By Matthew Frank Kot
On October 27th, 2014, voters across Ontario will elect their Mayors, Councillors, and School Board Trustees. Here in Sault Ste. Marie, the people have a choice: to elect a candidate that represents their needs, or to elect someone that talks smooth and does nothing. The past four years, Sault Ste. Marie has been governed by a 'do-nothing council,' and that needs to change. In 2010, voters added new blood in the Council Chambers. Six new faces were elected by we the people. Most of their campaigns ran on the 'Hope and Change' message.
So far, very little has changed in Sault Ste. Marie. The number of businesses and jobs in this once prosperous city has went down. Our growth rate is small. People are coming, but the jobs are hard to find. Services are suffering. Sault Transit has cut down bus service on Saturdays, from a half hour to an hour. There was a time when Sault Ste. Marie had 15 minute bus service! When the Sault Transit Terminal was built in the 1980's, the building was a state of the art design. Not anymore! An eyesore sits on the corner of Queen and Dennis now. The benches inside are rusty, the walls are rotting, the restroom is a hazard, and an overwhelming majority of transit users are convinced that the building needs to be renovated. There routes aren't reaching into new subdivisions, and the City needs to address that. And why does Sault Transit Services spend their budget dollars on Bon Soo advertisements, when that money can go towards improving the transit system? Sault Transit needs to be a major issue in the 2014 Municipal Election.
The transit system desperately needs a facelift. When the people of this city cast their ballots in October, they need to ask themselves: "Which candidate will bring change to our city? Which candidate can focus on the issues I care about? Which candidates are going to act on their words?" The campaign is just staring, and more people still have the chance to put their names on the ballot, but names are not what voters should look at. Just because a Councillor or the Mayor is an incumbent, it does not mean that they're destined to win. New faces, they may talk the talk, but can they put their words into actions? Sault Transit Reform, my Facebook page where transit users share their stories and suggestions about transit, is full of people that want change. They want their representatives to make their lives better, they want transit to be more accessible. Over the coming months, Sault Transit Reform will be questioning candidates about what their vision for the transit system is. The responses will be posted on the Facebook page, as well as this website. Soon, we will see which candidates make reforming the transit system a priority, and which candidates ignore the issue and the obvious need for change.
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.