Although they came to the Royal City via Stoney Creek, Lindsay, Ottawa and Kingston, Bob Moore and his wife, Jane, have called Guelph home for 10 years now, living near the intersection of London and Edinburgh in the middle of Ward 3. Moore recently retired after more than 25 years of experience as an administrator in both secondary and elementary schools. He has also served on the Boards and Committees of a wide range of community and educational organizations, such as Hope House, and the Julien Project. When he's not serving on committees, or building furniture, Bob researches and writes articles of historic interest, and has published articles on pioneer immigration, genealogical searches, colonial government, and Quaker history. He recently published an article on the University of Guelph's Professor Zavitz for the Guelph Historical Society. Now he's making a run for a seat on city council, and he took some time to answer the Guelph Politico Candidate Quesitonnaire.1) Why did you decide to run for city council?
I have always been interested in government and have volunteered in various related roles, especially when we lived in Ottawa through the 70’s and 80’s. As I have been digging up more and more family history, I realized that my interest in government is part of my DNA.
About one year ago, I was contemplating activities to pursue during retirement and wondering about taking a part-time job in a hardware store. But then it struck me that I wouldn’t just be putting nuts and bolts on the shelf, I would also be putting years and years of training and experience in policy and procedures, budgets and governance on the shelf; and that didn’t sit right with me. I have been serving my community all my working life and want to continue doing so.
Guelph is a great city with a bright future. But that future will only be realized if City Council balances social responsibility with fiscal responsibility. I have over 25 years of experience of walking that tight rope and I want to offer that experience on City Council. In my role as Chief Operating Officer for an independent school that has grown by 66 percent in ten years, I have learned to be innovative while watching the bottom line. I have also learned to be forward looking without losing sight of the importance of the routine concerns. I appreciate the innovative theme on City Council, but I am concerned that the routine concerns do not get the attention they deserve. A number of councillors have made it clear that special interests bring them out to meetings, but that routine issues don’t interest them. There has to be a balance.
Guelph is a great place. To keep it that way, I would like to serve Ward 3 and the City by bringing my skills and experience at balancing social responsibility with fiscal responsibility to City Council. I look forward to listening to the other residents in Ward 3 and sharing their views and concerns with the other councillors.
2) What makes your ward unique to Guelph?
I think Ward 3 is unique because it contains three different clusters: the historic area around Exhibition Park in the southeast corner; the subdivisions in the southwest and northeast corners; and the multiple dwellings in the northwest corner. Each cluster has its own priorities and the councillors have to keep in touch with each of them to see that they are cared for. Ward 3 also has the highest number of seniors of any of the wards, so safe sidewalks and reliable transit are very important.
3) Using a letter grade, how would you rank the performance of the current city council? Explain.
I don’t like letter grades but I will say that I have seen some strengths and some needs on council:
- They are good-hearted people who should be commended for giving a lot of their time to meetings and community events; however, through no fault of their own, many of the councillors cannot give the time that is now needed to do their homework. Councillor Furfaro was right that it deserves full-time attention.
- They are passionate about their visions for what they think would make a difference in Guelph; however, some of them only get engaged when their pet projects come up on the agenda.
- They display a lot of loyalty to the principles in which they believe; however, councillors need to be willing to work together and find common ground, and to learn from each other instead of circling the wagons.
- They come up with good ideas and paint a hopeful future; however, they need is to learn how to make the machinery work through due process and accepted governance procedures.
4) Some people say that Guelph is over-taxed, others believe that our taxes are inline with a community our size; where do you stand on taxation in Guelph?
Guelph is in the middle of the pack when it comes to property taxes. But they have been rising faster than the rate of inflation and that has many seniors worried. Taxation is one form of revenue which is one side of a income and expenses statement; it can’t really be discussed without discussing the way it is spent.
Tax increases have to be kept within the rate of inflation if at all possible. And spending priorities have to be re-visited so that infrastructure is maintained to safe and healthy standards. Taxes and utility fees have been rising quickly enough in Guelph that some residents are now concluding that they can’t afford to live here. Seniors are worried about keeping the homes that they have built, and maintained for 30 years or more.
Some young people that find jobs here are deciding that they can’t afford to live here. That is why we have the bottlenecks on Hwy. 7 and Hwy. 24 every afternoon, because factory workers in Guelph are choosing to live more affordably in Kitchener and Cambridge. What does that do for our carbon footprint?
5) Do you believe that Guelph has a spending problem? If yes, then please cite specific examples of areas and/or programs that you would cut to save money?
Guelph has a problematic attitude toward spending. For example, when the Urbacon settlement was announced, it was quickly followed by assurances that the 8,935,000 dollar price tag would not be a problem because it would come out of reserves, and would not cause a tax hike, or affect our credit rating. How did that money get into the reserve fund – obviously through hard-earned property tax dollars! What will go undone now that that money will be used for Urbacon – streets, sidewalks, storm water management,etc. that are all overdue.
That leads me to my other example: Guelph has a problem with spending on progressive projects at the expense of the routine maintenance items. There are parts of the city where the pavement, sidewalks and curbs have not been replaced in over 50 years, and it shows. It is a form of hypocrisy in Guelph that building inspectors will not pass a doorway that is 35.5 inches wide because the accessibility code calls for 36 inches, and yet there are parts of the City that still have corner curbs that are not accessible for wheelchairs.
6) What’s the biggest priority for Guelph in terms of services needed? This could be something that’s provided by the government, ie: a library or rec centre, or it could be a commercial need, ie: a new grocery store in the east end.
The south-end rec centre has been promised for so long that it needs to get started. Ward 6 has the highest population of any ward in Guelph. Even people in Ward 3 want to see more ice time available in Guelph, and an indoor walking track. Rec centre programs fill up so quickly because the rec centres we have cannot keep up with the demand. Rec centres also generate income from sports tourism.
7) How would you propose to mend relations between the city and transit workers, and to improve the services of Guelph Transit?
Improved bus service is also high on the priority list. We’ve got to get City Council talking to the drivers to start building that relationship. The Internal Auditor’s report was helpful in finding overtime efficiencies in the transit system, but the way the story was reported hurt the bus drivers’ reputation and they have not recovered from that. Time to mend some fences.
The drivers can not be expected to plan improvements the routes and schedules, but they do know them best and need to be consulted. I think it is time to look seriously at a grid system. Guelph has 7 major north-south roads and 8 major east-west roads, spaced roughly a kilometre apart. Using a grid system, almost everyone in Guelph would live within 500 metres of 4 different routes. That would have to be an improvement!
8) What will you do to insure the best possible communication between yourself and your constituents if you’re elected to council?
I have been a school administrator for over 25 years and could not have survived without listening openly and taking action. Since the advent of email, I have responded to all inquiries within 24 hours, and will continue to do so. I am active on Facebook and Twitter, and have joined the mailing lists offered by any Neighbourhood Group in Ward 3. I would attend all Neighbourhood Group annual meetings and welcome a Q and A session with those in attendance. I would attend neighbourhood meetings that are called for community consultation. I have enjoyed knocking on doors and would like to continue doing that also.
9) Guelph is implementing online voting for the first time with this election, are you in favour of this development or against it? Explain.
I am in favour of the concept. I am concerned that a dominant member in any one household could interfere with the secrecy of the ballot. People have given their lives to fight for a secret ballot, and I would like to protect it.
10) What issue, aside from any previously mentioned in this questionnaire, do you think should be a priority and why?
The environment needs to be a priority. We are dumping untreated storm sewage into local rivers and that has to be addressed soon. We have a major catastrophe coming in the death of the ash trees. I would like to see the city organizing volunteers and school children to plant saplings now in between the affected ash, so that when the ash trees are dead and gone, the saplings will have grown up and provided shade. With volunteers planting saplings, the costs can be kept down.
11) How can local government be a force for good in the lives of the people of Guelph?
Local government can be a force for good by strategically implementing a vision that encompasses fiscal responsibility, while caring for the vulnerable and protecting the environment.
12) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?