By Robert Deschene, North Bay.
Is it time for North Bay to adopt a ward system to elect city councillors?
A ward system, essentially, has an elected representative from varying neighbourhoods around the city. The representative from that area would have a greater knowledge of the ward; knowing about the needs and concerns of the people in that area, and bringing these to the attention of council. In our current system, those who run for office are often people who tend to be concerned about their neighbourhoods or their own businesses.
Some may ask why would this be needed and I would answer, simply look at the West Ferris area of North Bay. There is no greater symbol of the neglect of this area than Marshall Ave, a street that has so deteriorated that some would say there is no street left. Over the last 5 years, the street has become two city blocks of a hundred potholes and numerous large cracks. Some of these potholes have been filled over 50 times in this time period. Water and asphalt splash out of great puddles that form when it rains.
We should note that street is so important that it has special lights and signage as part of the Safe Communities Project. Two schools, a fire station, and several businesses are located on this street and yet the city has seen fit to ignore the poor condition of this street for years.
Another problem for the residents of the Ferris area is the disgraceful condition of Lakeshore Dr. Last summer the city paved 3 of the 4 lanes of a short section of this street but great lengths are cracked or strewn with large potholes.
Recently we were made aware that the last bank In the West Ferris area will close in September. Many senior citizens living in this area as well as local businesses will have to travel across town to do their banking.
See: Last bank in West Ferris set to close this fall
" Not our business, we don't assist businesses or decide where they go", said one councillor. Really, because later we learned of a Community Improvement Fund, but for some reason West Ferris is not included. A poll in BayToday asked should taxpayer money be used to help businesses.
Perhaps other questions should be asked?
1.Why was West Ferris excluded from the Community Improvement Fund? How much tax money from West Ferris was spent to improve other areas of the city?
2.How much money was spent on infrastructure improvements to service the new businesses in the Mckeown Area? The street was widened and new intersections were added with street lights.
3. Do the taxpayers in the West Ferris area not deserve to drive on safe streets.
4. How much money will it cost to extend services up Thibault Hill and are there any on council who have a financial interest in the land to be developed?
To many in the West Ferris area, we are treated as second-class citizens, as our tax dollars are spent to pave streets and to assist businesses in other parts of the city. It seems that to some West Ferris is the hood, a ghetto, a place for houses made from recycled shipping containers like the ones being built on Marshall Ave.
So yes maybe it is time to bring in a ward system to represent all areas of the city because the current system is failing the good people of West Ferris.
A resident of West Ferris