Reduce red tape, change policies some of the ways North Bay will show its open for business

If North Bay doesn’t grow it will be hard for council to maintain services. Senior staff will be tasked to provide recommendations to reduce the red tape to allow local businesses to expand and grow.

That was the message during Monday’s press conference held in the mayor’s boardroom at city hall.

Mayor Al McDonald, Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch and several city councillors to include Mike Anthony, Johanne Brousseau, Bill Vrebosch and Dave Mendicino were in attendance.

“To signal to our citizens, the province, and the country, we are open for business, positioning ourselves to grow our city, cut red tape, welcome investment and ready to roll up our sleeves to get to work, I have set the swearing in ceremony on the very first day of the mandate – Dec. 1,” said Mayor Al McDonald.

“I believe we are the only city in the province that will swear in their council on a Saturday, further reinforcing our ‘can do’ approach to growing our city,” he said, noting there are 23 meetings scheduled between Saturday and the end of January.

McDonald said with a focus on growing the city he will be looking to the deputy mayor and council to take on some of the roles he has been known to occupy, which will include community events and ribbon cuttings.

“My mandate is to grow our city and I need to be able to focus on that area, so I’ve asked my deputy mayor to take on some of the roles that I normally do that will allow me some extra time to focus on the business community,” he said.

“That is the direction I want to go. The deputy mayor and council will be attending community events that the mayor is often seen at, but I’ll still be very active in that area. It’s the side projects, they are all great projects, but you get bogged down. I will ask councillors to take the lead.”

When asked how council will grow the city, McDonald said council will be giving senior staff a clear direction that will tell them where we want to go and task them to bring back the options, changes to policies, where we can cut red tape and where we can encourage growth.

“What I’m hearing from our local businesses is that there are policies restricting growth. How can we knock those barriers down? Focus on cutting red tape, look at policies that hinder local businesses, and how we can work with Invest North Bay and the North Bay Chamber of Commerce to attract more industry and business to our community?”

Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch said while the focus is on growth there are major projects that require decisions to be made and it will be the will of council to decide their fate.

She said Cassellholme Home for the Aged is the number one priority, however there are also a variety of other infrastructure projects that remain on the table awaiting a decision.

Vrebosch said West Ferris Arena, the North Bay Police headquarters, the government wharf and the library need a decision.

“We have community players saying you don’t have to do it the same way you’ve always done it let us help you. I think there are some opportunities.”

The last two terms the councillors kind of had their own agenda and nobody was on the same page and everyone is going every direction and staff did not have direction from council, stated Vrebosch, I think that is probably the biggest thing that now council have clear direction, they will give clear direction to staff and I think that is the biggest thing that we have been missing over the last eight years.

Vrebosch, will be the Deputy Mayor and Budget Chief for the new term.  Mayor Al McDonald introduced his new chairs today at a media event on the fifth floor of city hall this morning.  

Vrebosch, along with Mike Anthony as Engineering and Environmental Works Services, and Johanne Brousseau as the Chair of Community Services made short speeches about their vision for the next four years. The trio, along with the rest of city council and Mayor Al McDonald will be sworn in during an event this Saturday, December 1.  

I think the new people and the older people coming together is just going to rejuvenate council, said Vrebosch.  

I have had a good look and I am very positive and very excited to come back to council and I can honestly say I have not felt this excited for a while.

Mayor Al McDonald says he is excited too. His message, much like during his campaign, was one of growth.   

We wanted to send a signal out to our community that we want to grow our city so I reached out to the three chairs and asked them if they would come forward to speak on what their hopes and dreams are for the next term, said McDonald.  

McDonald says some of the major capital projects such as Cassellholme and West Ferris arena are hot button items that will be addressed once the new council gets to work.  To do that McDonald is hoping to work on ways to get things moving quickly and more efficiently.

We need to reduce red tape and create policies that make it advantageous for business and industry to locate here to work with our partners to hear what their concerns and ideas are that we can make the changes to our policies that might have or continue to restrict growth.    

I can tell you all the business groups that I have met with right across the spectrum believe in growth, they recognize that we have to grow and they are willing to roll up their sleeves to work with us.