Matt Sammut wants to build partnerships with senior governments, as well as developers and private investors, to make sure the burden of new servicing in Erin does not fall on local taxpayers.
As a former banker and now president of his own investment advice business, he believes he can help the Town create a winning strategy. He has also served on the Liaison Committee on urban servicing, representing Concerned Erin Citizens.
“We need to crystalize a brilliant vision for Erin, and re-invent it as a place that people want to come to,” he said. “We have to create the vision together, and politicians have to drive it.”
He says the Strategic Plan recently adopted by Town Council is a good start, but that it still needs an over-arching vision. That could mean a short list of goals, such as becoming known as a tourist destination, a retirement community and a welcoming place for small businesses.
He says the Town needs to find alternative sources of revenue, control expenses and tax increases, and allow moderate growth, while preserving the attractive small-town environment.
“If we don’t change, we will continue with a worsening economy. Industry does not want to come here, property values are going down and there are few services for taxpayers. If we can’t be big, let’s maximize what we have.”
He said “in a perfect world”, everyone would have sewer servicing, but that it may not be feasible. Servicing should be done for those who really need it, but some existing or new homes could still be on modern septic systems, he said. He will consider alternative technologies and is open to privatization of some public services.
He envisions a strategy in which the Town decides where it wants new homes, and then negotiates with developers.
“Why go through an Environmental Assessment until we know what we want. Let’s do our homework first. Let the developers pay for the EA.”
He believes that if we cultivate relationships with people in the federal and provincial governments, and present plans to make Erin a major asset within the regional economy, we will get the funding we need for improvements.
He favours incentives for businesses to improve their properties, wants a by-pass route for transport trucks and hopes to provide better public access to the river. Under the right conditions, local people will be willing to invest their money in the community, he said. For those struggling financially, he does not want to see new costs from the Town make things more difficult.
“We have to ensure that these people are protected.”