Why did you decide to run for council?
I have 11 years of municipal experience with the City of North Bay.
I was elected 11th out of 17 candidates in the 2006 Municipal Election. In February of 2008, I was sworn in as the youngest member of North Bay City Council (at the time). I am the current Chair of Engineering, Public Works and Environmental Services. She sits on the Waste Resource Liaison Committee, Cassellholme, Heritage North Bay, and the Nipissing Parry Sound District Health Unit. I have served as Chair of Engineering and Public Works, Deputy Mayor, Budget Chief, and Chair of General Government at different points throughout my time on City Council. I have previously sat on the General Government Committee, Board Member with the Capitol Centre, the North Bay Public Library, the Planning Advisory Committee, the Concerned Citizens of North Bay and Area Committee and the North Bay police Services Board.
My previous work experience in economic development, coupled with my education in recreation and leisure services along with my current experience with social services gives me a well rounded approach when making my decisions. When I was 26 years old, I was in and out of contract jobs. My siblings had all moved down south and that was the last thing I wanted to do... so I put my name forward for council. I wanted to make a change in the City of North Bay and work towards bringing my siblings back home.
Politics is in my blood. My grandfather George Gravelle was the Reeve of East Ferris, while my father has been the Mayor or Deputy Mayor of East Ferris for the last 40 years. My sister Louise works for the legal department in Innisfil and my brother Billy has also attempted to take office in Toronto.
My approach is very grassroots. My dad always taught us to listen to the people. They may not always like what you have to say but they will respect you for showing up and listening. I am honest, I do my homework and I vote my conscience.
To wrap up the question: “Why am I running for North Bay City Council?" It's because I LOVE North Bay. I see so much potential in North Bay and want to keep working to making it better than it already is.
What innovative projects would enhance life in your community?
A community wide job matching program would assist employers and job seekers. We already have the infrastructure for the program within the community and partners with the knowledge to make it work.
My father and his municipality created a formula that the Province implemented to help install natural gas to areas without it. I think that with the Province's support, we can take this same formula and provide high speed internet to the rural areas.
If you received a $1 million grant to use for your city any way you wanted, what would you do with it?
This is a tough question. Realistically, we should put the money and fix a road (that's almost all $1 million will fix). I would love to use it to increase transit routes, however, I would spend the million dollars in the first year or two and then would have to find the money to continue the service in future years.
If I could spend it on my wish list for one-time projects, I think I would split it up and spend it the following ways:
Accessible ramps to the a couple of our main beaches
Community events to bring us back to our roots. We need to look at Powassan's Clark 250 model.
Use it for our portion of the job matching program start up costs.
A million dollars isn't going to do a lot for a community other than for 1 time projects that have little ongoing costs.
What do you think are the greatest challenges your city faces?
Indecisiveness from council, competing for economic development opportunities not just with the Province but with the World but also lack of Provincial funding for infrastructure improvements.
Other than the official ways of communicating (minutes, municipal notes), how else will you reach out to your constituents to involve them in the decision making process?
This is an area that City Hall needs to improve on. We are open and transparent but we need to do better at getting our message out to the citizens. We already have facebook and twitter, public meetings and a web site. Perhaps a monthly newsletter posted on our website and that can also be emailed out to those who want to subscribe. I think we can also change how we provide information on our website to make it easier to read, understand and make it visually appealing. I am open to getting feedback and ideas on how we can do better at reaching our citizens.
What is your favourite thing to do in your city?
Walking down the waterfront with my family with one kid in the stroller and the other on her bicycle. We get some ice cream on the dock, play at the playground, swim in the lake and then cross the street to ride the train and carousel. A fun full day out for the entire family and it costs less than $20.
What do you cherish most about your community?
The beauty and the people. You won't find a more beautiful place than North Bay. You also won't find people that are so friendly and giving then our citizens. When someone is in need, we pull together as a community and lend a helping hand.
Where can people find you?
At my website - www.votevrebosch.com