April Jeffs is hoping to serve for Niagara Centre at Queen’s Park

wainfleet Township Mayor April Jeffs is seeking nomination from the Ontario PCs to represent the party in the new Niagara Centre riding in the next provincial election.

Wainfleet Township Mayor April Jeffs is looking at a future of service at the provincial level. She announced Wednesday March 15 that she is seeking Ontario PC Party nomination in the new provincial Niagara Centre riding. The provincial election is scheduled for June 7/2018.

The Niagara Centre Riding replaces the Welland riding which currently has Cindy Forster as the elected M.P.P. The Niagara Centre riding mirrors the Federal Niagara Centre riding and represents Port Colborne, Welland, Thorold and South St. Catharines.

“I have put my name in officially to hopefully be the candidate for the Ontario PCs for the Niagara Centre Riding,” Jeffs said in an interview Friday.

The nomination date is April 9/2017, so far, no one else has announced they are seeking nomination.

April Jeffs is currently in her second term as Wainfleet Township’s Mayor. Her interest in getting more involved at the provincial level came from serving as Mayor.

“I’ve been thinking about if for quite some time,” Jeffs said. “I kind of started to toss the idea around in the middle of the wind turbine fight that we had a few years ago.”

“I could see how much the decisions of the province were impacting my constituents in Wainfleet,” she said. “We are also seeing that with the hydro costs.”

“I also talk a lot about what I call the ‘red tape,’ and the regulatory burdens and how it impacts our businesses,” she said. “Not the larger businesses, but the smaller to medium sized businesses.”

“And also for our residents. It seems to be more and more difficult to do anything like build a house, expand your business in some way or do an addition to a business,” she said.

“So, over time seeing the roadblocks people would be facing whether it was through business or personal, that’s what really prompted me to want to do this,” she said.

Jeffs herself has been the owner of a small business for over 16 years, she was born in Niagara and has resided in Welland and Wainfleet.

She also stressed that the Welland Hospital issues and the Port Colborne Urgent Care concerns were a motivator for her as well.

She said that the trips to Queen’s Park with Port Colborne Mayor John Maloney and Welland Mayor Frank Campion meeting with officials regarding the hospital to get a handle on the situation was definitely a contributing factor to her wanting to get involved on a provincial level.

“Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown is on the same page as us when it comes to healthcare,” Jeffs said. “He said in the legislature that he doesn’t support the closing of the Welland Hospital and that he doesn’t support rural hospitals being closed. He understands they are just as important as anywhere else in the province.”

Jeffs notes that her experience as Wainfleet Township’s Mayor has given her a lot of experience .

“I think being Mayor for going on seven years has allowed me quite a bit of experience to see how the province and the municipalities synch,” she said.  “Being able to listen to constituents concerns and effectively cause change as much as we can has been great experience.”

“I think working with different people whether it’s been on the federal level, the provincial level and the regional level, there has been a lot of experience gained,” she said. “Having been in the trenches and fighting things like the turbines and advocating for the hospital, knowing who to reach out to and gathering information regarding legislation. That has been key to the experience gained.”

She stressed the importance to listening to people to help in guiding how best to represent the constituency.

“At my announcement I was talking to a couple of business owners from Welland who were sharing information,” she said. “It wasn’t anything that surprised me but hearing it from their perspective was interesting.”

“Going through this whole campaign I think will be like a fact-finding mission. You hear first-hand from people and what they are dealing with and it helps you to better understand and see where you go next,” she said.

Volunteering and being an advocate for different organizations in Niagara has allowed Jeffs to see what Niagara has and the challenges it faces.

“Just knowing what we have here in Niagara in terms of our business sector and in terms of our different organizations has given me the opportunity to really get to know this region,” she said, giving her an insight into the issues that face Niagara.

“I think they all tie in together,” she said. “You have the hospital, businesses facing a lot of challenges like the hydro, they all tie in with economic prosperity.”

“If you take away these things, take away the hospital, make it so small to medium-sized businesses can’t afford to stay in business, well, these are all things that contribute to a community’s well-being,” she said.

“It is all about employment in the community,” she said. “I have always been a big advocate of doing what we can to help our small to medium-sized businesses which goes back to the regulatory burden and the hydro rates affecting them.”

“I think if we could create a climate for those businesses to not be held back and to prosper then they may hire more employees making a huge dent in unemployment,” she said.

“We need to get back on the path,” she said. “I think we have been doing that at the regional level, we’ve been working hard to do that. If we had a government that really had a seat at the table at Queen’s Park I think it would make a huge difference in this.”

One thing that Jeffs stressed is that even though she is looking for a job as the Niagara Centre MPP one of the things that is important for her is to continue to think as they do at the Niagara Region Council, “One Niagara.”

“What is good for Niagara is good for everybody in Niagara,” she said. “Absolutely, I am a rural mayor, however, I am part of Niagara and know my neighbouring communities.”



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