Mayor Bigger Laughs Off Capreol’s Concerns

In what was a truly stunning display of political ignorance Greater Sudbury’s mayor, Brian Bigger, belittled community-minded residents—going so far as to insult several citizens of good standing—some of whom have more decades of service than the mayor has years in office!

It happened Thursday, October 17th during the so-called ‘Town Hall’ meeting at Valley East’s Centennial arena. Now these types of events are normally spirited affairs—concerned citizens often demand answers—but, seeing as this was the first public forum since the city’s baffling Twin Pad decision, tempers were hotter than normal.

Brian Bigger, Mayor

A boisterous crowd of nearly 100 people gathered for the meeting—two-thirds of them having made the drive from Capreol despite this website’s scheduling error—all anxious to put Ward 6 Councillor, Rene Lapierre, to the question over the proposed Valley East Twin Pad project. Much to everyone’s delight two surprise guests appeared—Mayor Brian Bigger and Ward 5 Councillor, Robert Kirwan.

Stock photo of people gathered for a cause

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts. First the mayor gave a tone-deaf stump speech extolling the state of the city and Council’s various accomplishments. Touting the hundreds millions of dollars to be spent in the old city to a roomful of aggrieved ‘outliers’ probably wasn’t the most astute move Mr. Bigger could have made. The meeting improved, briefly when the Greater Sudbury Police Services representative took the microphone. He gave an interesting and well-received spiel regarding local crime. That was followed, at length, by city General Manager of Infrastructure Services Tom Ceccutti, who spoke for over an hour about roads and the new garbage bag limits. Many in the crowd suspected the lengthy report of being a sort of back-door filibuster—with Mr. Ceccutti purposely using up time to limit that available for audience questions. We cannot comment on his motives. Perhaps he just really loves talking about roads and garbage (no doubt he’s a hugely popular as a party guest!) Regardless, the meeting didn’t open to the public until almost nine o’clock—about the time it was scheduled to end. Needless to say the meeting ran long.

Once the people finally got their say it became clear that there were two very different motives at work in the room: the general public wanted answers and the politicians wanted to get out of there. Mayor Bigger seemed especially put upon…as if insulted that the hoi polloi dared even question him. But question they did, and rather pointedly.

Many citizens came prepared. Tom Price cited the city’s own facts and figures against them, Loralee Mauro pointed out Greater Sudbury’s longstanding and blatant hypocrisy by citing the long list of cuts to Capreol services, and several other attendees (Clay Paul, Mike O’Conner, and Dr. Todd Mazzuca, among others) dared the politicians to defend their ‘Twin Pad’ decision—questioning everything from the astronomical cost to the baffling lack of transparency to the pie-in-the-sky plans for the soon to be shuttered arenas.

Two of the three arenas to be closed

To Councillor Lapierre’s credit he tried to answer. Unfortunately his position—to close three existing arenas in order to build a $30,000,000.00 Twin Pad behemoth—is indefensible. He deferred many questions to city staff and, according to one witness it seemed obvious “that neither he nor the Mayor had read the 2018 Business Case for the Valley East Twin Pad proposal”. (The councillor later admitted, and we’re quoting from an audience member’s recollection not Mr. Lapierre, that “they rely almost totally on the experts on staff…without looking at the background information that they are provided.”) The Ward 6 councillor did, at least, promise to “get back to” the citizen doing the questioning once he confirmed the numbers. But, of course, the VE Twin Pad’s numbers don’t add up. How can they when the Valley East Twin Pad is nothing but a vanity project.

And speaking of vanity, what did Councillor Kirwan have to say for his over-priced and overblown fever dream? Nothing. That’s right, nothing. Ward 5’s outspoken representative must still be fuming over his much-needed and well-earned public reprimand. Apparently all he did was stew, occasionally pacing like a caged and recently neutered lion.

Anger dominated the room. Many attendees could barely conceal their outrage or the ever-growing sense of betrayal. The smugness on display by the mayor soured most residents and left them, to quote one attendee, “feeling very frustrated and upset”.

To be fair most Capreol residents feel like second-class citizens and have since amalgamation was shoved down our communal throats. What should worry the politicians in Sudbury is that this sentiment is no longer isolated to our once-proud railroad town. No, this bitterness is steadily spreading throughout the region. Sped on by city council’s myopic ‘Downtown First!’ agenda and a mayor whose arrogance goes beyond galling.

Here is where some of you tax dollars are going—hundreds of millions for more overblown, overpriced, and unneeded downtown Sudbury ‘legacy’ projects!

Everywhere you turn—from Capreol to Copper Cliff to Coniston—small town residents are disgruntled. That is nothing new. Small towns in Northern Ontario have always gotten the shaft. But now the mood is more sweeping. Valley East, once (briefly) a city in its own right, is angry. Parts of the old city are finding themselves played off against each other—the old divide and conquer—and their grumbles are growing too.

Ham-handed meetings like this are sure to fuel more outrage. Outspoken citizens should be applauded not insulted. Our mayor, clearly, wants us to be quiet, behave, and be content. But that’s not what this city needs. This city needs its people to stand up. This city needs its mayor to listen and if he’s unwilling, or unable to do so, then this city needs to find a different person for the position. Remember, he won with less than 30% of the vote—not the exactly a ringing mandate.

The proposed site of the VE Twin Pad—a popular green space and busy soccer fields are to be sacrificed for Kirwan’s costly fantasy

This website offers its ‘Thanks’ to every citizen who attended the meeting—both those from Capreol and beyond. You are standing up on behalf of us all. Keep fighting the good fight. Never forget that our town’s success depends on community involvement. Do what you can—attend meetings, volunteer, or just offer a friendly ‘Hello’ to your neighbour. We all contribute to Capreol in our own way and it hasn’t worked out too bad so far!

Posted on: October 21, 2019, by :