After winning Brantford’s municipal election on October 25th for the city’s top spot, Chris Friel has already started planning for when he officially becomes mayor on December 1st.
What have you been up to since the election?
There is always a thousands things to be doing. What I’ve been doing is meeting with people, briefing, organizing an orientation program for council, which is what we’ve been putting in place.
What are your first steps as mayor?
Finances are always where I want to start. We’re hiring a new city manager… It’s really a matter of getting my council up to speed with seven new councilors, even though there’s a couple returning, it’s been a while for most of them. So we have to get everybody up to speed and ready to go.
Do you have any big goals in mind for the city?
Well, we have to start improving relationships with the Six Nations and create some kind of city/county/Six Nations program to deal with our relationship with the Six Nations, our relationship with the county and the three of us working together in a regional program.
When you and I first sat down, you said, “we need to reinvent Brantford’s economy.” What did you mean by that?
We’re in a position now where the old manufacturing that built the community, and that’s something we need to be really proud of, is gone… Those days are no longer with us so we need to start looking at sectors in the economy that we’re going to be able to have jobs for generations, not just two or three years down the line… We need to starting thinking about long-term good paying jobs that people are going to be able to buy homes, raise families, all those kinds of things.
I know a big issue with a lot of students right now has been safety on campus –
We’ll take care of that; that’s our responsibility.
Do you have any plans set out right now?
More cops… What we’ve done as a community is invite all of these students and the parents have agreed to allow their children to come to our community, so it’s our responsibility to be able to say we’re going to have a different kind of policing and we’re going to have a much more active form of policing, not drive-through policing.
Other than what we’ve mentioned, what do you think is the most important thing Brantford needs?
We need to start working on our self-confidence and the image. What has happened to our community is referred to as de-industrialization…it is what happens to communities like our that were heavy manufacturing and industrial that it all falls apart on you in a short period of time…it makes it difficult to make decisions and makes it difficult for you to move forward. So being able to get people to understand that we’ve been hit by factors that are beyond our control…now we need to be able to move past that so the community as a whole can sell itself [to businesses].