Vocalize Sarnia: Segment 6

You can view the rest of the answers from council over at Vocalize Sarnia Facebook page here.  

*Note from Mayor Mike Bradley*
Thank you to Vocalize Sarnia for giving Members of Council the opportunity to use this forum to answer questions from the public. Whether Vocalize Sarnia has one member or one thousand members, it doesn’t matter as this is what true community engagement is all about, accountability between politicians and citizens. The response to these questions are my own, personal responses. I did not seek outside advice nor will I be subject to restrictions or gag orders on responding to questions which I believe to be in the public’s interest.

1. Looking back on this past term, is there anything that you would do differently?

Mayor Bradley: Despite the obstacles and challenges imposed by council and others, I have continued to represent the citizens of Sarnia, being their watch dog at City Hall – not anyone’s lap dog. I have learned a lot personally which was detailed in my two public letters to the People of Sarnia. The lessons learned are lasting life lessons.

2. Does City Hall have insurance on vandalism for parks (all parks including Centennial) and how much? How does that work?

Mayor Bradley: The City of Sarnia has insurance which covers a wide variety of properties and its operations.


3. What was the TOTAL cost to taxpayers for everything related to the mayor violating the code of conduct in the workplace: legal counsel, renovations, financial settlements, integrity commissioner reports?

Mayor Bradley: Not only should the total cost be disclosed there should also be a detailed breakdown, which citizens have asked for, on the bills for the lawyers and the integrity commissioner. The public should also be informed, while discharging my duties in my capacity as Mayor of the City of Sarnia, I did not receive legal indemnification to assist in responding, despite two requests. A Council decision.


4. Did the 4 women who left city hall (re: Mayor Bradley investigations) recieve financial compensation? How much total?

Mayor Bradley: Throughout the last two years on the issue of the allegations against myself I have declared a conflict of interest and have not attended any in-camera meetings, received any reports, or been made aware of any financial compensation. By doing so I was following the Conflict of Interest Act.

5. Do you feel information regarding local governance is delivered to the public in a clear, accessible, easy to understand format?

Mayor Bradley: No.


6. Why is police and fire always over budget?

Mayor Bradley: The premise of the question is wrong. For example, the Sarnia Police Service, through its Board and Administration, has returned 1.7 million to the City in the last 10 years. In 2016, $240,000 was returned to the City budget to assist in its’ operations. Since 1988 to 2016 there were 25 years of favourable operating results. Four years with unfavourable. The net operation savings that went back to the City budget over that time was $3.2 million. Around the Province of Ontario this is cited as an example of responsible Police budgeting.


7. It was stated in many news outlets that the boat ramp part of the project is stalled, as they are waiting on plans from contractors. Why is there no plan, and why are people saying there are no issues? What is the estimated total cost to finish the boat ramp (as of TODAY, how much more will it cost to have a functioning boat ramp back), and when is it expected to be finished?

Mayor Bradley: These are issues which the public needs to know. Staff provided no new information on any possible completion date.


8. I have read online that our City Manager sued the city and continues to work for it. Is this true?

Mayor Bradley: Throughout the last two years on the issue of the allegations against myself I have declared a conflict of interest and have not attended any in-camera meetings, received any reports, or been made aware of any financial compensation. By doing so I was following the Conflict of Interest Act.


9. Do you think it is time to investigate other locations for a possible new boat launch? Why or why not?

Mayor Bradley: Did not support the re-location of the boat launch from its existing location. I believe the launch could have been upgraded given the existing parking lots, and not have a negative impact on the operation of the Sarnia Bay Marina, in particular the restaurant. The former location had served the public well and was well-known throughout the boating community as a boat launch location. Until the current issues are resolved unable to explore alternative locations.


10. One of the cities priorities is economic innovation. Tell me how you hope to achieve new business, or what other ideas you have to meet this goal?

Mayor Bradley: Always looking for new ideas and innovation. Recently brought to Council an idea from Windsor – Community Improvement Plan Programme – to create community development zones. Would create jobs and add to the growth of the economy. Have also been working with Southwestern Ontario Mayors on futuristic strategies on economic development and transportation. One of the key issues, personally, that has been the most exciting part of the last number of years has been being Chair of the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership and Chair of the Sarnia Western Research Park. Almost weekly announcements are being made at the Research Park as it relates to bio-fuels innovation, collaboration with Lambton College, Western, and other universities. The Sarnia Western Research Park, along with its counterpart in London, was chosen as the best out of 700 research parks in all of North America. The Research Park is our future in innovation and change is driving our agenda there. There are much bigger and better results to come in the future.


11. One year left of this council’s term. What do you hope to achieve in your last year?

Mayor Bradley: Will continue to advocate for citizens throughout this community and region on issues that are important to them. Will continue to push for fiscal fitness; reasonable restraint; infrastructure renewal; narrowing the wage gap; working with all on job creation; clean up and renewal of the St. Clair River and protecting the Great Lakes; protecting neighbourhoods and our farm lands; new resident attraction; leadership of the detox centre and for better transportation within the community and to access it.


12. In a recent Sarnia Observer article it is stated that this council will not be able to work together. What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel you can rectify this image?

Mayor Bradley: Continue to do my job despite the challenges and sanctions placed on me by Sarnia Council which many, in the legal community, believe are a violation of free speech and the Charter of Rights, and are focussed on being punitive, instead of healing and finding a positive way forward. In my view, after watching and listening to the public over the last couple of years, the October 2018 election will be critical in determining the future of the City. I will continue to do my job, day in and day out, until that date and to represent your interests at City Hall.


13. Transparency has been called into question with regards to this council and senior administration. Why do you think citizens of Sarnia are not trusting the information coming from city hall?

Mayor Bradley: My concerns have been documented in the past about openness and the relationship with citizens. Sarnia was often noted by the former Ontario Ombudsman as the most open government in Ontario. This is something I was very proud to be a part of in developing and pushing for rules that would penalize Councillors and Mayors who violated the “sunshine laws” of Ontario. I will continue to pursue this direction in the future.


14. In a short summary can you outline costs of centennial park from the original concept in 2012 to present: what has been spent and for what purposes (laymens terms), what else needs to be done (laymens terms) and what the total remaining cost will be with an approximate time frame when EVERYTHING regarding Centennial will be officially complete?

Mayor Bradley: Having stated publicly on a number of occasions that I will be bringing forward a request for a full and independent audit on the Centennial Park project when it is finished. An independent audit that would determine the actual spending and the decision-making involved in that process. When I recently inquired about the cost of the Agora building, was told that the cost was not identified and was mixed in with other items in the entire park. In any major construction project, the different segments should be costed our separately and properly tendered to protect the public’s interest.


15. Jackson Pool’s future will be considered as a part of the current parks and recreation master plan. Currently a group is trying to save this pool with a petition being circulated. Knowing what happened with a group trying to save the former kinsmen centre, that petition and the majority of council ignoring their plea, do you feel this is a waste of time for the save Jackson Pool organizers?

Mayor Bradley: The direction of Council was specifically that Jackson Pool would be dealt with outside of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. As Council indicated, as a majority, they wish to deal with the issue of Jackson Pool now, not later, given this would take us into the third year when Jackson Pool would not be open.
Have met with the Jackson Pool group that is trying to save the pool or renew or have re-investment in a new pool in the same location. This group is an excellent example of grassroots citizen power and hope Council would respect and listen to their advocacy. Of particular concern in the last number of years, as it relates to Parks and Recreation, Germain Arena has been closed, Kinsmen Centre has been closed, Animal Farm has been transferred to a third-party operator, and the show mobile has been shut down. The citizens of Sarnia are receiving less services without lower taxes.


16. Will the parking lots at Centennial be redone? If yes, is this included in the approved budget?

Mayor Bradley: Have no further information on the parking lots as to when they will be done and whether it is within budget from Administration.


17. Part One: Where does the mayor and council see the city of Sarnia headed in five years time? Part Two: How are they looking to bring people, businesses and institutions to their city?

Mayor Bradley: Have always looked at the long-term, not just give years ahead, but 10 and 20 years out in repositioning the City, moving us away from the fossil fuel industry which has served us so well and will continue to exist for generations. However, the leadership creating the bio-fuel innovation has been ongoing and started over 18 years ago. It is very much our future and Sarnia has developed an international reputation as a “cluster city” leading the way on bio-fuels and innovation and development.
The Origin Materials that has been recently announced is a good example. Have met with this organization from California working with Nestle’s to develop a bio-degradable plastic water bottle which will have huge impact on the lives and the environment of millions of people around the world.
Daily I meet with people from outside the community, building relationships and seeking investment in the City of Sarnia. Building a community is not just creating jobs, it is also reaching out to those less fortunate in their lives, dealing with a multitude of social issues that we need to address. I continue to try and address these issues, particularly working with the County of Lambton as it relates to housing, opiate addiction and other key social justice issues.


18. With the next municipal election fast approaching, there has recently been some comments by politicians and commentators about the balance of power between unelected administrators and their elected council counterparts and the effect of this balance on democracy. As a member of council, do you think that our city hall administrators typically overstep their statutory authority? Do you feel that they are now less accountable to council than was typically the case in the past?

Mayor Bradley: A recent editorial “The Subtle Changes of Democracy,” published in the Petrolia Independent (copy attached) I believe is an accurate assessment of what is happening across the Province of Ontario as it relates to the relationship between administration and Councils in some communities.


19. What is your vision for Sarnia’s future? Pretend it’s 2037: What do you see?

Mayor Bradley: The answer to Question No. 17 reflects very much my vision for Sarnia’s future. In 2037 I see Sarnia as a renaissance city that is environmentally and socially progressive and is viewed that way globally. The “New Sarnia” will have a diverse population and will be a growth community with strong environmental leadership in Canada in the new economy.

20. Councillor Mitro stated on Facebook that for the dredging of the harbour, the contractor did twice as much as the contract asked for. Did we get a 2 for 1 deal or did this cost more? Who oversaw this: who OK’s them to go over the contract, and was this dredging a part of: the boat ramp piece of the contract, a separate part of the project, or an overall added expense to the park?

Mayor Bradley: You would have to ask the Councillor where he obtained his information and validate with others the accuracy of that information. The project would have gone through normal tendering process, supervised by City Staff. The dredging of the harbour is part of Sarnia Harbour’s responsibility and is not part of the Centennial Park project.


21. Part One: A lot of people are calling for the CAO to be fired. Who has the power to fire her? Part Two: I heard she is suing the city a second time. Did she already sue the city once while continuing to work for it, and is it true she is suing a second time? Will we ever get to find out what the law suit cost our tax payers?

Mayor Bradley: Sarnia City Council has one employee which is the City Manager/City Administrator. All other employees report to the City Manager/CAO. Sarnia City Council is responsible for the hiring and performance reviews and has the same rights as it relates to hiring and termination of the relationship as do other employers.


22. Who is actually overseeing the Centennial Park Project? Is it multiple people overseeing different parts of the project? Who makes sure the work is being done correctly, to spec, and on time and budget?

Mayor Bradley: City Staff is responsible for the tendering/proposal calls and supervision of the project. I would refer you to my earlier response in Question No. 14 that there should be a full audit of the Centennial park project, independent from City Staff, to review the decisions made and the actual costs to the taxpayers over the lifetime of this project.