FRED SARVIS QUICK FACTS
Running for: Pelham’s representative on Niagara Regional Council vs. incumbent Diana Huson, and other challenger Wally Braun.
Occupation: Retired after 30 years at General Motors in St. Catharines, followed by another part-time stint at Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara.
Resides: Fonthill, has lived in Pelham since 1967.
Family: Wife Darlene, one child, two stepchildren.
Fred Sarvis admits that he is not a well-known name in local political circles, but that seems to suit him fine as he makes a run for Pelham’s seat on Niagara Regional Council next month.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this,” the 63-year-old Fonthill resident said. “It’s a learning process.”
Sarvis will be in tough against incumbent Diana Huson and fellow challenger Wally Braun, but he said his concerns as a Pelham ratepayer encouraged him to take the shot.
“I think’s it’s a big thing,” he said of local property taxes, which increased about 3.9 percent in 2022. “This is a retirement community. If you raise the taxes, and I realize it’s got a lot to do with MPAC [Municipal Property Assessment Corporation] putting the taxes based on the value of your home, but eventually somebody who’s in retirement can’t afford taxes, and they keep going up all the time.”
He’s hoping that having a retiree voice on Regional Council can help the body better recognize and accommodate Pelham’s demographic, which skews slightly older than much of Niagara.
“I’m at the back end of the Baby Boomers,” Sarvis said. “The Baby Boom generation changed the world in everything they did because it was such as large population. Eventually they’re going to change retirement too.”
Sarvis, who was raised on a farm on Chantler Road, also describes himself as a full-blown environmentalist, even jokingly criticizing his wife, Darlene, for being “the worst recycler in the world.” Sarvis had solar panels installed on his Fonthill home about a decade ago and drives an electric car, but also has concerns with the widespread use of chemical fertilizers.
“I grew up on a farm, and one thing I don’t like now is all the fertilizers they use to grow the crops,” he said. “You know, if you go back, what they did was they used their animal [waste] to fertilize the ground. Why can’t you use manure instead of using all these chemicals? Every summer, it would stink around our place. You don’t smell that so much anymore.”
Sarvis bought his car, a Chevrolet Volt, in 2018, during former Premier Kathleen Wynne’s rebate program for electric vehicles —which was subsequently scrapped when Doug Ford came to power. Like the solar panels, which he says has saved him money in the long run, Sarvis doesn’t regret the purchase.
“Best car I’ve ever owned,” he said.
Sarvis summarized that his experience on the assembly line at General Motors’ old Ontario Street plant and on the floor at the Niagara Falls casinos taught him to stay to “stay cool” and think pragmatically.
“I think practically,” he said. “When I worked at GM or the casino and there was a problem, instead of panicking about it, I’d find a solution.”