I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1948. Left High school at 16, attended Technical College 2 years full time and 2 years part time, obtaining a Higher National Certificate in Building Technology. I started work as a junior site engineer, graduating to Site Engineer and to Site Agent in my early twenties.
I married my wife Virginia in 1972, and we emigrated to Canada in March of 1973 where I worked as an assistant Construction Superintendent for 6 months before changing careers to Policing.
I was employed with York Regional Police for 2.5 years before joining the Stratford Police Service in 1976. I worked general patrol until 1988 when I was promoted to Platoon Sergeant. In 1992, I was promoted to Detective in Criminal Investigation, where I remained until my retirement in June of 2006. During my policing in Stratford, I was on the contract negotiations bargaining unit from the late 70s to early 90s, and was President of the Police Association for 4 years in the mid 80s.
Following retirement, I worked half-time for 8 years with The Victim Witness Assistance program, assisting victims of crime to understand and negotiate the Criminal Justice System. In 2014, I was elected as a Councillor for the City of Stratford.
During my 4 years as Councillor, I served on the following sub committees: Community Services, Infrastructure Transportation and Safety, and Social Services. I represented the City on the following Boards: Police Services, Park Management, Stratford Tourism Alliance and Summer Music. I also served on the Sesquicentennial Ad Hoc Committee, as well as attending a great many events throughout the City.
Since coming to Stratford, I have been heavily involved in playing, coaching and refereeing soccer. I joined the Board of Stratford Youth Soccer in 1976 and have served on that Board continuously since then. I am currently serving my 2nd term as President. My prominent role over the last couple of decades has been facility development. I have also been a Board member of the Stratford Soccer Association (SSA) since its inception in 2006, and am currently the Vice President. SSA represents over 1,600 local soccer players, ages 4-64+. From 2015 to present, I have assisted in coaching Special Olympics Soccer athletes in Stratford.
Over the past four years I have captained a team in the Coldest Night of the Year Walk, raising funds for Shelterlink. Thanks to the generosity of many of our great citizens, our team has raised over $15,000 for this worthy cause.
Saving the best for last, … on the family front, my wife and I have two adult children, raised in Stratford, who have in turn blessed us with 6 (soon to be 7) grandchildren, all under 12 years of age. Four in Burlington, Ontario and two (soon to be 3) in Northern Ireland.
Each Candidate was asked to send a bio, photo and to respond to the ten questions below with a limit of 75 words per answer. We have identified any truncated content with “...” Please feel free to reach out to each candidate for more information.
1. Over the last five years, how have you contributed to the City of Stratford (volunteering, boards, etc.)?
I’ve served on the Stratford Youth Soccer Board for over 40 years, currently in my second term as President, and have coached and refereed Stratford youth throughout that time. As Vice President of the Stratford Soccer Association Board, I’ve helped fundraise for the new artificial turf field at the Festival Hydro Community Park, and continue to fundraise for a fitness park with 1.8km of accessible trails and fitness stations. Over the last 4 years...
2. What do you believe your unique contribution will be to council (strengths)?
I am a team player and effective listener, and enjoy working with and helping people from all walks of life. My work with Stratford Police Services, Police Association and Victim Witness Assistance, coupled with my 40+ years of experience coaching Stratford youth, has provided me with a broad perspective of the diverse individuals that make up our community.
3. What would you like to see achieved over the next four years (be specific)?
The 1st phase of the Grand Trunk Community Hub at the Cooper site. The City must take a considered and visionary approach. Input and dialogue is essential from all interested parties so it can be properly designed to accommodate the many use cases, both present and future. I’d also like to see additional Affordable Housing projects, progress on Storm water infrastructure, annexation of land to attract more industry to the City resulting in an increased...
4. What committees do you see yourself sitting on and what experience qualifies you for that committee?
I’ve worked closely with the Community Services department of the City since the mid 1990s. As a police officer, I was frequently involved with the Social Services department of the City. My experience in construction gives me good insight into the challenges and processes of the Infrastructure, Transportation and Safety department. I have served on these sub committees over the last 4 years, and if elected will apply to be on them again.
5. What means of transportation are you using in the city, and/or in and out of town and what improvements do you recommend?
Stratford is very fortunate to be a walkable City, and I walk when possible, but otherwise use both car and bicycle for transportation. In terms of improvements, I’d like to see pedestrian crossing lights at key locations (i.e. Avon theatre). We should also provide better defined bicycle lanes and use of one way streets as part of the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, more functional roundabouts to calm traffic at key intersections, and add...
6. Describe what you believe the Cooper Site should look like in 10 years?
A vibrant community gathering area with lots of amenities for all citizens to connect and engage. This is a unique opportunity that most cities can only dream about, and includes, first and foremost, accommodation for the Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association (SLAAA). This initiative may also include the YMCA, expansion of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus, Youth Centre, Maker Space, Cultural Arts Centre, Rail Museum and police station.
7. What are your objectives with respect to housing and how do you expect to accomplish them?
The City needs to continue to apply for grants to support the construction of affordable housing. Carefully zoning the use of multi-family residential buildings can help stop urban sprawl. This is already happening in three locations in Stratford, and with sensible urban planning we can keep our downtown vibrant.
8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
- Annex land for industrial use, increasing Stratford’s tax base.
- Use of existing innovative methods to extend the life of buried infrastructure, such as liners designed specifically for sewer and water lines.
- Continue to lobby Provincial and Federal Governments for grants involving large infrastructure projects.
9. How will the new provincial legislation with respect to conflict of interest on municipal councils, coming into effect January 2019, hinder your effectiveness on council?
I don’t see this hindering my effectiveness on council. All councillors will continue to be required to declare when conflict of interest issues arise. In my 4 years on council, I only abstained from voting on one project, declaring pecuniary interest in a matter relating to Stratford Soccer Association (I’m on the SSA board as Vice President).
10. How will you encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development?
Stratford provides a lot of opportunities for youth to engage, and does a decent job given the limited resources available for a City this size. As an example, the recent success of the UW Stratford Campus going from 16 students a few years ago to over 600 students now, and continuing to grow at a rate of 20%/year. In terms of youth retention, many communities face this issue, in addition to catering to a...