With his resounding win in Niagara West during last week's election, MPP Sam Oosterhoff has no shortage of issues on his plate.
Here's what the Progressive Conservative MPP plans to do to tackle the riding's pressing issues.
On June 2, Niagara West voted overwhelmingly to give Sam Oosterhoff a third term as MPP for the riding.
The MPP said he wants to “get the job done for the people here in Niagara West” and talked about the need to rebuild the economy, build key infrastructure, keep costs down, and keep Ontario open.
Niagara This Week spoke with Oosterhoff about the specific priorities and issues faced by Niagara West and what residents can expect to see from their re-elected MPP and the government over the next four years.
Oosterhoff said he's proud that shovels are in the ground for West Lincoln Memorial Hospital and is committed to ensuring that the facility is “properly staffed and resourced when it does open its doors.”
As for timelines, construction is expected to take “three-and-a-bit years to complete.”
Although the GO Transit train network currently links Niagara Falls and St. Catharines to Toronto, services are limited and there are no stations between Hamilton and St. Catharines.
“As of now, obviously there are a few trains, but we want more trains as there's more demand,” said Oosterhoff. “It makes sense environmentally and economically. And obviously it's important for people to be able to access the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”
He said that Metrolinx is in conversation with Canadian National Railway to negotiate more access for trains.
As for the construction of a train station at Grimsby, Oosterhoff insisted that he and the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) are “absolutely committed to ensuring that goes through.” Talks are ongoing between municipalities and developers to ensure that the station would be built, he said.
Similarly, the MPP is excited at the prospect of a Beamsville station, the initial business case for which was unveiled recently.
On top of that, he “would be strongly in favour of adding more stops as demand grows and as we have that capacity added onto the line.”
Oosterhoff said that the main focus for post-pandemic economic recovery are on value-added agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
For agriculture, Oosterhoff pointed to a $10-million provincial fund allocated to support agri-tourism industries to help wineries and cideries affected by COVID-19.
For manufacturing, Oosterhoff wants to keep Niagara competitive with Hamilton, New York, Michigan and Quebec.
That means supporting manufacturing “to make sure we have better paying jobs in these areas, whether that's working for workers through ensuring that there's access to the skilled trades needed in these jobs, or even our comprehensive electrical plan, which reduced electricity prices for many of these industrial and commercial customers.”
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Niagara West is set to see large growth over the next few decades. It is estimated that Smithville will double in size by 2051.
A balancing act will have to be performed to develop enough without impacting the Greenbelt and important agricultural lands.
Oosterhoff said he thinks this is “a challenge and it's an opportunity,” and said that “97 per cent of us came (to Canada) from somewhere else … aside from the Indigenous Peoples here, so we’re all new to the area.”
Although, he says, longer-term residents “think that this is our area and others shouldn't be coming here,” he thinks that people want to come to Niagara West because it’s “one of the absolute best places in the world” to live and work.
However, he said growth must be managed in a responsible way, protecting the Greenbelt and Niagara’s fertile fruit-growing soil.
“While growth is needed,” he said, “we can do that in a way that is built on the (less fertile) clay and not built on the best soil out there.”
Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News