Wayne Cormier is running on a platform of pro-growth while also advocating that the taxpayer needs a break from continued tax increases.
The second time Swift Current City Council candidate will advocate for a zero per cent tax increase for 2021 and 2022 if he is elected.
Cormier, who serves as the Executive Director of the Swift Current and District Early Childhood Intervention Program and operates his own business as a registered Social Worker and Mental Health Therapist, feels that taxes have become an overshadowing burden on the community. So instead of higher taxes, the City should target growth and development in addition to bringing in more business to the community.
“I think we need to, at least for a couple of years, stop balancing our city budget on the backs of taxpayers…we can’t always increase taxes to make it work,” he said.
“Seniors are really feeling it. I’ve been out on the hustings now for four nights and I’ve had some just heartbreaking feedback from people.”
He points to knowing families who have moved to surrounding smaller communities because of the tax increase.
“That back to back 15 per cent increase in taxes a couple of years ago hurt a lot of people.”
The Southside resident is also hoping to highlight a series of Southside issues if elected.
He would like to see the city make improvements to 11th Ave. S.W. from South Railway St. W. and Marston St. because the street serves as a thoroughfare for people driving to work and traffic coming to the SaskPower Windscape Kite Festival site.
“If we can afford to put in nice cobblestone sidewalks, which are nice to see, and lampposts, and Thank You Shopping Downtown Swift Current up there, I mean it looks nice. If we can afford to build or subsidize an Elmwood Golf Course development and water pool,” he said.
“When the times are good projects like that, when money’s coming in, business are booming and more businesses are moving into town, that’s great. I’m all for it. That beautifies our city. But when times are tough, and times are tough right now. Some people like to think that times aren’t tough right now. And they have a mindset of the Field of Dreams – build it and they will come. I don’t think those types of things, that type of development should be a priority right now. We pull back. Let’s concentrate on filling potholes and fixing roads and sidewalks, which includes 11th Ave. S.W. I think that would go a long way to appease some of the concerns from Southside folks.”
“A lot of people that I talk to on the Southside feel that we’ve been left out.”
He would also like the city put more of a priority on business development on the Southside to complement the businesses which are already successfully operating there.
“There’s room for more. And I think that our business development team from the City of Swift Current I think they should focus (on the Southwest).”
We’ve got a vacant industrial park, it’s built, it’s just waiting for people to come. Fantastic. Let’s focus on bringing some business to the Southside of Swift Current.”
Cormier said that his ideas for fiscal responsibility at City Hall would extend to being more cautious with spending.
“I think that overall, if there was a theme to my approach to governance is that there’s a time to build and physically grow a community – when there’s an ample amount of tax dollars coming in and businesses moving in. We’re not there right now. And so one of the concerns that I have is this philosophy of The Field of Dreams, build it and they will come, nothing could be further from the truth. We could have the most beautiful parks in Swift Current, beautiful parkways, sidewalks and paths. Working age people move to a community if there’s jobs. And so all this other stuff is wonderful to have, I love the parks that we have, but they can’t always be the priority. And the last four to six years it’s been this development priority. And I think that it’s time to hold back.”
“If elected, I will be holding our city administrators to task to balance that budget before you bring it to estimates. Before you bring it to the council I want to see a balanced budget.”
He added that he would only be in favour of the construction of the Integrated Facility if federal, provincial and business sponsorships dollars are involved.
“There is not a majority appetite for this facility to be built,” he said. “The first 100 people that I’ve talked to, not one want this facility built during this time on the backs of taxpayers. And we’re in COVID-19 times. How many businesses are suffering, and they may or may not be able to pay their taxes. Do we want another levy? I don’t want another levy.”
“Common sense has to prevail. I just don’t understand this mindset that we have to move forward and build it. Now is the time. Why is now the time?”
“We need to be mindful of the cost of pursuing this because there’s going to be close to 90 per cent that aren’t going to use it. We need to be mindful of that because they’re going to get taxed,” he added.