Over the campaign I get asked to fill out surveys by various groups. In the spirit of transparency and also so people know where I stand I am posting the surveys. The first one is from the Niagara Association of Realtors (which only 8 out of the 23 candidates filled out) . Please take a read and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
2018 Ontario Municipal Election St. Catharines Candidates Survey
Provided to you by the Niagara Association of REALTORS® with the support of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara Association of REALTORS®, with the support of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, is
conducting a survey of all candidates running for office in the Monday, October 22, 2018 election. As a candidate
we are providing the opportunity to complete this survey and ask that you return to us no later than Wednesday,
October 10, 2018 at noon to email@example.com. Your response will be included in a
summary of responses which will be emailed to all our 1,200 members and the 2,500 members of the Greater
Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
The survey is a PDF fillable document which should take no more than fifteen (15) minutes to complete. Please
take the time to be a part of this important survey. We thank you for your participation and look forward to your
Candidate’s Name: Rob DePetris
Municipality: St. Catharines
Ward (if applicable):
Position Running For: Regional Councillor
1. Affordability of housing for first time buyers and availability of housing alternatives for seniors is a problem
throughout Niagara Region; What specific initiatives or incentives would you endorse to address this
In the longterm we need to look at the income levels of renters (it is not increasing yet cost of
housing is). We need to lobby and pressure provincial and federal governments to raise
supports and consider basic income funding for lower income earners to be able to afford rents.
That however is not going to change overnight. I would propose that the region take its housing
action plan and actually budget specific dollars to it and put timelines to the actions promised. I
think we need to have inclusionary zoning policies to encourage developers to include a
percentage of affordable housing in all projects. As well, we need to work as a region to
incentivize (ie. meaning property tax credits, lower development fees and dollars) the private
sector to build affordable housing and to repair the housing we have now. We as a region do
not have the adequate resources to build enough affordable housing nor is this conducive to
building neighbourhoods. We must partner with the private sector and we need to ensure that
we can provide enough incentives to make it worth the private sector investing in affordable
housing. In addition, I think we need to continue to look at other root issues around
homelessness (mental health, poverty etc.). In reviewing the Niagara Regions policies to date,
we have a lot of plans and good intentions but there are not hard deadlines or reviews of how
the plans are doing. This needs to change now.
2. On behalf of commuters who use public transit, there is a need to link all of the communities of Niagara;
The creation of Transit Hubs so that municipal services can interact with each other would be an option.
What process would you support to forward this initiative?
I am supportive of the plans and actions of the current regional council to date. However, I
would think that the creation of transit hubs has to carry some financial viability test with it. By
this I mean, there must be enough demand to create the hubs. In the end, government loses
money on transit as a stand alone, so we need to budget what amount is acceptable. I note in
your first line you say that "there is a need to link all of the communities of Niagara". I agree with
this but would add within a certain budget. This could include private partnerships.
To move the initiative along, I would put hard dates to the plan with a completely costed budget
attached. I would also want to make sure that the residents of St. Catharines and other
municipalities are treated fairly based on services received and the infrastructure and funds they
have already invested.
3. The Provincial Government has discussed enabling regions to implement Regional Taxation – effectively
creating another tax burden on home buyers, such as the second land Transfer Tax in place in the GTA; if
introduced in Niagara Region what position would you take?
I would need to understand more before making a final decision. However, I think that the
residents of Niagara currently face high property taxes and adding additional burdens to these
would not make a great deal of sense. We do need to figure out ways to raise additional
revenues but perhaps it could be in other means such as a tax on tourism spending.
4. Every community in the Niagara Region is experiencing incremental growth which can result in conflict
between Progressive and Established philosophies; how would you reconcile the two polar-opposite
positions for the benefit of all?
I believe in growth that fits within communities and strengthens them. To that end there is a
balance between progressive and established philosophies. I would reconcile the approaches
by examining projects on their own merits and determining for each whether they would
enhance or be detrimental to a neighbourhood.
That said we need to have an overarching plan for the region as to where growth and
densification make sense. We need to get public input and ensure we live within the plans that
we communicate to the public.
In the end, both growth and protecting what makes Niagara the best place to live are critical
and no one philosophy will get us there. We need to compromise and work together to figure
5. Most candidates talk about working together, about replacing conflict with unity, and about making
governance more transparent and effective, to foster an environment where things get done for the
benefit of the constituents they serve; what role would you play in ensuring this happens?
I would do the following:
1. Commit to documenting and setting out my positions on each decision I make to the public
2. Not being party to any backroom deals but encourage my fellow councillors to vote based on
facts and reason.
3. I do not think we need unity but we need honesty, transparency and common sense. We will
not always agree but we need to understand each others' positions and try to work towards
compromise that produces win-win situations. This will not always be possible but will be my
goal and I hope my fellow councillors' goals.
4. I believe we need to leave party politics at the door. We need independent councillors who
make decisions based on their own review and analysis for the best of their constituents. This
does not get done by voting blocks, receiving orders from party bosses as to what is better for
the party. The only factor a regional councillor should be asking is what is best for the people I
5. I believe Councillors should stick to the Rotary motto Service above Self. Council should be
about getting things done and not about promoting individuals. To that end I support term limits
for regional councillors (either 2 or 3 terms - I leave that open to debate).
6. The legalization of Cannabis has created legislative challenges at all levels of government; does current
smoking by-law legislation suffice or do other initiatives need to be introduced and if so what do you
I would think that this is going to be an evolving process and that the current smoking by-laws
may not cover all the needs that will result with the legalization of Cannabis. For one thing
Cannabis is not ingested through smoking but their are edibles etc.
We need to consider land use regulations with respect to the cultivation, processing and sale of
Cannabis. Where should we allow or restrict commercial growth? What about the impact on the
demand for water and electricity for such crops? Need to consider odour emissions. Need to
restrict where retail outlets are. Consider such things as proximity to children, clustering of
cannabis businesses, retail signage when granting business permits.
For personal cultivation, need to consider odour issues, landlord tenant issues, condominium
rules, and other factors. We will need to regulate much of these issues with bylaws.
Also need to consider rules regarding public consumption. We will need to review where people
can partake in cannabis outside of their own homes.
We will have a lot of work to do to consult with the public and come up with common sense rules that promote people's right to use cannabis without infringing on the rights of others. In addition, we will have to figure out a way to enforce all of this and a way to pay for this additional burden of enforcement.
7. How do we handle the challenge of low income housing and homelessness in the city?
Much of my comments to the first question would apply to this question as well. That said we
need to lobby for adequate funding to provide assistance to all in Niagara and we need to
prioritize funding for poverty and mental health.
As mentioned above, we need to put timelines and specific resources (ie. money) to the
affordable action plan developed by the Niagara Region. We need to make this a priority.
As for homelessness, much of this has to do with poverty, mental illness and drug abuse. Each
of these are issues that intertwine with the other. So we need a coordinated approach with the
front line groups (Start me up Niagara, Community Care, RAFT, CAMH, Positive Living Niagara)
and come up with comprehensive plans. I note we have a lot of plans but unfortunately it is easy
to plan, but they need the funds and efforts behind them to become reality.
These funds will need to come from other areas. This is one of my top concerns and we need to
prioritize our resources to solve this problem.