City Hall and City Council aren’t the only ones moving the City of Thorold forward. There are also countless city committees made up of local residents who want to have a say in how their city is run.
ThoroldToday checked in with committee members old and new, on why they decided to get involved with their community.
Winsome Stec was born and raised in Thorold, but six years ago she left to chase career opportunities.
Now that she's moved back, she is getting involved with the Heritage Advisory Committee.
“I wanted to join the heritage committee because there’s this rich culture and heritage that the community has,” Stec tells ThoroldToday. “When I lived away from home I didn’t really see that in other areas.”
Preserving Thorold's charm is important to Stec.
“In the six years that I’ve been away for my career so much has changed,” says Stec. “For example, Riganelli’s was important to me growing up and now it’s not there anymore. I want to do what I can to preserve the city as it was when I grew up here so that people can enjoy the uniqueness that it possesses.”
Stec says it’s important to get involved in your community.
“If you’re not happy about something or the way that the city is handling something you can’t really affect change unless your voice is heard,” she says. “By joining this committee I can provide my feedback and my insight on how I think things should go.”
Joe Prytula has been a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee for 25 years, but this term he will also take a seat on the city’s newly founded Environment, Climate Change & Biodiversity Advisory Committee.
“My wife and I are avid gardeners,” says Prytula, in a interview with ThoroldToday. “The environment really started to kick into how we looked at things. In 2016, I got involved with making nesting habitats for native bees. Through selling these bee habitats, I hooked up with organizations that focus on being environmental stewards.”
Bill 23 has Prytula worried and he hopes the environmental committee can help preserve Thorold’s rich natural sites.
“You see the developments going in and the properties are postage stamp sized — there’s no trees, there’s no greenery,” he says. “There’s initiatives the builders should look at. I really think that developers should provide at least something planted that attracts insects.”
Prytula says that his environmental work has given him a great foundation to advise the city.
“I’m looking at trying to educate the city and perhaps there’s some initiatives we can get them involved with,” Prytula says. “Maybe we can take it down to an educational level where we can maybe get somebody in the schools to talk.”
After four successful years on the Active Transportation Committee, Mary-Clare Cavasin has signed up for another term.
“I do believe that active transportation, whether it’s by wheels or by feet, is important in the City of Thorold,” says Cavasin, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “The city is fortunate to have a lot of areas that people can get out and enjoy. It’s important to make sure that they meet the needs of the people of Thorold.”
During her last term, the Active Transportation Committee worked together with Heart Niagara to educate local children on bicycle safety, and through the committee’s hard work, Thorold was also able to obtain a bronze designation as a bicycle-friendly community.
None of that could have happened without the hard work of so many volunteers.
“It was an excellent experience,” Cavasin says. “It was a wonderful group of professionals, both those people who volunteer their time and the City of Thorold staff that also sat on the committee. We all worked well together so it was a very good experience certainly.”
Cavasin thinks it’s important for residents to help shape their community.
“Where you live should be the best place possible — an area not only you’re proud of, but that your neighbours are proud of as well,” she says. “I am most excited to continue to work with city staff, city council, and members of the committee to promote active transportation in the City of Thorold in whatever way that looks.”
Rene Nand wants to make Thorold a welcoming place for all. That’s why she joined the newly founded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
“I’ve been in Thorold since 2020,” Nand tells ThoroldToday. “It’s really about making it home and hoping that the community becomes more reflective so that there’s more representation of residents who are moving here.”
This is the first time Thorold is instating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and Nand hopes it will tighten bonds within the community.
“I’m hoping to help shape a community that is welcoming to all residents regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, their ability, their beliefs,” says Nand. “That’s how I can contribute a lot of value, just by giving the perspective of a resident who is a person of colour and who is a woman.”
More people should get involved with the city, says Nand.
“I think it’s incredibly important to see yourself reflected in policies of the community that you live in,” she says. “The only way to make sure that happens is to join a committee and have your voice heard.”
Residents interested in getting involved, can apply to join a committee on the city's website.
There are still some spots available on the following committees:
· Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee
· Town and Gown Committee
· Runway of Recognition Subcommittee
· Allanburg Community Centre Board of Management
· Darlene Ryan Port Robinson Community Centre Board of Management