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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire - Todd Dennis (Ward 6)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?

I’ve always be interested in knowing what goes on in my community. I’ve participated in student councils in some format in high school and university. When I became a condo home owner, I wanted to know what the fees were for and how the condo corporation was run. Subsequently, I became a member of the condo board of directors and eventually became president. When I moved to Guelph, I joined a fledgling neighbourhood group, the Clairfields Neighbourhood Group (CNG) and eventually was asked to be chairperson.

For the City of Guelph, I’ve participated in the Accountability and Transparency Committee, GEDAC, and the Parks and Recreation Master Plan and South End Component Study. I’ve been involved in my professional field by being a member of the Kitchener Waterloo and District Automotive Transportation Superintendents’ Assoc. (KW ATSSA) and currently serving as President, and I served a three year term as a director for the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar (CFMS). I am passionate about my profession and my community and offer support, volunteer time and leadership whenever I can.

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?

I’ve graded it C-. They were very pro-active in obtaining federal and provincial grant money to upgrade infrastructure. However, taxes continue to increase and services decrease. The South End Community Centre (SECC) was removed from the capital priority list and this is an absolute necessity to meet the needs of a growing and aging city.

There are issues of transparency at city hall. Does anyone have the answer to what the new organic waste facility will cost the taxpayers? Repeated attempts to get a cost seem to be avoided, deflected or ignored. The taxpayers are footing the bill, and they have a right to be informed.

Where is the discussion and debate expected in a democracy? This council appears to be automatically approving every project put forth. Does anyone stand up and question the project’s necessity and whether value is being provided to taxpayers?

3) Please describe your position/ideas on the following issues

a) Taxes
Taxpayers in the south end are among the highest ratepayers in the city. However, service and representation at council is lacking. The mayor claims people are creating an artificial divide been downtown and the south end. Let me assure you from discussions with citizens that the divide is very real. The taxpayers in the south end are disillusioned, disappointed and fed up with the disconnect in this city.

b) Budget
Budgeting must be looked at first and foremost with the taxpayer in mind. Taxpayers want essential services (i.e. EMS, fire, police, snow clearing and waste removal) taken care of first, that is what they pay for. For a council to cancel essential services due to a budgeting shortfall shows a lack of foresight, poor planning and disregard for the taxpayer. As Councillor Bob Bell stated, council and staff should be ashamed.

c) Transit
It is essential to have an efficient, effective public transportation system. The buses have to be on time and meet the needs of the population. Having 10 minute service in areas where no one is travelling is insane, while meeting the requirements of a burgeoning neighbourhood is essential.

d) Development/Infrastructure
We need to continue to move forward on commercial development in this city. We have to attract businesses of all sizes. Lands designated for commercial activity need to be brought on line, developed and occupied. We need to increase the commercial tax base to offset the burden on taxpayers and to provide jobs and increased revenue to this city. The attitude of the city must change when it comes to business. We have to be an attractive location to place a business. Currently, businesses report that they find Guelph is a difficult city to deal with.

Infrastructure upgrades must be a part of the budgeting process. Monies need to be allocated every year for upgrades and repairs to aging systems.

e) Arts & Culture
In order to have a vibrant, active community, we need a vibrant, active arts community. We need to promote local artists, musicians and events as well as encouraging and supporting this community. This will lead to a richer city culturally for all citizens, as well as more tourism and more revenue.

4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?

We need to be accountable and transparent at city hall. Taxpayers must be the main focus of everyone on the public payroll. We cannot continue to rubber stamp every project put forth. We need to prioritize to meet the needs of the city as a whole and not just one area. We cannot allow special interests to dictate the priorities in this community.

5) What’s your message for voters?

For a stronger voice and better representation in Ward 6, vote Todd Dennis.

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