Guelph is a great city and I love the opportunities I have to make it even better. I work with hundreds of people in a week – both within and outside City Hall – and we share a commitment to improve the quality of life in this city.
2) What initiatives/achievements are you proud of during the last term?
We have accomplished a lot this term and I would direct you to my website www.farbridgeforguelph.ca for a more comprehensive overview. The questions in this survey also hit on several highlights for this term of Council. We have attracted new jobs to our city and protected our environment. We have made sustainability a hallmark of Guelph’s future. We have saved our taxpayers $48 million dollars: because of our success with the Infrastructure Stimulus Funding program we were able to fix our roads and sewers while putting 800 people back to work during a recession. Our award-winning Community Energy Initiative makes us a leader in North America in building a sustainable energy future. These are some of the things that can be accomplished when we - Council, City Hall and the community – work together on behalf of the people of Guelph.
3) Please describe your position/ideas on the following issues:
One thing we can all agree on when it comes to taxes is that we only want to pay our fair share – no more. And in Guelph we have the lowest taxes among cities our size.Your taxes pay for garbage pickup, libraries, parks and arenas and sports fields. They pay for police, ambulance and fire services and so much more. You can’t cut taxes without cutting services. And you can’t cut services without impacting the quality of life in our community.
I believe Council should continuously work to get the best value for each tax dollar that we spend.
This term of Council has worked hard to make the budget process more accountable and transparent to citizens. Our 2010 budget process was widely recognized as our most open and accessible to date, despite the challenges posed by an economic recession and its impact on City revenues. There are many demands on City resources. Council’s job is to balance those demands so we remain a caring, prosperous and sustainable community.
Convenient, comprehensive public transit is at the heart of any great city. Our transit system has had several ups and downs this term. So we have examined our existing transit system and come up with a new approach – without increasing costs – that will improve service to our current customers and support considerable growth in ridership over the next few years. These changes will begin to take effect in 2011. Next year at this time, our transit system will look completely different. It will work better for our customers because we put them first in our planning.
Over the next 25 years, Guelph will grow by approximately 50,000 people. In response, we have developed a growth strategy during this term that is based on the principle of sustainability. Guelph has a well-deserved reputation as a green community, a community that considers the environment, the economy and the well being of people when making decisions. Five or ten years ago, this might have been viewed as a barrier to business development. Today, being a green city is good for business. By making sustainability a hallmark of Guelph’s future we will attract the jobs and investment we need to thrive. Guelph is a great place to live and invest because we not only believe, but can prove, that prosperity and sustainability go hand in hand.
e) Arts & Culture
The Arts and Culture community not only helps to define our unique identity as a community, it is an important part of our local economy and contributes to tourism. Council has engaged the services of a successful organization, Artscape, to work with our Arts and Culture sector to increase their capacity to contribute to the health and vitality of our community.
4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
Healthy neighbourhoods make Guelph an exciting and vibrant place to live. Maclean’s magazine recognized Guelph as the most caring community in Canada. This resonated strongly with our community. We care that our children do not go to school hungry and unable to learn. We care about our youth who are at risk. Couch surfing, sleeping under a bridge or hitting the streets in Toronto are not acceptable options. We care that seniors do not become isolated and lonely.
If we are sincere about being a caring community, we need to ask ourselves: are we really doing the best job we can? I believe we can do better. We need a new approach to improving community well being and ensuring the needs of all people are being met. We need to ensure we are seeing the results we expect as a caring community. Healthy neighbourhoods - caring neighbourhoods - will be my priority in the next term.
5) What’s your message for voters?
Get out and vote! Voting is a simple thing - a mark on a ballot. But there are so many ways to make your voice heard, to connect with others, to plan for the future. Tell me how you think we can work together to keep Guelph a special place.