Stoic incumbent says progress takes time
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Oct 01, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Stoic incumbent says progress takes time

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason

During a recent interview, Frank Mark, who has served seven consecutive terms on council, several spent as deputy mayor, reflected on his reasons for initially seeking a position on the municipal body.

He said it was a deep commitment to recreational sports, combined with his financial expertise as credit manager for FAG Aerospace and Schaeffler Canada, that originally led to him seeking a nomination.

“I didn’t feel that recreational sports had any representative on council,” he said. “I’ve always been involved in minor sports. Parks and rec is often called a soft service, but I feel it’s every bit as important as the hard services.”

Years later, Frank said not much has changed in terms of his focus.

He talks about his campaign with the stoicism that seven terms will give someone. He’s not inflammatory or impatient; instead, he acknowledges that, when dealing with issues at the municipal level, things take time.

“This council has worked hard to get good strategies in place, so I’d like to see it through and see things move forward,” he said. “But I certainly hope some of these issues addressed are completed next term.”

The issues he mentions specifically are the Cooper site, Market Square, and the reduction of the city’s debt, of which he said he’d like to avoid incurring more until it’s down to a reasonable level.

In terms of the Cooper site, he thinks council’s hands are somewhat tied until legal issues are put to bed.

“Certainly, I’d like to see the expropriation issue resolved,” he said. “But it’s anybody’s guess how long that will take. It’s certainly not in council’s hands.”

He added that he’d also like to see a plan for Market Square in place before the sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017, when federal funds will be made available for such projects.

Based on the issues that faced council over the past term, Mark wonders if it might be worth revisiting zoning policies and road reconstruction standards in the coming years as well.

Council was taken to the Ontario Municipal Board twice in the past year; both times after supporting residents in squabbles with developers who wished to alter their neighbourhoods in significant ways.

“When people buy a home in a certain neighbourhood, they don’t expect the ambience to change too drastically,” he said. “What we have to do is re-look at some statements made in the Official Plan and zoning bylaw. Maybe we can tweak some things in there to avoid these things in the future.”

In terms of road standards, he wasn’t happy with council’s decision with Nile Street.

“The fact that the bike and master plan had it as both a bike path and a bus route was probably an error,” he said. “The reaction I heard from people tells me we need to look at and revisit these things.”

He’s also not a fan of having only one sidewalk on a given street, especially in older neighbourhoods.

“In older sections, the same standards don’t work like in newer sections,” he said. “Things like road width aren’t needed in older neighbourhoods. It’s a minor issue to some, but I think it’s important.”

Mark said he’s especially proud of the work he’s done on the committees he’s sat on, specifically the finance and hydro boards.

On the finance side, he said they worked hard at “a streamlined budget. We keep a tight lid on tax increases while still maintaining services. I don’t like the idea of services being cut, unless it turns out to be unnecessary.”

He’s sat of the hydro board for every one of his terms except one, and was vocal about not selling the utility after the city received an unsolicited offer.

“I’ve always fought for us to retain ownership,” he said.

Mark muses that it’s his level-headedness that’s twice led to his appointment as deputy mayor.

“I think I’m a good listener,” he said. “I make informed decisions and keep my composure; I stay level, even when things get rammy.”

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