In a press conference outside Clarence-Rockland city hall, councillor Don Bouchard announced his candidacy for the 2022 mayoral election. Current mayor Mario Zanth is expecting to announce whether he will pursue re-election on May 2, but until then Bouchard is the only candidate that has announced his candidacy.
When asked what prompted the decision, Bouchard said, “For the past four years I’ve been councillor for ward four and thoroughly enjoying the experience of serving residents, not just of ward four but the entire municipality. I see the work that we’ve done so far and it’s great work, we really have a great team, but I think we can do more and I think I’m the person to bring Clarence-Rockland to that next step.”
Bouchard said that if elected mayor, he’ll focus on economic development within the region. Attracting more businesses is important for expanding the economic power of the municipality, he said, as well as taking some pressure off residents in terms of taxes.
“We’ve done a lot on economic development already, but now we need to be able to move forward and attract more businesses. We’ve only got about six percent of our tax base that is commercial and in industrial, so basically we rely a lot on residential taxes and that’s why residential taxes are so high,” he said. “We need to have more attraction power, to have a team with people like myself who can go out and meet entrepreneurs, people looking to open businesses, and convince them that this is the place to do it.”
He also said that taking care of the region’s rural roads is very important to him, as people in rural areas pay just as much in taxes as any other resident, but don’t get the benefits of municipal water or sewage. They pay taxes for just their roads, so those roads should be properly cared for.
“I think 90% of any complaints that we get at the city are about gravel roads and ditches, so we need to be doing better for that. I think there’s a good strategy that we have in the works to be able to do more preventative measures,” he said. “We have 90 kilometres of gravel roads in Clarence-Rockland, so if every year we can take thirty kilometres and do a very good job on adding more gravel on them and doing serious maintenance, then it’s gonna work. But at the same time, it’s gonna need to be at the next budget, and we’re gonna have to work some magic to be able to get that in the budget, and to me it’s a priority. People in rural areas pay a lot of taxes as well, and most of them don’t have running water or they’re on septic, and basically all they have is that gravel road and we need to do better taking care of it.”
Finally, he mentioned that expanding the cultural scene within Clarence-Rockland is very important to him. The town has a great hall that can hold concerts and other events, but it hasn’t been used yet due to COVID. Hosting events will not only bring more business to the township but improve the quality of life for residents.
“We have a great hall where we can hold concerts, comedy shows or whatnot, and we’ve never really tapped into having a nice cultural programming for the city. That’s something that we were able to pass at the budget, and we’re looking forward to making announcements soon that Clarence-Rockland will have actual shows with stars and really put Clarence-Rockland on the map.”
“We don’t have enough entertainment in Clarnece-Rockland. It’s always about going into town, and there’s no reason to. When you’ve got 26,000 people in Rockland, you need to be able to provide for your citizens and have real artists come down. We have a great hall, and we need to use it more.”
The mayoral election will occur on Monday, October 24. Potential candidates still have plenty of time to announce that they’ll be running.