North of the Bypass Property Owners group has responded to the ongoing situation between residents and City Council.
Major flooding in the northern areas of Kenora not only damaged road infrastructure but also unearthed a large group of residents who are tired of taxation and service disparity between themselves and those who live ‘in town’.
On June 7, 2022, Susan Cone gave a deputation to the Kenora City Council. Cone represented approximately 800 property owners from north of the Kenora bypass who feel as though their part of town is underrepresented and that they pay an unfair amount of taxes for roads that often go neglected.
Since the original deputation to Council, both Council and Cone have made responses to the situation and progress has been made.
In an interview with KenoraOnline, Cone wished to recognize the work that was done by Council and municipal staff. In a letter to the public, Cone recognized that the following had been completed.
$185,000 was committed to the repair of Coker Road East of Kelly Road, work has since commenced.
Essex Road was to be immediately repaired, the road has since re-opened
Pinecone Dr was made safer immediately with the installation of cement barriers
Acknowledgement of a need for capital budget allocations to the North going forward
Stantec was hired to assess the structural needs for Pinecone Dr
Even though efforts have been taken by the City and City Council to repair the roads north of the bypass following this historic year of flooding, Cone says their advocacy for better living for northern property owners is not done.
Going forward, the group plans to focus on the high taxation rates and lack of city services for those who live north of the bypass. The group would also like to see a massive turnover on Kenora City Council.
When asked about her thoughts on the City’s response to their complaints, Cone said “There was a lot of immediate attention to road obstacles. There were repairs, there was the lifting of some roads, and there was patching. Just more attention [in general] for which we are grateful.”
“They know, as a city, that they cannot provide the same level of service to rural Kenora as they do for urban Kenora.”
Cone hit on the fact that to see change on a large scale, change needs to happen within the small group of people who make the decisions.
“I think there is a general feeling among the population that we are representing, that we need to get a fresh face on Council. So, we are supporting that, we are supporting new candidates for a significant council turnover – at least four members.”
“As you can appreciate, most people go ‘no not me, I know what happens on council and I will be the only nay vote,’ nobody wants to stand alone up there against the old guard.”
In her prepared statement, Cone said “Old outdated beliefs that ‘North of the Bypass is just rich white ‘tobans’ who can afford outrageous taxes and we don’t have to service them’ need to be challenged and deleted.
The group's next steps continue to be advocating for better living. Continuing dialogue with Council and municipal staff is important, but the group would also like to get Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford involved so that together, they can look to change the taxation situation.
Cone hit on the fact that the group is not just fighting for better living for the property owners north of the bypass, but also the rest of Kenora.
The next municipal election is on October 24, 2022. Any resident or property owner of Kenora is allowed to vote. Find more information HERE.