Clarington mayor Adrian Foster is facing a new challenger in his bid to be elected for a third term in office.
Mark Canning, a mayoral candidate, has challenged the current mayor and is running for the top job. Canning says livability is key and Clarington does not “live up” to its full potential.
“Clarington is a changing municipality,” Canning says. “We have people who have come here from the Greater Toronto Area because of affordability [and] people who have been here for a long time, for several decades. You have the folks, like myself, who have been here for around 30 years.”
Canning says he recognizes the variety of people living in Clarington.
“We have a whole range of different people in different cohort groups,” Canning says. “We have the Gen Z, millennials, all the way up to older adults.”
The range of people who live in the municipality inspired Canning to create a platform where livability is the main focus.
“After talking to a lot of people across Clarington, we needed to have a platform that was, what we call, ‘building the greatest or the best most livable community in Canada’,” Canning says.
For him, livability means many things – affordability, access to local jobs, walkability, places and spaces for people to connect and active transportation.
“As you get older, you’re looking at groceries, healthcare, access to programs and services which are affordable,” Canning says. “A reason we’re focused on livability is because we don’t want to lose these folks. We don’t want to lose our young folks to some other areas. We don’t want to lose our older adults to another area.”
Canning says the first step in making the municipality more livable is getting finances in order for the people who live in Clarington.
“We’re going to ask the [council] departments to take a little bit less in terms of how they budget things, not in terms of removing services, we don’t really have enough services to remove,” he says. “It’s not about people changing jobs, it’s really about finding efficiencies. This could be, technology as an example. It might be instead of having this particular service, we use technology.”
Also with a technological future in mind, Mayor Foster – who beat John O’Toole for the mayor’s job in 2014 by about 1,300 votes – plans to continue modernizing Clarington if re-elected.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we need to finish and that we need to get going with,” Foster says.
‘Stuff’ such as plans for a GO Train extension, the Courtice GO park-and-ride and the Bowmanville Hospital which hasn’t had a major renovation in 30 years.
“It’s all about finishing the projects we’ve started,” Foster says. “I want to see what we’re doing with the zoo land, that’s a legacy issue, a clean slate in terms of what we can do with that. Camp 30, I would like to see more progress on that, and I think we will.”
One main focus of Mayor Foster is the creation of jobs. He wants to improve developed lands to further careers and fuel the economy in Clarington.
“We’re turning away business because we don’t have water sewers in the ground right now, we don’t have serviced lands,” he says. “So I’m really hoping we can turn that around and it’ll help us attract more business and jobs.”
“What does Clarington mean to me?,” says Foster. “An absolutely extraordinary community.”