All Candidates Meeting – WBWBA and WBBA September 26, 2014 5:30pm Rec Plex
My name is Nina Bifolchi and I have had the pleasure of serving as a Wasaga Beach Town Councillor for 8 years.
I apologize to attendees and other candidates as I will be leaving following my speech in order to attend another event this evening. I have done my best to incorporate answers into my speech to the questions that will be asked of candidates later this evening.
I come from a family who has been in business for 48 years including over 25 years in Wasaga Beach.
Our summer season is very dependent on weather and can make or break a business. I know this first hand as my parents were in the tourism business. I remember one year that out of their 20 week season, it rained 14 weekends.
I am also a business owner who has been through the process of rezoning, official plan amendments, engineering and environmental studies so that I could open a business. I have a good understanding of the challenges the business community face from start up to sustainability.
The town is committed to investing in tourism and supporting our local businesses through a number of initiatives and partnerships that actively promote Wasaga Beach and attract tourism.
Some other initiatives are working with our local Chamber of Commerce, providing funding to businesses through the façade improvement program and supporting a casino that would bring visitors to our community all year long.
The town has created festival square, bought a stage and even approved a rave this year which turned out to be quite successful. I expect moving forward into next year festival square will be even busier.
In my role at the Conservation Authority I have been part of a collaboration between large scale development, municipalities and other approval agencies to ensure that our water quality is not affected by development upstream of Wasaga Beach as our river and the bay plays a large part of why people come to our community. Protecting this resource is crucial.
Attracting investment and experienced developers to Wasaga Beach is a challenge. In the 2010 election I stated that the town needed to be the leaders, needed to do the background work and turn town beachfront properties into affordable construction ready parcels as this would be a marketing strategy to entice new business to the area.
While there has been some criticism for the length of time to go through this process, preparing the land for a development of this type and size doesn’t happen over night. If each individual property had to go through the approvals process to deal with these issues separately, I believe our beachfront would never be developed.
The path council has been taking will result in our beachfront being built in a sustainable fashion that our residents can be proud of and our visitors wishing they didn’t have to go home. I believe it will provide year round attractions and businesses that are financially feasible for business owners and affordable for those of us utilizing them.
The town has no control over who purchases private land and whether they develop it or not. However, the town does have a say in town owned properties.
I will not support selling all of the town owned land at our beachfront to one corporation or owner. I am a firm believer that competition is a great thing as it demands excellence from those looking to do business in our community.
There are a number of factors that I believe have affected tourism. Weather, gas prices, the fact that people are choosing vacations closer to home, aren’t spending as much or are going to places that offer something different than what we have.
While the town does its best to encourage tourism, as business owners WE are responsible for our customers comfort, service level and enjoyment.
That being said, I believe the town should look at the possibility of hiring a grant writer. There is money to be had for events and tourism initiatives, but also for every other town department from parks and recreation to public works to IT. This position would be responsible for also finding funding that covers their wages.
As far as the question regarding transparency, I can stand here today and truthfully say that I have declared all conflicts of interest no matter how small during my time as a councillor. Declaring a conflict of interest is a councillor’s way of being open and above board.
As I have proven for the last 8 years I will continue to organize my personal commitments around my responsibilities as your Deputy Mayor. I can offer you strong experienced proven leadership and I am prepared and capable of moving Wasaga Beach forward into the future.
My website will continuously be updated over the next couple of weeks. Please take the time to browse the site and feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss anything further.
Thank you and good night.