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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Stephen E. Kitras - Ward 5

530 Dickson Drive, FergusStephen Kitras 2014

Biography

  • Resident of Center Wellington for 26 years.
  • Lived for 15 years in Fergus – lived in ward 3 and currently works in ward 5.
  • Founder and owner of family run international decorative glass business – Kitras Art Glass Inc. in Fergus.
  • Employing over 25 people and doing business throughout Canada and USA with exports to the UK and Europe.
  • Member of Canadian federation of independent business for 18 years.
  • Single father of four adult children.
  • Undergraduate degree from University of Toronto for Philosophy and Literary Studies.
  • Diploma from Sheridan College of Crafts and Design for Glass.
  • On the foundation board of directors for Elora Center for the Arts.
  • Member of the Fergus Elora Studio Tour for 26 years.
  • Organized food drive for Fergus Elora Studio Tour for past 6 years.
  • Started new business growing hops for the local expanding micro-brewery industry in 2014.
  • Company Kitras Art Glass has contributed financially and with donations to many local causes and events.

Platform

I am running because after GSW closed, Center Wellington organized a development inquiry with manufacturers that I participated in.  I found that I had a lot of good, innovative ideas that the development officer appreciated.  This made me realize that I have a lot of experience and talents to contribute to Center Wellington’s dynamic development.

More importantly, my touching experience of neighbors and community helping me and my family when my wife died in 1999 has always inspired me to give back to my community.

Issues important to me are taxation and accountability, governance and transparency, bringing more jobs and businesses to Center Wellington and retaining them, affordable housing for lower income and young families, building friendly and socially dynamic neighborhoods.

Stephens Plan for Ward 5:

A balanced community has a 60/40 split between residential and business/industrial activity. Centre Wellington currently has a 90/10 split which always ensures taxes and fees will rise. This is poor development planning.

Economic Futures for Centre Wellington estimates that 5500 residents commute daily out of Centre Wellington to factory and business jobs where they end up spending their shopping dollars also.

  1. Make industrial land available for new business to locate and invest here
  2. Make Centre Wellington an investment friendly destination and provide tax incentives to create local jobs with existing businesses,
  3. Establish a Business Enterprise Centre to aid small business with advice in, planning, financing, marketing, mentoring and import/export advice.

“It’s time for a change in Ward 5” – Stephen Kitras

 

Questions & Answers

Question from Fred Hiller for Kelly Linton, Joanne Ross-Zuj and Stephen Kitras

What do you forecast for industry in Centre Wellington and what tax relief are we able to provide to enhance industry to locate here?

Kitras, Stephen: 
Hi Fred,

The outlook is dim for both your questions because of structural and policy directives from the past councils  since the amalgamation.

Centre Wellington  has No  industrial land available to invite industry and hasn’t for years. This has hurt every resident of Centre Wellington with higher taxes because industry subsidizes residential taxes. The county is also responsible for this mismanagement, not just Centre Wellington.

Our  regressive development fees also ensure we are not  on any company short lists to move here. We  need to look at this and reverse this policy.

Lastly, tax incentives to attract industry is not liked by the Mayors , county  councilors, town councilors and administrators because they just see the tax dollars as theirs and industry as a tax donkey. They can’t see the long term benefit of tax  incentives. I think that if you could link incentives to job creation ,then even small businesses could benefit. For example, a $1000 off your taxes for every employee hired that year, up to 5 total. This benefits more than just industry and creates jobs locally and helps small businesses also.

Question from Sandra Brown for Kelly Linton, Mary Lloyd, Fred Morris, Stephen Kitras, Walt Visser, Vinnie Green, Stephen O’Neill, Rob Black, Diane Ballantyne, David Gohn

What is your opinion on wind turbines?  For or Against?

Kitras, Stephen: 
I am adamantly against!!!   Everyone need to check out the website windontario.ca and get outraged.

Question from S. Brown for All Candidates, except School Board

Micro chip scanner for dogs.  Most dogs have micro chip identification and when I bought my dog licence learned Elora does not have a scanner – why not?

Kitras, Stephen: 
This sounds like a  customer  service  problem. I am sure if the proper department is notified they can fix it promptly.

Question from Jeremy Woods, President, Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No.149 for All Candidates, except School Board

The unit owners and tenants of the Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No. 149 (The Beckett Centre), at 820 Gartshore Street in Fergus would like to know the candidates’ views of the current Commercial Tax Rates and Classification.  In particular the possible creation of Commercial and/or Industrial Condominium Classifications.  We feel that we are being unfairly taxed – as an example, each of the 26 units are being taxed as if they are stand-alone buildings on their own lots, instead of one building, on one lot, broken into 26 units.  MPAC does allow for this in their assessments, and other municipalities in Ontario have created these additional classes.  By creating these classifications and reducing the overall tax base on these companies, may encourage more of these commercial condo buildings to be built.

Kitras, Stephen: 
I sympathize with your high taxes. I own the property in the industrial area of Ward 5.

Didn’t you know that this town’s Mayor,  council, county council and provincial government are all broke and need to extract  as much tax as possible from you. You’re a tax donkey !  Keep working harder like the horse in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

You are right a  reclassification is possible and should be looked into.

3 Question from Karen Hudson for any wishing to respond  (her 4th question was asked at the meeting on October 1st)

We have roads and bridges in poor repair.  Is there money to repair these, and is it really our money, or are we operating in a deficit?  Is there actually any plan?

Kitras, Stephen: 
With the downloading of all roads and bridge repairs to municipalities it has been a massive catch-up  for them. The operating budgets of municipalities have to be balanced by law but the back log of repairs  for Centre Wellington is apparently close to 91 million dollars  in infrastructure costs. I don’t know of any systematic plan.

What can we do to have influence over the slow progress in the building of a new hospital?  Genuine influence.

Kitras, Stephen: 
Phone your MPP  Ted Arnott.  It was approved when he was the official Conservative critic of the Premier Kathleen Wynne and he will know more hopefully.

Why did the mayor agree to such an elaborate expansion of the Fergus library?  It needed work, but this is far beyond what is sensible.

Kitras, Stephen: 
The Mayor is a far seeing planner as are all the County councilors. The just forgot to ask if we wanted  the library they chose.

In the past, municipalities and counties had more frequent elections, every 2 or 3 years but the province thought it better for economic and development planning to have elections every 4 years. It is better for planners but is less say for us. This structural change in elections tips more power to the planners. We need to address this structural problem in our democracy. Taxpayers need more of a say.

The County would have been prudent to offer 3 options , good , better and best. Then  presented pro and cons for each and serious input and veto powers to the residents. Instead they presented the best option to themselves and token improvements to satisfy their consciences about being inclusive to the taxpayers to the planning process. Faux Democracy by the planners.

Question from Frederick Schuett, owner One Axe Pursuits for All Mayoral and Township Candidates

What will you do to support small businesses and signage for tourist attractions?

Kitras, Stephen:
I support all small businesses and their signage difficulties. I will have to see what can be done if I get elected.

Question from Tammy Rutherford for Mayoral and Township Candidates

The Township Of Centre Wellington web page has a Termite Management Area map for both Fergus & Elora, dated May 2012.  There are more than 1300 properties within the boundaries, and there is no doubt the numbers are higher now.  The City of Guelph has a termite management program which was recently presented to the City Of Kitchener in light of the recent termite activity involving just 23 properties.  Do you think our township should adopt a termite management program to prevent the spread of termites?

Kitras, Stephen: 
This is a very serious problem that needs a systematic and comprehensive approach and addressed with conviction by the town. I don’t think the town likes to advertise the problem.

Questions (2) from Steven Wright, Wrighthaven Homes for Mayoral, Township and County Candidates

Nimby Syndrome:  Not in My Backyard or "NIMBY" is a major concern for builders and developers who are faced with community opposition to important new developments including affordable housing, higher density housing mixed use developments and other housing options that provide choice for everyone.  Do you agree that NIMBY needs to be addressed?  If so by what methods will you address NIMBY attitudes in the community?

Kitras, Stephen: 
This is a great question. Affordable housing was one of the items I listed on my platform. We badly need affordable housing. I am not keen on subsidized housing and favor co-operative housing instead. Mixed housing is the best housing option that doesn’t create extremes of poor ghettoes and rich gated communities. Centre wellington needs to address the fact that certain Wards are the only ones that have rental and affordable housing . This is a planning issue and I will voice my concerns about the NIMBY attitude.  I think if mixed housing with easy walking accessibility to amenities are shown to the public they will support this. Maybe not all but most will.

Places to grow legislation has increased pressures on planning departments to adhere to new rules and density requirements encouraging intensification in existing residential subdivisions and particularly downtown areas whereby often homes and buildings of heritage value exist.  Quite often these older buildings are in jeopardy as a result of requests to demolish so as maximize density requirements when a developer submits new plans to develop these building consistent with the places to grow legislation.  As a councillor do you feel you have the fortitude to resist pressures of the act and vote to deny the requests to demolish heritage resources?

Kitras, Stephen: 
I am against demolishing Heritage resources but for integrating the with tasteful modern design.

 

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