City of Cornwall
Mayoral Candidates

James Leroux
One large investor since 2019 still awaiting for permits to build two hundred unit, this would have allowed more housing and what price, but the municipality waste time to build their own and at what price? Understand that this person intend is to sue the municipality. This council should be talk with or replace an ongoing permit issue since 2010.

Justin Towndale
Housing is my top priority in my platform. I personally think that it is difficult to identify a single area as having the most need when it comes to housing. I strongly believe that we do need a homeless shelter in the city of Cornwall. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne was looking to establish a wellness centre in the city and encountered some issues with permits and location at the time. I know that they are still looking. I’ve spoken informally with Grand Chief Abram Benedict and we believe that we can partner on a homeless shelter. Finding partners to work with is key to the success of this project. I understand that there are a number of non-profits in the area who are able to also provide funding and services to assist with a shelter. If we can establish a group of partners, I believe that we can make this happen. 

We also have a significant need for affordable housing. The city took some major steps this term in an attempt to address these issues. We are nearing completion of the project at McConnell and Ninth, and Phase 1 of the project at Pitt and the 401 has been green lit. We also partnered with a developer for the project at Pitt and Second. This level of investment in affordable housing is unprecedented in the last decade in the city. However, now we need to ensure that we continue our momentum. The city needs to ensure that it can secure funding from other levels of government for future phases of the Pitt Street project. We also need to look at putting money aside in a reserve for future phases or projects. 

The city also needs to continue to look to partner with developers to build additional affordable housing units. This includes partnering directly on the construction of the units, and also having discussions with developers about incorporating these units into neighbourhoods they are planning. Affordable housing requires a variety of units, so we should be working with developers to ensure that a variety of units are being built across the city. A single family dwelling is not suitable for everyone, same for semi-detached and townhomes.  

When it comes to our by-laws and administration, right now I think that permits are our biggest hurdle for housing. We’ve recently seen how permits are holding up development and how they have put 200 new affordable housing units in jeopardy. We again need to ensure that we are working with developers and investors for better outcomes for the city. Our recent review of the zoning by-law now allows for the construction of secondary residential structures on properties as well as tiny homes. These are positive steps. Now it is incumbent on the City to ensure that this information is well known and that these types of builds are being encouraged.  

Council Candidates

Bruce Baker
This is, simply put, the biggest issue in our community today. There are several factors that compound together to make the situation all the worse. First, there are simply not enough houses to meet the demand of our city’s population. This has a negative impact on the cost of a home as those with the means to afford a home are competing with one another, making the overall property value artificially bubble. This leaves behind, and creates more, people and families who do not have the means to buy a home. But that’s only one half of the problem, we need to make sure the solution we bring in has equity in mind. Put differently, more houses are great, but they need to not only help the affluent but also those in the lower echelons of the income pyramid. This is where my solution comes in. What we can build in our city is wholly dependent on our Zoning, which is seriously outdated. Cities like Seattle have used modernized zoning to densify their residential zones, basically making taller apartment complexes and ensuring that a certain percentage of those units are “affordable”. We can use affordable flexibly, meaning being no more than X amount of dollars per month, or rent-geared to income.

Unfortunately, we have to face the reality that these solutions won’t work for everyone, and even if they did these buildings don’t appear overnight. Cornwall has a homelessness crisis, and we need a shelter sooner rather than later to ensure these people are getting the care and conditions that they have a right to as human beings.

Todd Bennett
Thank you for your question. This topic needs to be continually discussed to keep the issue front and center.

My short answer is this. I have voted in favor of every housing initiative that has come before council. I sit on the Joint Liaison Committee between Cornwall, and the counties of SD&G where we share these services and manage them for the counties. At that level we are having ongoing discussions about housing. Where it should go, who should build it, identifying available lands to build on and lobbying the upper tiers of government for funding.

My daughter has been negatively affected by the Cumberland Gardens mass evictions and has not been able to find a place to live and is running out of time for herself and my 2 grandchildren to find an affordable place to live. If she does not find something by the end of December, she will be homeless and will have to move her family in with my wife and I. You can imagine this is not something a 30-year-old single mom with a full-time job and a part time job needs to be dealing with.

Believe me, I know how important this issue is, and will continue to look for ways to fix it with all community partners.

Carole Boileau
Rentals are becoming very high even the working poor are having difficulties making ends meet. With food prices also going ridiculously up, one must often decide to either pay rent or put food on the table. It is therefore also much harder for those on disability or welfare to find decent living quarters. There should be more housing complexes. I imagine a big heated building somewhere with cots and or beds for those unfortunate to be on the streets mostly as winter approaches. It was the first I heard of tent city last year and that should not exist. We need to help in lodging these people at appropriate places for safety and warmth. 

Buying a house? Forget about it for the average citizen. Costs are sky high and material is very expensive to buy low and renovate. 

I presently am a member of the Vibrant Community project under the SDC. I am on all 5 pillar committees including housing and have been for over 4 years. I am willing to continue to fully participate in this project and help any which way I can.

Cory Dixon
Based on the issues I see housing as one of the top issues. One that if elected, I’d try and work with council and the administration to expedite the current projects as well as future
plans. I’ve heard that land is hard to come by. I’d like to look at the list of City owned properties that can either be converted or demolished and rebuilt into additional social housing. 

I’ve heard people in the community suggest tiny homes and I think all options should be explored to combat this crisis and if by-laws need to be amended to do so then lets get it done! Including looking at geothermal heating and solar power or even the viability of NDB (Nano Diamond Battery) and how we can help this come to market faster! This is not only a great benefit to our environment but there are no monthly bills coming in, putting money back in our pockets. This would also require lobbying upper levels of government, not only for grants but also for amendments to permit “off the grid living”.

While less progressive, I’d try and encourage council to become a larger investor in residential and commercial properties. Some “geared to income” housing and others where the City can make fair market profits, creating the opportunity to increase revenue, which would help create a sustainable tax system and funds to improve or add to our current services. 

Homelessness needs to be looked at from all angles. I’m going to play “Devils Advocate” here and hope not to get crucified. I don’t want this taken out of context. I’ve helped many people in my personal life but the reality is I don’t have unlimited money and have had to stop short, when I wish I could have done more, because I just couldn’t afford it.

Building a shelter will end up bringing the homeless from surrounding areas like, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto to our City seeking help and I don’t blame them, but now we’re committing to not only helping our community but any Canadian that needs help. That’s a pretty noble cause but that’s going to come at a great cost to our City (us the tax payers). This is something we have to really make sure we’re financially able, to make that commitment. We need to do a cost study on not only building and staffing a homeless shelter but also look at other communities that have done this and to try and determine what the influx in people will be. Once we have all the financial details, we should put this out their for our community vote on. This is a big decision and one that if we do, we all need to be behind. So with that said, like most of us, I have a bleeding heart and feel like we have to help. I think we have a moral obligation to do so but I represent the community and regardless of my personal feelings, I would cast my vote with my community. 

Now to talk about the other angles. I think while a homeless shelter is needed, this is a reactive approach to a problem and we also need to be looking at proactive solutions to not only prevent people from going homeless but also getting people back on their feet, if they do. Now, it’s not always the case, but that means we need to triage the homeless and determine if there is an addiction or mental health issue. Then we need to have the rehabilitation and mental health services to conquer their demons. These three issues can be in one facility, I think. The next step is looking at how we can help them either obtain the training or education needed to find gainful employment and finally affordable housing. 

We cannot solve our problems with simple black and white answers. We need to be collaborating and always looking at the big picture, which requires a lot of real life experience which sometimes as individuals we have, but it’s mainly from collaborating with people from all walks of life that have experienced the worst and the best. I’m one of those candidates that have been unfortunately, fortunate to have experienced the worst and the best. I was in my first apartment alone at 15 years old. My rent was $300 a month and I only made $300 a month delivering the Ad Bag. I used to wash dished at a local restaurant for one meal a day. I know what it’s like to starve and now I know what it’s like to fill my grocery cart without having to choose what I can’t afford to get.

Patrick Dussault:
Cut the red tape and fast track permits for Cornwall and SDG- more social housing with the assistance of the Provincial and Federal governments. Possibly look at buildings, such as “old” schools and convert them into affordable apartments. 

Work with all levels of governments for funding and fast track some projects with a rapid issuance of permits. A “homeless” shelter needs to be part of this discussion as the problem will not go away by itself!!

Sarah Good
The issue of homelessness and housing insecurity is so complex, that I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. I believe that we have a responsibility as a municipality to grow our stock of social housing to help reduce our growing waiting list. I believe we need to help “stop the bleed” when it comes to the sale of private rentals by incentivizing landlords who are currently renting their properties at below market value with grants and loans to improve their properties on the condition that they keep those properties rented at below market rents for agreed upon terms (10-20 years). I would like to review the city’s ability to legislate minimum percentages of affordable housing in new developments, and encourage mixed income developments. I believe we should be supporting agencies such as Agape and Centre 105 who provide meals and shelter for people in need. I would prioritize the recommendations made by the Mayor’s Taskforce on Housing, and would work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to find creative ways to collaborate to increase our stock of affordable housing.

Christopher Leclair
We for sure need more social housing and we can work with the federal government and provincial government to get more funding . I would go as far as not funding the arts centre with tax dollars. I rather see a homeless shelter and more housing for those in need. From what I know there is a longer then 5 year wait list and the city needs more then 700 housing units. The City should also cancel the water meter idea and use that money towards housing and a shelter for the homeless. The water meters will also take money out of pockets of those living in Cornwall.

With the high cost of  inflation,  the lack of rental units and the cost of rental units people are becoming more homeless. I spoke with a couple homeless myself while  giving some time to Centre105. I myself even work with someone who is current homeless, and someone who just found a new place. I went through a break up a couple of years ago and if I did not have my mom I would of been homeless myself.

I been speaking out about funding a  homeless shelter for the last couple of years, and more housing. Last night at the mayor debate our current mayor Glenn Grant didn’t agree with a homeless shelter and he said “ its not simple and we should put it on the back burner” We will not get any positive change with the old boys, its time for fresh blood and youth leading the city.

I hope this answers your questions. You can call me at anytime and I will gladly take your call.

Elaine MacDonald
Thanks to the SDC for the question. It is not only timely, it is almost universal, in Canada at least. And that’s encouraging in one sense because it make s it harder for upper levels of government to ignore the need. And funding necessary to build or renovate takes investment from the federal and provincial government. We as a city did wonders with the COVID relief funds we got from the province, in building at McConnell and Ninth and Pitt Street. We continue to press our case for more funding too, as much more is needed. 

As to where the need is greatest, I don’t think we need to look farther than current wait lists kept by Cornwall & Area Housing, where single bedroom apartments are in highest demand. But family sized apartments and accessible apartments are also scarce. As a municipality, we are generous with grant programs that allow small landlords the opportunity to add to their existing complement, especially in the downtown core areas, where transit is available. If I am re-elected, I will continue to press for investment from upper levels  of government and encourage rebuilds and new builds in the private sector, by offering tax incentives to local developers.

Fred Ngoundjo

I see a role for our municipal government as an imaginative leader in addressing the need for affordable housing in our community. Affordable housing is a cornerstone of our future. We can no longer just be bystanders waiting for developers to make a move -we need to be proactive. That is the kind of municipal government I believe in. 

I read recently in the Toronto Star that “one of the oddest things about the housing crisis is that, strictly speaking, there is no shortage of housing”, but there is an acute shortage of affordable housing.” The greatest need is for modest but well planned and attractive dwellings that are environmentally sound. That’s why I would propose concrete innovative initiatives to deal with this fundamental issue. 

  1. To begin with, we should at long last see to purchasing the former industrial lands (Domtar and Courtaulds) for diverse housing. This should have been done a long time ago. Too much of our city is taken up by these huge empty unattractive areas that have been lying empty for decades and will continue to do so unless we take bold action. They waste so much land in the West and East ends. It is now crucial to create Creating available land for housing. 
  2. This means tackling the issue of cleaning up those polluted former industrial lands and making sure the polluters foot the bill. 
  3. A Housing Revitalization Commissioner reporting directly to City Council should be appointed to oversee the planning and implementation of this program. I do not believe that the City of Cornwall currently has the staffing capacity to undertake such a major endeavour. 
  4. We must actively pursue every possible funding from Federal and Provincial programs. 
  5. A Community Housing Task Force bringing together not just developers but community minded individuals and innovative thinkers should brought together to actively assist with planning.
  6. Our planning bylaws must be independently reviewed to make sure they are not a barrier to providing affordable housing.
  7. We need to seek out and be open to adopting every possible good idea from other municipalities throughout Canada and indeed North America.
  8. With the benefit of the advice of the Social Development Council and its networks, appropriate lodging for those experiencing acute homelessness would be included in this plan. 
  9. A comprehensive partnership with private enterprise would provide for a guided plan to incorporate diverse housing in the new lands.
  10. This program would be funded by new revenues from the sale of and assessment on new homes and  apartment dwellings which would be built on these new revitalized lands.

Claude Poirier
The Municipal Council and your elected representatives have an important role in shaping housing policy in our community.

If elected I would commit myself to improving the housing situation of our local resident’s.  Council needs to explore every avenue to build additional social housing units, and

tap into any new and existing programs from the senior levels of government that would finance such initiatives.  City department must work with all parties to promote such development.  Property standards have to be enforced to maintain the quality and safety of residential units and their occupants.  We need to identify and deal with the homelessness issue within the city of Cornwall.  In my past experience as a member of Council I was successful in creating and obtaining funding for a not-for-profit group that built 65 social housing units.

I would hope to do so in the future if elected to Council.

Mary Jane Proulx
My only platform for this campaign is a awareness campaign for the feral cat problem in Cornwall.  It’s still bad!

When cat rescues are spending their own money and many elderly people are feeding a 5 – 10 cat colony. This is all unacceptable!

My organization is Cattrap and I have TNR over 300 feral cats. I even did a Documentary on the feral cats of Cornwall. 

A Vote for me is a Vote for the feral cats.

Jason Riley
I do agree that there is a real shortfall with affordable housing in our city.  We need to work with our Provincial and Federal members of Parliament to help solve this issue in Cornwall. 

After reading the CTV article yesterday, one quick thing we can do is make enhancements to our permitting process. Cornwall is notoriously slow with our permits.  We need to streamline the process to make it easier and more efficient for developers to get permits. Not only does our permit process hurt housing development it also kicks us in the behind with economic development.  Why would a new business want to come to Cornwall when all they will get is delays with their permits. 

We can do better and I promise if elected, I will help look at the permit process and work with the Mayor and council to make the affordable housing issue better. 

Denis Sabourin

Thank you for reaching out to all municipal election candidates with questions pertaining to the current housing crisis.

 I believe there are several initiatives that might prove effective in dealing with the social housing crisis as well as affordable housing development.

 We must be prepared to lobby senior levels of government and other stakeholders to develop partnerships in addressing the various aspects of social housing needs and affordable housing within Cornwall.

 It is clear there is a need for a housing shelter in Cornwall to assist homeless and those affected by poor housing conditions.

With the closures of several schools over the past years it would’ve been an ideal situation to work in partnership with other groups to convert one of the former schools into a drop in shelter for overnight accommodation and short-term tenancy.  We must explore potential partnerships to address this need and find an adequate facility in which to operate.

 The city could possibly set up an advisory group with landlords to explore ways and programs that will assist in the maintenance and improvement of rental property in the city.

 We must lobby federal and provincial governments for any funding available to increase the number of social housing inventory in the city. It is encouraging to indicate that two projects are underway that will help increase rental options in the city, but clearly it is not enough to meet the demand.

 Another area of opportunity also involves the federal government.  It was announced in August 2022, that the federal government is going to review the legislation and regulations pertaining to lease to own rental homes.  This is to assist young families who don’t have enough money for a down payment enter into a leasing agreement with a landlord.  This will allow the tenants to save enough money to make a down payment, at the end of a certain period of time.

The federal government has set aside two billion dollars to assist in rent to own agreements.

 Another area of partnership involving the federal government and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation would be co operative housing.  This would involve leadership from a local group or organization in establishing and managing the cooperative.  There is federal assistance for this program as well, but the local organization must demonstrate the ability to match funds.  We should at the very least reach out to the senior levels of government to explore funding opportunities.

 These are just a few suggestions that I would explore in greater detail as part of the city of Cornwall council team.

 Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions.

**Please note, Carilyne Hébert did not respond to the question to avoid a conflict of interest as she is employed at the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area**