By Tristan Marks
Valentine’s Day morning’s weather was no match for the warm atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation at the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce’s Breakfast with Politicians at the Ramada Jordan Beacon Harbourside.
Political leaders from all four levels of government in Lincoln spoke about the issues and priorities they are tackling.
Niagara West MP Dean Allison, Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Lincoln Reg. Coun. Rob Foster, and Mayor Sandra Easton filled out the lineup.
While discussing items specific to their level of government, each echoed the same themes of collaboration and unity across all government to better serve the people of Lincoln.
After some kind words for the Lincoln Chamber – as a former president – and other guests present, Allison launched into commenting on issues facing Canada’s economy on the horizon from his perspective as Critic of International Trade.
Allison spoke about international hazards threatening trade such as the Coronavirus epidemic, but also domestic “issues of unity” exemplified by the proposed Teck Frontier mine in Alberta.
“These things could have a major impact on us,” said Allison.
Allison also highlighted some successes Canada has achieved in the arena of international trade, such as progressing towards ratifying the successor to NAFTA in Canada. He announced that it passed its first reading in the House of Commons last week.
The MP also addressed local issues during his talk noting he heard many of his constituents come to him with complaints about cannabis odour while on the campaign trail last year. He said that he would “look into introducing a private member’s bill” that would attempt to help address the issue from a federal level.
Oosterhoff started his talk by highlighting the Government of Ontario’s current undertakings.
He first touched on the education portfolio, emphasizing that the government was still pursuing an agreement with the teachers’ union.
“We are committed to getting a deal made,” said Oosterhoff.
He also spoke about the state of Ontario’s economy.
“Last year, 74 per cent of all jobs created in the country were in Ontario,” said Oosterhoff.
According to statistics shared by the MPP, this prosperity was being felt in Niagara. He said that the Region’s unemployment had fallen to 4.7 per cent, “the first time in 20 years it has been under five per cent.”
Foster agreed with Oosterhoff’s assessment that Niagara is strong.
“The position right across Niagara is that, at long last, it is Niagara’s time,” said Foster.
With that prosperity comes a cost, suggested Foster. He noted there would be a “fairly significant” increase in taxes across the Region.
“No municipal politician wants to increase property tax,” said Foster, adding this was necessary to match services to the growth of the region.
In that same vein, he spoke to the recent changes with the Region’s waste management contracts. The garbage tag and lower-tier share price increases reflect new controls to protect the environment and strategies to extend the lifespan of Niagara’s landfills.
Foster also mentioned that the Region was working with Lincoln to increase road safety with projects like safety zones and more. Specifically, the Region is aiming to install red light cameras in Vineland this year.
Foster touched on the upcoming Canada Summer Games that will be held in Niagara in 2021. He encouraged all present to consider volunteering.
Mayor Easton opted to not give any update on Lincoln leaving that for the upcoming Mayor’s Luncheon in April. Instead, she gave some love to her colleagues and counterparts around the room.
“Good governance is a big issue,” said Easton. “In 2020, you cannot be isolated in an island.”
She held up some examples of good governance found in cooperation between Lincoln and the higher tiers of governments.
She lauded each of the previous speakers for their support and help with local issues affecting the Town.
Easton also sent some love to Lincoln’s town council.
“I’m very proud to lead this council,” she said adding that, while the councillors were “always prepared for debate” they understood that good governance required “to leave egos at the door” to find compromise.
“I’m proud to say that there are rarely empty seats at our council meeting and Committee of the Whole meetings,” said Easton.
“If you don’t have an affinity for compromise, you should never become a politician. The objective is always to find that compromise that will be in the best interests of the community.”
In the end, she said, the voter is the best judge of effectiveness, ending her speech by drawing on all the optimism shared by the previous speakers.
“Lincoln is poised for great things ahead,” she concluded.