Mayoral Candidate: Chris Holt

Chris Holt Chris Holt

Chris Holt

1150 Chilver Road, Windsor, Ontario, N8Y 2K9
Phone: 519-980-7576

2022 Windsor Election Rose City Politics Candidate Questionnaire answers:

1. What is your prior political experience?

Prior to being elected to council in 2014 and re-elected with 80% of the popular vote in 2018, I have sat on the Windsor Bicycle Committee and the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee as a citizen member of municipal advisory committees. In addition to municipal experience, I have sat on the boards of several local NGOs

2. Why are you running?

Throughout my last two terms as a City Councillor, I have had the opportunity to see that the quality of life issues that matter to residents are not unique to a particular area. Making quality of life the foundation of our strategic decision-making matters to residents in every part of our city. Delivering results matters. But, delivering results THAT MATTER, matters more. It is for this reason that I am campaigning to become the next Mayor of the City of Windsor. It is very clear to me that people in Windsor, regardless of what neighbourhood they call home, embrace and support the ideals I have been championing around the council table.

  • We all deserve clean and safe neighbourhoods.
  • We all deserve easy and quick access to the amenities that fulfill our daily needs.
  • We all deserve safe, efficient, and affordable public and active transportation options so we can participate in society.
  • We all deserve high quality city services delivered seamlessly and affordably to our homes.
  • We all deserve a roof over our heads that leaves us with enough money to enjoy the good things in life.
  • We all deserve to reap the rewards of investing in, and supporting, arts and culture.
  • We all deserve to be engaged respectfully and meaningfully by our city government and to be valued players in the bright future Windsor has ahead of us.

These should be available to any resident of Windsor; they should be the foundation upon which we build our city. And we can do these things while still being fiscally responsible. We have accomplished a lot of great things during my tenure on council, but so much has been left on the table. We’ve always come up short from achieving the maximum potential of any of our plans. Council has done a tremendously adequate job of seizing the opportunities that have presented themselves to us, but it’s time to move beyond adequate.

3. What do you do currently for a living?

I have been employed at Ford Motor Company since 1994, where I did my Tool & Die apprenticeship. I am also a founding partner in the local craft brewing company Chapter Two Brewing Company.

4. What is the biggest issue affecting the ward you are running for?

See answer #5

5. What is the biggest issue affecting the city of Windsor?

We have numerous issues directly affecting our municipality, such as homelessness, addictions and mental health, housing affordability, road safety, job attraction – lots of issues and opportunities to show great leadership and fill the void that we’ve been experiencing for years.

We also have lots of master plans designed expressly to deal with these issues and more, yet at budget time we opt to chase ways to cut departmental budgets by 10% instead of investing in the very plans that will go a long way to address the recurring issues we face every day. So, to me – our biggest issue affecting the city of Windsor is our lack of follow through and commitment to implementing the very plans that council endorses to move our community forward. We have everything we need currently in place to deliver on our promises to the community contained in these master plans; the talent, the resources, the vision and the hearts. Windsor will be a very different place once we elect the leader that takes council’s wishes seriously in addressing all these issues through the implementation of those neglected master plans.

6. Are you seeking any endorsements?

I have and will continue to seek out the support of individuals and organizations who understand the impact my candidacy can have on our campaign.

7. Have you received any endorsements?

The Windsor District Labour Council has endorsed my campaign for mayor.

8. Will you continue the “hold the line on taxes” policy?

I think my answer to #5 gives a good idea of what I believe the result of the city’s fanatical adherence to this dogma has meant to our quality of life. From our Investment Policy that is starving our municipal coffers to directing our administration on an annual basis to commit human resources to finding 10% cuts shows that this directive has gone far beyond getting our fiscal house in order into the realm of creating a recurring crisis to justify our lack of city building vision. When I was running for election in 2014, the mayor at the time, who is widely regarded as the man who fixed our shaky financial foundation, endorsed my candidacy by saying “the city has worked very hard getting our fiscal house in order, and now is the time for us to focus on the quality of life issues that Chris is known for”. That was eight years ago.

9. Do you support the mega-hospital location?

I felt it was important to have this event to clearly articulate my real position on the hospital once and for all. Last week we heard from my opponent who continues to use the need for a new hospital as a political football. He’s used it now in every election, at every level. He continues to spout mistruths and misinformation at a scale that needs correction.

We all know the process that led us here today. It’s been one of the most intense and in depth debates and public discussions we’ve had municipally in our history. Unfortunately my opponent has been part of the side that has made this a very divisive and contentious issue in our community, and apparently continues to do so. The need for a new hospital is not, nor will it be, up for debate. It is completely agreed upon. The discussions that surrounded the location and the process in which the site was chosen did not need to pit residents against each other. My opponent seems to thrive off division, and will use it as a political tool at any time where he stands to benefit. That’s unacceptable. That’s not leadership.

My position on the site selection process and the location has been clear, and the reasons I have articulated in voting against this site still exist today as unaddressed issues we need to deal with as a community. But, as I have done in my two terms of council, I will and do respect the direction and the will of the people. Just as recently as three months ago we had a provincial election where area residents supported MPPs who ran on delivering this hospital and making it a reality. In this location. City Council has already approved the zoning change and the creation of a tax levy collecting our share of the municipal portion. I am here today to pledge to the residents of Windsor that I will not hold up or stand in the way of that funding being allocated to this project when needed.

Contrary to my opponent who called this “the perfect location” just last week, I know, as do tens of thousands of residents, this was not the perfect location, far from it. I, unlike my opponent, will not hide my head in the sand and pretend there are no issues tied to that decision. I am prepared for the work that needs to happen to make this hospital not only a reality but a success.

The main issues that we need to address as a community are as follows:

24hr ER and full services at the Ouellette campus of WRH starting from day one. Equity and access to health care for those who need it most has been one of the most egregious oversights of the plan as it stands today. I am glad my opponent has FINALLY pledged support for 24/7 ER services in the core. Remember, just three months ago he mocked and called out Provincial candidates who did the same. Along with Councilors Bortolin, Costante, Kaschak, and McKenzie, I have been steadfast in advocating for 24/7 ER services in the core. This shows that our work has not only paid off but has led the way in making sure Windsor residents get the services we deserve. Don’t we deserve that leadership in the Mayor’s office?

The second issue that needs attention is the expense and timing of the infrastructure needs in the surrounding area of the new Hospital. Sandwich South is a blank slate, with no infrastructure to handle such a huge investment along with the ancillary investments that will follow. During this time the City will also begin developing the Sandwich South lands for housing. What will all this new infrastructure cost? We actually have no idea. Back in September of 2021 I tabled a motion to have a third party consultant report back with a comprehensive outline of the cost and timelines of needed infrastructure work in the area of the new acute care hospital. That motion did not pass, with my opponent being the deciding vote against. He and the 5 councilors you saw flanking him last week all chose to disregard this concern and willfully ignore the true cost to Windsor taxpayers. Will the City collect much needed development charges from the Province for this hospital? Will the province or the county contribute their fair share to the immediate infrastructure needs to make this “regional” Hospital a success? Will there be a huge shift in capital priorities to ensure we can keep pace with these investments without cutting much needed road and sewer investments? We simply do not know. Why would we not want to know the full impact of this investment and properly prepare for it? My opponent was the deciding vote against. How much has that one vote cost us?

Today I wanted to set the record straight so the citizens of Windsor have a clear understanding of my position, directly from me. Not only will I not stand in the way of using our municipal levy to contribute to the hospital when called upon, I will strengthen the plan, with the following starting immediately if elected:

Create a community wide Health Services Table exploring not only 24/7 ER access in the core but many other services that will be important to the communities who need them the most, with an emphasis on mental health and addictions. Agencies such as CMHA, HDGH, and the United Way will all be asked to contribute to this important conversation.

Establish a Sandwich South Infrastructure Task Force, comprised of residents, industry partners, city administration, and infrastructure engineers. The goal of this task force is to determine and cost out the infrastructure needs of the area as we begin construction of the new hospital in the greater context of the overall Sandwich South development.

Prioritize Nurse recruitment working with Invest Windsor Essex, Workforce Windsor Essex, St Clair College and The University of Windsor. This program will partner with WRH in continuing their efforts to attract talent to the Windsor area. We are in desperate need of nurses in our community.

Become a leader in advocating for investments in the mental health, addictions and long term care sectors. HDGH has space and infrastructure to open up more mental health beds immediately. HDGH also has the capacity to create much needed long term care beds. We know they are actively looking for space to invest and expand into this sector, as a City we need to support their bid and advocate on their behalf. We need to advocate for funding now. We currently have no formalized advocacy arm in the province working on mental health and addictions issues specifically, not at AMO or other formal municipal bodies. I pledge to lead this initiative across the province. Locally I will begin by adding 8 new outreach and mental health workers to our streets to work with Police and mental health agencies for improved access to service. While we have pledged support for the H4 centre we cannot wait 5+ years to begin work on this issue.

Prioritize all Transit Windsor routes that will access the new acute care hospital. Routes will begin before the doors open as construction workers and others in the area will need access as the project moves ahead. I will also work to create a special compassionate fare for family caregivers who will need to be at their families side for days at a time at the new facility.

Expedite the creation of a Climate Action and Energy Plan for the Sandwich South area. Our existing climate and energy plans currently do not include this area. This plan will include consultations with members of the public, local institutions, industry experts, researchers and our own administration. As we develop and move ahead with the clearing of greenspace and create more housing and services in Sandwich South we need to do so with our climate goals in mind. City Council has already endorsed a motion to create carbon neutral neighbourhoods in Sandwich South, we need to ensure development here is done properly. Health outcomes are tied in so many ways to our climate goals and actions. We cannot ignore those here.

So, to summarize, my opponent continues to spread misinformation and fear and wants to use the need for a new hospital as a political football for him to punt around. By contrast I am committing to you clearly that I will not stand in the way of the provincial plan to build a new hospital here. I will work with the province and the county to fulfill our financial obligation to the project. But I am not stopping there. I am pledging to the residents of Windsor that they deserve to know the full cost of this investment, financially and environmentally. I have a six point plan to address the gaps and prioritize the entire health and well being of our community.

I have always approached decisions at council with integrity and consistency. Residents of Windsor know that if I am making a pledge here today I will keep that promise and work with the province to make this not only a reality but a success. We need to approach this project with eyes wide open. This will be a generational investment that will need a proportional municipal investment to accommodate it here. We cannot hide our heads in the sand like my opponent continues to do and we cannot continue to politicize a project that needs to move forward and open its doors to the residents of Windsor Essex as soon as possible.

10. Do you support strong mayor legislation?

I think the notion of strong mayor governance is an affront to democracy and diminishes the roles and responsibilities of city councillors. Residents value the voice of their ward councillor. A city is much more than a single person. Whether it be businesses, families, or your favourite walking trail, councillors are elected to champion local voices and work collaboratively to get things done. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve heard loud and clear that residents did not like the use of city resources for campaigning and using that office in a way that positioned him in a way above council. I think our residents know the perils of a strong mayor system already. The strongest powers available to any Mayor is respect and the ability to listen. Those are the powers I would use most.

11. Should the city use taxpayers dollars to bring jobs to the area?

In certain instances they are invaluable in creating the environment that fosters growth in certain industries. We cannot forget however that economic development and luring companies to Windsor depends highly on quality of place and delivering amenities that best serve business owners and employees. We must also recognise that our local small business owners are the heart and soul of our local retail and commercial communities and need the support and resources to thrive. Our 9 Business Improvement Areas employee as many people that live in the entire Town of Tecumseh. They cannot be forgotten in our plans to grow our local economy. This is the heart of any good economic development plan.

12. If you are running in a ward with an incumbent who is also running, why is change necessary, and why are you the person to deliver it?

Our incumbent mayor is adept at delivering and protecting the status quo. He does it very, very well as he’s been practicing since he got elected to council in 2006. It is time to move forward as a community however and actually implement the numerous master plans council has endorsed to actually improve our collective quality of life.

13. How many hours per week do you plan to allocate towards council business if elected?

I have been dedicating full time hours to my part time position of city councillor for the past 8 years, easily averaging over 40 hours per week. I can only imagine that my time in the mayor’s office will meet or exceed 80 hours per week

14. Do you live in the ward you are running for?

Walkerville resident for almost 20 years, so yes.

15. What agencies, boards, or committees do/have you served on, and in what capacity?

  • Environment, Transportation and Public Safety Standing Committee, Chair
  • Planning, Heritage and Economic Development Standing Committee
  • Executive Standing Committee
  • Windsor Essex County Environment Committee, Chair
  • Transit Windsor Board of Directors, Chair
  • Transit Advisory Committee
  • Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority
  • Vision Zero Stakeholder Group, Chair
  • New City Hall Steering Committee
  • Development Charge Task Force
  • Rail Issues Committee
  • Property Standards Committee
  • Windsor Business Improvement Area Advisory Committees, Chair
  • Erie Street Business Improvement Area
  • Ottawa Street Business Improvement Area
  • Walkerville Business Improvement Area
  • Wyandotte Towne Centre Business Improvement Area
  • Association of Municipalities of Ontario, member – Large Urban Caucus

16. What person, animal or fictional character should be Windsor’s unofficial mascot?

The archetypal underdog.