Question and Answers
1. Over the last five years, how have you contributed to the City of Stratford (volunteering, boards, etc.)?
I have volunteered for many local organizations and groups over the last five years, including Cycle Stratford (founding board member), School Travel Plan Committee (a working group under ATAC), Foundation for Education Perth Huron (board member), Community Meals (hosted by Avon Mennonite), Doors Open Stratford (board member and chair), Heart and Stroke Foundation (neighbourhood canvasser), Soup's On Green Team volunteer, Amnesty International volunteer, and Anne Hathaway Public School volunteer (reading buddy).
2. What do you believe your unique contribution will be to council (strengths)?
My strengths include problem solving abilities, creative thinking, strong communication skills and persistence. It is my habit to approach an issue with an eye to finding an achievable solution by doing research and asking questions. Approaching the solution from a new angle or bringing together people who provide different perspectives to an issue can uncover a workable answer.
3. What would you like to see achieved over the next four years (be specific)?
Stratford Council needs to become more effective and efficient in both defining and completing it's goals. Critical to that is improving communication between the City and its citizens, which can be done by creating a communication strategy that includes more ways for citizens to engage with Council. As far as particular issues to focus on, I would like to see a focus on affordable housing, transit, and active transportation. Forming a citizen's committee to direct transit development, creating an incentive program for developers/homeowners to create affordable rental units, completing sidewalks or multi-use paths on arterial and collector streets and creating a more connected cycling network are some of my specific goals.
4. What committees do you see yourself sitting on and what experience qualifies you for those committees?
Infrastructure, Transportation and Safety Sub-committee
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC)
Energy and Environment Committee
Social Services Sub-committee
I am certainly willing to serve on other committees as well, depending on where the need might be. I feel that I would qualify for these committees because I have has a strong interest and research background in these areas, and I have an understanding of what each committee or sub-committee does because have attended some meetings of most of these committees.
5. What means of transportation are you using in the city, and/or in and out of town and what improvements do you recommend?
I cycle, walk and use my car to get around Stratford, and when traveling outside of Stratford, I use a car and occasionally take Via Rail. I would like to see improvements in our active transportation infrastructure: sidewalks, multi-use paths and bike lanes. I believe that creating safe places for pedestrians to cross busy streets and adding designated areas of the road for cyclists will encourage people to choose active transportation more often.
6. Describe what you believe the Cooper Site should look like in 10 years?
The Cooper Site should be a vibrant, accessible community space that is financially self-sustaining. A new YMCA, public outdoor sports facilities, a community center, the Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association, a performance space for local arts groups and a Grand Truck museum highlighting the property's history are on my list of preferred community uses for the site. I would be very disappointed to see the property looking the same as it does today or becoming a giant parking lot.
7. What are your objectives with respect to housing and how do you expect to accomplish them?
My objectives with regard to housing are for the City to implement programs that would increase affordable housing units in Stratford. Not all affordable housing has to be formally subsidized housing developments. Two ideas for Stratford to consider (already in progress in other communities) are giving property tax rebates to developers who create affordable units, and/or giving grants to homeowners to enable them to create rental units on their own properties.
8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
I would encourage the City to continue with the current debt reduction program and to avoid incurring any further debt. Another one of my financial priorities is to see better infrastructure project planning, with an emphasis on being aware of and pursuing provincial and federal funding opportunities. I would also like to see a reduction in the number of consultants hired to create plans that the City doesn't follow.
9. How will the new provincial legislation with respect to conflict of interest on municipal councils, coming into effect January 2019, hinder your effectiveness on council?
I do not believe that their are any significant conflicts of interest that would hinder my effectiveness on council. The only conflict that I foresee is with Community Grants. I have several clients who apply to the City for a Community Grant, and I would declare indirect pecuniary interest in that case. My understanding is that Community Grants are awarded annually, so I anticipate having to declare a conflict of interest once a year.
10. How will you encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development?
a) Encouraging a more robust and vibrant arts community. This could include (but is not limited to) creating an arts center at the Grand Truck Hub site.
b) Affordable housing is key to retaining and re-attracting young people. If they can't afford to live here, they will move elsewhere.
c) Supporting initiatives like the expansion of the UW campus and the development a film production center in Stratford. These projects provide additional local training programs and jobs for young people.
The discussion at this event (Stratford 2018 Round Table discussion) solidified my perspective on two things:
1. Stratford needs to work smarter in order to become a place that more young people and their families choose to live in for the long term. Things that will help to attract and retain young people today are creating affordable housing, expanding and improving public transportation (both City transit and intercity transit), improving walking and cycling infrastructure, addressing health care concerns (mental health, being able to find a family doctor), building better community amenities, nurturing a vibrant culture that includes an active and supported arts community, and developing forward-thinking environmental preservation and protection programs.
2. The current Council has had many discussions and are considering large projects that the public really doesn’t hear about until after they are in progress. The next Council needs to work hard to improve communication and transparency and to find and use better ways to engage citizens in conversations about Stratford's future.