By Doug Draper
Bruce Timms, a veteran St. Catharines regional councillor, has thrown his hat in the ring for Niagara Region’s top political job.
Timms is also a native of Port Colborne – born in the hospital in that community that the Niagara Health System has been systematically shut down – and he promises, as regional chair, to keep the interests and concerns of people in Niagara’s central and south end fully in mind.
“I was born in Port Colborne and grew up working in Welland, … so I can bring a regional perspective to the job that few others can beat.”
On the subject of amalgamation, Timms told NAL he’s more focused on amalgamating services like water and wastewater on behalf of taxpayers than he is on amalgamating municipalities. At the same time, he strongly favours reforming regional government in ways he feels would have the Region and 12 municipalities working more closely together on matters of common concern and interest. (NAL is including below a recent comment Timms made to another story on this site that outlines his vision for regional reform.).
During his 19 years on council, Timms has served as chair of the Region’s Public Health Committee, chair of the committee developing and maintaining the Greater Niagara Circle Route, and as a board member for Niagara Regional Housing. He has had a record of supporting the need for a regional transit system in Niagara, expanding Go Rail services here and of standing up to the Niagara Regional Police Board around soaring policing costs he feels have become unsustainable for local taxpayers. He has also been a strong supporter of heritage sites in Niagara and has been lobbying for the remnants of the old Welland Canals to be declared a national historic site in much the same way the remnants of the Erie Canal system have in New York State.
In an interview with NAL, Timms said he knows that if regional councillors elect him to the chair’s seat on December 9, he would be the second chair in a row (following Peter Partington) that comes from St. Catharines. That being said, he promised he would serve the interests and concerns of all residents in Niagara, north, south, east and west.
Along with Pelham regional councillor Brian Baty, Timms may be contesting the regional chair’s position with newly elected Niagara Falls regional councillor and former Mike Harris/Ernie Eves Conservative MPP Bart Maves and outgoing Welland mayor and defeated regional council candidate Damian Goulbourne.
Following is a reprise of Bruce Timms’ comment on regional reform and a copy of his media release, announcing his candidacy for Niagara regional chair.
Comment on Regional Reform
I propose a simple but effective step forward that does not threaten any community, but can achieve efficiencies , reduce duplications and build a common economic development strategy.
Reform Regional Government by replacing the Regional Councillors with City Councillors who sit at the Region and the City, double duty, Councillors will run for the Double duty job. Secondly elect the Regional Chair at large by all the voters in every corner of Niagara. Regional Council becomes a team of mayors and city councillors sitting around a common table with common purpose. This will build communications between the Region and the municipalities, and between municipalities. Less Two Tier, more Team Niagara.
This would be a productive reform that creates more of a team of 12 and does not threaten members of the team. Halton Region operates this way, Peel, York and Durham Regions are similar, it is a reform that is familiar to the Province. I believe we can achieve this change in time for the next election. We can achieve the triple majority, and then get Provincial approval and finally break the log jam, and take a step forward.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Catharines – Bruce Timms will stand for election as Regional Chair in the December 6 election at Regional Council. Councillor Timms topped the polls in St. Catharines on a platform of Regional Reform.
Bruce Timms campaigned on a reform model that proposes reducing the elected representatives for St Catharines from 18 to 12, calls for 6 City councillors to do double duty, City and Region, and retains 6 ward councillors to create a final total St, Catharines City council of 12. The Halton Region model Timms supports also calls for a Region-wide public vote for Regional Chair.
“The Region needs a Chair with a public mandate to lead Regional Council. We need a Chairman that will stand up for the taxpayer on all department budgets, a Chair who will stand up to the Police Board against unreasonable budget demands, all the way to OCCOPS if needed. We cannot afford to back down in the face of the cost of OCCOPS appeals anymore. We cannot afford to let arbitrators ignore the taxpayers’ ability to pay.”
“We need a chair who will lead a reform of government that will draw the 12 municipalities together as a family working together to GROW Niagara. We do not need reform that threatens and divides the communities of Niagara. For Niagara to GROW and prosper, we need a Regional Council that is a true team of Mayors and City Councillors sitting around a common table with a common purpose. Efficiencies, duplications and economic growth can best be found by a team of municipalities working together for their common interests.”
“The St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce has it right when they say the Chair needs to be the best person for the job. I believe the voting public believes that too.”
(Click on Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary of interest and concern to residents in our greater Niagara region. And by all means, share your comments below on who should serve as Niagara’s next regional chair. Remember that we only post comments by people willing to share their real name.)