Interview with Derek Begley, Regional Council candidate for Wards 9 & 10 in Brampton, Canada

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.

Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Derek Begley, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward's incumbent is John Sprovieri; also challenging Sprovieri is Sherdaljit Dhillon, Mahen Gupta, Satpaul Johal, Dalbir S. Kathuria, and Vahid Saadati-Khanshir.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Q: List the three most important issues in your campaign.

A: Getting Brampton to a better balance between Residential and Commercial interests within the city, to help create a greater corporate tax base and more sustainable civic model. A transportation and road system that works, allowing shorter commutes, less environmental impact and greater opportunities for families to share time together. Facilities and recreational services more in line with demands in our area, particularly Ward 10.

Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?

A: Holding the line on property tax increases. The city has already declared 2007 to be a difficult budget year and we must be very aggressive in finding ways to curb our ballooning tax bill.

Q: What qualities or experiences do you possess, that make you more desirable than the incumbent?

A: My international experience has allowed me a greater understanding of how different cultures deal with the day to day and universal challenges all people face. This has allowed me to become a very flexible and open minded thinker, and I believe I have great strength in being able to communicate and build bridges between differing beliefs and ideas. Also I will be committed to public service and my constituents full time, and have a passion and energy for helping people reach positive, effective resolutions to their concerns.

Q: Why do you want to represent your ward on council?

A: I was born and raised in Bramalea, and remember the land my home stands on as open farmers fields and rivers.At the same time I remember a city that had a plan of controlled,managed growth, a huge sense of community and bursting with civic pride. I believe we can return to this, despite our rapid expansion, by injecting our council with new vision and passion for our city while remembering that from the past which makes our city great.

Q: Of the decisions made by council since the last election, which one would you have changed, and why?

A: The Master plan to develop Ching Park has been delayed and rewritten several times, and each succeeded report and consultation costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands in wasted time and construction costs. An investment in this park with a bit of progressive thinking towards the activities that can take place there and the way in which the park is managed is of huge benefit to the entire east side of Brampton, and additional delays and toe-dragging on the issue is only adding expense and problems to the issue.

Q: How are you currently involved in the community?

A: I am very active in youth activities and sports in the community, mostly through the Matmen wrestling club, where I am a head coach. One of the biggest challenges facing our community is channeling our youth into positive and life skills building endeavours. I have been involved in the development of community driven recreation choices, such as skateboard parks and lit, well managed outdoor areas that encourage not only youth physical participation, but gives them opportunities to create their own grassroots organizations and events. Youth invovlement and a sense of ownership in their community is crucial in their development into engaged, well rounded citizens.

Q: Much of Brampton's existing council is quite seasoned in the civic political process. What could you bring to the table as a "rookie", above and beyond the current roster of councillors?

A: I feel that I can offer the best of both worlds- someone who is energetic and full of fresh ideas, while also still having the experience and knowledge of the process to be an effective public servant right from the beginning. I grew up around the council ( my mother being council secretary before serving five terms herself) and have worked at several part time and seasonal positions over the years within the city.This has given me considerable insight into the overall operation of the city of Brampton and a solid understanding of that which works and those areas I am eager to work to improve once elected.

Q: The Rose Theatre recently launched. What are your thoughts on this facility? Have you had a chance to tour it yet?

A: I have toured the facility, and it is a beautiful structure, but I am concerned about the additional investment needed to bring the surrounding area more in line with the municipalities vision for the Four Corners area, and how much of the burden is expected to be shouldered by the taxpayers still. I am also concerned by our large commitment to a type of facility that have proven to be less than successful both financially and culturally to cities such as North York, Mississauga and Markham. Future councils must take tremendous care to ensure this facility lives up to its promise for our community.

Q: The province has strongly encouraged the development of high-density residences near the downtown. Do these buildings fit in with your vision of the downtown? How much say should other levels of government have in urban planning?

A: The development of high density, mixed usage buildings are an important part of the Brampton revitalization projects, but I believe that efforts must be taken to ensure this development is in a position to be of the greatest benefit of all Bramptonians, not just the "traditional " four corners section of old Brampton. When Brampton and Bramalea amalgamated, the centre of the city shifted to the Queen and 410 area, and access , land availability and geography would suggest that this is a more appropriate area to focus development in the Central Brampton Area. Our city must work jointly with regional, provincial and federal government institutions as well as the private sector to develop a plan of action that is clear, concise and of maximum benefit to Brampton's tax payers.

Q: What are your opinions on Brampton's congestion and the level of public transit funding?

A: Traffic congestion in Brampton has spiralled to unimagined levels in recent years. The answer to this problem is two fold. On one hand, we must create a better "live-work" community in Brampton, seeking to develop more high paying sustainable employment within the city borders to reduce overall commute times and travel lengths.
At the same time, we must come up with a GTA wide, multi- governmental tiered plan to deal with this situation before it becomes completely unmanageable. We must create a transit system that is logical enough, efficient enough and economical enough that it becomes a viable first option for work, school and travel anywhere within the GTA. This is not going to be easy and is the greatest challenge facing this and subsequent councils, requiring a council unafraid to make tough decisions that with benefit the long, rather than short term future of our city.

Q: Why should businesses be attracted to locating in Brampton?

A: Brampton is a hub of access for all forms of transport and as our city continues to develop, more and more corporate interests will be attracted by our skilled, driven workforce, excellent family based communities and natural beauty just steps from the heart of the city.

Q: How could Brampton further itself in attracting corporate investment?

A: Brampton needs to build upon our existing corporate base and seek out educational and support industries to these industries that can help Brampton develop a corporate identity in a core sector. We must identify those skills and attributes that Brampton business and citizens excel at, then work to support and develop these skills and industries so Brampton can emerge as a world leader in these fields. Innovation and skill are the best assurances of the economic vitality of our community for the future.

Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?

A: Our city has grown in leaps and bounds in the past decade, yet in many ways, the city is still managed like it was 30 years and 300,000 citizens ago. The time has come for a more progressive, transparent system to be implemented so our city can move forward. I believe that I have the knowledge, integrity and conviction to be a intergal part of this process.

Q: What does Brampton mean to you?

A: Brampton means first and foremost to me, home. It means a city bursting with potential. A city waking up to itself and its size, diversity and energy and beginning to understand that with vision and effort, it is a community capable of forging a limitless future both within Canada and the world.


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