirements with respect to climate change.

Other


Platform Statement:

Bottom line is that I have confidence that I will be able to spend the $50,000 on Healthy Community Initiatives that will truly benefit Ward 5. I have the confidence that I am familiar with my community and will have no trouble finding out where these funds can be put to the best use and how to distribute them fairly and with transparency. I do not need to be told by City Staff where I should be spending the funds. I know my Ward much better than the City Staff.”

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/HCI%20FUND.html, last checked July 10, 2014

Re Maley Drive:  “So unless the City Staff can come up with some excellent reasons for keeping the Maley Drive Extension project on the books, I am in favour of eliminating this one project so that we can reduce the development charges that we are imposing on residential and commercial development. “

from http://www.valleyeasttoday.ca/Election%202014/Issues/MaleyDrive.html, last checked July 10, 2014


All information is directly taken from candidates’ public platforms and official statements, most often candidate websites. The source and date are provided. Blank areas indicate that the candidate has not yet provided any official statements on this topic.