Backroom Briefing Q: Is It True City Hall Used To Serve As Home To Mayor Of Peterborough?

Note: This is the debut of David Goyette's "Backroom Briefing" for PTBOCanada. For more info on it, click here.

-------------

Q: I think it would be cool if the Mayor lived in City Hall kind of like the White House. Are there still living conditions on the top level and is it true it was once used to house a Mayor of Peterborough? —Pete Dalliday

Goyette: It may be that you have your tongue firmly planted in your cheek, but the issue is a good one. When Peterborough City Hall opened in October of 1951, with Ottawa Mayor Charlotte Whitton and Peterborough (England) Mayor Chamberlain officiating, there was an apartment on the third floor for the building’s stationary engineer and his family, who also functioned as a caretaker and had a wonderful habit of keeping detailed weather reports. As it happens, he was a relative of local drummer boy and jazz aficionado Verne Hope. The apartment is now reused for other purposes, as are the former courts and the Justice of the Peace offices.

There is no Canadian tradition of cities providing housing for Mayors. MPs and MPPs receive housing allowances to pay for apartments when they are away from their constituencies, and there is a time honoured practice of the overnight “coucher” by senior politicians dealing with emergencies or deadlines. There have been a handful of occasions when I nodded off with a team of political types in an overnighter to get something important ready for the next morning.

Americans do it differently, and a good example is Gracie Mansion at East End Avenue and 88th on the East River in Manhattan, which is the official residence of the Mayor of New York. I spent some cherished time there with former Mayor Ed Koch -- one of my favourite people -- who actually eschewed the Mansion as a residence in favour of a more comfortable and downscale apartment in Greenwich Village.

In the early 80s, we mulled over the idea with Toronto Mayor Eggleton of designating Spadina House as the Mayor’s residence -- a stately pile on the escarpment that was willed to the City and had become vacant, and whose big time neighbours included Casa Loma and “Arwold” -- the former Eaton estate. The potential downside turned out to be too large and it was dropped. The house reopened in 2010 as a City museum.

Would a taxpayer funded Mayor’s residence work here? Can’t see it. We are a community that wants to keep our politicians’ feet on the ground, and there is a very healthy cultural attitude that reminds all elected officials not to get too big for your britches. 

------------------

David Goyette is the Executive Assistant to Peterborough Mayor Daryl Bennett. For more on his Backroom Briefing column, click here. Email your burning questions for David about City Hall to feedback@ptbocanada.com.

Tip us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.

Breast Cancer Month In Peterborough Kicks Off At City Hall Friday Morning

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Cancer Cancer Society members will be on hand this Friday, September 30th at 9:00 am at City Hall to raise the pink flag to celebrate breast cancer survivors and to remember those who lost their fight with the disease.

Mayor Daryl Bennett will be at the opening to officially proclaim October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
 
As part of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month Fundraising campaign, they are asking people to unite behind those living with breast cancer by making a donation and proudly wearing a pink ribbon.
 
Volunteers will be selling pink ribbons at the following locations in Peterborough on Friday, September 30th (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Saturday, October 1st (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.): Costco, Walmart, Canadian Tire – Chemong Road, Canadian Tire – Lansdowne Street, Morello’s Independent Grocers, Loblaw Superstore, The Beer Store – Lansdowne Street, Chemong Road and George St., LCBO – Lansdowne St. (at Chapters) and Portage Place, Dieter and Darcy’s No Frills – George Street, Ken’s No Frill on Lansdowne Street and Towerhill Sobey’s.

Tip us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.

Some Findings And Input From The Parkway Road Meeting On Impact On Community

There were more than 40 people in attendance Monday night as Peterborough's James Burrett introduced us to the continued work by the City of Peterborough on moving traffic through our city. The main issue that keeps creeping up every ten years or so, he pointed out, is the intended Parkway route. Recently, City council endorsed a $52.3M roads plan that included a two lane road as part of the Northern Parkway extension route. James was heavily involved with the Parkway Referendum and believes this:

"There is more to a community than just how much time it takes to get from Point A to Point B."

Derrick Foley has volunteered to help with public awareness and says that there will need to be 5,000 to 10,000 signatures to make City Hall recognize the issue. What was odd, it was pointed out, was that so much money was going towards this extension route and yet not one of the ten highest accident intersections are being improved. As was pointed out:

"What is $52 million dollars going to solve when we don't really need this? We are a very green community. Tell your councillors that this makes no sense."

The City of Peterborough and Morrison Hershfield invite you to the third and last Public Involvement Centre (PICs) being held June 28th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Evinrude Centre to seek input on the following:

  • Phasing of the previously recommended Road Network Improvements.
  • Trail/cycling network improvements.
  • Key policy initiatives to support transit, active transportation and transportation demand management.

[Contributed by PtboCanada's Evan Holt]

Tip us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.

Video: Amazing Turnout At City Hall Last Night To Oppose Transit Cuts

Many people are pissed about the proposed transit cuts in the Patch. And they showed it loud and clear during a city council meeting last night in a great show of democracy in action.

The next meeting on the proposed cuts is tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Evinrude Centre, a bigger venue to fit everyone in.

[CHEX TV]

[Related: Facebook Page Launched To Raise Awareness About Proposed Cuts To Peterborough Public Transit]

Tip us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.

PtboCanada Interview: Mayoral Candidate Daryl Bennett

Daryl Bennett (photo courtesy Bennett campaign) Daryl Bennett, 62, is running against incumbent Paul Ayotte for Mayor of Peterborough in the October 25th municipal election. Bennett, a Principal in The Liftlock Group of companies, grew up in East City and attended Armour Heights Public School and PCVS.

Bennett has volunteered for causes such as the 2004 flood relief effort, the campaign to build a new hospital and saving Market Hall. He is also a sponsor of bursaries at Trent University, and was named Citizen of the Year in 2004.

In this interview with PtboCanada, Bennett gives his vision for the city, and the reasons why he thinks he has what it takes to be Mayor.

 
PtboCanada: You say you declared your candidacy because you care about our city and about the future of our city. The way things are going, how does Peterborough's future look? Are you concerned about lack of jobs here? And if so, how do you propose we turn things around? Also, you say you intend to revitalize Peterborough and provide new opportunities for its residents. Can you give us an idea of some of the main policies and how they might differ from Mayor Ayotte's approach.

Bennett: I would not be running if I didn't think it was necessary. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to become the Mayor. The decision came over the past four years, brought about in part by watching and listening to people's concerns about how difficult it had become to deal with City Hall—the stories about families whose children were spread far and wide because of the lack of opportunity in our own community; the stories about elected members of Council speaking about their lack of empowerment to deal with the needs of their constituents under the current regime. And finally, the decision came looking at a picture of my youngest grandson, with a perceived caption of him saying, "Why didn't you try to do something for my generation?"

One of the most important functions of the Mayor is to build consensus. It takes six votes to pass all matters at City Hall and it takes leadership to bring the members of Council together to do what is best for the community. Gaining consensus and making decisions is something I've done all my working life. The job of bringing business and tourists to our community starts by getting the operations of the City in order and creating a new environment of customer service. We, the Council, create the environment that pro-actively sets the agenda for progress. That means that we don't just follow processes that are already in place. The days of dotting i's , crossing t's and filling in the blanks so we can convince ourselves that everything is in order are over. We have far more potential to be the best we can be, and our job is to get on with it.
 
PtboCanada: What would you do to clean up our downtown, get rid of the crime/drugs/panhandlers, etc.? How would you help change the perception that our downtown is not safe and get more people down there to support the local businesses?
 
Bennett: Some of the answer is already in place, through the promotion and activities of the DBIA (Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Association), but we can do more. I think the Police Service has done good work as well. What we need to add to those is a more frequent consultation with and involvement by the businesses themselves, so that the health of the core is always top of mind. I think that the opportunities for eyes on the street that result from downtown housing will help, as will a new approach to downtown waterfront improvements. The ultimate strength of the downtown lies in a collective understanding that we all have a precious and historic resource that has to be actively supported in order to compete with the powerful suburban model.

PtboCanada: Aside from your website you launched, we noticed you're employing social media (Twitter) as part of your campaign @Bennett4Mayor. Will you continue to "tweet" if elected mayor as some other mayors do (e.g. Mayor Ellis in Belleville, Mayor Miller in Toronto) to let citizens know what you're up to in the community? How will you make yourself accessible within the community?

Bennett: I think it's time we bring a new generation of technology to reach out to people, and Twitter is a good example. So is internet voting. Personally, I will continue to operate much the same as I have for the past forty some years. I'm very much hands on; I understand that communication is essential in any business or government, and people will not have to wonder what I'm up to.  

PtboCanada: How do you plan to reach out to the younger generation (Gen X, Gen Y) to show them you care about their needs? Because they are the future of this city.

Bennett: Well, everything about our campaign is aimed at providing the kind of leadership that will improve our collective well-being, and particularly for youth, whose opportunities to stay here and find work and a good life are far too limited. Peterborough has good schools, and we are fortunate to have Trent and Fleming to attract youth and to develop their skills. But it is our job at City Hall to create the employment and community conditions that will entice them to stay. As part of our campaign, we will be scheduling community consultations for youth so we can hear from them directly. As Mayor, I am attracted to the idea of a permanent Youth Council so their concerns are always on our agenda.

PtboCanada: For those that say Daryl Bennett is "a suit", all about business and his "old boy network", what do you say to that?

Bennett: Well, it all comes down to what a business is and what business people do. To me, business is a process of bringing people together to create, advance or resolve things. We all do that. Whether it's creating a lease on a building, operating a retail store, operating a media outlet, drafting the framework for a new by-law or delivering a social program, you bring people together to make change that is in the interests of your customers and your community. I've had some forty years of business experience where I have done just that, and I've had some success at it. I believe I can apply that experience for the benefit of the people of Peterborough.

PtboCanada: What would being Mayor of Peterborough mean to you?
 
Bennett: A wonderful opportunity to give something back to the community that has been so good to our family. A vote for me on election day will be a statement that the citizens of this community think we can do better.  

[Daryl Bennett's website; 2010 Municipal Election; MyKawartha's Electionfest blog]

Tip us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.

PtboPic: City Hall In Bloom

 

Send your PtboPic to us at tips@ptbocanada.com. Follow us on Twitter @Ptbo_Canada.