Active in politics for many years now, Bob Senechal hopes to now join city council and represent the people of Ward 5. If you know the name then you might remember the 2007 Provincial Election when Senechal ran locally for the Progress Conservatives under John Tory (who, as you may have heard, is also making a run at local politics). If you went to Parkview Church, you may also recognize Senechal as he was the lead pastor there. Now the chaplin at the Elliott Community Centre, and a small business owner, Senechal remains committed to Guelph politics, his wife of nearly four decades Gale, and his three children, and three grandchildren. "My entire working career has been focused on making a positive difference in people’s lives," says Senechal. "Listening carefully, and working together cooperatively to find solutions for a preferred future will enable city council to develop policy that will enhance and improve the quality of life for all the people of Guelph and its businesses that choose to live and work here." For now, Senechal enhances civic engagement by responding to the Guelph Politico candidate questionnaire.
1) Why did you decide to run for city council?
I became very unhappy with the kind of leadership that was being offered by the present Mayor. With a number of expensive mistakes like the first Waste/Composting building that she had build that needed to be rebuilt at an enormous additional cost as well as the way that she has handled the Urbancon wrongful dismissal, and not to mention the multiple future expensive projects like the library or the Baker St development gave me no confidence that she could handle these kinds of projects responsibly.
Also I observed that there seemed to be a faction of councilors that seemed to vote with her on her projects and style of leadership that I felt that Ward 5 had very little alternative choice for a new direction, and at the time there was no other candidates coming forward. I felt I had something significant to offer the city and particularly Ward 5. Student housing in our Ward is a major issue that has not been addressed to the satisfaction of residents of our ward. We are loosing neighbourhoods and I believe that students are not always living is safe housing.
We need another tool for the bylaw and police officers to ensure safe housing for students and maintaining the character and value of our neighbourhoods.
2) What makes your ward unique to Guelph?
What makes Ward 5 unique to Guelph is the University of Guelph, the fabulous river park and trail, shopping, schools, our senior centres, and the many schools and unique neighbourhoods.
3) Using a letter grade, how would you rank the performance of the current city council? Explain.
I likely would give a C- because the way it has handled the first Waste/Composting plant as well as the Urbancon has so overshadowed any accomplishments that it has achieved. The mayors vision has also so clouded her ability and responsibility to deal with things like uneven sidewalks, or transit as well her vision for the future concerns me that the future tax increases will make Guelph unaffordable for many on fixed and low incomes.
4) Some people say that Guelph is over-taxed, others believe that our taxes are inlinewith a community our size; where do you stand on taxation in Guelph?
I’m not sure that Guelph is over-taxed presently but I am concerned that with the future planned capital spending projects that this mayors dreams about spending combined with the my belief that costly financial errors of previous projects with their monetary penalties gives me no confidence that Guelph is being well managed affordably for the residents of Guelph. Guelphites are willing to pay for its services but it is not willing to pay for costly mistakes now and not in the future
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?
Yes, I do. I'm conceived projects like the waste/compost plant – 1st one that Mayor Farbridge built corroded prematurely resulting in a total waste of money which now needed to be rebuilt, the 2nd one is too big, and too expensive. I still don’t really know how much it cost or is costing us yearly. Urbancon firing was irresponsible and totally the Mayors problem.
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 with a nice library is long over due and needs to be followed through on. But equally disturbing is the East end of the city. It has no services except it has nice library that is waiting for all the other services to be added around it. I also think that the Yorklands are going to be the major focus in the years to come as we begin to dream how we can best develop these lands to their fullest potential and that will enhance Guelph’s image of a high tech, well educated, environmentally aware, research & development centre of excellence.
7) How would you proposed to mend relations between the city and transit workers, and to improve the services of Guelph Transit?
This is a difficult problem as it is rather difficult or awkward to get around this city solely by transit in a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps we need to rethink how we do the routes to improve transit from residential areas to the industrial and commercial areas of the city and the frequency at peak hours. Also we need to work with the transit union to ensure fair wages and safety for their workers, but the transit union also has to provide a service that makes it desirable and affordable to ride transit over other forms of travel
8) What will you do to insure the best possible communication between yourself and your constituents if you’re elected to council?
Social media, town hall meetings, emails, phone, door to door, as well as attending community events throughout the year will all help to that I can keep well connected with my Ward 5 Constituents.
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 online voting, I’m hoping to brings out the desire to vote in people because that is how a democracy works best.
10) What issue, aside from any previously mentioned in this questionnaire, do you think should be a priority and why?
Off Campus Student housing is a major issue in our ward and a growing concern in Ward 6. 80% of the off campus students live in these two wards. We need another tool to help by law officers help students live in safe and affordable housing, as well protect existing neighbourhoods from losing their character and charm. The University has an important role in this as it compels its students to live in our community. And the police must do more to ensure that the unruly behaviour of students in our neighbourhoods
11) How can local government be a force for good in the lives of the people of Guelph?
Canada is a nation that believes and practices the credo of Peace, Order and Good Gov’t. The people of Guelph realize that we need and want services and are willing to pay for them. For the taxes that we willing pay we want good dependable services, well managed growth that is balanced with residential and industrial and commercial areas. We want a vibrant liveable, walkable, workable city
12) Where can voters get more information about you and your campaign?
People can find out more about me at www.bobsenechal.ca