Peter Politis served as mayor of Cochrane for two terms – from 2010 to 2018. Trained as a forestry technician, Peter is the Principal of a management consulting company, For Evergreen Innovative Strategies, who describes himself “as a driven and successful entrepreneurially-minded problem solver.”
In this interview, Peter emphasizes the importance of social development and its relationship with economic development in small towns in Northern Ontario. As mayor of Cochrane, for example, he established a free bike share program and secured funding from senior levels of government for a pavilion and boardwalk around Lake Commanda in the heart of the community, contributing to the quality of life and social assets that, in turn, attract professionals such as doctors to serve the people of Cochrane. As a result of his focus on social and recreational development, Cochrane, he says, has more recreational assets than any other comparable community in Northern Ontario.
He also claims that nine jobs were created for every job lost during his two terms as mayor and that taxes were kept low by creatively using federal and provincial government funds for social and recreational development.
Peter encourages Northerners to serve in municipal politics, but warns from personal experience that people who are driven and progressive like himself won’t get buy-in from fellow politicians 100 per cent of the time. The effectiveness of municipal politics, he tells us, requires patience, mutual respect and professionalism.
He urges Northern Ontarians to come together to organize and plan for the development of the region instead of waiting for the provincial and federal governments to solve our problems. As an example, he cites the potential impact of a foundation with $8 million a year in development funds made possible by a $10 contribution from 800,000 Northern Ontarians. With that kind of money, he notes, Northern Ontario would be able to fund initiatives like Newfoundland and Labrador’s excellent tourism promotion to develop our own tourism industry.
It's time for all Northerners, he tells us in this interview, to put aside our differences and work together to develop the region. Instead of Northern Ontario cities and towns competing against each other for economic develop projects, we need to understand that we are instead competing against the rest of the world.