Stephen James Ciesielski
Stephen James Ciesielski
Good evening, everyone. First of all, I would like to thank everyone for coming this evening, thank the moderators and the people from Engaged Barrie for putting on this meeting tonight, and to the people who have taken their time to come this evening. We really appreciate it. And of course to my fellow running mates as well. My name is Steven Ciesielski. I know a lot of people have problems with my last name, so I go with Steven James a lot. I am running for ward three councillor in our lovely city of Barrie. I’ve lived in ward three now for 10 years and have been a resident of Barrie for over 25 years. I’ve raised a family here in Barrie. I’ve had my own business for 20 years, fundraising, and I look forward to my retirement here in Barrie as well. I find right now is the perfect time in my life to put the energy into working for you as a councillor, being in remission from now a three-year-old, tough battle with cancer, I can now find the time to really work with my constituents. What also qualifies me to serve you on council is my vast experience being involved with many local charities, including on the board of directors of Crimestoppers, numerous charities with the Barrie Lions Club, Kinsmen Club, Big Brothers and many more. I’ve received a certificate of recognition from mayor Jeff Lehman as well for my volunteer and betterment of our community. Thank you.
Understanding that there is a homelessness and addiction crisis in the city of Barrie what services would you support to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including a supervised consumption site?
I’m definitely in favour of a safe consumption site. I think every city that grows right now does have that problem. I believe the site at Mulcaster was a perfect location for the site. It’s not right downtown, but it’s close to the downtown that people need it the most. We don’t want to have needles lying around in downtown Barrie, I think, or people overdosing as well. I’m definitely in favour of a safe consumption site. It’s got to be done sooner than later. As our population grows, so does the problems with the population, as well. So I’m definitely in favour of the site.
What does culture mean to you, and how will you ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for the city of Barrie?
I’m a very huge supporter of arts in Barrie. It’s something that I’ve been very affiliated with over 20 years. I have been in the business of promoting musical entertainment and Barrie needs a good venue to draw people in, to draw the major acts in. I’m hoping the Fisher auditorium, the renovations there will be money well spent and having a first-class establishment where we can be proud to bring in top name entertainment to the city of Barrie. And like I said, as the city of Barrie grows, so does the population’s interest. We don’t want them to go to Toronto to see a great band. We want them to stay in Barrie. So that’s our number one promotion is to get a first-class venue here so we can host these different acts.
In light of the city's recent declaration of a climate crisis, and plans to ban single-use plastic, what are some concrete actions council can take to reduce our contribution to the crisis.
I am too, very glad that council did declare a climate emergency. I think everybody has to help. It starts at home with carpooling, turning your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Taking more public transportation and also of course planting more trees in some of the new subdivisions that we’re going to be having. All city vehicles definitely should be hybrid. And there’s different ways of getting on the buses. There are some cities out West that are actually having an on demand system for their bus travel and the bus travel has gone up 300%. And also 30% has been eliminated from driving. So that’s a great idea if we can incorporate something like that as well. But I do believe it does start at home with the carpooling and controlling your temperatures and your garbage.
Understanding the concept of induced demand how would you direct a shift towards sustainable transportation in our quickly growing city?
I think this comes from personal experience as well. We need to really improve our handicapped transit. You’re only allowed right now to book a week in advance and you know, myself, I was very handicapped for a while and still am with the cancer ,well I am in remission, but when I was using the handicap transit, I would call in a week before and every single time would be not available. So there’s more and more demand for the seniors and the handicapped to definitely increase our service. Also I was saying before about the on demand bus service on non-peak times, that definitely does increase a ridership as well and stop people from taking their cars at the same time. And carpooling and bicycle paths throughout the city are another major factor in helping people not take their cars.
What do you believe are the three highest cost services to the city and what would you do to mitigate them and help alleviate tax burdens?
I too don’t recommend that we cut any taxes or any funds to police services or emergency services, especially with the growing needs of a growing community. That’s would be the wrong way to go. I think we do sometimes waste a lot of time at the municipal level and doing things that aren’t a top priority. And that’s one thing that we can all work on as well. But you know, there’s housing for homeless as well, but I those things and mental health, they are becoming more and more common right now. And I think there needs more tax dollars to go to that. So I do believe it’s a real tough, tough go to reduce what we have to pay for our major expenses in the city.
Historically Barrie has built single story detached homes and has the highest per capita percentage of home-owners. How do you think this has affected our development as a city and what should be done to address this to provide affordable and supportive housing?
With the average home right now in Barrie at $500,000, it’s impossible for a lot of young people to come to Barrie and buy a home. That’s why we need more incentives to developers to develop cheaper housing, to have condos, to have townhouses that are affordable for the first time home buyers. We’re not going to attract anybody in Barrie to try to purchase a $500,000 home. It’s just not going to happen. So we really need, you know, more families in our city and that will have more taxes paid as well. But definitely I think we need to give some incentives to the developers instead of purchasing just one house you can put three or four townhouses on that same land and make it more affordable for a lot of people.
Do you have any political party affiliations and have you accepted any financial or equity support from a political party in this by-election?
No, same answer. Any campaign expenses have been on my own and there’s no party affiliations whatsoever as well.
Do you believe recreation and sporting programs should be subsidized by the city or be fully paid for by the users? Should children have access to affordable programs?
I don’t think any child in today’s society should be denied access from any kind of youth program, especially with the way the kids are today with their cell phones, being in the basement. You know, 20 hours a day. We definitely need the kids to be interactive with each other and be out playing sports, getting exercise. If they can afford it, then the city should subsidize the kids for it.
Do you have further political aspirations beyond our municipality?
Same answer. Definitely not. I plan to retire in Barrie. Uh, I’ve, I’ve wanted to live a great prosperous life here in Barrie and I do not have any political aspirations past the city council. I don’t want to move to Toronto or I don’t want to move to Ottawa. I’d be happy serving the people of Barrie.
In a time when the province is downloading work to the cities, how you work with the province to make sure services we need are available?
The provincial budgets are sent down to the city budgets and we pretty well have to live within the means of what we’re given. I think the provincial budget, or the provincial money, has been greatly appreciated from a municipal level. And if that can still continue that would be more than happy to be presented at the municipal level. But I think we definitely need more funding in a lot of departments from the province.
Do you have any suggestions to reduce household food insecurity in Ward 3 and/or throughout Barrie communities?
I think there are a lot of initiatives out there right now helping the Barrie food bank. The Barrie food bank has never been busier. It’s a big priority, and should be a big priority, of people to help raise funds for the food bank. They’re giving out more food, sometimes their shelves are empty. So, more and more people have the demand for it and I think they’re doing a tremendous job at the food bank. Definitely as people on city council, we need to promote help for the food bank as well because it does save a lot of people.
What motivated you to run for Ward 3 council and why should I vote for you?
I’ve always been interested in the politics of helping out the city of Barrie. It’s been very interesting to me. I love Monday nights, sometimes Monday nights are hockey night or basketball night. Sometimes I’m stuck to the city council meetings. So I do really enjoy the politics that goes on in the city. And I think with my time now that I have, before it was working or health conditions, now I do have the time to put in to being a city councilman. So, I really think I can, with my experience being on different charities, I think I can really bring a lot to being a councilman.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their interest in the Ward 3 byelection and showing up this evening. It’s really appreciated. Our city that we live in has so much to give us and tremendous potential to be one of the best cities in Canada to live. I would love the opportunity to help make this happen. Like many of you, I plan to retire in Barrie. With my experience being on many executive boards, and running my own company for 20 years, I know how the day to day operations of a business or a charity operates. Being involved in major decisions with the city is just like running a business. I would put the same knowledge and effort into being a city counselor by addressing the main concerns in Ward 3 and in Barrie in regard to taxes, traffic control and climate change and the opioid crisis. We can make Barrie a better, safer and more prosperous place to live. So, on February 13th to 24th, vote for integrity and vote for Steven James Ciesielski.