Name: Robert Kirwan

If you are elected, what will be your top priorities?

During the election campaign, I am sure that candidates will be asked to identify what they feel the top issues are for the city and/or for their individual ward. I know that I have already been asked to identify the top three issues in both respects.

It would be virtually impossible for anyone, let alone a candidate for council to identify the top 3 issues for the City as a Whole let along distinguish between the top 3 issues of the city in comparison to those for the individual ward in which he is running. There are just too many interdependent issues that will each have a huge impact on the future of the City and which will obviously spill over into each of the Wards. Indeed, the main issue in each Ward may be learning how to adjust to the decisions made by City Council that will impact on their daily life.

Further, each issue that is on the table for discussion by Councillors is going to have an impact on all future decisions made on all other issues, regardless of whether or not they are considered to be among the top three priorities of the individual Councillor. You will never get twelve Councillors to agree on three top issues.

So the only way you can identify “three” issues is to make them so broad and general that they encompass all decisions at City Council and are more in line with vision statements than actual issues. For example, if you say that one of the issues for City Council is that they will all be accountable and transparent in all of their decisions? That is like saying that all mothers and fathers will be responsible for the care and well-being of their children. What does it mean? It doesn’t tell you anything.

Let me give you a simple example. Suppose we say that we are going to identify the building of a new multi-pad sports complex as one of our top issues for the City as a Whole. Then what if a condition for getting private sector funding is that ice rental rates must be increased by 50% across the city and two of our arenas must be closed in order to make sure there is a demand for the ice available in the new complex. We will have satisfied a top priority for the City as a Whole, but we will have created a major issue in each of our Wards for the users of our arenas and especially for the people in the outlying areas where arenas will be closed.

And so, I will not paint myself into a corner by identifying any issue as being more important than any other. As mentioned, they are too interdependent. To the person who has a sewer back up in his basement, there is no other issue as important to him at that time and the top priority for the City is to deal with this person’s problem. That is how I intend to define priorities. The issue I am facing at the time is the most important issue I have to deal with and I will deal with it in the best way I can by becoming knowledgeable as I can and making the best decision possible based on the information at hand when the decision is to be made. Further, those decisions must take into consideration the impact they will have on other areas of concern for the City. I will not vote on building a new arena if it means increasing municipal taxes by 10%. I will not vote for any benefit if it is going to cause hardship on others.

The other problem is that each Ward is so diverse that the priorities in one part of the Ward will be different from those in another part of the Ward. The people living in the Cambrian Heights and Kent Court Apartment area of Ward 5 have a completely different set of needs from the people living south of Lasalle between the Taxation Centre and Madeleine Street, and they both have a different set of needs from the people living north of Lasalle in that same part of the City. Then you have the people living in Blezard Valley, Val Caron, Guietteville, and McCrea Heights. Each is a different community within a single Ward and they all have different priorities compared with the four areas in the Sudbury section of Ward 5. There are actually at least eight community sectors within Ward 5. So how can a candidate identify the top three issues facing Ward 5? It is impossible and will only serve to create friction and dissention among residents who disagree with any of the top three selections that I would make.

Do you ride a bike?

Candidates were asked to choose any of the following options: No, I don’t ride; I mountain bike; I ride on roads; I would like to ride on roads, but I don’t because I am afraid to do so; I ride for recreation; I ride for commuting purposes; I ride every chance I get; I ride weekly; I ride monthly; I ride only in the spring, summer and fall; I ride year round.

No, I don't ride.

In the next questions, candidates were asked to agree or disagree with the question:

I support projects that promote healthy active living in our community: Agree
I consider cycling an increasingly important mode of transportation Agree
Investing in a bike-friendly community benefits everyone Agree
Alternative modes of transportation are going to be more necessary in the future Agree
Our community’s cycling infrastructure needs to be improved Agree

Were you aware that the city’s 2010 Sustainable Mobility Plan states that 1/3 of our residents don’t drive a car? Cycling can be done by all Greater Sudbury residents, and is good for personal health and the health of the environment. What ideas or recommendations do you have to improve and encourage alternate modes of transportation, including cycling, in Greater Sudbury?

The next four years will be critical to the future of the City of Greater Sudbury for a number of reasons, but one of the areas that we need to be more focussed upon is with respect to the promotion of what is referred to as “active transportation” in all corners of the City and within all twelve wards. We are doing this now in Ward 5 and 6 in the Valley and Sudbury North, but it must become a City-Wide focus.

This is consistent with the recommendations made in the Leisure Master Plan, which I was excited to see and am looking forward to implementing. The survey results clearly point to a desire among the vast majority of our citizens for more to be done to promote activities like walking, hiking, cycling and other outdoor recreational pursuits that encourage a healthy lifestyle that is family focused and accessible to all residents, regardless of their age or ability. Many of the recommendations of the Leisure Master Plan are related to transportation so this means that as we revise our approach to both public and general transportation we need to be cognizant of including policies and infrastructure that will promote a healthier lifestyle.

This means that when City Council is approving new developments and roadways, we must take into consideration how we can create a system that is going to promote these types of activities and help people shift from motorized to non-motorized forms of transportation. It also means that we must find ways of expanding our public transit service in order to promote the use of alternative means of transportation for residents. We need to allow space for safe bicycle lanes and ensure that there is ample and secure bicycle parking throughout our city. We have a lot of green space and wonderful streams located in all parts of the community, so if we can create walking and biking trails connected by pedestrian bridges, think of how much more attractive our city will become in the near future.

Creating a Healthy Community for the entire region is going to be one of my top priorities in the coming four years.

Would you support budget dollars dedicated to building new cycling infrastructure as identified in the Transportation Master Plan? For example, the current Transportation Study proposes building bike lanes on a number of existing roads.


Explain why/why not?

We need to put budget dollars into enhancing the cycling infrastructure. There is no other way we can implement the recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan. The time for talking about what we need to do is done. We need action.

Would you support the mandatory inclusion of cycling infrastructure in all the arterial and major roads projects already identified on the 2014-2018 roads capital budget priority list?

Don't know

Explain why/why not?

I don't like supporting mandatory "anything". I do think it should be a priority consideration and if it is not going to be included there should be a good reason.

Would you support the implementation of a Complete Streets Policy, entrenched in the Official Plan, with the following components:

  • strong policy language like “must implement”;
  • addressing all users including pedestrians, cyclists and transit users of all ages and abilities;
  • applicable to all projects (new, retrofit and repair);
  • with a mandated procedure to allow exceptions;
  • with the aim to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network to benefit all users and modes;
  • that will cover all jurisdictions;
  • that uses the latest and best design criteria and guidelines;
  • that allows for road and community context;
  • that establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes;
  • that includes specific next steps for implementation.

For more information on Complete Streets, see here: Complete Streets for Canada website

Don't know

Explain why/why not?

I need to examine this in more detail. I agree in principle with most of the concepts, but there are some "mandatory" elements that once again I don't like because those conditions do not allow for any flexibility.

Would you support implementing a Transportation Demand Management strategy and program at the City directed by a senior manager who will coordinate the implementation across all impacted City departments?

Transportation Demand Management (TDM) is a wide range of policies, programs, services and
products that influence how, when, where and why people and goods are moved. TDM programs and strategies are meant to encourage greater use of sustainable modes of transportation and trip decision making that reduces, combines or shortens vehicle trips. For a sample TDM strategy implementation, see: Kitchener Transportation Demand Management Program

Don't know

Explain why/why not?

I need to look into this some more. I am not saying I don't like what I read, but I need to see how it fits with our current infrastructure and our strategies for moving forward.

Cyclists want to be part of the road design process when cycling infrastructure is involved. How will you ensure that community consultation is done effectively and openly from the start to finish of all roads projects?

I do not see any reason for excluding the cyclists from the consultation process.