Interview with Innocent Watat, City Council candidate for Wards 3 & 4 in Brampton, Canada
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.
Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Innocent Watat, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward's incumbent is Bob Callahan; Balbir Babra, Manny Bianchi-Morfino, Dolly Khokhar, Maria Peart, Tim Turcott, and Sheila White.
Q: List the three most important issues in your campaign.
- - Gap between council actions and concerns of Bramptonians.
- - Community safety and security and relationship between Police and the community mostly the relationship between the Police and the visible minorities' community
- - Infrastructure and public transit concerns
Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?
- A:My ward is overwhelmingly and increasingly populated by a multi-ethnic and multi cultural immigrants from around the world. Beside the infrequent public transit issues which are the main concern for these settlers, I think that the most relevant issue here is safety because of the stigma leading to discriminatory profile from Police. Of course these newcomers in the city are not today part of the main discussions at the council chamber although they are significantly part of the future of the city.
Q: What qualities or experiences do you possess, that make you more desirable than the incumbent?
- A:I am a young, dynamic, dedicated and passionate Bramptonian willing to push this great city to a deserved place as a Canadian model of multi-cultural and multi ethnicity integration. I would use my positive energy and the new vision to develop our community by making it safer, cleaner, lively, exotic and vibrant.
- I am resolved to turn into my obligations all the concerns of the people of Brampton.
Q: Why do you want to represent your ward on council?
- A: I strongly feel that I could bring something new to my wards and to the council chamber. I also think it is time for change; it is the time to see some new faces and to have a council that strictly reflects the reality of the population, a chamber that really works for the benefit of the population. I am an advocate of a maximum of three terms by councilor and I still cannot believe that we do have councilors who are there for more than 15 years now. There is no doubt that issues of the 1980s or the 1990s are well out of date. There are new realities on the field today, and I am bringing that vision with me. This vision is beyond what the incumbent of ward 3, 4 has to offer. He has done his time, if he really loves our city, he needs to give the chance to fresh mind to continue what he has started while he can calmly enjoy a deserved retirement.
- I am bringing with me a new way to undertake the development of Brampton; a new policy that would see the reduction of the gap between Bramptonians and the council actions; I have with me a new alternative that would make each person living in Brampton really feel at home. I would give to each inhabitant of my wards, the real feeling of being in a city that really fit his desire.
Q: How are you currently involved in the community?
- A:I am in many aspects an example within my community and I strive to keep that as effective as possible. I am a leader in my community and I have presided or I am an active member of many non for profit organization working to ameliorate people life and/or to welcome newcomers in our city. I am a dedicate volunteer and always preach by example in an exceptional dedication with the purpose to always have the job well done.
Q: Much of Brampton's existing council is seasoned in the civic political process. What could you bring to the table as a "rookie", above and beyond the current roster of councilors?
- A: The present council seems to be away of the reality in this fast growing city. They are veterans, with all respect, they are in urgent need of retirement. We're grateful of their effort and commitment for all these years, but we must now realize that they are all running out of ideas. They've been cut off guard by the population growth and they seem to be trailing behind looking desperately for ways to catch up with a train speeding away. The best way to give a better future to our city is to give the chance to "rookies" to come in with fresh mind and fresh ideas that would help our city to cope with this sudden growth. We need to rejuvenate the council chamber and create some sort of positive actions that would consolidate the path of Brampton in this twenty first century. We all appreciate the hard work done by our predecessors, but it is the time to look beyond their path of actions and act accordingly to keep Brampton into the right direction.
- Brampton has now a diverse culture and ethnicity that in reality should be our strength. The existing council, despite their talk, is not really walking the talk. There are no actions to really create a sense of belongings to these newcomers in our city. Without a doubt there is need of new energy, a need of rejuvenation.
- There are obvious actions that a council should tackle which haven't been done properly. Certainly they've been there so long that they don't see any pressure or obligation. We must work to support our youth, seniors and people with special needs. We must improve on the present infrastructure and develop the public transit within Brampton and beyond. Of course, the safety measures are paramount and it is important to create a great atmosphere of respect and collaboration between Police and the community. We must not forget that the community is important in solving many crimes.
- In collaboration with Bramptonians, we must ensure that the recreation aspects are well considered through parks, recreation centers, and cultural programs.
- The city must remain safe, secure, clean, lively and vibrant at all time.
Q: The Rose Theatre recently launched. What are your thoughts on this facility? Have you had a chance to tour it yet?
- A:The Rose Theatre is the sort of actions that I would encourage as city councilor. Of course beyond this sort of infrastructure, we must always seek and keep in mind the wellbeing of our population. The culture sense that the Rose brings is certainly part of the wellbeing of Bramptonians. However, we must ensure that each of us in the city can really have a stake of that well-being.
- I have toured the facility and enjoyed with my daughter a kid show and was also in the crowd few days ago for a splendid comedy show. Rose Theatre is definitely the way to go. But we must notice how long it took to the previous council chamber to offer to this city what it really deserves. That must be said loudly.
- We need to diversify actions that would ensure that each Bramptonian actually have something to cherish, make him comfortable to live and raise his children in Brampton. I do believe that the downtown core of Brampton is missing many other things. There is a clear urban development missing; as far as I am concerned, the Rose Theatre must be the beginning of a long development program of our downtown. I would make sure, as city councilor that we continue in this path with more depth.
Q: The province has strongly encouraged the development of high-density residences near the downtown. Do these buildings fit in with your vision of the downtown? How much say should other levels of government have in urban planning?
- A: The good thing materializes by the new Rose Theatre must not be the only downtown development action. Our downtown must be revitalized and the high-density residences and precisely the high rise condominium buildings must be the next steps. Downtown Brampton must be the center of the city and the biggest center of attraction in many ways. Today we are really millions miles away of that vision.
- As city councilor along with Bramptonians and all levels of government I would deeply work to revive our downtown core. High rise and high density residences are definitely part of my vision and Brampton must be before 2010 well into it in order to fully fit in this twenty first century.
Q: How do you feel about Brampton's rate of expansion? Council recently capped the annual amount of new development; do you agree completely with this decision, would you have slowed development even further, or not have imposed a cap at all?
- A: I strongly believe that the Brampton's rate of expansion is excessive, out of control and way beyond what is acceptable. I have the feeling that is essentially driven by financial gain and the wellbeing of the population is not placed at the center of this abusive development. No doubt the present council has capped the annual amount of new development although this restriction came a little too late.
- Looking 10 to 20 years down the road, the development we've witnessed these last years would be a challenge if we do not anticipate and pro-actively prevent its negative effects.
- I am a strong advocate of a slow and controlled development while ensuring the population safety and wellbeing.
- The brutal development of the last years is the main culprit of the traffic congestions and the blatant need of the extension of 410 or even the construction of a new highway. The cap set at the moment is welcomed however it is not the solution but part of the solution. We must first and foremost control the development, slow it down if necessary or accelerate it if the conditions are ideals.
Q: What are your opinions on Brampton's congestion and the level of public transit funding?
- A: I am shocked and ashamed to see a new development area dealing with traffic congestion. It shows that the present council has not done their homework properly and allowed an excessive development without ensure that there was the proper infrastructure around. Who are now paying the price? Bramptonians... They've never been at the center of the preoccupation of the council and financial interest took the power over the population wellbeing. This must be said and must be condemned.
- In the same token, the public transit development has not followed the population growth and the new developments within the city. The present council has not push deep enough to secure and increase the necessary funding that would allow Bramptonians to properly move within the city or outside the city while avoiding long waiting hours, if the bus actually show up.
- We must look for an immediate remediation of the issues and intensively work to restore the confidence of the population in terms of congestion, regularity and availability of the public transit. To do that, we must increase the funding level and set it at the level which would provide to Bramptonians what they actually need.
Q: Why should businesses be attracted to locating in Brampton?
- A:We do have in Brampton an increasingly high number of skilled workforces ready to dynamically commit to work 24/7. Brampton is definitely a paradize for various businesses and there is enough place and land to satisfy their need. As for the urban development of the city, the business attraction should be controlled and bramptonians interests must dictate this policy.
Q: How could Brampton further itself in attracting corporate investment?
- A: Of course, if the council shows an effective and efficient municipal management, it would be a strong showcase to attract corporate investors in Brampton . This attraction is definitely paramount to ensure the economic development of the city and also the wellbeing of bramptonians who will be providing their expertise to these businesses.
- To ensure the efficiency of such attraction, we much encourage corporate investment by providing to these investors a window of tax break for a define period of time; establish competitive municipal tax rate which by itself would lure many investors; organize showcase sessions, invite investors and publicize the millions reasons why their investments are worth being done in Brampton. We must definitely use the fast growth of the city and the strong base of skilled and professional workers present in Brampton as a huge incentive for investment.
Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?
- A: I believe I have what it takes to bring hope and energy in Bramptonians life. I do believe I have the vision that would help Brampton to distinguish itself among other municipalities in this twenty first century. I strongly believe that I can turn our diversity into a huge strength and force that would propel Brampton into a respectable level. I think Brampton, as a multi-ethnic and multi cultural city has what it takes to be a Canada model. I do have what Brampton need to achieve it.
- I am young, dynamic and resolute to bring the necessary change. Brampton needs change; Brampton council needs new faces. I am involved in this political process because I would be the incarnation of the change and I would bring the energy that Brampton need to solve all pending issues.
Q: What does Brampton mean to you?
- A: My involvement in this political process is a proof of what Brampton means to me. I have called Brampton home for many years now. In front of the pending issues of our municipality, there is nothing else I could have done but to get involve, to instigate and to bring a new vision.
- Instead of complaining or criticizing, there is a better way to make Brampton a better place to live in: it goes through my involvement in this political process, through what I bring to the table as ideas and it shows how much I love and adore this city. I never would have decided to stay aside and wait for the miracle to happen. I am bringing with me the miracle and I am sure that would serve the purpose and the interests of Bramptonians. I am working hard to achieve these goals because Brampton means a lot to me.
Before I go, I would like to make an address to my French speaking constituents.
Cheres habitantes, chers habitants de Brampton,
Comme Conseiller municipal, je travaillerai durement pour faire de Brampton, une ville vivante, propre, sécuritaire, exotique et une ville ou il fait bon vivre dans notre diversité linguistique, ethnique et culturelle. Les habitants de Brampton seront au centre de toutes mes préoccupations et décisions et je rechercherai toujours à satisfaire leur bien-être d'abord et avant tout. La ville de Brampton a certainement besoin de remplir ses caisses, mais je ne l'encouragerai jamais au détriment du bien-être des populations. J'œuvrerai pour assurer la sécurité des résidents de la ville, en encourageant la présence policière dans les rues et surtout il faudrait combattre les préjugés policiers qui favorisent certains arrestations arbitraires. Je travaillerai d'arrache-pied pour faire de Brampton une ville modèle dans le Canada. Un example d'intégration culturelle dans la diversité multi ethnique et multi culturelle, Un example dans l'intégration linguistique en rapprochant les populations des deux langues officielles du Canada (français et anglais) et aussi en incluant les autres minorités linguistiques, Un example de ville récréatif en développant les attractions récréatives pour enfants, jeunes et personnes âgées, Un example infrastructurel en améliorant l'infrastructure présente dans le but de diminuer les embouteillages et aussi d'améliorer le transport en commun dans la ville et vers Toronto.
Je compte sur votre support pour faire de Brampton une meilleure ville pour nous et nous enfants.
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