Episode 4.04 – Stephen Mackenzie – President and CEO of Invest Windsor-Essex

Stephen MacKenzie is the President and CEO of Invest WindsorEssex responsible for advancing economic development to grow and sustain prosperity in Southwest Ontario, Canada.

He has spent 27 years in economic development organizations in Connecticut, Nova Scotia and now Ontario. Prior to joining IWE, he served as the Executive Director of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region and previously held the position of Senior Vice President of the Connecticut
Economic Resource Center.

Before joining CERC, he was the Director Economic Development in Stamford Connecticut. In Halifax, Stephen was a Senior Executive Major Projects for the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development’s Investment and Trade Division. Previously he spent four years with the TD Bank, and later served in sales and marketing functions at different organizations in both Canada and Belgium.

Stephen has been a part-time lecturer at European University and Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. He received a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, completed his MBA at European University in Belgium, and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. He is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and a Board member for the Canada-United States Business Association (CUSBA).


Race to the Bottom?

You can listen to the full conversation Thursday at 7pm

Special “Battery Powered” Bonus Episode


We begin with you:

  • Who are you? What was your journey becoming President & CEO of Invest Windsor-Essex 
  • You are the head of a regional organization, so please paint a picture of Essex County for someone who hasn’t been here before?
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • People only tend to hear about ECDev when good news happens (plant opening/funding) or bad news (plant closing/bad data). What is Economic Development?  What do you actually do day to day?
    • Is Economic development just a race to the bottom? 
  • Economic Development vs Community Development – Hear a lot about war for talent, amenities and quality of life for employees. To me there is almost a ven diagram overlapping economic and community development. 
    • How do you see those systems interacting and how could they interact better? I think there is a perception that economic development is more important than community development. Is that true?
    • Are community benefit programs something we need to better explore in Canada? 
    • As an example Regional transit, Waterloo region has one of the most robust regional transit systems connecting Waterloo-KW-Cambridge in under two hours. You can currently barely get across Windsor in 2 hours by transit. If we had a robust regional transit system, remove a competitive advantage of other communities, and get people to places quicker. 
  • You are a regional economic development organization. How do you balance the particular municipal needs vs bigger regional picture?
  • Can you talk to me a bit about Automobility, what is it? The word doesn’t exist in the Webster’s dictionary. What is it, and why is it the future of Windsor-Essex?
    • Admittedly I struggle to understand what it is and how it is different not just a more narrow version of what are already doing? 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, and could change a policy, municipally, provincially, federally or internationally what would you change?
  • Is there an event or reason for a listener to come to Essex County in the next few months? 

Episode 4.03 – Susan Foxton Mayor of North Dumfries Township

After serving 14 years as Councillor for Ward 1 in North Dumfries, I entered the race for mayor and was elected in 2014.  Seeking re-election in 2018, I was once again successful in confirming my place as mayor of North Dumfries and Region of Waterloo Councillor for the 2018 to 2022 term. I believe in a strong Regional Council which enables and reinforces the strength of the seven municipalities which make up the Region of Waterloo. I proudly serve and cherish North Dumfries and its people.

I graduated from Conestoga College from the Recreation and Leadership Program as well as the Advanced Business Application and holds a Canada Customs Introduction to Customs and Customs Duty Drawback. For 32 years I organized and Chaired the Community Police Advisory Committee for North Dumfries, I also Chaired the Seniors Advisory Group, was a member for the North Dumfries Smart and Caring Foundation and a Warden of Christ Anglican Church.

I was a volunteer at a grassroots level organizing blood donor clinics, teaching learn to skate and swimming as well as coaching hockey and ringette.Past employment included Youth and Preschool Director, Life Skills Coach, Assistant Aquatic Director, and Inventory Planning /Logistics Coordinator. When I was successful in winning the seat as the Mayor of North Dumfries, I retired from my job and choose to dedicate my time working for the people of North Dumfries.

At the present time I sit on Administration and Finance Committee for the Region of Waterloo, Budget Committee for the Region, Community Services, Library, and I am Vice-Chair of Planning and Works at the Regional Level. I also sit on the Grand River Accessibility Committee as the Regional representative. Some of my other appointments are, Vice- Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority, Jack Young Civic Award Committee, Board member of Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology, was Chair of the Top Aggregate Producing Municipalities of Ontario for 5 years and presently I sit as a Board member of TAPMO. I also sit on the Board of Energy.


Tax Season

You can hear the full conversation 7pm on Thursday!


The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest: 

  • Who are you? Your path to becoming Mayor of North Dumfries
  • Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. 
    • What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? 
  • What is your region, how does the relationship work with Upper level government in Waterloo region? 
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • In the 2016 Census you grew by 9.1% and in 2021 Census, North Dumfries grew by 4%. The Waterloo region grew by 9.7%. You have had rapid growth, your neighbours are growing rapidly. How do you manage that? 
  • You are apart of what is possibly one of the most economic and demographic dynamic regions in Canada but you are rural community of less than 15,000 people.
    • Housing is “THE ISSUE” across the province. How is it impacting your community? 
    •   Given some of the rapid growth of your neighbours do you risk losing some of your rural character? I would assume some of your settlement areas like Ayr and Reidville have grown more rapidly compared to the general rural populations? 
  • You had a 3.8% tax increase proposed back at the end of last year. You had direct admin to come back around 3%, where did that land? 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, could change one thing municipally Provincially or Federally what would you change? 
  • What is an event or reason for a listener to come to your community in the next few months? 

North Dumfries Township

Episode 4.02 – Al Strathdee Mayor of St Marys


Al Strathdee was first elected Mayor in 2014 and is now serving his second term. He is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, with an Honours BA in History and Political Science and also is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Education. Al is a business  small operator and has always been actively involved in several community organizations. Al and his wife Gloria have three children. Al enjoys travel, music and spending time with family.


Housing Challenges

Tune in Thursday night at 7pm!


  • The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest.
  • Who are you? Your path to becoming Mayor of St Mary’s
  • Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. 
    • What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? 
  • What is your region, how does the relationship work with Upper level government in Perth County
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • In the 2021 Census St Mary’s grew by 1.7% while Perth County grew by 6.2%, what are you taking from that growth pattern? 
  • Housing is “THE ISSUE” across the province. How is it impacting St Mary’s?  
  • I like to assume that COVID is getting close to wrapping up. What should we be watching in St Mary’s in 2022 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, could change one thing municipally Provincially or Federally what would you change? 
  • What is an event or reason for a listener to come to your community in the next few months? 

Episode 4.01 – Mayor Gary McNamara – Mayor the Town of Tecumseh and Warden Essex County

Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Mayor McNamara and his family have called Tecumseh home since 1981.

After working at Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd. as a Power Engineer for 28 years, Gary retired in 2011. He has been married to Heather for 47 years, is the father of two grown sons, and proud grandfather of four.

Residents of Tecumseh first elected Gary to Tecumseh Town Council in November 1991. He was then voted in as Deputy Mayor in 1998, and as Mayor for the Town in 2003. Re-elected to the position of Mayor in 2006, acclaimed in 2010, re-elected in 2014 and acclaimed once again in 2018, Gary has successfully, and with the highest level of integrity, held this office for 15 years.

Gary’s County colleagues entrusted Gary by voting for him as Deputy Warden of the County of Essex from 2000-2003 and again for the 2010-2014 term. In December 2018, they reaffirmed their confidence in Gary’s abilities, electing him as Warden for the County.




Regionalism and Car Culture

You can listen to the full episode here Thursday at 7pm or on your favourite podcasting platform!


To frame the conversation below are some topic areas.The first half of the show is standardized (more or less) with each guest talking through these themes.

  • The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest. Who are you? Your path to becoming Mayor of Tecumseh and Warden
  • Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. 
    • What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? 
  • What is your region, how does the relationship work with Essex County. You are the first Warden we have had on the show, speak to that. 
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • Between 2011-2016 Tecumseh shrank in population, between 2016-2021 barely grew while the rest of Essex Country grew faster than provincial and national averages. What happening? 
  • City/County relations/structure – Waterloo Region which is integrated with cities on regional councils vs Windsor-Essex Model. 
  • I like to assume that COVID is getting close to wrapping up. What should we be watching in Tecumseh in 2022? What about Essex County as a whole? 
  • Obviously it is a provincial election year, what is one policy issue you want to hear from parties? 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, what would you change? 
  • What is an event or reason for a listener to come to your community in the next few months? 

Town of Tecumseh

Episode 3.11 – Mayor Nelson Santos – Kingsville Ontario

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos was first elected to Municipal Council in 1997 where he served two terms as a Councillor before becoming Kingsville’s first Deputy Mayor to be elected at large following the municipal amalgamations of Kingsville with the former Townships of Gosfield North and Gosfield South.

Nelson Santos was elected Mayor of Kingsville in 2003 and is now serving his fifth term as the Chief Executive Officer for the municipality. In his 24 years of municipal office, Mayor Santos was elected by Essex County Council to serve as Deputy Warden (2018-Present) and previously (2003-2006). Mayor Santos also served as Essex County Warden (2006-2010).

In representing the interests of his community and region of Windsor-Essex County, Mr. Santos has held portfolios involving regional economic development, physician recruitment, poverty reduction, heritage preservation, tourism, county library service, policing, emergency planning and communications and others

Prior to entering politics, Mayor Santos worked on his grandfather’s family farm for several years. He served as a journalist and editor for 29 years for community newspapers and retired as an active Realtor after 10 years. Today, his active lifestyle keeps him wearing many hats as a photographer and continues to work as a Real Estate Assistant with his wife Stephanie. Together, they are parents to three children Emelia (13) and twins Jaxson and Madelyn (6).



Teaser

Power Issues.

Tune in Thursday night at 7pm for the full conversation


The first half of the show is standardized (more or less) with each guest talking through these themes.

  • The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest. Who are you? What is your day job (if not a full time politician)? How do you engage the community? Why did you run for council? What drives you?
  • Who are your people? If you represent a ward/whole community what does it look like (urban, suburban, rural)? Who are your constituents – what do they do for a living, what are the issues you see in your inbox or talking to people week in and out. 
  • Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? .
  • What is your region, what is in common/different between your community and your neighbours? Most municipalities are a part of some upper tier government, how does your community fit into that upper tier?
  • Finally, how does your community and constituents fit into SW Ontario as a whole? Why should someone in Kitchener or London (as examples) care about your community? What should a Torontonian know about your community and why it is important?

The second half of the show is a bit more political/policy related. We may not get to all of these topics and this might not be the order we discuss them in.

  • COVID Impacts on Kingsville? How did it impact the municipality and community? 
    • Migrant workers and the outbreaks in those facilities 
  •  If COVID didn’t happen what would we be talking about? 
  • Agri-sector is a major employers and driver of local economic activity but there are challenges – Light pollution by-law
  • reliable electricity supply – power flickering etc. ELK Power Issues. 
  •  HWY3 widening is moving forward and going to impact Kingsville. 
    • Won’t a widened highway make it easier for people to commute to Windsor for employment thus negatively impacting climate? 
  • Magic policy wand – change one thing to improve your community, the lives of people in it, what do you change and why?
Town of Kingsville

Episode 3.10 – Councillor Amy Martin, Ward 6 -Norfolk County

Amy Martin is a 33 year old, first term, municipal councillor for Ward 6 (Port Dover) in Norfolk County. Amy campaigned on being accessible and communicating with constituents and won with over 50% of the vote in her community. She’s the first female representative for ward 6. 


Teaser

Tune in for the full conversation Thursday at 7pm


To frame the conversation below are some topic areas.The first half of the show is standardized (more or less) with each guest talking through these themes.

  • The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest. Who are you? What is/was your day job (if not a full time politician)? Why did you run for Council? What drives you?
  • Who are your people? Who are your constituents – in Ward 6. Paint a picture of you ward. What do they do for a living, what are the issues you see in your inbox or talking to people week in and out. 
  • How does your ward fit into Norfolk County. Is your ward the outlier urban ward or is it one of many rural? 
  • Norfolk County used to be Halimond-Norfolk. How has decoupling impacted things? 
    • Now a single tier municipality. 
  • Finally, how does your community and constituents fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second half of the show is a bit more political/policy related. We may not get to all of these topics and this might not be the order we discuss them in.

  • COVID Impacts over the last year? 
    • Budget, Community etc. 
    • What would be a story people would be talking about if COVID didn’t happen?
  • Appointment of the Acting Medical Officer Appointment Controversy. 
  • The Agri-sector in Norfolk has been called by some as “too powerful”. Putting profits before people and migrant workers? 
  • Port Dover Official Plan Amendment 
    • Housing Affordability – all that anyone talks about. 
  • Where do you see Norfolk to be in 10 years? What are the  Challenges/Opportunities to achieve that outcome? 
  • Magic policy wand – change one thing, what do you change and why?
Rural Routes - Norfolk County (Single Tier Norfolk)

Episode 3.09 – Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai – Municipality of Grey Highlands

Brent Rose/Global News

Aakash Desai moved to Canada in 2006 at the age of 15. Since then he has been a proud resident of Grey Highlands. He got involved in the public sphere in 2011 when he was elected to the Grey Highlands Chamber of Commerce Board. He was elected Vice-President in 2013. On April 29, 2014 Aakash became a Canadian citizen and soon after filed his nomination papers to run for council in the 2014 elections. He was sworn in as a councillor on Dec 1 – his 24th birthday. In 2018 he successfully ran for the position of Deputy Mayor and defeated the incumbent. He lives in Markdale with his fiancée and (still) dreams of someday playing for Manchester United.

@deputydesai


Teaser

Is Grey Highlands a part of SW Ontario?

Tune in Thursday night at 7pm to hear more!


The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest.

  • Who are you? What is your day job (if not a full time politician)? Why did you run for council? What drives you?  How do you engage the community?
  • Who are your people? If you represent a ward/whole community what does it look like (urban, suburban, rural)? Who are your constituents – what do they do for a living, what are the issues you see in your inbox or talking to people week in and out.
  • Describe your municipality as a whole. Paint a picture for someone who has not been to your town or community before or has only seen it as a sign on the side of a road. What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? 
  • What is your region, how would you describe the region as a whole and the City’s relationship with the region? What is in common/different between them? 
  • Finally, how does your community and constituents fit into SW Ontario as a whole? Why should someone in Kitchener or London (as examples) care about your community? What should a Torontonian know about your community and why it is important?

The second half of the show is a bit more political/policy related. We may not get to all of these topics and this might not be the order we discuss them in.

  • COVID Impacts on Grey Highlands?
    • Budget Impacts? Community Impacts?
    • What would we be talking about if COVID didn’t happen?
  • Can you talk about the Beaver valley development and council’s decision to move it forward.- It seems like there is some tensions between development and community/environmental preservation.
  • Next year is a provincial election and news from smaller communities like yours often do get heard during campaign,
  • Magic policy wand – change one policy at a local, provincial or federal level that will make things better in your community, what do you change and why?

Municipality of Grey Highlands

Episode 3.08 – Jason Reynar – CAO of The City of Windsor

Jason Reynar

Rapidly improving our quality of life through local government innovation is Jason’s passion. As a lawyer and Chief Administrative Officer, he navigates through a haze of policy and regulation to find practical – sometimes disruptive – ways to deliver services, such as a public transit system powered by a ride-sharing app. Jason currently leads a team of over 3,000 dedicated public servants at the City of Windsor, Ontario, and is responsible to City Council for its nearly $1B annual operating and capital budget.  He strives to create an organization and community that is authentic, collaborative, creative and resilient.

Jason’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Criminal Justice and Public Policy from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Laws and Masters of Law (Municipal Specialization) from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business.  Jason is an Accredited Director with the Chartered Governance Institute of Canada.


Teaser

CAO view of the region.

Tune in Thursday night at 7pm to hear the full conversation!


The first part begins with you, as we introduce you as the guest and your perceptions on the community/region you reside. 

  • Who are you? How did you end up CAO of the City of Windsor? 
  • You are somewhat new to the community so what are your “first-ish” impressions?How would you describe the municipality as a whole? 
    • What is working, and what is not, what are you building towards? 
  • What are your impressions about the region? 
    • How does the relationship work with Essex County administratively? Do you feel there is a right level of engagement, could be more or less? 
  • Finally, how does Windsor in your opinion fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • What is the role of municipal administration? 
    • You receive direction from elected officials but you (admin)are the experts. How does that direction get prioritized? 
  • Recently Windsor scored poorly on a democracy index for Ontario. Some of this is beyond administrative control – like the make-up of the council etc. How can administrative processes help impact local democracy, trust, and engagement?
    • Locally in Windsor there have been some issues that some in the community feel are rushed, or not properly engaging before a decision is made. 
  • I believe Windsor just passed a work from home pilot process. What does work from home look like for a municipality? Certainly some taxpayers might say “You are public servants, why aren’t you at your desk?” 
    • Does this open the door to work from anywhere? Is this a pathway to a new round of municipal outsourcing?
  • Can municipal administrations keep up with a rapidly changing world? The speed in which the world is change, is getting faster, and the relatively risk averse space that is municipal government makes it hard to innovate.
    • There seems to be a feeling that Windsor is playing catch up in this space where other SW Ontario municipalities – From this podcast conversations:
      • London’s multiyear budgeting that was credited with a $10M surplus that could be invested with affordable housing; 
      • Collaboration networks in Guelph-Wellington and the municipal leadership that is driving it is allowing them to Leverage Smart Cities funding to realign their economy. 
      • City of Kitchener repurposing an existing tax levy to fund a $100M+ small business/venture capital accelerator.  
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, and change policy at the municipal, provincial or federal level, what would you change? 


Episode 3.07 – Shawn Micallef – Author and Columnist for the Toronto Star

Shawn Micallef is the author of Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto, Full Frontal TO, and The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure. He’s a weekly columnist at the Toronto Star, a senior editor and co-owner of Spacing and teaches at the University of Toronto. His most recent book, Frontier City: Toronto on the Verge of Greatness, was published in 2017 and he is currently working on a book about tourism.


Does Toronto think about SW Ontario?

Tune in Thursday at 7pm to hear the full episode!


The first half of the show is standardized (more or less) with each guest talking through these themes.

  • Who are you? What do you for a living, how are you connected to SW Ontario? 
  • You are now in Toronto, you have family in SW Ontario, you travel in the region. From a quasi outsider perspective, what is working, and what is not in SW Ontario? 
  • From a Toronto perspective, is this region (or any other part of Ontario except for maybe cottage country) on the radar of Toronto?
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • You spend a lot of time walking/exploring communities you visit. What are some hidden gems you have found in SW Ontario?
  • You have written about the greatness of Toronto and what it could be, I have a counter (maybe controversial) hypothesis – Toronto is the worst part of Ontario. 
    • It’s lack of leadership – subways, housing, financialization of the city and more etc. have prevented the City tackling big problems and has perpetuated a housing crisis across the province; 
    • It has gotten so large that it is the only electorally significant region both provincially and federally so parties cater to Toronto to the detriment of policies and issues in other parts of the province.
    • It is the hub of media and they do not know or care about stories unless it bleeds outside of their region. The same media has taken over small town media so half the stories on “local news” are coming from the GTA. This feeds into a social/political bubble.
    • It is home to a hockey team that damages the mental health of people across this province on an annual basis. 
  • You have attacked provincial planning policy (both under the Liberals and PCs) for being awful in particular when it comes to Schools, Hospitals and LCBOs. These have arguably led to bad planning decisions at local levels but it has been enabled by a provincial framework. 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, and you could change 1 municipal, provincial or federal policy, what would you change?