Council candidates debate Centennial Park, workplace harassment

Sarnia council candidates. (Left to right.) John MacIntyre, Terry Burrell, Eric Dalziel, Susan MacFarlane, Graham Pedregosa, Mike Stark, Meghan Reale, Janet Chynces, Michelle Parks, Nathan Colquhoun, Melody Gibson and Cole Anderson. September 4, 2018 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

Candidates vying for seats on Sarnia City Council in October’s municipal election have hit the ground running now that the summer break is over.

With over 40 on the 2018 ballot, the Seaway Kiwanis Club decided to split candidates into groups so they could have more time to introduce themselves and answer a few questions in five “meet the candidates” meetings.

A dozen people attended the first meeting Tuesday, and were each asked for their thoughts on how the current council handled the remediation of Centennial Park.

Susan MacFarlane, the former General Manager of Lambton Area Water Supply System [LAWSS], said she questioned recommendations from consultants at the time.

“At that time, I was on the Sarnia Environmental Advisory Committee — which is a committee of council — and we were asked to review the remediation plan and we did have some concerns about it,” said MacFarlane. “I think staff really trusted the consultant to do a good job on that project and there were some issues with it.”

She said they felt the remediation plan for asbestos removal fell short in the beginning.

“They wanted to remove way too much soil than we thought should have been required, and then we felt they weren’t going after the contaminants in the park as aggressively as they should have, “she said.

MacFarlane, who has been a professional engineer for over 25 years, said she believes her knowledge and analytical thinking would benefit city council.

Candidates were also asked their opinion on sanctions placed on the mayor this term, as a result of workplace harassment and code of conduct violations.

Nathan Colquhoun, a director with Sarnia’s Refined Fool Brewing Co., said he read the integrity commissioner and workplace investigation reports from cover to cover.

“No wonder he [Mike Bradley] disagreed with them and now he wants an election to brush over what they found,” said Colquhoun. “It exposed a lot of disrespectful interactions that he had, primarily with women, and gave a peek into the working conditions he created. If mayor Mike was the CEO of any company he would have been fired for his blatant disrespect of his co-workers and the organization he was working for.”

He said he believes the sanctions were necessary, but if reelected, Colquhoun says he will cooperate with Bradley in the best interests of the city.

Michelle Parks, who served 12 years on the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, said she believes it’s time to move on.

“What I have been hearing from the people is that was two years ago, nothing has happened since and they want to move forward,” said Parks. “I can work with whatever mayor and whatever council gets elected this next term.”

There are 12 candidates running for the four dual city-county council positions — including incumbents Andy Bruziewicz, Bev MacDougall, Dave Boushy and Brian White.

28 people are seeking one of Sarnia’s four city council seats. Matt Mitro is the only incumbent in that race.

Councillors Mike Kelch and Cindy Scholten are not seeking reelection. Councillor Anne Marie Gillis is running for mayor against Fred Ingham, Kip Cuthbert and incumbent Mike Bradley.