“Working together we can restore Niagara’s reputation, increase prosperity, encourage more livable communities while protecting the environment, and creating more care and compassion for you, your children and your grandchildren.” – Pelham Mayor and candidate for Niagara Regional Chair, Dave Augustyn
A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted July 12th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
Countless hundreds, if not countless thousands of residents across Niagara and been waiting and hoping for this.
And in a packed Tim Horton’s in his home municipality of Pelham this July 12th, while people stood and applauded, it finally happened.
Dave Augustyn, a three-term Town of Pelham mayor and member of Niagara’s regional council – one of the few in municipal politics who has continuously and fearlessly stood up against the Caslin and his gang at the Region over the past three and a half years, announced and filed his papers this July 12th to run in the first Niagara-wide race for Regional Chair.
As supporters, including former Niagara Regional Chair Debbie Zimmeman, former Niagara Centre MP Malcom Allen, former Port Colborne mayor and regional councillor Bob Saracino, former St. Catharines mayor and regional councillor Brian McMullan, Niagara Falls City Councillor Carolyn Ioannoni and many others listened on, Augustyn pledged to focus on three things – “integrity, prosperity and compassion so that we might build a better Niagara for everyone.”
“I have already stood up for you and your interests, and will continue to stand up,” he said, “againstbackroom deals with special interests,” against paving over wetlands,” and in favour of promoting environmentally sustainable growth and development, “in favour of protecting what are left of Niagara’s forests, fields, waters and shorelines, of creating quality jobs for people and of finally putting together a fully integrated public transit system in the next term of regional government.
Augustyn’s list of plans for moving Niagara forward is detailed and Niagara At Large will report more on it in the hours, days and weeks ahead.
Following Augustyn’s announcement to run in what will be, this coming October 22nd, the first Niagara-wide election for the regional chair position (over the past four and a half decades, regional chairs were appointed by other members of the Region’s council) former St. Catharines mayor Brian McMullan praised him as “a great guy” he feels confident will restore intregry, along with public trust and pride in regional government.
“I have not been very proud of the last four years (of regional government),” said McMullan. “There has been a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the Niagara region over the past four years and I think Dave has the integrity to make it go away.”
The other two main candidates in the race for Niagara regional chair so far are former Welland mayor Damian Goulbourne and the Region’s current chair Al Caslin. Anyone running for a seat on regional and local councils in Niagara has until July 27th to register for the offices of municipal clerks.
Niagara At Large will post more detailed news commentary on Dave Augustyn announcement to run for Niagara Regional Chair within the next 24 hours.
So stay tuned.
In the meantime, here is the text of a news release and brief bio circulated this July 12th by the Campaign to Elect Dave Augustyn –
July 12, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Augustyn runs for Chair of Niagara Region Longest-Serving Pelham Mayor promotes Integrity, Prosperity and Compassion
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario — Dave Augustyn, Mayor of Pelham for the last 12 years, officially filed his papers today to serve as the Niagara Region’s first directly-elected Chair.
“I am humbled by the hundreds of people that have encouraged me to run for Chair for a better Region,” said Augustyn. “I appreciate working together with Pelham Council, staff, volunteers, residents and businesses over the last 12 years to improve our community’s infrastructure, services, facilities, and overall quality of life.”
Augustyn’s campaign platform will focus on three main themes: Integrity, Prosperity and Compassion.
This term of Regional Council offered negative headlines of big projects with major cost overruns or cases of personal expense abuses by Councillors. Countless reports highlighted questionable hiring practices – like the Police-chief buy-out – and showed how attacks by some Councillors went unchecked.
These and other issues point to a leadership void at Regional Council, which has led to a loss of public confidence and a lack of meaningful Council progress. Augustyn questioned these matters, standing up for the public and what is right.
With many fiscal challenges expected in the upcoming term, Augustyn’s experience will ensure Niagara remains an affordable place to live and create jobs.
As chair of the Region’s $1 billion budget for 2011-14, Augustyn kept tax increases below inflation and lower than the current council term. Under Augustyn’s leadership, the average homeowner in Pelham pays less than they did 12 years ago, when adjusted for inflation, and the lowest water and sewer costs.
Across Niagara, Augustyn has championed incentives for downtown and brownfield re-developments and industrial expansion, which have led to more vibrant communities and helped create hundreds of jobs. He continues to fight for the transportation network Niagara deserves, including GO Rail and Integrated Transit.
Since prosperity and compassion go hand-in-hand, as Chair, Augustyn will work to make the Niagara Peninsula a more caring community.
Augustyn has committed to reducing ambulance back-ups at emergency rooms, and to working with the Province to build and renew hospital facilities in Niagara Falls, Welland and Grimsby. He will also focus on securing and building hundreds of long-term beds, and increasing mental health and addiction supports.
Augustyn will also work to combat homelessness by encouraging more housing that’s affordable, more social and rental housing, “in-law” suites and micro-housing pilots.
During his announcement before a large crowd at a coffee shop in the centre of the peninsula, Augustyn presented a detailed blueprint for integrity, prosperity, and compassion. He will revise and improve the Blueprint for a Better Region based on listening to residents and businesses during the summer and for the fall election campaign.
“I look forward to going door-to-door and to events across Niagara and listening to residents and businesses about how we might achieve our hopes and dreams for a better Region,” said Augustyn.
“Working together we can restore Niagara’s reputation, increase prosperity, encourage more livable communities while protecting the environment, and creating more care and compassion for you, your children and your grandchildren.”
About Dave Augustyn
Dave Augustyn serves as the Mayor of the Town of Pelham and a Regional Councillor in Niagara Region. He was first elected in November 2006 as Pelham’s youngest mayor and was re-elected in 2010 and again in 2014.
Mayor Dave chairs the Town’s Council and Committee Meetings. He also serves on several Regional Council committees – including Corporate Service, Public Works, Public Health & Social Services, Planning & Development, Waste Management, Audit, and Smarter Niagara (Chair). He chaired the Region’s budget review committee during the 2011-14 term and co-chaired the corporate services standing committee from 2009-14.
Under Dave’s leadership, the Town invested in quality-of-life improvements – like the new Meridian Community Centre (open Fall 2018), a dozen new parks and playgrounds, the renewed Maple Acre library, downtown revitalizations of Fonthill and Fenwick, and two new fire halls in Fenwick and North Pelham.
Council also focused on creating a more livable community that helped make the Town more walkable and bikeable and won awards for community design excellence and planning. Dave looks forward to the opening of the new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre this fall (on lands donated by the Town) and the groundbreakings for the new medical centre, new seniors affordable housing, new retirement home and new Long-Term Care Home (on lands sold by the Town).
Dave also serves as the vice-chair of Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. (a local electricity distribution company) and as chair of the Peninsula West Power Corporation (a holding and electricity services company).
Prior to his elected service, Dave worked as a professional fundraiser and helped raise millions of dollars to assist abused women and their children at Women’s Place (now Gillian’s Place), hospital patients at Hotel Dieu and the St. Catharines General hospitals, victims of Alzheimer disease at the Alzheimer Society of Niagara, and students in need at the University of Waterloo.
Dave and his wife of 23 years – Carol Berkhout – grew up in the Niagara Peninsula and live in Fenwick with their two teenaged children. They are members of and volunteers at St. Ann’s Church.
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