THUNDER BAY – While Duff Stewart has never served on Thunder Bay city council, he’s no stranger to municipal politics.
The retired teacher spent 13 years as a city councillor in Lloydminster, a community straddling the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, and six-and-a-half more on Shuniah’s councillor after his family returned to its Thunder Bay roots when his academic career ended.
Stewart said once he sold his Shuniah camp, he initially planned to retire, but when he took a closer look at his taxes in Thunder Bay, he decided he was going to make another run at council, this time seeking the Current River seat.
“I asked, what’s going on in this city and I decided I should stand up and say what a lot of people are saying around the doors, that why are our taxes so high and what have we got for the money that we’re putting in,” Stewart said.
“So, I couldn’t answer the question and I’ve been talking with a lot of people and found out that in Current River, this used to be a very special region. It had businesses and a lot of chutzpah. Everybody liked it. And over the years the businesses have vaporized, and the banks have left.”
Stewart said, if elected, he wants to be the councillor who is looking out for his constituents and keeping an eye on city hall spending.
He also plans to look at the big picture and the all-around impacts decisions council makes have on the entire city, in particular those who live in Current River.
“I haven’t seen that kind of thing for Current River on any of the projects we’re doing here. So I’m kind of hoping with my input and the type of things I’ve experienced in councils, that I can bring that to the table,” Stewart said.
Looking at Current River, Stewart said transportation to and from the ward needs a serious overhaul.
“The last bus leaves from downtown at 10:30 p.m. What person in their right mind goes downtown to leave by 10:30. It’s not feasible. And then they take a milk-run approach about the area,” Stewart said.
“The other would be the nature of the work (the city does). If you drive down some of the roads, they put a patch on a pothole and it’s about six inches higher than the road is.”
Access to health care in Current River is also a concern, he said.
“We need to keep things coming into our community,” Stewart said.
“The reason I’m running is I have 20 years of experience and that experience has been dealing with management in terms of city council and the administration. And most of the councils I’ve been on, we’ve been very fortunate to be able to carry things through to the end.”