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Welcome to Mount Pearl!
“A city within a park,” Mount Pearl was originally incorporated as a town of 1500 in 1955. Designated a city since 1988, it is now home to 23,000 residents—making it the second largest city in the province.
Surrounded by St. John’s and Paradise, Mount Pearl occupies about 1500 hectares of land west of the Waterford Valley River. There are over 1,100 businesses and 15,500 people employed within the city. An interesting feature of the city is the 60 kms of trail ways that connect almost all of the city’s parks, playgrounds and amenities. Mount Pearl also boasts the largest outdoor winter festival east of Montreal. Frosty Fest spans about 12 days with over 80 events in February each year.
According to most recent data from Statistics Canada, the median age of a Mount Pearlian is 45. 72 percent of people own their homes, the average individual annual gross employment income is approximately $48,000, and the average annual couple income is over $123,000. In 2019, there were 175 births, up from 155 in 2018.
The City of Mount Pearl is not divided by wards, so there are 6 council seats in total—all “at large.” The mayoral seat is the only separate race, and convention is such that the councillor with the most votes is appointed deputy mayor. There are 12 candidates in total vying for 6 spots. 3 incumbents—Bill Antle, Isabelle Fry, and Jim Locke—are seeking re-election alongside 9 new hopefuls. Voter turnout in the municipal election in 2017 was 39.6%.
The Independent spoke with candidates Bill Antle, Denise French, Isabelle Fry, Nicole Kieley, Chelsea Lane, Jim Locke, Sandra Milmore, Susan Pearcey, Mark Rice, Terry Ryan, Charlene Walsh, and Mike Wills about why they’re running, the issues facing the city, and what they want to do about them. All interviews were conducted live over the phone, and candidates did not receive the questions or topics in advance. Read on to find out where they stand on traffic issues, regionalization, growing the city, accessibility, climate change, and more.
Gillian Pearson (The Independent): Why do you want to run, and what life experience do you have that makes you feel qualified to sit on city council?
Bill Antle: You know, I really didn’t think I’d ever run for city council. But I retired a few years ago and I was a Key Account Manager with Heinz Ketchup, the ketchup company.
And constantly for the past 30 years, budgets were a big, big thing. Making things done easier, faster, and quicker—how can we do that? That was just constant. So when I started to consider myself for City Hall, I think I had lots of things to offer, budgetary-wise, financial-wise. Making the city better, and eliminating red tape. And I think I’ve done that in the past four years.
Denise French: About a year ago, I just woke up and basically said: why not me? I’m a citizen who loves her city. I’ve been involved now almost 40 years with the city of Mount Pearl. I’ve been so active in the community as a volunteer, as a young girl and now as a older woman. I would like to be a voice for the citizens of the area. Currently I am local president at where I work. And I’ve been their voice and speak for them. Going door to door, listening to residents of the city—I feel like someone has to listen to them and address their concerns.
Isabelle Fry: When I originally ran four years ago, I wanted to get involved. I wanted to make a difference. I love Mount Pearl, and I think it has been very well run over the years. I love the planning. We have 60 to 65 kilometres of trails within the city. That took planning to create that. And I just love the sense of community, the sense of belonging, the community spirit. I wanted to be part of that—to foster that.
When I did get elected, it was a huge learning curve in many ways. It is more work than I expected. But it’s also more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Once I got started, and got my footing, and got my confidence—then I was able to get to work, and sometimes sit around the table and be part of conversations about things that will shape the future of our community. It’s something that I don’t take for granted. I’m very, very grateful for that opportunity.
The reason I’m running again is because I enjoyed it so much. There are so many things I have started that I want to continue. I am so ready now. I’m so focused. I can’t imagine my life without it right now. It’s truly rewarding in many, many ways.
Everything kind of brought me to this. I work with a federal economic development agency, and I’ve worked for 23 years in community economic development. I also ran a volunteer organization for young women, and that is something that I cherish. I love to be part of the development of young women, and building their confidence, and building their self-esteem, and just working with youth. I do believe that youth are the most underestimated demographic in our population. If you want something done, and done well, you give it to a young person and they will go and they will do it. Because they have something to prove. And they will do a great job with it.
I also did some humanitarian trips to Latin America where I had the opportunity to see how poverty exists and the situations that people live under, which gave me a greater appreciation for what we have. Especially our healthcare system. It made me more grateful for what we have, and to not take things for granted.
So I guess it’s kind of a cumulative of everything in my life. It just brought me to this. This opportunity came up, and I was encouraged to run. I haven’t looked back. It just fills my life, and it fills my heart. I hope I have the opportunity to continue doing it for a long time yet.
Nicole Kieley: I love the city. I grew up in the city. What my work and the city taught me is about giving back—whether that’s through volunteerism, whether that’s through caring for your community, supporting it through nonprofit work. I believe I can serve it well. Municipal politics is a wonderful place where you can see just in the span of five years an idea that could improve the lives of folks and neighbors all around you. As a community advocate and somebody who’s worked basically listening and working with community organizations, you understand the value of taking an idea from what you hear at the door and making it into something that will benefit the whole of a community. So I’m really excited about that. But predominantly, it comes from my love for the city and my need to give back, as a community advocate for the last 20 years.
When it comes to my experience, I have been lucky to serve in many roles through nonprofit work and community work. That includes serving as executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre. That was an excellent opportunity to understand that you can work at creating some amazing programs and services to address something that’s quite complex, that is overwhelmingly difficult, and impacts so many individuals. But it gave you an excellent example around what resilience can be—it gave you an example of the power of listening to individuals and those that are directly impacted by an issue. And it also allowed you to really hone into the work that needs to be done in a collaborative nature. So, whether that is sitting at a table with community leaders, survivors, individuals from different organizations, and working together—there’s a lot that can be transferred to the work that you do at a municipal level and in a governance structure there. People have different perspectives and ideas of what the solution may be. But at the end of the day, the goal is to serve the best interest of the people most impacted and the community at large.
Chelsea Lane: I grew up here in Mount Pearl. I’m now raising my own family here. I love Mount Pearl and I’m really passionate about being a part of the improvement of Mount Pearl. Because of course, we have great programs and services, but there’s always room for change. I grew up in a political family, of course. So I understand the value of community service and the commitments required to be a community leader. So, I’m excited to make my own name here at Mount Pearl.
Jim Locke: Well, this is my 14th year on council now, so I’ve run in four previous elections. I feel that the experience that I’ve gained over the last 14 years will certainly help me moving forward, if I’m successful in this campaign. Also, I teach high school at Mount Pearl senior high, and I teach social studies—democracy and citizen engagement, that’s in line with my formal education. I did a master’s degree in environmental management. So all those experiences helped me as we address issues that come before council.
Sandra Milmore: Well, I’ve always wanted to do it, but I was a little bit on the chicken side, because I was working full-time, raising families and stuff. But I want to run because I like to help people. I’m not big into the power taking part of it, per se. I’m into the helping people part of it. If I could be a voice to advocate for someone to give them a hand with something that they need, or if I can help them with a problem that they have, or general things that they need a voice for someone to help them with, that’s what I’m about, basically, bottom line.
I’ve been around community involvement for many years, at least 20. I’ve advocated for people during my volunteer work and my community involvement. That’s what I like to do. Being in the community, knowing what people want, and knowing what they need—and sometimes it’s just a voice to help somebody along the way—that’s me. That’s what I like to be and like to do.
Susan Pearcey: I’ve always been an active member of my community. As a teacher, you really get involved in a lot of the extracurricular activities. You get to know so many kids and their parents. I’ve also been involved for the last six or seven years with minor hockey on the board of directors. And I’ve worked side-by-side with the city as Special Events Director, planning many events—for Frosty Festival, for the Big Give food drive. I guess I was bitten by the bug. I really liked working with the councillors, with the city staff. They were all so helpful. So they were just great. And I said, “My children are older now, and I think I’d have more time to give.” And so I said, “I think this is what I’m going to do.” I’ve always wanted to do it, but I feel like now is the time that I can do it.
Mark Rice: It’s a personal goal of mine that I’ve always wanted to do at Mount Pearl. I’ve lived there since 1988. I’ve raised my family in Mount Pearl so I know what Mount Pearl is all about. I know a lot of people in Mount Pearl, so it’s all about improving the city and making it better for the residents and citizens of Mount Pearl. I’ve been involved in many ventures in Mount Pearl over my lifetime. If you look at my profile on my Facebook page, I’ve had lots of experience with the arts program, Mount Pearl show choir—lots of experience volunteering and helping out as a chaperone overseas with that. I’ve been involved in numerous sporting activities from soccer to volleyball. I created programs in there for the youth.
I have also been on many committees in Mount Pearl over the years. And I currently sit on several committees in there now. First of all, the First United Church board. I’ve been involved with the Janeway Telethon through there. Also, if you look at my profile, I’m currently a facilities manager, infrastructure support manager. I’ve got lots of experience with buildings, infrastructure. I’ve been there in that role now for seven years. I worked 27 years with Eastern Health so far in my career. I worked as a carpenter [and] carpenter foreman. I worked as a trainer in our department for training 350 staff. And currently, like I said before, I’m a facilities manager with long-term care, so I deal with quite a substantial budget every year. Right now, the operating budget for Mount Pearl will be $55 million a year. So I’m quite familiar what the operations of capital work projects and infrastructure and stuff would be for the city.
Terry Ryan: Why do I want to run? Well, there’s a few reasons. I’m from Mount Pearl, and I enjoy it here, and I’m raising my daughter here. But I’ve got a real close connection. My grandfather, he built the house my parents live in on Park Avenue now in the early 50s. We were one of the first houses in Mount Pearl. He built a lot of the Royal Canadian Legion down there. You know, down on Park Avenue, down near the bottom? Well, that’s really close to our house. So he built a lot of that with his own hands. He was a war vet. He had three daughters, my mom being one of them. He was a big part of the early part of Mount Pearl. He was proud of the fact that he was here when Mount Pearl was in its early stages.
My dad’s from Grand Falls, right? But he came in here and my grandfather convinced him to coach the Mount Pearl Junior Blades, to be part of the community. So I grew up going to all the Blades games. And that was when the Blades were just starting out. It wasn’t the first year, but I know they won the Atlantics in the mid 80s. They had some great teams, great players that still live in Mount Pearl.
So my early experience of Mount Pearl is having a big part of it. I was only a kid, but I felt like I was a huge part of Mount Pearl. You know what I mean? I don’t want that to sound boastful. But the way my grandfather was so proud, and then my father bringing a huge hockey championship here. And then I’m coming into my teens, and going away. That’s the thing—I was so attached, I didn’t want to move away. I had to for my hockey career, but I did not want to. So wherever I went, I made sure that people knew I was from Mount Pearl. I was from Mount Pearl. The sense of pride of being from here never really waned. I’m sure many candidates probably have a different version of the same thing. But for me, that’s why I want to run. I feel like I’m a big part of Mount Pearl, and I’m raising a family here.
Charlene Walsh: They’re actually tied together. A couple of reasons. One, I would not have done this when my children were younger. I just simply would not have had the time, but I’ve always been a very strong voice at the table, regardless of what position I held. And I think I can translate that into council, because most of my say professional life, if you will, I always had to be almost the liaison between—not the general public, but to somewhat of the public, whether it was a client base, or whatever, and ascertain their needs. And then bring them back and figure out a solution for them. Whether that was when I was in advertising—if someone had a problem with marketing and stuff like that, I always took that information, sat down with my crowd, if you will, and came up with solutions.
Mike Wills: I’ve always wanted to run, but the thing that pushed me over the edge was the recent Dominion Unifor strike. I believe that that was probably the most important labour action taken in this province in quite a while—and likely in all of Canada, where a union primarily made up of frontline workers, of which many of them make roughly minimum wage, went on a strike that from the outside looking in was very difficult for them to succeed in. I believe they needed significant help from outside of their union from all levels government, and I was disappointed with the lack of action taken by government to help the workers. So I decided that if there was no strong labour voice going to come out, then I needed to be that voice.
What do you think are the most important issues facing Mount Pearl?
Antle: It’s a multitude of issues. Mount Pearl is boxed in right now between St. John’s, Paradise and CBS. So I know we have to grow what we have right now. Right now we do have lots of opportunities. We have north lands where there was possibly 1200 homes up that way. We have to grow our existing residential areas and focus on that.
Our businesses and Donovans has never been stronger. It’s always continuing. People are moving out—the oil industry has changed, while the other industries move in. We just did our Donovans re-imagination plan, where we contacted every businessman in Donavans and asked what they wanted. So we’re constantly working with the business community, as the business community pays almost 50% of our taxes. So we have to make sure that they’re happy and content here in the city of Mount Pearl.
Residential-wise, we still have possibly 1200-1500 homes to be built here in the city. And then we have to take a look at some possible growth, some retirement homes. These kind of things.
As regards to other things, every neighborhood has an issue. Speeding has been brought up many, many times at the door. We have to contact the RNC. We got to get the province involved. We need more patrols here in the city to focus more on that. You have a thing: use radar. There’s some provinces have radar and I think we should move forward to that. But we need provincial legislation to do this.
French: Accessibility is one of my platforms. I love Mount Pearl and I love the changes that have been over the 43 years that I’ve been here. I’ve raised my daughter here. It’s just that seniors—the vulnerability of the seniors are crucial. Infrastructure is crucial. Actually, while I was going door to door, someone asked me what was the tallest building in Mount Pearl and I could not answer it. Basically someone has suggested: why can’t Mount Pearl grow, build up instead of out and taking up much space? Having a building that can be usable within the community.
Taxes is another issue that I’ve heard at the doors. Safety of citizens, crosswalks, lights—the speed of the people in the municipal area. Every street has their different issues. Accessibility is definitely one of mine. And not just people with wheelchairs; people who have hard of hearing, of all ages. Autistic children in the areas, just to name a few. If people have accessibility issues, regardless of their disability.
Fry: Every community has issues. There are some things that we are working on right now that I’m very passionate about. One in particular is a community center. We need a new community center. Our community groups right now are meeting out of Park Place, which is an older facility. It requires lots of maintenance, a lot of upgrades. It’s not physically accessible. So it’s time to retire Park Place and give our community groups the facility that they deserve.
Our community groups are a backbone of our community. They do so much work for our people. They deserve a proper place to meet. A lot of them are meeting out of schools. And over the past couple of years with COVID and the restrictions they weren’t able to meet in the schools. Some of these groups have been meeting outside, like in the middle of St. David’s Park and places like that. It’s just wrong. We need a place for all of our community members and all of our community groups.
The community center will also include a 500 retractable-seat theater. So it will foster our arts community. Mount Pearl High Schools are known for their music and arts. So by providing a space like that, the possibilities are endless to develop the arts even further in Mount Pearl. And again, they need a place to be able to meet and perform. Our community center will fill a void for many things. It also will be available for rentals. If somebody wants to get married in Mount Pearl, then there’s going to be a facility for them to be able to have a reception.
On top of that, one of the things that we desperately need is a splash pad. Mount Pearl has incredible state of the art recreational facilities, but we don’t have a splash pad yet. This splash pad will be part of our community center. It will also include a skating rink too, almost like an oval going around the perimeter. So it’s going to fill a void.
I also think that—now I know this is not an issue solely from Mount Pearl—but I think speeding in neighborhoods, and car break-ins, petty stuff, and vandalism. It’s not something that we want in our community. We’ll never get rid of it all, but there has to be ways of trying to combat that.
I’m not saying that Mount Pearl is full of crime, because it’s not. We have one of the safest communities in the province. It’s just those things I think we can’t just put it aside and say, “Well, this is happening everywhere.” I think it’s something that we need to take head-on.
Our snow clearing is second to none because we invest in our snow clearing. We take pride in it. I think the same investment needs to be into the safety of our neighborhoods. I don’t think these are big issues—they’re just things that we can improve on. There’ll always be stuff to improve on. If we ever get to a point where there’s nothing left, well, then we’re doing something wrong, because there’s always something to improve on. Just one day at a time, and within budget restrictions.
Kieley: So, I started quite early at the doors. I began in July—my goal was to hear from as many neighbourhoods as possible so that I could start really getting a sense of some key challenges but also opportunities for the city. I am definitely hearing some trends. First and foremost, it has to do with the reality of our population—we are a multi-generational community. That means we have young families that are wanting to make homes and stay in Mount Pearl.
We also have a thriving senior community of individuals that chose Mount Pearl, they’ve been living there for upwards of 60 years. It’s not hard to look at the same place to know that we are a population that is aging. And then it’s not hard to look at our geography to know that Mount Pearl also does not have the opportunity for sprawl—there’s very little area in which we have to geographically grow. For that reason, one of our key issues will be ensuring our program services and the life of our communities is maintained with what we have currently available to us.
It can be a challenge if we don’t start planning for that right now, but also a great opportunity to ensure that whatever developments that may be, we have in mind the diversity of our population. So if we’re looking at a new structure to house individuals, have it in mind that we need accessible senior friendly units to be involved in that. We need to have units that are affordable and make sense for young families and individuals who want to live there as well. Having that in mind at almost every level is going to be key.
What I’ve heard significantly at the door is also about infrastructure. We are seeing a lot of concerns about larger infrastructures like the Team Gushue Highway and its impact on our roads, our safety. That has been something that I have seen throughout almost every fairway, and predominantly Park Avenue, Smallwood, anywhere in which we see large increases of traffic. So, that’s going to be something that needs a long term solution—ensuring the safety of neighbourhoods and that speeding is addressed, working with our enforcement partners.
The other issue I would say that is coming up is around community and neighborhood safety. We’re hearing a lot of individuals concerned about everything from break and enters to bullying and harassment that may happen—and general safety concerns for individuals talking about their experiences. That’s where I feel my background around violence prevention and working with many allies around addressing some of those issues with neighborhood safety, and empowering our citizens, would be a key pinnacle to the work.
Finally, I would say inclusion is what I’m hearing a lot. What I mean by inclusion is that when we start developing new infrastructure that we have in mind that it needs to be accessible and inclusive to everyone. So, ensuring that adaptive technology is something that is considered when we do a program, that we do more auditory crosswalk areas and intersections, that our sidewalks be safer for different motorized, adaptive technology and wheelchair capable types of devices.
I would say that I am hearing that people want to be able to walk, bike, ride and safely move about their city and their community as much as they possibly can. If anything, the pandemic has certainly shone a light on how outdoor green spaces are essential to people’s connection [and] mental health. We [have to] ensure that we have more of an accessible and inclusive community parks and infrastructure that allow people to get out and get moving and be active. It’s smart planning.
And I’m really happy to hear the city doing a lot of this consultation with different disability community groups. I’d like to see that enhanced. When we are considering anything new, or if we’re redesigning something that’s already old and needs to be replaced, that we have the considerations at the forefront. When we have that in the planning, 10 years down the line, we don’t have to react to something if we plan for it now.
Lane: There’s many things that have been brought to my attention by the residents of Mount Pearl. Some of them would be enhancement of the trail systems. We have lots of beautiful trails here at Mount Pearl, but I think it’s important that we make sure they’re accessible for all. Part of that would be installing more benches so that people with mobility issues or people who are older in age could enjoy the trails more with more rest stops, so they’d be accessible for everybody.
We have many playgrounds here at Mount Pearl, but unfortunately some of them are pretty heavily vandalized or not in the greatest condition. It’s important to encourage our children to play and to provide them with a safe place to do so. I would like to see that happen as well. Climate change of course is real. So it’s critical that we do our part to protect the planet here in Mount Pearl with integrating green technology in all of our city facilities. Those are just a few things that have been brought up that we could do here at Mount Pearl.
Locke: Well, in knocking on doors, there’s not a lot of burning issues. Generally speaking people are satisfied with how the city is being run and the level of services here. But perhaps the key issue that’s being raised right now is the level of speeding and traffic issues throughout the city. Second to that, people are concerned about the environment and climate change and initiatives that can be taken to address those. So I would say first and foremost, it would be the traffic is the number one issue, and then after that would be climate change.
Milmore: Well, from people’s perspective, it’s the environment. The new initiatives undertaken by the city. They want to be able to have a voice for that, because it’s a lot of things coming our way. They want to make sure it’s the best choice for the city—like our new civic center, urban renewal, the environment, planting trees. Another thing people are very concerned about is the vandalism and the petty crime here in the city, speeding—the Team Gushue Highway is a big issue. That needs to be addressed because the traffic coming off Park Avenue and the Falstaff Common. People are very concerned about that. Just making sure that Mount Pearl’s a beautiful place to live, and has lots to offer. People want to keep it that way, basically.
Pearcey: I think our issues can be divided by community or subdivision. It seems like speeding is a major issue for many neighborhoods. Speaking with the city about this over the summer, there are going to be measures put in place—and already put in place—to tackle this issue with speed humps and traffic calming measures like you see on the Smallwood Drive, Park Avenue intersection. Another issue that I’ve heard about is petty theft. Petty theft within Powers Pond and the need for more police presence. We’re blessed in having our own municipal enforcement. There’s no other city I believe in Newfoundland that has that. So we’ve had our taxes lowered this year and I think maybe increasing the presence of municipal enforcement in our neighborhoods could help to combat this issue.
Rice: So when I went knocking on doors, we have a lot of concerns in the city regarding traffic right now. We are—from all the entrances coming into Mount Pearl—extremely busy right now, daytime, nighttime. So the seniors are having trouble getting around the city because of people speeding. A lot of them take Michener Avenue, on Glenbrook Avenue. There’s no three-way or four-way stop signs there. So I met with several of the people on Glendale and Michener, and they’ve been pushing this forward now for the past 10 years with no response from the current city councillors and the city to have a three-way or four-way stop sign installed.
Also, crime is a big issue in Mount Pearl. At nighttime, people breaking into cars, break-ins and stuff like that. Have the Mount Pearl police force involved more. The RNC right now are into Donovans area—having more communication with the RNC, more neighbourhood watches, are a big thing right now. I spoke to several of the residents up on Michener Avenue, and they even have a neighbourhood watch in place up there now. One of their biggest things now is they have cameras on the fronts of their homes and even that’s not working. They’re coming up and they’re just licking up their tongue and making gestures in front of the cameras at 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning.
One of my biggest concerns too is getting that Team Gushue Highway finished off. Federal funding and also provincial funding and also a cost shared measure with the City of St. John’s, Mount Pearl, and Paradise if that’s needed. I’d like to push the federal government. I’ve passed this comment to Lucy Stoyles, because she’s campaigning for Liberals [in the September 2021 federal election]. So I said, “Okay, Lucy, where’s funding to finish off that Team Gushue Highway so we can actually have less traffic coming into Mount Pearl from the Park Avenue area off the Team Gushue Highway?”
Ryan: There’s a few issues on my mind. Whether they’re municipal or not, I’m not certain. But I’m sure if you were on the city council, you could lobby—I’ll explain. As I just explained, my parents’ place is on Park Avenue right down near the bottom. It got busier over the years, but since that Brad Gushue highway—I don’t know. That’s an issue.
We’ve got to figure out a way to divert the traffic. On top of just the traffic, people speed a lot. I love Mount Pearl for the fact that it’s got so many paths, and [my daughter] could get on her bike and ride to her friend’s house when she was six years old, on a little path there. But really she goes over sometimes into that Super Store area from Newtown [Elementary]. I know there’s crosswalks and everything, but people are flying.
I got some friends with physical disabilities, and on the surface Mount Pearl seems like it does a great job. In some ways it does. There’s a lot of parking. There are some places that are certainly up to par. I can’t speak for everywhere, but I’m talking more on the streets. Say you go down Commonwealth Avenue. I think there could be a couple more crosswalks. There’s a few places I know that there could definitely be, especially for people that are in a wheelchair. Even the crosswalks could be improved. And again, high speed traffic.
Policing, I don’t know. Again, I’m not sure where this falls, but there’s a lot of break-ins—there’s a lot. My car got stolen right out of my driveway. I was right on Park Avenue. I had my keys in the house. Someone opened the door—I didn’t have the door locked, but that’s on me. But still, you don’t expect someone to break into your house, grab your keys, and take your car in the middle of the night. I know that happens, but it’s happened way more frequently now. I don’t know if we need to improve the neighbourhood watch, or if we need to, again, lobby for more police. Something has to be done. That’s probably number one in my mind.
Walsh: Well, as I’ve knocked on the doors, there are certainly some concerns. I do think it’s overall a well-run city. But Mount Pearl, along with a lot of other municipalities, is going to face a declining population base combined with an aging population base. We’re landlocked here in Mount Pearl. So, we got to figure out a way that we’re going to retain what we have while bringing in new families, young families, that kind of thing. So, we have to figure that out. I don’t think it’s here yet, but it’s coming.
Wills: For me, long-term I believe we’re going to have an issue with housing. The housing market, not just in Mount Pearl, but nationwide has gone through the roof, and we need to think about housing as an issue that all three levels of government have a hand in trying to solve. I know that federal and provincial are primarily the drivers behind housing, but there’s certainly things we can do on a municipal level to help lower-income workers afford to purchase a home. Things like rent control or low-income housing—those are good, certainly, but allowing people who work for under the median income to be able to purchase a home and have some equity and start being able to use that to potentially retire one day. I believe that we are going to see that crisis hit home far sooner than we think that it will. So we need to be aggressive in trying to combat it before it gets here.
What are your thoughts on regionalization/amalgamation?
Antle: First off, amalgamation was not even on the table. So let’s be clear on that. Amalgamation’s not on the table and I’ll fight it tooth and nail. But I don’t think the province was ever going to do amalgamation ever again, or never going to bring up that—unless towns want to do that themselves. But right now the City of Mount Pearl—we participate in so many regional programs. We have a water resource treatment plant down in St. John’s that we participate in. Robin Hood Bay regional waste, we have regional fire services—I’m a co-chair with that committee. We have Metrobus and we have GoBus.
We have a regional economic development team. And we take care of so many things regionally. But amalgamation is off the table. Mount Pearl is a strong community, and we can survive on our own. We’re quite, quite capable of doing so. There’s no reason for us even to consider that. Regional services to work for where we participate. It’s a benefit to the city of Mount Pearl.
French: I was against it years ago and I’m still against it. Mount Pearl is a great city and people chose to move into Mount Pearl with taxes that we have, the different taxes. And just the availability of community in Mount Pearl. Mount Pearl has such a great community spirit. I’m involved with the Frosty Festival. I’m involved with Girl Guides. I wouldn’t want that to be taken away from Mount Pearl because it has such a great community.
Fry: I am not at all supportive of amalgamation. There is absolutely no benefit to Mount Pearl whatsoever to amalgamate at this point. Are we going to get better services? No, not likely. We have everything we need. I do agree with some regionalization, however. I think it’s great when communities work together. For example, our water and wastewater facilities, our fire services, St. John’s transportation, all of these things that we share, we share in the cost, and we share in the services. It doesn’t make sense for everybody to have their own fire department. For everybody to have own water treatment. That type of thing. Regionalization is amazing for certain services. Amalgamation, absolutely not.
Kieley: Mount Pearl has such a significant pride in its own identity. Sometimes when we hear about regionalization, it’s concerning for individuals because what we’ve built here is not only a cultural and social identity, but the care that goes into and the services that are maintained here are quite remarkable. Folks are very comfortable and feel proud about living in Mount Pearl. There’s definitely an identity there.
However, our understanding of regional cooperation is something that I am interested in and I’m hearing that people are interested in. We know that the Waterford River runs throughout at least three communities. We know that for what we want to see for our green spaces and for our communities, cooperation and collaboration is going to be key. So we have to shift our thinking. Rather than whether we are going to be amalgamated, or whether we’re going to be regionalized, it’s more so that we are the partners—what are better ways in which we can work together with the resources we have? Mount Pearl does that so well, and we have been doing well.
So, certainly my vision is looking at ways we can cooperate. The reality is that we’re close neighbours, that when we look at bordering communities and even neighbourhoods such as Southlands or Castle Bridge, these have parents and kids that are sharing parks and schools and support and resources in these places already.
So, cooperating and having collaboration is so important. It’s something that comes very natural to community minded people in Mount Pearl and in other areas. So, that’s where I would put our focus. If we start looking just within our borders for support, then we’re going to lose opportunities to collaborate and partner together and find ways in which we can support each other. When you think of the chamber of commerce right now that is working in partnership both with Mount Pearl and Paradise, that’s an excellent example of the innovation that can happen when we start cooperating and thinking beyond our borders in that sort of way.
It’s a really important perspective. The time has gone where we’re fearful of thinking about it only in one manner, which is regionalization or amalgamation. No, we’ve expanded it to really understand the value and the impact of working together with our municipalities, our province, and the different neighboring groups and organizations that are going to support our community and nourish our community to the fullest.
Lane: I don’t agree with amalgamation. Mount Pearl, we have some of the greatest services and programs here available for our citizens. So, while I definitely feel that it’s great to work with other communities such as St. John’s—when it’s beneficial to the residents of Mount Pearl, such as Robin Hood Bay, for instance, shared between St. John’s, Mount Pearl, and Paradise. We all pay towards it, we all use it and it’s beneficial to all of us, which is great. But Mount Pearl is its own community and I think that we need to stay that way.
Locke: We are already paying significantly to our regional programs, when you look at firefighting, and sanitary discharge, and our fresh drinking water. We are regional partners already on that. So I think that’s the step going forward and the move going forward. Amalgamation, I don’t support. Forced amalgamation, I don’t support. If it was able to be demonstrated that it was beneficial to residents in all parts of the amalgamated area, I’d be open to discuss that. But right now, I don’t think anybody has a desire in the city of Mount Pearl to amalgamate. There’s a community pride here. People say all the time that Mount Pearl is different, there’s a different feel here. A different community spirit. So no, I would not support amalgamation.
Milmore: I wouldn’t support amalgamation, to be honest. We’re doing just fine. Collaboration with regional centres, like what they’re involved with now—that’s fine. We can all work together and make good things happen for our city. But amalgamation, I think we’re fine on our own right now. But cooperation with regional centers around our area is perfect. When everybody works together, you make good things happen. And that works for me.
Pearcey: I want Mount Pearl to retain its own identity and remain its own unique place to live. It’s a wonderful city that offers so much to its residents. People who are proud Mount Pearl residents would never want to consider the idea of giving up their city to another. I think there’s a sense of pride and community and closeness that’s in Mount Pearl, that if you go to a larger city that’s just not felt. And I feel like that could be lost if we became amalgamated.
Rice: Regionalization, and I also had this comment from me to the current citizens and from the current citizens to myself. I am a taxpayer of Mount Pearl and I’ve been there for a long time. I currently live on 98 Castors Drive, and I’ve had four homes in Mount Pearl. We have tremendous service in Mount Pearl and there’s always room for improvement. Me as a citizen and most of the people that I spoke with knocking on doors are not open to amalgamation. I think we have the best services of all the cities around. That’s just me because I live in Mount Pearl. I’m a bit biased when it comes to the city I love and the city I’ve raised my family up in. And that’s why I’m still there.
I’m there 33 years. I’m going to stay there in Mount Pearl. And right now, the amalgamation is something I would not support because of the current situation with the services we have there, the infrastructure we have there. I mean, there’s always room for improvement. One of the good conversations I had with people is being transparent. Transparency in the city is a huge thing for us. So as a councillor, I mean, I like to bring all the issues forward as councillors. And like I said before, [amalgamation] is not something I will support
Ryan: Oh, I wouldn’t want to amalgamate. I think Brookfield Plains in Southlands should be part of Mount Pearl. Again, good luck with that. But they should be. I’m not coming at this from a cynical angle. I love my friends, and I have a lot of them in Brookfield Plains, because I have an 11 year old daughter. But I don’t understand—half of her team, if not more, playing for Mount Pearl are from those areas. I mean, literally one girl goes in her backyard and looks out over the soccer fields. Outside of the obvious geography of it, all those people, most of them are going to school in Mount Pearl playing on our teams. And I’m all for that, but it should be part of Mount Pearl.
Now, again, I know this is way, way easier said than done. And I’m not blaming anybody in the past. I’m not sure what could be done, but that would be high on the list as well, figuring that out.
Walsh: Well, I’m not a fan per se of amalgamation. I think if we look at it from the standpoint of ones that have already amalgamated, there hasn’t been a great financial benefit. That being said, on a case by case basis, I certainly would look at regionalization.
Wills: I understand there are certainly some positives to regionalization and amalgamation however, I would tend to be against regionalizing or amalgamating with St. John’s. Mount Pearl has done a very good job organizing and governing itself and I would hate to see us lose that sense of individuality that Mount Pearl has.
St. John’s has experienced some division involving accessible trails. What are your thoughts on shared-use trails and how do you feel the Master Trail Plan is working here in Mount Pearl?
Antle: Mount Pearl [has] shared-use trail and I certainly support that. I don’t support paving our trails. The far majority of our trails are shared-use trails. And most times we need cooperation. You know, it’s always the youth for trails, bikers have to be respectful of the walkers or joggers. And joggers and walkers have to do the same thing. So it’s totally a respectful thing. You know, I think our trails will remain a shared use. I don’t see us ever paving those trails.
We just spent a few hundred thousand dollars doing up the Waterford river trail. That’s a beautiful trail. 99% of the people are very kind and considerate to others on the trail. You know, use your bell wherever you possibly can be. There’s an Issue with—sometimes people say [cyclists] are not using the bells because sometimes people are walking and jogging and they have their headphones in and music on. And people just don’t hear each other. But if you’re respectful on the trail, that’s where we have to continue.
French: Well, actually I’m listening to people in wheelchairs and stuff, accessibility—some people have loading issues. People in wheelchairs have mobility issues with regards to the lifts on the trails, getting on and off. That was one of my main issues I will be addressing, win or lose that something has to give with regards to the lifts. I think Mount Pearl is working on it, but I think it’s a gradual process that they are putting in new types of ramps onto curbs for people crossing roads and stuff, but there’s still a lot to be done. I don’t know if this is a infrastructure that they have planned years down the road, that when something happens that they’re going to make it accessible to people with disabilities or what they’re doing.
Even me as an abled body person, even when I’m walking down the sidewalk and the dips in the people’s driveways, I can easily fall because you don’t know how big the dip is. I’ve often, as I’m walking, fell—so I can just imagine people with wheelchairs or scooters or mobility issues.
Fry: Well, we have 60+ kilometers of trails. Some are paved. Some aren’t. This is a piece of infrastructure that we have invested in over the last four years. You might have seen the new wayfinding trail signage, and things like that to make it more user-friendly, shall we say—because some people like myself are directionally challenged. So even though I know the trail system, I can get lost. But in terms of accessibility, I would like to see Mount Pearl to be fully accessible in every aspect. In every way. We have a Key2Access app program with our lights on Commonwealth Avenue. And things that we do, and everything we do go forward, we always have an accessibility lens on it. We work with Inclusion Newfoundland and Labrador for things as well as our Frosty Festival.
We have everything fully accessible. The trail system, it’s a little bit more complex because like anything, it’d be nice to have everything fully accessible, but it’s not possible to do all at once, both from a cost factor and time factor. So going forward in everything that we do, we need to put the accessibility lens on. That also includes our trail system. We have such beautiful trails. When you’re out in the trails, it’s almost like you’re in the middle of nowhere. You’re at peace with nature. It’s just incredibly beautiful, and everybody deserves that experience. We can do better. It’s just a matter of time. There are little things that we can do to go forward and make it better. Absolutely.
Kieley: So, currently, most of our trails are paved. And right now they’re currently operating where you can both have individuals walking and/or riding on bikes. However, it’s not without its issues. One of the challenges right now is that if you are riding a bike and if you are walking and you’re somebody who is hard of hearing or has mobility issues, it can present a safety issue. The more people we have walking and biking within our trails the better, and more importantly, the more inclusive it is, the better.
Where we can improve is looking at ways in which we can ensure [safety and inclusivity], whether it’s broadening the trails as a possibility, looking at infrastructure changes, but also bylaws and how we behave and how we interact. So, simple low-hanging fruit could be ensuring safety around bells whenever passing someone. Trail safety would be a key issue.
One of our biggest concerns also is biking itself. The reality is, our trails have been designed with pedestrian travel in mind. So a lot what we have been doing and allowing is saying that yes, we can include bikes on those trails. But we haven’t done much work in the infrastructure of really, what does that mean? To the point of even biking culture and safety—whether that is ensuring that when you are passing someone, we know there’s a left side, there is a right side similar to traffic safety. That is one of the things that I think we need to kind of start looking at and planning for right now. We have more people that are using these trails, especially in times where we have larger gyms and places that during a lockdown are no longer operational. That’s something that does need improvement and I would want to see more collaboration with our public works and infrastructure.
I would be open to looking at work and research that can increase the accessibility to trails, whether that’s paving or expanding that where it’s possible. But also the bylaws and ways in which we create a biking culture. A part of that work is to increase and entice more people to be walking and to be biking. Part of that is ensuring that when we have things like low barrier to zero costs for everything from bike rentals, and with that comes some safety education.
That’s kind of where my focus would want to be. Right now, pedestrians and bikers are coexisting on the trails. It’s absolutely important that we move in the direction we are going in, but giving it a little bit more support for those operating a bike or a wheelchair or walking and using maybe assisted walking devices as well.
Lane: Of course, we have many great trails here at Mount Pearl, but I think it’s important that we keep them accessible and let everybody enjoy them. We have a lot of bikers in Mount Pearl as well, who like to take advantage of our trails and I think that’s great. I think our trails should be used by everyone and keep them as accessible as possible.
Locke: As the trails were first installed here in Mount Pearl, many of the areas were paved. And I’m all for putting in a trail system that’s inclusive to all who wish to use it. We have 60 kilometers of trails throughout the city, and they are very well utilized. Just recently we started, past couple years, a winter grooming of our trail, so that allowed year round activity along the trails, for cross country skiing or snowshoeing, or just walking your pets along the trails. So going forward, I’d have no problem with expanding the trails, and we have discussed that around the council table. About enhancements to our trails, we just brought in some new wayfinding for our trail system, which has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
But some of the grade of the trails would need to be upgraded. To accommodate multipurpose trails, I mean. It’s doable, but I think in some areas the trails would have to be widened, and maybe there would involve some line painting on the trails to demark different lanes for different types of usage. But yeah, I’d be open to that. I think our trails are one of the hidden gems in the city of Mount Pearl. We are actively working to improve those—increased lighting and, going forward, some washroom facilities along our trail network. So yes, if we can come up with a system that allows more people of different levels of mobility to get out and enjoy the beauty of our trails, I certainly would support that.
Milmore: Oh, I think we have beautiful trails here. I think a lot of them are accessible to everybody. I would advocate for those that are not to see if we could make sure that they are. There’s so much trailways here for people to experience. They’re wonderful. You just have to be cognizant of your neighbor. A lot of trails are for bikes and for people. And if you just cooperate and get along, they’ll work fine. And they’re beautiful trails, especially now that people are getting out to be more active since the pandemic came in, and they can enjoy them. They’re lovely. They’re beautiful. And I think they’re doing a great job with signage and telling people where they are. It’s lovely. It’s a beautiful place to be trotting around for sure.
Pearcey: From all accounts I’ve never experienced anyone who said anything negative about the trails. As a mother of two kids, I like the trails and that my kids can travel to their friend’s houses and never have to go on a main road. I walk the trails daily. There’s so many people through all the seasons, now that they’re groomed in the winter, which definitely so many took advantage of the last two years during all our lockdowns. I think our city is a city within a park really. And so much of what makes Mount Pearl great is with these walking trails. There’s so much freedom and so much ability to enjoy the outdoors without having to drive anywhere.
Rice: Well, I can speak from experience because I use that trail—I wouldn’t say everyday. But I’m using that trail probably every second and third day, me and my wife. My wife is on the trail every day. We love the trails of Mount Pearl. I know there was an initiative back over the past 10 years to improve and upgrade all the trails in Mount Pearl because I’ve been part of the conversation with [Mayor] Aker and the current councillors there. I’ve expressed my thankfulness to the current city that they’re doing a tremendous job improving the trails and upgrading the trails. It’s great for recreation, for people walking. They walk the dogs, they’re on the leash. There’s bags provided on the trails for clean up after your pets. We’ve got a beautiful trail up in Power’s Pond. I went around that numerous times when the kids were young, small. And I continue to use those trails. I think it is a great avenue for people to get out. Recreation and fitness is huge with me. So these trails being upgraded, cost-sharing measure with other places regarding Paradise and the city, I think this is phenomenal. If we can do cost-sharing measures regarding putting money in for trails around our beautiful city, I’m all about that.
Ryan: When it comes to the sidewalks and the trails, I would like to make them a little bit bigger. Again, I got some friends with physical disabilities, and they were in my ear more than anything. Now that you mention it, I could see how maybe a walker might be alarmed if someone’s riding a bike by 60 miles an hour. But we’re set up to do that. The way Mount Pearl is laid out, especially with the way we’re connected with our trails, that wouldn’t be a big problem. But yes, for sure, if it could be done, definitely—I don’t want to say should be, but they could be a little bit wider. That would make room for everybody. I don’t know about the motorbikes—I don’t think I’d go that far. I’m on my bike almost every day, and I do go on the trails. I love it. There are areas that, yes, I think could be wider. And I love that we have signage, but maybe a little more awareness on the trails with the cycles. If you made the trails wider, maybe you could designate an area within that trail. I mean, you’re on a bike. You don’t need much room.
Walsh: I can only base it on my own experience with the trails. Unless I go really in the woods, most of the trails I’m on, like Power’s Pond, are already accessible, in that they’re paved.
Now I have been hearing people talking about accessibility, not as it relates to trails, but more from almost an everyday thing. So, that actually made me open my eyes a little bit. I’ve heard that several times at the doors actually: accessibility. So, it’s something we certainly got to look at, because you do want to be an inclusive city.
Wills: I love our trail system. I’ve been using our trail system since I was old enough to walk. I love getting around Mount Pearl using that system. That being said, there are certainly some things we can do better. I know that this past year through COVID, we have done a very good job of plowing some trails and allowing them to be a little bit more accessible, which is certainly something that hadn’t been at the forefront of anyone’s mind to do, but there’s always things we can do to improve as things go on. I know that a lot of our trails are certainly getting up there and a refresh is certainly needed, and widening, bringing additional trails to grade, certainly things that we should be prioritizing moving forward to allow for additional accessibility.
What competitive advantages do we currently have or new policies we can explore to make Mount Pearl more attractive to new and existing businesses?
Antle: We have a strong economic team now led by Cassie Pittman. She’s the director of economic development. And we’re constantly, constantly looking for new businesses to come to Mount Pearl. Mount Pearl has so much to offer. I mean, first off, our trail system is second to none. Everybody comes to Mount Pearl for our trail system. So when we’re trying to tell people come to Mount Pearl, new businesses, that’s one of the things we talked about—the recreational facilities. Everything here is a non-profit for young families. There’s stuff here for seniors. So for a business—e have 23,000 people living here in the city of Mount Pearl, and we can attract all those. We’re constantly looking at how can we expand other things to get more business to come to Mount Pearl. It’s a way of life. Mount Pearl has a beautiful way of life here and that’s what we need to sell to other companies coming to Mount Pearl.
French: Now, to be honest, I don’t know if we’re able to grow big in the existing format of Mount Pearl. But look around and see what’s available with regards to buildings that are not being utilized and hopefully attract new businesses to come into Mount Pearl somehow. There’s businesses closed during COVID, you’d like to get buildings utilized. I’m sure Mount Pearl can build something or businesses can build something onto current structures.
What to attract them? I could say lower taxes, but then businesses are paying a lot for their taxes. That’s where probably the majority of our money comes besides the personal taxes for the homes and stuff. And I’m listening to CBS—I know a candidate up there, he wants more businesses in CBS to help offset residents taxes so they can lower the tax up in CBS. So if we have the businesses in here helping to lower the taxes, I’m all for businesses to come into Mount Pearl, for sure.
Fry: Well, we have our Consider It Done campaign, which has been very positively received. One of the biggest complaints that businesses have is the red tape when it comes to government, and government organizations. We try and minimize that. Obviously there are certain processes to follow, and there are certain applications and that type of thing. That’s unavoidable. But we can make the process more streamlined, easier for entrepreneurs. We have an economic development officer who is doing a fantastic job. Almost every business in Mount Pearl knows Jeremy Schwartz, because he makes a point of going out and talking to people.
Whenever there’s a new business that opens up, we have a tool kit where we bring them and we welcome them. Our economic development department has done a tremendous job with focus on businesses.
We need to attract more businesses to the area. And there’s certain ways of doing that. One of the things that we’re looking at doing now is our city centre revitalization. And that is to enhance the Waterford River and to develop a downtown core.
I’ll give you an example. We have this beautiful river that runs through Mount Pearl. A lot of municipalities would love to have a river run through their municipality. But all of our development has been historically facing away from the river. If we take this with a little investment, we can enhance the river. We can make it a place for business. I’m just talking off the top of my head here now, but I’d like to see little kiosks. So families can go there and have a walk around the river and have an ice cream at a kiosk. Or have almost a little farmer’s market with crafts, local crafts, and that type of thing in the summertime. And to make it a place where small business, and home-based business, or any entrepreneur can set up a little something there, and make it a place to go. And make it a place where people can come and have a walk and have a stroll.
You look at small businesses, locally owned. They’re the ones that sponsor the sports groups. They’re the ones that sponsor the arts. They’re the ones that sponsor all of our community activities. It’s not the big businesses. It’s the small- to medium-size enterprises, locally owned, that do contribute to the economy. Which is fabulous. So we need to foster those, and we need to bring more of those businesses. And you look at the data on Riverview Avenue, there’s an empty warehouse. Right? That’s backing on the river. If the river was developed you could see a beautiful, fine-dining restaurant there overlooking the river. That’s something that Mount Pearl doesn’t have, but it’s something that we could have with a little investment into the river. So it’s kind of a plan that you have to do in pieces. It’s not going to happen overnight. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
Kieley: I love this question. It so happens I’m also a business owner. That gives me a perspective of understanding first and foremost, the last two years have been very challenging for a lot of small businesses and local businesses. But it also was an eye opener of how innovative we can be in ways in which we can continue to operate and thrive and recover from what had been some very difficult years. First and foremost, what I’ve heard from those that I’ve consulted with and at the doors and even from my perspective, is looking at ways to incentivize individuals to choose Mount Pearl. One of the ideas I looked at is ensuring that our economic development officers have the proper resources to bring somebody through the first steps of even considering a business.
We know that it takes a lot of effort to even get to the point where you have a business plan, where you’re doing your market analysis. By allowing the city to have navigators on the ground, to navigate into whether that’s the permits, the policies, and the analysis work that can get you to a place where you’re feeling empowered and you’re feeling less overwhelmed by where you need to go. The city can empower and offer different additional resources to do that. It would also enhance and modernize what we have available online so that there’s a portal that is easily accessible. Being able to do some of that from home from your computer, or being able to access that information rather than having to make five or six phone calls is so essential. That’s one of the ways we could certainly become very competitive.
The other thing on a larger case perspective, we have Donovan’s Industrial Park which is a significant opportunity for a larger scale businesses. One of the ways we can become competitive is to really look at a market analysis and ensure that those that we’re investing in and the business that are there, that it reflects just the innovation within the tech sector. Right now we have a significant amount of industry-based companies that are there. We need to be recruiting and looking at a longer term sustainable type of business and want to kind of flourish there. With technology now, you don’t necessarily have to be at a capital city to run your business. What you do need is a place that can offer incentives to be there, that has connections and is developing in a way that supports your business—whether that’s through making streamlining permits, making incentives in your first years and what not.
Mount Pearl has an excellent opportunity with what plans seem to be in place for Centennial Square, which is creating a pedestrian-friendly and a storefront-friendly type of area that will increase not only people drawing an experiential type of consumerism to Mount Pearl. I can go there for lunch, we can go track around to a few stores and I can buy things, and also enjoy and have really great interactions with local businesses. Ensuring how we develop and how we work those sort of projects to increase those opportunities—there’s a huge benefit to that. I’ve been just talking tonight actually to an individual, someone’s like, “I would absolutely love that I could spend a whole day with myself and my partner where I can go somewhere outside and enjoy the walk, invest in my local businesses and take connections there, have somewhere where there’s music, have somewhere where just feels like a sense of community and enjoyment. And then later at night, have somewhere with a great pint of an IPA and great food, and I can walk home from there.” That sort of work I do support. It would be just absolutely phenomenal.
Lane: So Mount Pearl, of course, we have a great business community. We have Donovans Industrial park, which is great. One of our biggest issues in terms of new business here at Mount Pearl is the fact that we don’t have a lot of room to expand. So in terms of that, I think that a lot of our lots are very large. So there’s room to expand and build on. And also maybe even building upwards because Mount Pearl, like we have a great business community here, but we do need to make sure we have room for growth and improvement, and we continue to support our businesses here in Mount Pearl.
Locke: We did start quite a successful marketing program and we did hire some people to our economic development department. Over the last number of years, our economic development staff have done an amazing job, and we have been recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for our economic development strategies. One of the strategies that we did incorporate was Consider It Done. Essentially it’s cutting the red tape, making it easier for businesses to come here, to set up here, and to help them through the process. To make sure that all their questions are answered, and the necessary forms and permits are filled out and acquired. We do have a focus on attracting new businesses, and business retention. But I think the quality of life and the services that are offered here is an attraction to business. We have the largest business park in the province with Donovans up there, and the infrastructure and amenities up there are very good and attractive.
We’ve also had some other areas along Topsail Road as a developed area for business, as well as the main spine coming down through Mount Pearl, Commonwealth Avenue. Council made the decision some years back to rezone parts of that from residential to commercial, that will allow other business opportunities to come here. But I think we have a very highly educated population here in Mount Pearl, very well-schooled people, so there’s a high skill set here. We mentioned the trailway systems already, that’s very attractive. Not only to residents here, but people that come here to work can avail our outdoor amenities in their lunch times or coffee breaks. Generally speaking, just the quality of life around the city would be a key attraction for businesses to come here.
Milmore: That’s a good question. Make us more attractive? Engagement, putting our voice out there, advertise our city. What else? Oh, my goodness. Advertise communities and promote Mount Pearl. I think that would be a great start.
I think they’re doing that as well. It’s a great place to do business. It’s a great place to raise a family. And it’s a great place to invest your future in, because the city has offered a lot from what I can see from their webpages. They offer great incentives for people to move into the city, and live here, and work here.
Pearcey: We could offer some incentives in the way of maybe a tax break or other such advantages. We could explore looking into other municipalities to see what they do to attract businesses. Mount Pearl, we can’t grow out. There’s only so much land, so we need to grow up. And as we’ve seen with COVID over the last two years, you can build businesses from anywhere in the world and be incredibly successful. So those people who, at one point, would have had to move away to start their businesses, well, now they can come and start them here in Mount Pearl. We have Donovans Industrial Park. We have different areas that people can set up their business in. And by coming up with incentives, perhaps as a council together, to attract more businesses to grow our small business industry here in Mount Pearl.
Rice: I’m 100% supportive. I deal with a lot of businesses currently in Donovans with my current job. One of the big concerns a lot of people have told me is that there are business people there that sometimes they’ve got no voice. They push items forward to Mount Pearl and it’s months and months before they get answers back. I’d like to be a voice to those people in there. I’d like to meet with all the business operators that are in there. And I’d also like to have new businesses come to our beautiful city because right now we own Donovans Industrial Park. It’s been a big concern with St. John’s tried to take it over back a few years ago. But there’s always ways to improve business ventures for new companies whether it be through commercial development in there. Bringing new business in would be a big concern of mine because right now we’ve got extra space in Donovans. We can bring new business in.
So tax incentives for them to come in is a big thing for me. If we give them a tax break for the first few years, that’s creating more revenue for our city, which means probably we’ll be able to reduce the mil rate for the residential part there. Right now it’s a big concern. I’m a taxpayer for many years in Mount Pearl. I don’t want to see my taxes go up no more than any other citizen in Mount Pearl is paying taxes there right now. So bringing new businesses in should be one of the main concerns for any city because that’s our life regarding revenue in for the city. That’s a big concern for me. So I’d love to sit on that committee or on that board either as a chairperson or one of the committee members. I’d love to do that.
Ryan: Well, I think Mount Pearl is on the right track. I think I could help with awareness a little. I can’t get specific, but I guess you wouldn’t have to do too much of a deep dive to know that I have some connections. Some in the business world, a lot in the sports world. When I first ran for council four years ago—and it was brief because I joined late, I just was curious to see how I’d do—but what I said then, that when it comes to, say, the sporting world—and not just hockey—I like to be active. I’m involved in a lot of things, and I’ve made connections all over. I’ve almost lived in every province for a little bit, at least. I’ve been to 44 states. So I really do have connections in some places that could probably help Mount Pearl.
For example, last time I ran I said, maybe I could get Kraft Hockeyville here. We got it here. Now I’m not saying I got it here, but I was definitely part of that team that did, right?
So, I mean, that’s revenue for the city. So say national tournaments, things like that. I’m sure I could work hard at the connections I’ve already made. I’ve done that when it comes to ball hockey and baseball, at least in my memory, a couple of times each. So I know I could help that. But someone brought up a great point to me last year. It was an investor that said, “You talk about all this, but there’s no hotels in Mount Pearl.” And I never had ever thought about that. And this is very real, but I wouldn’t know where to go with this.
When it comes to the city finances and infrastructure, I’m going to have to learn. But I do have some people that are very interested and I don’t know why there’s no hotels in here. But with hotels would come an opportunity to generate more revenue. I mean, Mount Pearl reminds me of Kamloops in BC. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. But they call it the tournament capital of BC and it’s a great spot. And Mount Pearl’s like that, the way we’re laid out, and with our sports facilities. Which are second to none. But I’m not just talking sports. It could be choir.
Walsh: Well, this is one that has come up a couple of times. And again, I’m door knocking, so I’m not getting to your multinationals in Donovans and stuff like this. So, this is more towards your home-based, smaller-type business. What I would say for that is trying to get rid of some of the red tape. And I haven’t even talked to the multinationals, this is just a door to door thing. I think it should be looked at. Is there any way we can tighten timelines? Just speed up the whole process. Because that’s the other thing I do find. A lot of people think speed is not of the essence—but speed is always of the essence.
Wills: Okay. The stance that I take for our business community—I don’t think it’s as much about attracting more business to Mount Pearl. I think it’s about attracting the right kind of business, the kind of business that’s willing to pay their employees a living wage, the kind of business that’s going to be involved in the community by allowing their employees to have things like paid sick days, paid days off, to engage properly in the city by having that little bit of extra money in their pocket. It’s important to me that Mount Pearl is a driving force behind offering better labour opportunities. Something like raising the minimum wage is not going to attract a lot of business, but it’s the kind of business that we need to attract. This is the kind of business that we need to cultivate to move forward. The more people that are able to participate in the economy fully, the better off our economy is going to be moving forward.
What role does diversity, equity and inclusion play in local issues, and what are the challenges faced both in local governance and the community at large?
Antle: We can always get better. You know, we just did the St. David’s Smart Playground. And we tried to include as many people as we possibly could in that. And even from that we made some changes—just last week in public council, with some comments that we needed and we never did it properly, but we’re always willing to change. Inclusion and everything else that goes along with that. We can always get better. If any revenue sponsorship wants to give us some suggestions, we’re willing to listen and move forward from there. Yeah, we are quite open. We try to do whatever we can. We need immigration here. So whatever we can do to help out, we’re certainly on board to do that.
French: Every citizen has a story of who they are. My motto in life was that there’s no one better than me and I’m better than nobody else. I instilled that into my daughter. So, I mean, with regards to people’s diversity, everyone is who they are and you can’t change that. Inclusion, everyone in the City of Mount Pearl should be included in all aspects of the availability of services that should be available to everyone, not just able-bodied people. Everyone should be available to have access to everything in Mount Pearl. I did the Inclusion NL course a couple of years ago with the Frosty [Festival]. And it opened my eyes as to what is accessible for people, wheelchair-wise, into the city of Mount Pearl. I know that the city of Mount Pearl is now currently working on everything and to make everything accessible with regards to people that require services like that.
Fry: Well, the more diversity you have in decision making, the better decisions you’re going to make. When we had our community engagement, we look for feedback from all areas, from all demographics. I’ve knocked on a lot of doors over the last few days and I am so impressed with the number of international students that are here in Mount Pearl. And I’ve really enjoyed chatting with them. And the fact that they choose to stay as well here in Mount Pearl, and not just in St. John’s, that to me is—it’s something.
One of the ladies that I was talking to, she said that she doesn’t like it in Newfoundland, but she does like it in Mount Pearl. And she’s only here because of her husband. Okay. Well, how do we get these people to stay here? What would it take for them to call Mount Pearl home permanently? The only way that you can make sound decisions is when you have the feedback and input of everybody—when everybody is represented. And that way you can make decisions that will benefit everybody, as opposed to a certain demographic in a certain group.
Kieley: I feel sometimes biased because of my work and most of my personal passion has come through gender equity. I had done a master’s in gender studies. Most of the organizations that I have served and worked with are about the value and work of gender equity, whether that’s through violence prevention, whether that is through poverty reduction and/or feminist-based organizations. I know for a fact that the more diverse individuals you have around a governing table that represent different ideas, perspectives and a community at large in a more representative way, the more enriched ideas, strategies you’re going to receive from that.
It’s ethically the right thing to do, and that it’s socially and morally something in which we need to strive for on that side. But Mount Pearl only has to benefit from more of a diverse and inclusive council. I am so incredibly proud to say that this time around, I have such a fierce and incredible competition and colleagues and candidates that also identify as women, and that identify from all sorts of ages and experiences. That’s incredible as well. I think at the end of the day, having a room of diverse individuals is only going to benefit in the long term. And I’m hearing significantly at the door that there seems to be individuals wanting to hear new perspectives and new ideas.
I’ve been only encouraged at the door to say that it’s great to have different voices and to have a council that looks at that. And I’m certainly focusing on, I think, the pitch and what is the positive to that. There’s a great opportunity with what’s going on with Mount Pearl right now. I’m incredibly excited to see so many diverse candidates with regards to gender. There’s enough candidates right now where we could potentially have an all female council. However, again, diversity is something I would want to see and I would want my ideas exercised by more individuals.
Having said that, we have a long way to go. When we talk about inclusion, we have to look at it outside not just one intersection. But as an intersectional feminist myself, I understand that well, we have to look at it in terms of race, in the terms of culture, in terms of ability and disability community. We do still have a long way to go. And sometimes, in the process of campaigns, there is just some major challenges. If you have a disability, it is impossible to be going door to door. When you look at the economic barriers there is for making signs, buying signs, taking time off work, being able to find the work and supports into a campaign—these are also barriers.
So what I would like to see is moving forward is to keep that door open and ensure that the next campaign go around, that we have more of an inclusive lens to those sort of other barriers. Because it’s one thing to say, yes, we would love and like to entice more individuals of colour, Indigenous citizens from Mount Pearl or individuals living with disabilities to be encouraged to run. As someone who currently is managing chronic fatigue, the process of campaigning itself needs to be looked into.
Lane: Well, of course inclusion is very important and here at Mount Pearl, we’re doing a great job of that. But of course there’s always room for improvement. I think that a part of that is making sure all community organizations and events are accessible for all and making sure we know that everyone is welcomed regardless of age, race, ability, sexual orientation.
Locke: I would suggest around the council table that inclusion and diversity is certainly welcome and encouraged. Starting with around the council table, the beauty of our councils over the years was the fact that we have different perspectives, people with different backgrounds, different educations, different professional experiences. And we had a gender balance last time around the council table. That only leads to better decision making when issues come before council or we’re revisioning and planning ahead. It’s nice to have different perspectives around the table that will lead to better decision making. But we also reach out to the broader community and we understand that diversity is increasing. We have different cultures, different ethnicities moving into our city, which is welcome. We see it in the business area, for example, and we see it in our schools and our communities.
So going forward, we will continue to increase the activities—we’ve done it with some of the different social activities at the Reid Community Center—where we welcomed different cultures to come in and share their foods, and their traditions and cultures. So, you know, actively bringing activities here that allow different cultures and diversity to come forth and celebrate that. That’s healthy for the community.
In terms of accessibility issues and diversity in terms of inclusion of all people, the city over the years, my time and council, we’ve adopted new strategies to do that—to make sure that people with mobility issues are able to better get around the city. It’s something that couldn’t happen overnight. But one thing that we did—when we are installing new sidewalks now, we make sure that the lift of the downside into the sidewalk, when you enter into our crosswalk, that it’s flat with the road. You don’t have that one inch or two inch bump there, because it was brought to our attention that people in motorized wheelchairs had difficulties getting across that.
It was also brought to our attention that the crosswalk buttons weren’t accessible for people again with different modes of mobility. So through consultation and outreach and communication with residents in the disabled community, people with different levels of mobility, we’re able to change our policies and incorporate that into our planning as we go forward. You mentioned earlier about the Trailways. I mean, if we can bring in Trailways that are accessible to everybody, that’s certainly a goal of council and something that I’d like to see going forward.
Milmore: Diversity is key. Everybody is different. Everybody has a role to play. Everybody’s unique in what they believe in. And I think that everybody has a voice, and they should be able to express it. And their issues are just as important as my issues. We have a very diverse group of people living in Mount Pearl. And I think they all have a voice, and they all need to be heard, and we should include them because everybody got something that they want to discuss. And I’m all for it. Diversity means we’re all different. You’re you, I’m me. And we all have an opinion, and we should be heard.
Pearcey: Well, being a teacher, I recognize the importance of diversity and equality and work closely with people with special needs.
I’ve spoken to some members of our city about making our sidewalks and our trail system, as well as our playgrounds, more accessible for those who have mobility challenges. Or if you think about people who were on the spectrum, ASD, they would need more specialized playgrounds with different types of stimulation for their needs.
I think Mount Pearl needs that too. We have a lot of children within our school system that definitely would benefit from that. I know people with mobility issues, they found that the sidewalks, the humps to get up to the sidewalks, they can’t on their motorized wheelchairs or whatever they’re using. And the paths aren’t always—there’s dips and cracks sometimes that aren’t repaired and they found those really difficult to maneuver.
Rice: Inclusion is a huge part of all cities right now. I support them. My range of communication with people—I deal with people in the workforce every day. I deal with people in Mount Pearl, all parts of my sports program growing up. And I have a lot of friends, all different diverse people. Everybody knows Mark Rice is a fair person and I treat everybody the same with respect and dignity. And we have to improve all the areas in Mount Pearl. So one of the biggest things for me, and I do this in my workplace too, right now there’s no such thing as male or female washrooms. I’d like to see a lot of our washrooms as all just gender neutral washrooms. Anybody can go in. Bring our cubicles right to the floor so people can go in and have accessibility, make them bigger, make them larger. Inclusion for everybody is really important for me. I’d certainly bring that forward as a councillor.
Ryan: If I get in and I was more hands on, I would have a better answer for you. But as far as diversity goes, I think we are going in the right direction. Now, the only thing I’m basing that on—not the only thing, but one of them—is my daughter and my stepson. He’s 22 years old and he lives in Alberta now. So, he just came through the Mount Pearl system, and my daughter’s 11 years old. And if their school is a microcosm of Mount Pearl then that’s great, because it seems to be inclusive. And I’m not just talking about race, but gender, sexual preference, all that stuff. When it comes to equity in the community, I think Mount Pearl is doing a great job, and that unless I’m ignorant to it, then there are more pressing issues.
Walsh: One of the things I would say to that is I would like to have everyone feel included in Mount Pearl. One of the things I’m going to say now is busing. If we’re going to grow and get diverse people, whether it’s young immigrants, whatever, we’re going to need a way for them to go to MUNL, this, that, and all that kind of stuff. The busing system currently here in Mount Pearl is deplorable. You really can’t even go to university. Now I know it’s a complex issue. I’ve delved into it a tiny bit, but I really think if we provided those things, you might find more cultural diversity. That kind of thing.
Wills: We’re never going to see true equality and inclusion until there’s economic equality. In order to raise up marginalized voices, we need to ensure that they’re paid fairly and that they don’t need to be independently wealthy to join the conversation. Something as simple as running for city council, like I’m doing right now is an incredibly expensive venture, so we need to make it easier for people who have been marginalized in the past to participate. The more alternative voices that are heard, the better off the city will be.
St. John’s has declared a climate emergency, and with recent experiences like Snowmageddon, we are likely facing more extreme weather events. What are serious ways Mount Pearl’s City Council can address climate change and mitigate the impact on our community?
Antle: Now we’re constantly in climate change. We have done so much in the city in the past few years. And that’s just the past 10 years on climate change. We have water conservation regulations and our water conservation order. We have program protocols that save a drop and that’s—first off, we had the lowest water consumption in Mount Pearl in 23 years last year in 2020. That’s the sixth year in a row of consumption decreases in water usage. What we’ve done, we have a water detection system that goes all over the city and we find leaks and we fix those right away. We have saved almost $750,000 in water fees since 2014. And you know, our rain recovery system at the Glacier is second to none. The rainwater comes from the building and we use that in their urinals and toilets.
We reduced our carbon issues with the inner city of Mount Pearl. We have four hybrid vehicles. We have electric vehicle charging systems at the Depot, the Glacier and at City Hall. You know, we just changed all our lights throughout the city—they’re now LED. We just installed some heat pumps in some smaller locations that were basically using that electric tape prior to that. Our bus shelters now have LED solar lighting. This is saving us plenty of money. And I’m sure others have told you this, but we have an urban forestry protection program, which we constantly do. We’re doing it right now, planting trees all over the city. That’s our focus. We will continue to do that. Climate change is constantly on our table.
French: Well, in regards to climate change, we can just look at Hurricane Larry. I know years ago we lost all of our trees with regards to Hurricane Igor. And I think years ago when Mount Pearl was starting out, residents kind of never thought about the future of taking trees, never thought about what effects that it would have on climate change with the hurricanes coming up this way now. There’s a lot of trees that are touching wires and stuff. Even on city property. I know there’s a tree trimming program, but they could only do so much. And that’s only around the wires. That’s one of the things—like I said, we lost our trees in Igor and it did a little bit of damage. But the other day, with regards to the storm, I thought there was going to be a lot more damage. I really thought there would be more damage for the city, not just for residents, but for the city. I don’t know how much damage or if there’s a dollar sign put on what Hurricane Larry did—a lot of residents were affected. We’re looking at where we’re planting the trees. Whereas like I said, years ago, if you look at the older section of Mount Pearl, people never thought of where the trees were being planted. And what effect that it would effect 40 or 50 years later. And yes, they’re beautiful. How do we be proactive in helping Mount Pearl now and the residents?
Fry: Climate change is real. When I was growing up and we didn’t have all of the severity of the storms that we’ve been having now. And actually I attended a [conference with] the Federation of Canadian Municipalities where they were talking about climate change and the importance of building. When you have new buildings, to build them for floods, for things like that, because it is anticipated. But the City of Mount Pearl has done so much when it comes to climate change and environment. We always have a lens on that. Any new infrastructure that’s built now, needs to be built with that in mind.
The first thing is to educate ourselves with what we need to do. The experts—I’m not an engineer—but like I said, when I did this conference, they were talking… It was eye opening. The things they were talking about in buildings, and flash floods and things, and how they crumble, and that you have to have certain reinforcement, and all these kind of things. I don’t know if that’s where we go, but it’s certainly something that we need to keep in the back of our mind in terms of new buildings and go forward. Everybody needs to play a role in climate change and in the environment. There always has to be a lens for that, for every decision that you make.
Educate yourself and to learn about it, and seek the advice of the experts.
Kieley: One of the things I’m really excited about is we look at our three standing committees. We have corporate service economics, we have community development, and we also have infrastructure and public works. What I do appreciate under these items, there is a plan and there is work being done with regards to environmental management. Specifically under infrastructure and engineering, there’s a climate change adaption plan. What I would like to see is that that start translating into other aspects of our work. Because infrastructure is key, there was just most recently a provincial and federal announcement to say that city pumps are going to be installed in some parts of the public works infrastructure.
But there needs to be an education and a shift to environmentalism in all aspects of our committee work, whether that be community development or even in our economic development. Certainly, part of that is to work with our counterparts. This is where I think regional cooperation would be absolutely key. Again, if we have a river running through our communities and going straight into St. John’s, then yes, some of this work in those targets are going to need to be partnered with. So, I would be looking forward to seeing the best practices of our municipal neighbours, but also for us to start broadening an understanding of how we can address our climate issues and our environmental issues in relation to our city at all aspects.
Lane: Well, I think [Hurricane Larry] was a great example of that. In Mount Pearl, a lot of people had issues with trees coming down and the city was quick to go and pick up and dispose of all the tree limbs that fell down for the residents. They had the Glacier set up where you could bring your waste. So they really stepped up on that. And actually myself and my father were going around ourselves and helping residents. We had a chainsaw. So we were going around ourselves and helping residents with cutting down trees and restoring their property after the hurricane. So I think that the council in general, they’re responding really well to that. And we just need to, like you said, get used to the fact that climate change is real. We have had a lot of weather and that will continue to do so. So green initiatives such as having green technology for our city fleet, encouraging electric vehicles and our municipal fleet and expanding and promoting recycling programs. That would be a great continued initiative here in Mount Pearl.
Locke: Well, I did a graduate degree in environmental management. So when I first got on council, one of the things I brought forward was a green lens to the council table. Now around the council table, when we’re looking at the costs of different initiatives, it’s no longer just the financial cost. We look through three lenses: it’s a financial cost, it’s a social cost, but it’s also the environmental cost. Sometimes things may cost a little more economically, but they’re a big savings from an environmental or a social perspective. Over the last 14 years—my time on council—there has been initiatives that aren’t widespread actually, and many people probably don’t realize the amount that the city has done to address climate change.
I’m proud of many initiatives that were brought forward—one in particular is our leak detection system. When I first got on council, I was surprised by the volume of water that the 24,000 people in Mount Pearl were consuming on an annual basis. It was a little over 3 billion liters of water annually, which gave us probably the highest per capita usage in all of Canada—certainly in Newfoundland and Labrador, and I would suspect in all of Canada. But through different measures that we’ve brought in, we’ve been able to reduce our water consumption. One in particular has to do with our leak detection. We determined that the pipes in the ground, just through freeze and thaw, sometimes shift and crack and they weep and they leak over time. So we invested in some equipment about seven years ago.
Since that time, we are able to reduce our water consumption. From 2014 to 2021, the City of Mount Pearl reduced our water consumption by over 50%. Not only was that an environmental savings, but it also saved almost a million dollars in water fees that the residents of Mount Pearl would’ve paid otherwise. We have an ongoing water conservation measure throughout the city, in terms of watering lawns and washing cars. We also installed flushometers they’re called, on urinals in male washrooms. Each one of these flushometers that we installed think saved up to 60,000 liters of water annually. When you consider all the urinals throughout the city, and in our city buildings, and our recreational buildings, and our schools, and that if we could bring flushometers into all these buildings, that would be tremendous savings of water and also financial savings because we pay per usage of water.
When we built the Summit Center, we have a massive cistern tank in that facility that captures rainwater. We filter the rain water, and the toilets in the Summit Center do not use potable water from our regional water supply, but they use this filtered rainwater. So we’re using the captured rain in our toilets, in our urinals, and we’re also using that captured rainwater when we’re flooding the ice and making the ice for the two Glacier arenas. Building the Summit Center, we put in geothermal wells there—I think there were 40 wells dug beneath the Summit Center.
So we’re using geothermal heating to heat the buildings, so that is as well a cost savings environmentally. Also, when we built the new Glacier arena, we employed what’s called EcoChill. The traditional ice making facilities actually extract heat from the water. So when I grew up playing hockey in Smallwood Drive arena and the ice rinks around the Avalon across the province, you’d always see a stack on the side of it where the steam or the heat would be being released into the atmosphere. Well, this new EcoChill technology that we employed in our new Glacier arena, it actually extracts the heat from the water when we’re making the ice, but we capture that heat. And we’re actually using that heat to heat the Glacier arenas, as well as the swimming pool.
The most recent meeting of the infrastructure public works committee, it was brought up that we haven’t paid for electricity to heat the water in the Summit Center I think since November. We’ve used very little electricity to actually heat the water and pool because we’ve been able to extract that heat from the Glacier arena, the EcoChill, and use that as a cost savings.
We also finally developed an urban forestry plan here in Mount Pearl. Part of that plan involves replanting, so the existing council has dedicated some funds to plant a thousand trees a year for the next five years, at least. To continue to support trees that die or decay or blow down or get broken during the winter season. Another part of the urban forestry plan is we are now monitoring the tree canopy or the coverage of foliage in the city of Mount Pearl. So there’s a strategy in place, not just to maintain that canopy, but actually to expand it and bring in more trees into the city. Research has proven not only the health benefits from our fresh air, but the environmental benefits and the mental health benefits of having a tree’d open spaces in our communities.
Like I said, there’s a whole host of activities that we’ve used throughout the city to protect the environment. We were one of the first communities in the province to install charging stations for people that wished to purchase electric vehicles. That was another positive initiative, and in our most recent fleet replacement, for our trucks and equipment, with our infrastructure public works committee, we call it the street fleet. Many of those trucks are now hybrid, which again is a huge cost savings. The staff pleasantly reported that they’re getting extended mileage on a full tank of gas, which again, saves money for the residents, but also it cuts down on air pollution.
So the city is already doing a great deal, it’s just not publicized enough. Maybe we don’t toot our own horn enough, but we certainly have environmental initiatives at the fore in our decision making. Another thing we can talk about with respect to climate change is we have the beautiful Waterford river running down through the center of our city. Over time with the increased development and paving there was increased water flow, which resulted in higher water levels, increased water erosion to our river banks. So we adopted a policy, a net-zero runoff, which essentially if any developer is going to develop in the City of Mount Pearl, they have to design a water retention system to ensure that once the development is completed, their development does not add any extra water into our river systems again, to prevent flooding and to control water.
On so many different fronts, the city is already doing its part. Now, we can always do more. The Glacier parking lot is being replaced up there now with LED lighting, which would be a huge cost savings financially, but also environmentally. And our outdoor courts, on down by Mount Pearl senior high, the basketball courts there—we just recently over the last six or eight months replaced all those lights again with energy efficient LED lights. So there are just some off the top of my head, there’s probably more that I haven’t come to.
But we do our part. I’m proud to say that the City of Mount Pearl takes environmental stewardship very seriously.
Milmore: Well, climate change, we need to look after the environment for sure. Climate change is a real thing. We could see that from news reports of the glaciers and everything. It’s just melting away. It’s crazy. But we can do more for the environment by more recycling, trying to reduce our carbon emissions, starting with some of the fleet that has been getting electric cars, and just keep a keen eye on what’s undergoing what. We can research and do our best to make sure that it happens. Clean up our environment, and try to make it more environmentally friendly, and be more aware, and do more research on what we can do to help.
I mean, it is a big issue. Climate change is coming. I mean, especially with Snowmageddon. Look what we got faced with. And then, Larry. And it just seems like more of it is coming. And it’s just sad. But we can implement, get together, and brainstorm—and work as a group to try and see if we can find better ways for the city to help with that. That’s for sure.
Pearcey: I think they could promote things like composting. Maybe offering city compost bins to offer, or maybe give some incentives, or community gardens. I know we’ve had them—some have been destroyed, but not all communities have them within Mount Pearl, but also backyards promote that. Have your own vegetables and greenhouses and things like that. I have been asked by people who were interested actually in having chickens, if we could have chickens in our city. Not sure how people would feel about that. My husband would love it. He’s a backyard gardener.
Also, we have such a good recycling program, I know my sister who moved from St. John’s to Mount Pearl couldn’t believe the difference in how it was run here. So I think we’re doing well. Could we do better? Absolutely. The best way to do this is to work together as a council and reach out to the residents to get some ideas about how to do better, where we can do better. It’s by asking questions and really reaching out to your residents that you get the best ideas.
Rice: Well, I can speak to this for Mount Pearl because I deal with it every day. In the city of St. John’s, where I work right now, and also in Mount Pearl—we have a lot of bunker fuel that we use in our generators. We have a lot of oil-based products that we use that puts emission into the air. We need to get rid of all of those. We need to go electric. Electric won’t put any emissions into the air regarding generators or fuel, bunker fuel, diesel fuel. And another cautionary measure, we should be using recycling products all the time. Paper products should be all done on recycling products. And right now, our paper products—I’ll speak from experience because I worked at Eastern Health—we should be away from paper products right now, because if we have our social media programs, we have our computer, we have our laptops, we have our iPads. All of our communication should be going through that.
I know everybody now, including Mount Pearl, City of St. John’s, and Paradise—we post everything now on the social media. And that’s the way to go. I know years ago and I’ve lived in Mount Pearl since 1988, we’d always get flyers in the mail from the City of Mount Pearl. We need to go away from that 100%. We don’t need that anymore. So green spaces in Mount Pearl, planting trees, supporting initiatives like cleaning up our waterway system and cleaning up our areas where our all of our ducks live—all of those areas need to be cleaned up in our City of Mount Pearl, because I walk those trails every day. Power’s Pond, for example—that Power’s Pond area is really dirty up there now. That needs to be all cleaned up. We need to get the sharing measures with the City of St. John’s and Paradise to get an initiative for greener spaces, greener environment. I’m 100% for that.
Ryan: Well, as a municipal government, I don’t think you can do much to make an impact worldwide. That’s a bad answer. But I think the important role that we play is awareness. And obviously, have systems in place with recycling and everything. Which we already do.
But again, I’m just drawing on the fact that my stepson just came through the Mount Pearl [education] system and my daughter is in there now. I noticed that City Days, for example—this was a year ago. Before the movie started—I think we went to Peter Rabbit. In any case, there was a little blurb on the climate crisis. And I suppose—see, I’m not in the schools. I just see what her work is. And again, is that a municipal thing? I don’t really know. I think we’ve got good systems in place. I think it could always be improved, but I think we’re ahead of St. John’s if that matters. I mean, we were down to the George Street Fest, side note, and there was no recycle bin out in the street. You could bring your beer can out the street, and there’s no recycle bins.
What could we do more? Geez! As far as I know, we have decent systems in place. If that’s a complaint of somebody’s, then I’m unaware of it. I recycle every week with the garbage collections. The garbage collection here is second to none, in Newfoundland. [My daughter] is very, very aware as are all of her friends—that has to come from somewhere. So I’m not sure if that’s what they see on TV or it’s municipal. But I’m quite happy with our systems when it comes to recycling, and awareness of climate change.
Walsh: Well, these election signs drive me mad. When you look at it from an environmental standpoint, I think it’s crazy, but we all do it. I don’t know how to stop it. I really don’t. But when you think about the absolute waste that’s on one hand, right? And the other thing I like to see Mount Pearl do is more recycling. Just make it more accessible, more like the HRM say in Halifax, where they do pick up food, organics, and stuff like that. Be more proactive that way. I don’t know what the cost of all this is, of course, because it always has to be balanced out with that. Everyone wants to change, but no one wants to foot the bill for it. So, we got to figure that out. But that’s one thing.
Expanding the recycling program. It starts with the individual. I’m not saying policy doesn’t have to change. Absolutely. A hundred percent. We do that. But for example, just the little things around your household, start there.
Wills: Climate emergency is certainly correct. Without major changes across the globe it is only going to get worse, so changes at all levels need to happen. And despite not seeming like we can do a lot on a small scale of just over 20,000 people, we need to do what we can. Whether that be at the personal level by offering tax credits or cash for environmentally friendly choices made by individuals in order to give people the push they need to get started, or if it’s by going a little bit more into it and starting to divest ourselves from the oil and gas industry and reinvest in clean energy solutions. Municipally, not easy to do.
[Candidate responses have been edited for length and clarity.]
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