Neil Ellis – Mayor of City of Belleville, ON

Updated November 30, 2023 by

Neil Ellis is a Canadian former Liberal member of parliament who was born in 1962 and raised in Belleville and running as a candidate for mayor in the City of Belleville in the 2022 municipal election.

In 1983 he started a distribution business. In 1984 he became the proprietor of Doug’s Bicycle, a bicycle store in Belleville which his brother had operated for five years. He owned and operated Doug’s Bicycle for 28 years before selling it to Jim Forbes and business partner, incumbent councillor Tyler Allsop in 2012.

  • Born: 1962
  • Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Psychology from Carleton University and professional designations through McMaster University’s Directors College Executive program.
  • Mayor of Belleville: December 1, 2006 – December 1, 2014, 2022-2026
  • Member of Parliament for Bay of Quinte: October 19, 2015 to September 20, 2021
  • Chair of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs: February 16, 2016 – December 12, 2019
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: October 2019 to October 2021

2022-2026 term

2023 Operating Budget

I apologize that we didn’t get to zero.  Obviously that’s what I’d like to have done but as we all know with inflation and some other issues that were handed to this council we got through it and I think we got a respectable amount especially to comparable municipalities like Brockville, Quinte West, or the County.

Source

We’ve added to this budget so we added to police, fire, a doctor recruitment position, help for our nurse practitioners’ location, and we’re putting money into the wastewater treatment plant, $13 million.

Source

2022 election priorities

  • Promises a 0% tax increase in first budget
  • Spend money like it’s yours. Focus on needs and not wants.
  • Affordable housing and homelessness – Need to build housing for homelessness, working poor, housing in general. “We need a wrap-around system that will deal with mental illness, that will deal with health, deal with dietary and all those issues.”
  • Doctor recruitment – “It’s a priority right now. I thank council for recruiting two doctors this week, but two doctors take about 600 to 700 patients over a course of a couple of years. We’re 15,000 short, the math just doesn’t add up,” said Ellis. “We need to put our foot down on the gas pedal and hire a full-time physician recruiter as Quinte West and Prince Edward County have already done.”
  • Would bring paper ballots back as a voting option to make voting easier, not harder

Regarding guiding by-law officers to support businesses

Ellis said they had a shortage of actual by-law inspectors, relying mainly on enforcing by-laws after someone complains rather than proactively inspecting. He said that the city needs more by-law officers and to be more proactive with inspections and enforcing compliance. Ellis specifically pointed out residential properties with unmaintained lawns and exteriors, or which were housing well over the legal limit of tenants as problems.

Regarding rising crime rates in the city

Ellis remarked on how quickly the population of Belleville has grown, and pointed out how the size of the police force has not grown with it. He said there needs to be more officers out on the ground doing police work, making themselves seen and preventing crime.

Political career

Timeline

  • 2003 – Decides to get involved in politics. Runs municipally for a first time, but lost to Mary Ann Sills in one of Belleville’s closest mayoral race. Ellis then came short to earn city hall’s top seat by about 220 votes.
  • 2006 – Defeats Mary Ann Sills in his second mayoral race and is elected Mayor of Belleville.
  • 2010 – Ellis is re-elected for a second term as Mayor of Belleville after he defeated Mitch Panciuk in the October election.
  • 2012 – Ellis sells Doug’s Bike shop to Tyler Allsop and Jim Forbes
  • January 2014 – Ellis is giving up a third mayorship bid to make his second attempt into federal politics. He announces he will seek the Federal Liberal nomination in the new Bay of Quinte riding.
  • May 2014 – Members of the Bay of Quinte Federal Liberal Association have spoken and they want Ellis as their candidate for the 2015 election. A total of 178 votes were cast at the Greek Hall on Sunday, May 25 with Ellis earning the most against Peter Tinsley.
  • October 2015 – Elected Member of Parliament for Bay of Quinte
  • October 2019 – Re-elected Member of Parliament for Bay of Quinte
  • April 2019, he made a motion that the government should set a goal to prevent and end veteran homelessness in Canada by 2025.

Mayor of Belleville 2006-2014

As mayor, Ellis guided city council through the Build Belleville initiative, which involved pursuing 22 infrastructure projects worth $91 million. During his time as mayor, there was the development of a new sports complex, the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, clean-up and development of Meyer’s Pier and recruiting 15 doctors in the first year after his 2006 election and a total of about 20 in that term.

In 2012 he wrote a letter to the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty urging the province’s Liberal government to reconsider its plan to drop the slots-at-racetracks program.

On the switch to federal politics: “federal leadership is key to securing the stable funding needed for municipal infrastructure development and service delivery.”

On returning to municipal government: “decisions made by municipal government most directly affect the daily lives of citizens”.

Political views

In 2014, reflecting on his time as mayor of Belleville, Ellis said the Liberal platform jived with his mindset. “Key planks in the Liberal platform are cities and building infrastructure,” he said. “It keys in to what I ran on the last eight years.”

Federally, Ellis has donated over $18,000 to the Bay of Quinte Federal Liberal Association and Liberal Party of Canada since 2015.

Personal life

Husband to Susan for over 35 years, and the proud father of Zachary, Maddison and Abigail.

His father was a World War II veteran.

Contact

Open Council Commentary

Neil certainly has extensive experience at both the municipal and federal level, but his campaign is lacking a platform. He has highlighted few issues specifically and made few promises other than not increasing the budget in the first year and building more housing. He has not proposed any specific plans or ideas on how he would go about accomplishing this.

His campaign instead leans on his self-reported: proven track record, extensive knowledge of Belleville, welcoming the opinions of others, and commitment to teamwork and collaboration.

He seems to still be good friends with incumbent councillor candidate Tyler Allsop who he sold Doug’s Bicycle to in 2012. The jury is out on how aligned their votes would be if both were to be elected.

Over to you

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