Name: Charles Pender
Do you have a personal website, twitter or FaceBook account?
I am on Twitter, and I’m tweeting every day at twitter.com/penderformayor. That’s my official Twitter site. Chris Noseworthy The Star has set up a Twitter account that has quotes from me, but I don’t have control of it and don’t post to it.
I’m also on Facebook, and I have a group that is devoted to my re-election. Because I am an incumbent, there is also a group against my re-election. I’m hoping that your readers will join my support group at “Re-Elect Charles Pender as Mayor of Corner Brook.”
What is your present occupation?
I teach French Immersion at Corner Brook Regional High School. As part of my job, I teach French language, World History, Geography, and Career Education in French. I also regularly take groups of students on trips to Europe and to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years, and I love how it keeps me in contact with the youth of our city.
What are the top five priorities for the city of Corner Brook over the next four years?
Here are my priorities:
1. Good roads: We have 135 kilometers of roads in this City. I’d like to promise every citizen that her or his road will be paved tomorrow, but we can only do so many every year, and funding comes through different sources for different projects. So, we are concentrating most of our resources on the major roads that everyone uses, while still putting some money into side streets. We have also paved over one half of the gravel streets in the city and will finish the rest over the next two years. We use some of our own money, some gas tax money and of course provincial capital funding to do this work which adds up to $ 5 million over the past two years for pavement alone and another $ 9 million for reconstruction projects. This is more than was spent in all of the previous two councils over eight years. We also got $ 1 million from the feds to do a waterline rehabilitation project which meant we had to dig up a fair number of streets and repave them after. The City Hall funding, for instance, which covers about 80% of the total cost, is completely different than funding we could access for city streets but we still had to convince the province that we need to do these things. They are different pots of money, to put it clearly. To all those who are waiting to have their road paved, though, I can only say that we know where you are, we have a long term plan and we will get to you as soon as we possibly can.
2. Safe drinking water: We’ve made a lot of progress over the past four years here. Numerous systems have been replaced altogether. As noted above, and thanks to the municipal Green Fund which contributed $1 million to our $ 400.000.00, we just did a major water line looping project which will allow for better water pressure and volume as well as ensure good chlorination. We are dealing with old infrastructure and updating it costs money and takes time. It’s the right thing to do, though, for the long term health of our city. We are working on our new $43 million water treatment plant, and the first phase of the new water transmission line is almost complete from the golf course to Mt. Bernard. The site is prepared, and the building will be tendered this winter for construction next spring.
3. World class recreation and leisure services and facilities: the Wellington Street complex is a great example of this. On top of that, we’re re-doing the north side of Bowater Park (the south side was completed last year) and installing bike lanes. I am committed to building a new state of the art curling club next spring with tenders to be called this winter. I am also working hard to source funding to repair the entire Pepsi Centre roof so that we can deal with the leaks once and for all. Captain Cook’s lookout has also had some major renovations. Bartlett’s Point Park in the Curling area of the City, the only public water front left on this side of the Bay, is undergoing design work over the winter with construction of the trails and parking area to start next summer. We continue to fund and work with the Corner Brook Stream Trails network in maintaining and expanding their excellent work. So, things are happening.
4. “Greening” our city: We were one of the first in the province to institute a curbside recycling program and a institutional /commercial / industrial cardboard ban. We have Household Hazardous waste days twice a year and are working on a permanent site. We collect and compost leaves in the fall and Christmas trees in January. 10% of the homes in Corner Brook have backyard composters. We even collect electronic waste. We are the envy of St. John’s. We will continue to improve it as much as we can in a responsible way. We have plans and our share of the money to build a new sewerage treatment plant in the next term of office. We are in phase two of a new district heating system study using waste heat from the mill to heat our major buildings in the city to reduce green house gas.
5. Sound fiscal management: Our debt ratio is expected to be no more than 8% by the end of this year. That is one of the lowest in the province. We are the first municipality to get a 15 year low interest $ 19.5 million federal government loan to finance our water treatment plant at a fixed rate of roughly 3% for the entire term of the loan which will save us an estimated $ 3 million in interest (or more if interest rates go above 5.5%) When property values went up after the last municipal assessment, one of the first things we did was to cut the mill rate. Under my leadership, we will do the same. Every 1 mill of property tax is equivalent to about $ 1 million in revenues. Our ten year financial and capital plans call for stable growth of about 3% annually which is what we have experienced over the past 10 years. That growth comes from an increase in the number of new homes and businesses in the city and not from increasing tax rates. Municipal property tax rates will *not* go up with me as Mayor. We will spend responsibly and live within our means, and that means collecting only what we need to make sure that our residents get the municipal services they need and want.
Why are you running in this municipal election?
I believe that I’ve made a positive contribution, that I have a long-term plan for the future, and that I can help make Corner Brook sustainable in the long run. I believe in the potential of this city, and I think it’s clear that we have made substantial progress over the past four years. I want my children to have the opportunity to grow up in a healthy, stable and active community with the opportunity to study, work and raise their own families here one day – just like every other parent. Although it keeps me very busy, the potential that I see in Corner Brook keeps me involved in political life.
Why should the people of Corner Brook vote for you?
I love this city and believe that I have shown the people that I have a sound plan and can make the right decisions. It is my hope that people will read as much as possible about the issues so that they are fully informed and not feed off the negativity that is out there. I’m getting out there to meet as many citizens as I can, and I encourage them to ask me as many questions as they like. Soon, you’ll be able to see me on YouTube, where I will answer some questions that I have been getting from citizens door-to-door. The response that I have been getting is extremely positive, and I think it’s because people can see that I have a plan and a vision for this city that transcends political lines and has the good of Corner Brook at heart.
I have been married to Nathalie (Chevallier) for sixteen years. We met when I was a student in Quebec. We have to great children, Marie (14 years old) and Thomas (11 years old). We also have a fifth member of our family, Shadow, our five-year-old husky. I feel lucky to have such a supportive family, and despite the busy schedule, we still spend a lot of time together.
I’m also from a large family. My father ran a plumbing and heating business for over 50 years right here in Corner Brook. I have members of my immediate family in Corner Brook, and my kids are lucky that their grandmother lives in the house right behind ours.
In addition to my family life, I really enjoy skiing, walking our dog with my wife, reading up on world news and events, and checking out local events. While I’ve lived away a few times, I love Corner Brook and think it has so much potential.
I was first elected as a councillor in 1997. I was re-elected in a by-election in 2003. Finally, I was elected as Mayor in 2005.
During my time on council and as Mayor, I have served on the long-term care committee, with VON, on the 1999 Canada Games committee, on the boards for the 2008 NL Games, on the board for the ECMA’s, on the board for the 2009 Bartlett Celebrations, and on the committee for the 2006 City of Corner Brook 50th Anniversary.
Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors with Western Health. I am also Chair of Finance and Property Committee. With the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I serve on the National Board of Directors and am Vice-Chair on FCM Standing Committee on Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development. I also serve on the FCM Standing Committee on Municipal Infrastructure and Financing.
Finally, I am currently a board member of the Corner Brook Port Corporation.
I think that we have made tremendous progress over the past four years. On the previous council of which I was a part, we spent $12.5 million over 3 years with a split of 50/50 in terms of provincial/city funding. Under this council, we are now in year two of a our current three year plan with $100 million in funding with a split of 70% provincial /federal and 30% city. There has been more construction in this city over the past four years than in the preceding fifteen. We have a new city municipal building (including Museum, Public Library, City Square and Bus transfer Station) coming that is entirely green and that will change the face of the city. The total cost is approximately $23 million, but the city will only pay less than $4 million. We also have 8000 square feet of space to rent and hope to lure a new government department and new jobs to the city while using the rent to pay the city’s share of the cost.
On top of that, the mill rate is down. We instituted a curbside recycling program. We’ve re-done Bowater Park. We’re building bike lanes from Griffin Drive right through to the downtown. We’re developing our water treatment plan. There is so much happening, and I only ask that voters support me so that we can continue to lay out the ten-year plan that we have developed for the City.
I welcome questions from citizens. You can follow me online or contact me through e-mail. For a ride on polling day, you can get in touch with our campaign office and we’ll be happy to help you out.