July 14, 2024

By Mike Sanders

Entrepreneur Mike Sanders, who owns Aaron Taxi, is running for council in Ward 10. 

An urban ward that includes large parts of downtown, as well as the hospital district and the tony neighbourhoods around Ramsey Lake and Lake Nepahwin, Ward 10 has been in the news often during the past five years since the core was one of two locations seriously considered for the new events centre. 

Sanders has some competition. Fern Cormier has represented Ward 10 since 2014 and Jolene Felsbourg-Linton is also vying for the seat.  

Q: Why are you running?

A: Sudbury possesses a great deal of potential; its citizens, geography and culture deserve the opportunity to fulfill it. The current iteration of council has not fostered this potential. We’ve been stifled by a dearth of leadership evermore apparent with the onslaught of COVID-19. We’re facing multiple crises: housing, opioids, infrastructure. And our current council embroils itself in scuffles instead of acting. These are the reasons I feel compelled to run.  

Q: What unique qualities can you bring to council chambers (background, expertise, experiences)?

A: I was raised in an entrepreneurial household. Most of my family hasn’t been in Canada for even a generation, yet they’ve established multiple businesses and forged a life here. Thankfully, I’ve inherited some of this ambition and tenacity — and I’ve needed every bit of it carrying my business through the pandemic. Although it wasn’t easy, Aaron Taxi managed to grow amidst these challenging conditions and has become a larger, stronger company for it. This required careful budgeting, strategic investing and a heck of a lot of problem-solving.

In terms of government experience, I already liaise with multiple levels and have come to recognize that bureaucracy demands balance: good governance is reciprocal guidance, not stringency. I have also made numerous connections in the local business community and through many conversations I have come to understand the obstacles preventing Sudbury from realizing its potential. 

I believe doing is the best form of education and although I possess multiple degrees, I don’t think I’ve ever learned as much, as quickly, as I have running businesses. I think that’s experience I can harness to improve our community. 

Q: Which city issues are top of mind for you?

A: That’s an easy one: the downtown core. It should be a community asset yet most people don’t even want to go there. It’s almost a metaphor for the wider issue of poor planning across the entire city. We need to impel development and renewal. Our current council has been tremendously inconsistent in their application of the downtown master plan, as well as their general direction when it comes to downtown; that leaves those with the ambition to make changes in the area sitting on the sidelines. We need to engage private enterprise to see the value in our core. 

Q: What is your position on the Junction East project, considering its most recent price projection of about $98 million? 

A: Quite honestly, I feel there are other priorities in our city at the moment. I believe in wringing the most value from the assets you already have. Shiny new buildings are great, but most citizens may only have the opportunity to visit them a few times a year, if that. What we all need, every day, is reliable infrastructure, safe streets and well-maintained neighbourhood facilities. 

Q: Talk a little about your ward and the priorities in your area. 

A: I got to cheat a little, I guess: the downtown core forms part of the ward in which I’m running; however, that’s hardly the only issue our ward or city faces. In addition to the downtown, I would say that protecting and enhancing the LU green space and improving the old St. Joe’s hospital property (on Paris Street) are top of mind. 

Q: The municipality still needs a new arena to replace the 70-year-old barn on Elgin Street. How should city hall proceed?

A: Sure, there should be a plan to retire the arena. I’m a pretty avid concert-goer and I acknowledge the sound quality in the old place is less than desirable. Although I possess no specific numbers at this time, I can also imagine that maintenance becomes more difficult (and costly) with each passing year. Obviously, I believe that when it comes time to build a new arena, I’d like it to be downtown. We need to involve the whole community in whatever plan we proceed with, it has to be our arena, not just for the downtown. It would break my heart to see the kind of polarization we underwent the last time around. Right now, though, we need to focus on making the downtown more livable and enjoyable again, before it deserves a new arena. Then we should re-approach the question. 

Q: Please tell us about someone who inspires you. 

A: I’m not really one to idolize or regurgitate quotations. I’m inspired by the person who drives 90 minutes out to site to work a 12-hour shift; the parents who manage multiple jobs on top of childcare; and the people who volunteer their time to make life better for others. 

Ward 10 candidates

Name: Fern Cormier  

Telephone: 705-929-2002

Email: vo*********@gm***.com

Website: www.voteferncormier.ca

Name: Jolene Felsbourg-Linton   

Telephone: 705-855-3778

Email: jo***********@ya***.com 

Website: www.jolene4ward10.com

Name: Michael Sanders

Telephone: 705-688-4662

Email: mi**@aa********.ca  

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