Council votes down Kaiser's quest for appointment to transportation steering committee

Niagara-on-the-Lake town council recently shot down a bid to appoint their representative on regional council to sit on a transportation strategy steering committee.

Last week, council was faced with a motion to put Regional Coun. Andrea Kaiser on the committee, which is being formed with either a regional or local councillor representing each of Niagara’s 12 municipalities, along with regional staff members and eight citizen representatives from across the region.

Staff recommended Kaiser and said in the report before council that she was “agreeable” to sit on the committee.

However, the majority of council wasn’t agreeable to taking this step – including Coun. Sandra O’Connor, who said at the meeting that Kaiser is supportive of a planned roundabout in St. Davids, which has been an ongoing issue for years and has been the result of motions from the town in opposition to the regional project at York and Four Mile Creek roads.

“How can she represent council on this committee if it’s against council’s wishes?” asked O’Connor.

“We need a representative who is going to be aligned with council’s plan and represent council’s position on this steering committee,” added O’Connor.

Coun. Gary Burroughs also suggested Niagara-on-the-Lake's representative should be someone from town council.

“I still believe we should have one of our members of council – not me,” he said.

Coun. Maria Mavridis asked when it was decided that Kaiser would be who council considers for the role, to which Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa said was the result of a recent information package received recently by local politicians.

Coun. Erwin Wiens spoke highly of Kaiser and noted that she has lived and worked in town her whole life, among other reasons he believed she was the right choice.

“To disallow somebody based on one incident because of a political decision is not germane,” said Wiens.

“It doesn’t make sense to do that,” said Wiens, also noting that Kaiser, who has 11 years of past experience as a town councillor, has been a “great advocate” at the Region for Niagara-on-the-Lake.

In an interview with The Local, Kaiser said her position about the roundabout has been misunderstood.

“I was very disappointed to see that’s what she said publicly,” said Kaiser, referring to O’Connor’s comments.

She says she’s “not opposed” to the roundabout, and that it has already been approved by the Region – and is a project that started coming together before she was elected to regional council in 2022.

“I’ve never voted on it,” she said, and also added that the proposed roundabout is already too far along in the approval stage to be stopped, in her opinion.

“I think it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s happening,” said Kaiser, continuing that she doesn’t think the majority of residents in the area are strongly against the traffic feature.

Voting against Kaiser being appointed to the committee were Couns. O'Connor, Mavridis, and Burroughs, as well as Couns. Nick Ruller and Adriana Vizzari.

Kris Dube, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara-on-the-Lake Local