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LETTER: Mayor encourages residents to read candidate platforms

Following his announcement to not seek re-election this term, Mayor Rob Keffer wants to clarify information about decisions made by current council
Mayor Rob Keffer addresses the town on May 14.

BradfordToday received the following Letter to the Editor from Mayor Rob Keffer:

Following my announcement in May that I would not be seeking re-election in this year’s municipal election, I have followed the efforts of our candidates with great interest. I applaud all who have decided to seek a position on Council and serve their community. Reflecting upon my past 12 years on Town and County Council, I can confidently state that those who are successful on October 24th will experience some of their biggest personal challenges and rewards as they guide our municipality into the future.

While I have seen lots of great discussion and debate among candidates, there are a few matters on which I would like to set the record straight.

The first involves a council decision in April 2019 to defer the payment of development charges for an industrial lot that was severed near the Line 5 interchange within the Town’s Hwy. 400 Employment Corridor.

Some candidates have claimed that the Town deferred the payment of taxes for the property – which is incorrect. The deferral applied to development charges, which are fees collected by municipalities as new homes and commercial building are constructed. These fees pay for new infrastructure like streets, parks and recreation centres required to support growth.

Council’s decision simply moved the timing of development charge payment from the severance stage to the building permit stage—as is routine and entirely permissible. The Town will receive payment prior to construction occurring.

More importantly, Council’s decision facilitated the sale of the property to Toromont Industries Ltd., who recently announced plans to build a 137,000 sq. ft. factory offering employment for 200 people.

Our experienced Council utilized the development charge deferral as a tool to foster employment growth with absolutely no negative impact on taxpayers. I call that a sound decision.

Another matter that I would like to discuss is council’s decision in November 2021 to redevelop the former Bradford Public School into a social services hub at 177 Church Street. This step was taken to ensure that those who need support in our community can do so in a convenient, dignified manner at a facility that provides a safe and inviting space for all.

We simply do not have that type of facility anywhere in Bradford currently and we are working with lead partners like the Helping Hand Food Bank, amongst others, to make this dream a reality. The plans include a commercial kitchen, meeting hall, various meeting rooms, programmable space, and a section set aside for the Helping Hand Food Bank, amongst other social service groups.

The project remains well on track and renovations are occurring largely as planned, with some adjustments as can be expected in a building sections of which date back to the 1950s. Once finished, the renovations will cut in half the utility costs, making operating the building far more affordable, and we will be getting a 25,000-sq-ft building for less than half the cost of a new build.

As Council, we must consider the needs of all – including those who need some help as they seek a better life for their families. I stand by this decision to invest in their future and am pleased to advise that we will soon announce a funding contribution that will further solidify the project’s financial plan.

This election is important, and it’s important that we have the debates that occur in election campaigns based in the facts.

So, I call on all candidates to speak honestly and if they do not understand an issue, please ask before inadvertently spreading misinformation; it’s too important that voters get the facts, and I ask you to show voters respect by speaking honestly about the issues. Equally, I encourage everyone to study each candidate’s platform, do some fact-checking and beware of campaign promises that sound too good to be true.

And—please vote. Visit the town’s election webpage here for more information and don’t forget to vote! Internet and phone voting runs between October 14 and 24, 2022.

Sincerely yours,
Rob Keffer