About the Blog:

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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hey, It Could Be Worse...?

It made me laugh the other day when my mother said that she always thinks of the man that notoriously shot and killed Jesse James whenever she hears the name "Robert Ford." None too popular near the end, a couple of attempts were made on Robert Ford's life before Edward O'Kelly succeeded in 1892. Of course, the Mayor-Elect of Toronto, also named Rob Ford, doesn't have that problem. He was elected with the biggest margin since amalgamation. The real question is: What's he going to do first and what's Toronto going to look like when he's done?
First of all, there is a comparison to be made between the rise of Rob Ford and the Tea Party movement in the United States. Not necessarily the head-stomping, anti-masturbation, media shy, Glenn Beck worshipping faction of the Party, but the one's that believe fervently in small government, low taxes, more emphasis on essential services and less on social progress issues. Primary amongst Ford's campaign pledges was the elimination of two unpopular taxes: the land transfer tax and the personal vehicle tax. Ford also campaigned on freezing and then cutting property taxes, rethinking the city's transit plan and hiring 100 new police offers. Oh, and he will, somehow, eliminate graffiti city-wide in six months.
Intrinsic in this though is a key problem with a lot of the right wing platform: let's cut taxes, but keep spending the same, and, in fact spend a bit more, but just on the stuff we like. "I will assure you services will not be cut, I will guarantee it," Ford told reporters. "Services are not being effected. Guaranteed." Ford has asserted that city departments can find $525 million in savings in 2011, or in other words, they can tighten their budgets by 2.5 per cent. While there's no doubt that any corporation has its share of waste and over-spending, I wonder if one can really save half a billion dollars through nickel and dimming alone.
Still, I give Ford credit. In his city council office he certainly "walked the walk" as they say, but watching his bottom line with staff and office expenses. And nobody ever lost an election by attacking politicians for their "lavish" expense accounts and "bloated" salaries. Certainly Ford has proved his point in the past, publicly, and to the detriment of his colleagues on council, but again, how far can you get on nickel and dimming alone?
But the faults of Ford for many people has more to do with Bushian gaffes, than it does with his policies or campaign promises. On gay marriage: “I support traditional marriage. I always have. But if people want to, to each your own."On new Canadians: “Those Oriental people work like dogs. … They’re slowly taking over." On bike safety: "What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten." On AIDS prevention: “If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won't get AIDS, probably.” On intercouncil civility: "She’s a waste of time. A waste of skin." Along with getting tossed out drunk from a Leaf game, a Florida DUI and a couple of other things, Ford sometimes redefines unpolished. It's the bias of today's electorate to expect perfection and ready for prime time shine from our candidates with mostly bland results. In this Ford is an anomaly. Nobody covering Toronto City Hall would ever call Ford bland, as the mayor-elect himself referenced when talking to the Toronto Sun editorial board post-victory.
But I think Toronto progressives needn't worry too much seeing as how many incumbents were re-elected back to their seats, and with fairly wide margins in many cases. Plus, city council is not like provincial and federal parliaments, where people vote in blocs according to party; Ford may want something done, but the majority of council may disagree with him and it'll be his job as mayor to try and convince the doubters. Already, we've seen Ford back down on his desire to yank out the city's street cars. After all, without them how will we know which Hollywood movies set in New York and Chicago were really filmed in Toronto.
What is worrisome are the comparisons between Ford and former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman. Case Ootes, Lastman's deputy mayor, is in charge of Ford's transition, but the comparisons don't end their. In fact, BlogTO had a very astute appraisal of the comparisons. Lastman certainly had a populist appeal stemming from 25 years as mayor of North York and being the spokesperson for his Bad Boy chain of furniture stores, but in the end he had managed to turn himself into a caricature mocked by nearly everyone, from non-Torontonian Canadians to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And while Lastman was certainly an exuberant ambassador for the City of Toronto, calling out the Canadian Forces to deal with a blizzard and going on CNN saying he didn't know what the World Health Organization was at the height of SARS, made him seem decidedly less mayoral. If Ford is well advised, then he might stay clear of anything that could conjure Lastman comparisons. 
Still, let's give Ford a chance before we cast him in irons for being the rotten mayor that some people apparently think he's going to be. I won't go so far as to say that Rob Ford was in my top 10 list out of the 40 some odd candidates running for Mayor of Toronto, but he's the one that's got the job for now. And if there's one thing we can all agree on, I think, it's that unlike the Tea Party in the U.S., people can find it within themselves to work together, despite political differences, in the best interests of their city. I hope that we will be as wise in the months to come in Guelph.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back to Basics: An Enviro Talk

How soon we forget and move on to other things, at least if your Maggie Laidlaw. I kid. After handily winning back her council seat on Monday, Laidlaw has now turned her attention back to an issue that's close to her heart: the environment. She fired me off an e-mail the other day promoting the "Our Environmental Future" conference, taking place on Wednesday November 10th at the University of Guelph.
"I attended a global footprint conference in Tuscany, Italy in June of this year and came home very enthusiastic, hence my decision to help organise this conference," wrote Laidlaw. "I have managed to persuade two of the conference speakers to present at this conference."
Among the speakers is Robert Rapier, an energy researcher and expert on Peak Oil; York University prof Peter Victor, author of Managing Without Growth; University of Toronto prof Jennifer Sumner, author of Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization; Mike Nickerson, Executive Director of The Sustainability Project and author of Life, Money and Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay; and U of G geography prof Evan Fraser.
The event takes place at the University of Guelph's Thornbrough Building, Room 1200, on November 10th, from 4:30 pm to 10:30 pm. There'll also be a panel discussion with encouraged audience participation, and their should indeed be plenty since the event is absolutely free. Sounds like it's going to be an interesting talk, so check out this poster and spread the world. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Day After

Wow, what a whirlwind -- it wasn't. Nope, the 2010 election was put in the history books, not with a bang, but with a wimper. There was no excitement, palpable or otherwise, despite a couple of surprising upsets, and not helping things last night was the demure, understated, morgue-like atmosphere of "Election Headquarters" at the council chambers. I was doing the CFRU election show as staff was cleaning up around us, and it was only 10 'o' clock. If a party that ends before midnight is lame, what about a party that wraps around 10?
Well, enough about that. Frankly, it was hard to be excited about an election that barely crossed the one-third mark for voter turnout, as evidenced by the fact that BARELY ONE-THIRD OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS TURNED OUT. Upsetting? You bet. And it's just one of the many thoughts and emotions shared in my after action report below.

1) Shifting Allegiances
Karen Farbridge's Thunderdome like defeat of David Birtwistle was impressive, but not for the way that Farbridge consolidated her base in support of a second term. There were several people I talked to on Election Night that said though they were once Farbridge supporters, but they couldn't bring themselves to put their support behind her this time. Instead the protest vote went to Ray Mitchell, who had a surprisingly strong finish of nearly 1,200 votes. Many cited Mitchell's performance and his highlighting of social justice issues in the campaign as reasons why he won the support that he did.
Farbridge, meanwhile, seemed to pick up steam from a previously hostile constituency: business-savvy voters. A source told me that a group of fickle voters she works with were impressed by Farbridge as the best choice for Mayor so far as looking after the city's business interests are concerned. A far cry from the days when the Mayor was seen as ambassador for the Guelph's "Looney Left."
But perhaps it was a void. Birtwistle, as the stalwart on the right side of the local spectrum, seemed to only halfheartedly be in the race despite the fact that he came out swinging early, being the first with election signs out and the first with the opening of a campaign office. Many people also noted that Birtwistle's website, to which I was directed for information about his platform, actually had very little it terms of plans or goals of a Birtwistle mayoralty. In the end, I guess, it almost seemed like a one woman race.

2) So you're a referee...?
Andy Van Hellemond won handily in Ward 2 Monday night with over 2,500 votes, nearly 400 more than his nearest competition, incumbent Ian Finlay. Obviously, Van Hellemond has name cache, but I'll be damned if I knew what he stands for. I wasn't at the Ward 2 debate, but only a fool leans his whole ambitions on a single debate performance. Google 'Andy Van Hellemond' and you'll get more references to Van Hellemond's career as an NHL referee than his political career by a factor of about 9 to 1. His Facebook page is spartan at best, and only has about 15 friends. So where did the other 2,500 come from?

3) Guthrie Vs Kovac: Detente?
Weirdly, it seems that my home ward might have a more interesting post-election than campaign with Cam Guthrie and Gloria Kovach being elected as the new Ward 4 councillors. As you'll recall, there was a bit of a controversy regarding Guthrie's use of multiple aliases while posting on the 59 Carden Street blog. Said blog also noted how at a CUPE all-candidates meeting, the two took swipes at each other with Guthrie saying that it's important for a candidate to live in their ward, with Kovac coming back saying "Integrity is very important to me and I know my name." Given the mutual singes delivered by both candidates, it will be interesting to see how the two can/will work together.

4) Satisfaction is Job Done.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wards 3 and 5 stayed the same last night. Lise Burcher and Leanna Piper had exactly one competitor, Douglas O'Doherty. Apparently, many of the people living in the Village by the Arboretum had heard that O'Doherty had dropped out of the race, which might explain his third place finish. Still, O'Doherty garnered 2,300 votes, which probably represents the anti-incumbent contingent in Ward 5.
As for Ward 3, Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland practically had a photo finish for first and second, with fiscal conservative Craig Chamberlain finishing third at around 1,600 votes. Of course there might have been a bit of vote-splitting between Chamberlain, Mark Enchin and Dimitrios “Jim” Galatiano, who were all financial reformers, as they together garnered about 1,977 votes, which still falls short of the 2,202 votes secured by Hofland.
The lesson: the residents were very satisfied with their representation. In all, only four new candidates were installed last night, and two of those slots were vacant to begin with.

5) Where was the outrage?
Admit it, 33.9 per cent is pitiful for voter turnout. Crawling slowly to one-third of potential ballots cast was one of the most surprising and disappointing news items of the night. Honestly, what does it take for people to get out there and exercise their vote? Take this letter to the Mercury that was posted on 59 Carden. It's from a woman named Jeri who picked her son up from Paisley Public School yesterday when she found out that the school was a polling place for the Municipal Election, and there was no heightened security posture on behalf of the students by the officials at Paisley Public.
First of all, I've never known a polling station not set up some place like a school or church. Why not? If there's one thing you can find in any neighbourhood, in any town or city in this country, it's a church or a school. Or both. I remember going with my mom and dad to a polling station in my elementary school when I was a kid. The first time I ever voted was at the local Catholic School. This seems to have been a thing for a long time. Secondly, do the freaks and monsters out there lie in wait for Election Day to make their move? I don't think so. And if you're going to kidnap a kid, there are easier ways than sneaking into a school under the guise of a voter and then somehow, surreptitiously, get out of the gym area and sneak around the school and shop for a victim.
But the checkmate move was when Jeri said, "I don’t vote so I was unaware of the voting locations." And then she immediately followed that with saying, "As a parent I feel I have the right to be informed of such procedures that occur in my child’s school." Uh, don't those two things go hand in hand? You don't vote and then lament your lack of awareness. Has Jeri heard about irony? As someone that commented on the blog said, perhaps if Jeri voted for school trustee and was engaged with the political process, then she might know what "procedures" "occur" in her child's school. You can't not be engaged in the political process and complain about how no one engages you.
And with 66 per cent of the city's voting population sitting at home yesterday, it seems that the tyranny of arm-chair quarterbacking will continue for the next four years. You think your taxes are too high? Vote. Hate the way the transit system is run? Vote. Don't like the new garbage system? For the love of Holy God, take two and a half minutes out of your day and VOTE.
To put it another way, 18 per cent of Guelph voters just gave Karen Farbridge four more years. Is there any decision in your life that you would commit to with only 18 per cent certainty, because that's what this says: Only 18 per cent of the people in Guelph were of the strong belief that Farbridge should be our mayor. Fifteen per cent thought differently, but most of the rest just didn't seem to give a damn. If people are that upset about the state of the city, I guess people just like being upset. What a world if we have nothing to complain about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Election 2010: I Was Two-Thirds Right!

I got to City Hall with one minute left before the polls closed and excitement was in the air. It was a small crowd in the council chambers. Many of the people there were candidates and their family and supporters. Together we waited for the hourglass to run out, anticipating the returns as the polls closed. And then the screen went dark in the council chambers and it was almost showtime.
And then it was five minutes after and we were playing the waiting game. Rogers and CFRU got their coverage underway, although they, like me, had nothing to report. Even a half-hour later, there was still nothing to report.
But the crowds were getting larger. There was more and more activity in the council chamber. Maggie Laidlaw came over to say that it looked like it was going to be called for Rob Ford as Toronto’s Mayor. And suddenly the coolness factor of Toronto went down about 50 per cent. Shortly after that the room perked up with some results of our own.
At quarter to nine, my mayoral prediction seemed to bear out. Karen Farbridge was beating David Birtwistle by about 700 votes. Ray Mitchell and Scott Nighingale had about 200 combined.
In Ward 1, Bob Bell held on to a slight lead over his 10 competitors, but Jim Furfaro, Seán D. Farrelly and Karolyne Pickett were a close second, third and fourth respectively.
Ward 2 had some surprises with Ian Findlay finishing first with challenger Andy Van Hellemond coming in second. Finley’s fellow incumbent Vicki Beard was in a distant fourth.
Incumbents stayed strong in Wards 3 and 4 with Maggie Laidlaw and June Hofland ahead in Ward 3 and Gloria Kovach in first place in Ward 4. Christina Boumis held second place for Ward 4, at least until Cam Guthrie leap frogged over both ladies about 10 minutes later.
In Ward 5 it seemed that Lise Burcher and Leanne Piper were on their way to easy re-elections. Karl Wettstein was also looking safe in Ward 6, but it was a tight two-way race for second between Todd Dennis and Susan Ricketts.
As we approached 9 ‘o’ clock it seemed that the mayoral race was Farbridge’s to lose as she was beating Birtwistle by about 1,300 votes. At this point about half the tabulators were reporting, and it seemed that unless there were stacks of supporters one way or the other, the races as they stood might be more or less locked. Of course, there were a lot of tight races, and it would be interesting to see just how tight all those races would remain.
The race for mayor stayed pretty static as Farbridge kept her 1,300 vote lead over Birtwistle. Meanwhile in Ward 1 Furfaro overtook Bell for first, and Pickett zipped past Farrelly for third.
Coming up 9:30 it seemed that things were pretty much cemented with 48 out of 64 stations reporting. Farbridge’s lead was fairly secured with over 3,000 votes between her and Birtwistle. Mike Salisbury’s council career seemed more or less done with exactly half the amount of votes as frontrunner Guthrie in Ward 4. Wettstein and Dennis were trading back and forth for first place in Ward 6, while Van Hellemond seemed assured for Ward 2, with Ian Findley and Ray Ferraro neck-in-neck for second place. Ward 3 and 5, meanwhile, seemed locked for both incumbents.
Things really seemed set by the time the tally reached 61 tabulators reporting, and then it was a bit of a long wait for the final votes to come in for the people that chose to stick around in the Council Chamber, especially since it seemed that all fates were sealed. In the end, seven incumbents returned to their seats in the horseshoe, along with Mayor, now Mayor-Elect, Farbridge. Five new city councillors will step up and determine our fate for the next four years.
And despite any occasionally heated discourse, or inadvertent wise-crackery on my part, I wish the members of the 2011-2014 Guelph City Council the best of luck. I’ll be back tomorrow with some (hopefully) thoughtful analysis. In the meantime, here are the unofficial election results:

  • Karen Farbridge 14,902
  • David Birtwistle 10,576
  • Ray Mitchell 1,182
  • Scott Nightingale 878
Ward 1
  • Bob Bell 1,758
  • Jim Furfaro 1,696
  • Seán Farrelly 1,175
  • Karolyne Pickett 1,109
  • Russell Ott 779
  • Gary Walton 601
  • Linda Murphy 527
  • Peter Bortolon 361
  • Tamara Williams 306
  • Allan Boynton 235
  • Eugene Gromczynski 221
Ward 2
  • Andy Van Hellemond 2,538
  • Ian Findlay 2,180
  • Ray J. Ferraro 1,853
  • Vicki Beard 1,757
  • Paul J. Mahony 403
Ward 3
  • Maggie Laidlaw 2,296
  • June Hofland 2,202
  • Craig C. Chamberlain 1,680
  • Mark Enchin 799
  • Dimitrios “Jim” Galatianos 498
  • Missy F. Tolton 320
Ward 4
  • Cam Guthrie 2,381
  • Gloria Kovach 1,979
  • Christina Boumis 1,694
  • Mike Salisbury 1,199
  • Steven Petric 207
Ward 5
  • Leanne Piper 3,451
  • Lise Burcher 2,932
  • Douglas O’Doherty 2,331
Ward 6
  • Karl Wettstein 2,719
  • Todd Dennis 2,654
  • Susan Ricketts 1,932
Total Voter Turnout: 33.90 per cent


Guess where I was just now? Yes, at was at my local polling station exercising my democratic rights by voting in the Municipal Election. Polls close at 8 pm tonight, so you still have about six hours to find out where you vote (if you don't know already) and get their and vote. During early polls, 3,200 people voted, which is about 2.8 per cent of the City's population. In 2006, the total number of eligible voters that made the trip to the ballot box was a little over 50 per cent. Here’s hoping we can do better this year (but I doubt it).
In the meantime, here’s where you can find all the information you’ll need on where, when and how to vote today:
As for predictions, well, I’m not the biggest fan of making predictions although that’s sometimes what the job calls for. So here it is… I’m relatively, within a high degree of probability, certain that Karen Farbridge will remain the Mayor of Guelph till 2014. Despite his early running, Birtwistle seemed to not put up much of a fight, and his platform - if you can find it on his website - seems to be more about what sucks in Guelph right now and who's responsible. 
As for council, we know that there will be at least two new councillors by the end of the night, but I'll go out on a limb and say that there'll be at least five, possibly six new people for the horseshoe. One ward will probably be turned over completely, with two or three others getting half a change. 
Voter turnout will be down versus 2006, but should be better than 2003's 36 per cent. 
As for me, I'll most likely be at City Hall when the results start coming in and then post shortly there after around 10 pm. Stay tuned tonight for the results.

A Museum Defense

So here we are on the eve of the election, and I have one more issue in me, as a concerned citizen blogger, to pimp. Mostly it has to do with history. Our history and the placed its housed in.
During this election there's been a lot of talk about capital expenditures and the amount of money they cost and whether or not we should be proceeding with them given the current financial climate. And further, how do we choose what projects are the most important to proceed with? Now, to many candidates, the test of excess versus essential has come down to the new Civic Museum, which is currently under construction.
When the museum is mentioned, if it gets mentioned, it's usually in the context of money squandered. An example of a funding priority made by a council more concerned with decadence than necessity. So is a new location for the Civic Museum a waste of money or a practical investment? What was it that George Santayana said about those doomed when forgetting the past?
Not that there's actual doom per se, but let's think about this in technical terms. The Civic Museum houses 30,000 artifacts and over 4,000 photographs, and if you've ever been to 6 Dublin Street you can see that they don't exactly leave it lying all over the museum floor, and obviously we're not just talking about trinkets like arrowheads and thimbles. Nope, the Civic Museum has a wide selection of items from Guelph's history, from instruments manufactured and sold by the Bell Organ Company to a wide variety of vintage garments. And they're all stored in a cramped basement.
Let's not forget that if the museum needs to expand, then let's save two birds with one stone, so to speak. The Convent, a piece of our heritage from the earliest days of Guelph, was a dead building standing. No one was sure what to do with it, or even if  it was possible to save it. And that's not to mention that old rule about real estate: location, location, location. If the museum that focuses on Guelph's history is going to be moved anywhere, then why not next door to the Royal City's most well-known landmark.
And while we're at there's the immobile McCrae House. Guelph is known the world over as the birthplace of Col. John McCrae, author of "In Flanders Fields" but I wonder sometimes how many Guelphites know this and appreciate this. Certainly, this is an extreme example of the history to be found in our sorted berg. I mean, not everyone writes the seminal poem that's become The voice of war and remembrance both in Canada and worldwide. But without McCrae House I wouldn't have held in my own hands last year a piece of paper donated to the museum that was issued to a field commander on November 10th, 1918 ordering him to have his men stand down the next day at 11 am. That's how renowned McCrae House is.
As for the Civic Museum, it provides endlessly fascinating insights into our town. From Guelph's old streetcar system to the great Mondex experiment, I never leave that building without learning something new. Granted I'm biased on the basis of being a history nerd and the fact that I've volunteered at both museums the past two years, but I wonder how many other people are so convinced that a new museum is a luxury purchase, have ever actually been to either the Civic Museum or McCrae House.
And in museum circles (if there is such a thing) our institutions are well regarded for their variety and dedication to the preservation of local history. These things matter. Knowing where he come from matters. And to have a place where you can walk in and for a couple of bucks have access to a wide-ranging amount of Guelph-centric knowledge is amazing and not to be underestimated. I was at a Museum event where Lloyd Longfield of the Chamber of Commerce talked about how when he came to Guelph, he made a specific stop at the Museum to learn more about the town. Why would he take the time to do this unless the ebbs and flows of a city's business future has a lot to do with where it's been in the past? How interesting.
"Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft." -Winston Churchill
“I think a secure profession for young people is history teacher, because in the future, there will be so much more of it to teach” - Bill Muse
“History repeats itself, has to, nobody listens” - Steve Turner

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'd Vote For... That Guy?

Maybe I've been overdoing it on the election coverage. 
 Anyway, I was in the Stone Road Mall area a little while ago, and as I walked through the Ultra parking lot towards Casey's I passed this sign, and thought, "Wow, that's a pretty stylin' election sign." And then as I kept walking I sort of subconsciously became aware of what it said on the sign and stopped to read thoroughly: "Pinot Grigio" it says. Now I'm all for fine wine, but putting one in city council seems like taking things a bit too far. 
 Ah well, just three more days to go.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire - Missy Tolton (Ward 3)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?
Because I love this city! I have no personal agenda. I wanna do what is best for Guelph and know that putting the people of Guelph first is the best way to do it.

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?
Decisions made on council this past term lacked community input. Often city staff needs were put over the needs of city residents and overall the wrong decisions were made. We saw service cuts and nobody was accountable for anything. This isn't to say some good was done, but because there was no accountability or transparency with the current council, City residents can never really know without extensive research.

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

a) Taxes
We need to be accountable to taxpayers. At this time, the City of Guelph is in no position to cut any taxes but we need to let the people know where there tax money is going. Commercial taxes need to be on par with other cities to ensure Guelph as a business friendly place.

b) Budget
It's all about Priorities. We can only spend what we have on what we need!

c) Transit
Needs to be more accessible. As someone who takes the bus regularly I know that this summer I was unable to schedule any work on Sundays and how much it personally effected me. There can be absolutely no cuts in transit, unless it's in the price!

d) Development/Infrastructure

e) Arts & Culture
4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
The City of Guelph is an amazing city and will continue to be so. But I cannot stress enough that the city needs to be run by it's residents. We need the public voice and resident input on all decisions this term.

5) What’s your message for voters?
On October 25th get out and VOTE!!!!

Politico Hero of the Week

Here in Guelph, mayoral candidates Ray Mitchell and Scott Nightingale have been written off my some as "fringe", "kooks" or "crazy". What experience do they have? Are they serious about their chances? Are they serious about the policy initiatives they're talking? Yes, they are serious and while both candidates say that their chances of election are slim to none, does that mean that their ideas and issues aren't any less important? I don't think so. 

In that spirit, I highlight Jimmy McMillan. McMillan is a retired postal worker and Vietnam vet running for the Governor of New York State as the candidate for The Rent's 2 Damn High Party. His assertion is simple: rent is too damn high! In fact, he repeated the phrase again and again during the Gubernatorial debate last week, while asserting that under his plan he can create up to $6 million new jobs and generate about $6 trillion in surplus for the State of New York. 

Now I'm not an economist, but those numbers I'm not so sure about. Regardless, the theoretical basis is sound: lower rent means more money people have to spent towards other things. Goods and services that could drive the market and generate jobs in New York State and beyond. And sure, sitting there in his handle-bar mustache, grey suit, black gloves and firing off rhyming couplets that put Jesse Jackson's famous eloquence to shame, McMillan seems like he's not quite ready for prime time, however I would offer two things. First, he's surely passionate about his cause, and second, he's not Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate that sent bestiality filled e-mails to workers and has a 10-year-old daughter out of wedlock with his secretary. Of course by Tea Party standards, Paladino is an upstanding, and moralistic leader. But I digress. 

The Jimmy McMillans of the world are invaluable if only from the perspective of how trends work. Whether it's in politics or the arts, trends start small in like-minded groups of activists or iconoclasts and slowly build momentum until someone breaks it through into the mainstream. I'm not saying that Jimmy McMillan will soon be lauded into the Governor's mansion in Albany, but I think that the impact of the real estate sector on the recession thanks to stratospheric housing prices that didn't represent the true value of the property has been under-examined. Is Jimmy McMillan on to something? Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Successful Christmas Charity Returns

Taking a break from all this election stuff, I received this press release last week about the charity Operation Christmas Child.

It is only mid October, but children and adults from Parkwood Gardens Community Church in Guelph are already preparing for Christmas. Parkwood Gardens Community Church is the Guelph depot for Operation Christmas Child, an initiative that provides shoe boxes filled with small gifts to children around the world mostly in hospitals, orphanages and refugee camps who would otherwise not receive any Christmas gifts. "Last year in Canada we shipped 640,569 shoeboxes with 2300 coming from Guelph. The total worldwide was 8.2 million boxes.", says Pastor Jim Tice. The boxes shipped from Canada are distributed primarily in 15-20 countries in Central and South America, West Africa, and the Caribbean. Each year, the list of specific countries that will receive a shipment of shoe boxes from Canada is finalized in late November.
The idea of giving a gift to someone in need was appealing to Tice's 7 year old daughter, Molly. "Last year Molly asked for her friends to give her a shoe box filled for a child, in lieu of a gift for herself.", says Tice. Molly states, "There are kids in need and and I thought of them. When they smile after getting those presents it gives me a warm spot in my heart. I have so much stuff and they don't have anything."
The boxes contain items such as school supplies, toys, candy, hair clips, stickers and hygiene items. Families, businesses, schools, churches or workplaces who would like to become involved in Operation Christmas Child are encouraged to contact Pastor Jim Tice at jim[at]parkwoodgardens[dot]ca
More information about Operation Christmas Child can be found at http://samaritanspurse.ca/occ/faqs.aspx

 7 year old Molly Tice with one of her Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Ott Wants You to Know That He's Thinking About the Children

Ward 1 candidate Russell Ott sent out this press release today outlining, what he thinks, may be an overlooked issue in his Ward - the amount of school space in the area. It's interesting to be sure, and maybe one of the facets of the Woods redevelopment that has not yet been fully thought through in the rush to get building on the site? Read on to learn Ott's thoughts. 


As a candidate for Ward One in next week's election, I have spent many hours visiting residents of the ward and getting familiar with the issues. Number one for most people living in the old St. Patrick's Ward (fondly known as “ the ward” ), is the future of the W.C. Wood plant. There is much still unknown about the proposed development in this area bounded by Arthur Street, Elizabeth Street, Cross Street and the river. However, one thing is certain. Residential dwellings will be built on this site. This will mean increased density for the area and, with increased density, will come more families and children.

While not directly a concern for a city councillor, I keep thinking about the potential number of families who will call the ward home in a few years. Where will the children of these families go to school? Traditionally, there has been only one school in the ward – Tytler School. However, this venerable institution is slated to close in 2012 when the new King George is completed. Was a projected increase in population taken into account when this decision was made? Will all the children living in the ward have to climb the hill to King George? Even the kindergarten children who live on York Road? Will some of these children have to be bused? I think it would be a disaster to close Tytler at this time, knowing there could be a large group of students living on the Wood site. We need to be open to alternatives to accommodate this increase in school-age population.

I don't think these students can be successfully dispersed to other city schools. The east end cannot support additional students. A sign posted for the Watson Creek Phase 3 development warns that students moving into this area may be shipped to other schools as Ken Danby/Holy Trinity may not have the capacity to support expected growth. Besides, if there is sufficient population in the ward to warrant a school, we should have one there.

In sending this release to the media, I just want to make it known to the residents of the ward and the downtown area that I plan to investigate this situation when elected.

Candidate Questionnaire - Peter Bortolon (Ward 1)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?
I decided to run for council this term as I feel our current taxation level is unacceptably high, our current council seems to be taking on expensive capital projects that I am not sure that the taxpayers of the City can afford

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?
I think our past council had many successes, but I believe that they were not always as focused on the issues as they should have been. Specifically, the numerous times they took the County of Wellington to court and end up losing their case. I believe honest dialogue would have saved thousands of dollars in court costs, lawyer fees etc. I also believe that they did not study the proposed three-bin system for garbage as thoroughly as they should have nor did they get the necessary input from ALL Guelph residents. I believe that they did not thoroughly do their budgeting correctly leaving the City of Guelph without essential services for five days.

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

a) Taxes
Taxes are currently too high in the City of Guelph and if not brought under control we will eventually lose development of new commercial and industrial lands which will have a long term detrimental effect on the City

b) Budget
I believe that we must budget must better than we have in the past so that we do not have to send employees home for five days without pay and take away vital services to our residents. We must set realistic budgets and stay within them. As for large capital expenditures, we must really evaluate ALL new capital requests to ensure that we have the funds available. This will require council to prioritize projects and even set aside money every year for large capital items that will be need in the next few years

c) Transit
We must study our whole transit plan and that includes a new terminal for buses, the GO Train, VIA Rail etc

d) Development/Infrastructure
Guelph needs development to continue to grow, but we must work with the developers to ensure that the development will also meet the needs of the area being developed so we do not have a situation like we have in the eastside of Ward 1 where we have a lot of new homes, but no services such as medical centres, pharmacies and grocery stores.
As for the Infrastructure, we as a City will need to continue upgrading our water and sewer services across the City. If elected, I will try to have a plan developed so that we can have the infrastructure replaced before we have broken pipes that end up getting a patch.

e) Arts & Culture
Arts and culture are the soul of any community. I would support projects in these areas providing there are funds available and the groups requesting support have a sound financial plan in place.

4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
I believe the City of Guelph must re-consider the three bin system for our garbage. The $30,000,000 expenditure at this time, I believe, is unaffordable, especially in the light of some reports saying it will be at least 30 years before the system will be at capacity.
I believe that building something with today's technology for use 30 years from now is not a wise decision. It would be like the city trying to run all the administration on Commodore 64's instead of the computer systems we are currently using.

5) What’s your message for voters?
I am asking for your support on Election Day to help make the City of Guelph a better, more affordable place to live. I have always been very committed to the City of Guelph. I’m a volunteer for many organizations including Guelph minor sports, the Italian Canadian Club, The Knights of Columbus and St. John's Parish.
I have lived in the City of Guelph and in Ward 1 my entire life and I will work very hard if elected to improve the City and Ward 1 specifically.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Following People Will Not Get My Vote...

...David Birtwistle.
That is all.
So in a last ditch effort to get as many Candidate Questionnaires as I can before the Election Day in one week, I sent another reminder to the outstanding candidates who have yet to hand one in. And as of 8:30 pm on Monday night, out of the nearly dozen still outstanding, only one has gotten back to me: Mayoral Candidate David Birtwistle. Here's what he (or somebody else considering that the e-mail wasn't signed by him) wrote back to me.

Please refer to my website, www.davidbirtwistle.com
Rena Akerman for
David Birtwistle
Candidate for Mayor
City of GUELPH

Yeah, that's a diss. And I've been turned down by girls with braces so I know what a diss is. I count myself as undecided for this election, but I sure as hell know who I'm not voting for: David Birtwistle. I know I may not exactly play centre field, but I didn't know I was one of the 'looney left.' I can only think that Mr. Birtwistle has confused me with another Adam A. Donaldson and didn't know that the questionnaire came from me, the one who complimented his debate performance.
If you'll draw your attention to the right (haha) you'll see that I've done as Mr. Birtwistle (or Ms. Akerman. Whatever.) suggested and added a link to his website. All I can do is my best and assume that Mr. Birtwistle just can't understand the kids now-in-days with the rap music and the brain damage and the blogging. I assume this because he, himself, doesn't even write his own blog posts. No big deal. 
And to all those that did take the time to answer the questionnaire, thank you. The demands of campaigning are incredible when you think about balancing press, personal appearances, debates, forums, research, going door-to-door, and those pesky jobs and family commitments you all have. I understand if a request for time from a simple blogger falls through the cracks, but in David Birtwistle's case, going out of your way to send me only your website URL, let's just say that I know when to peel the banana. At least from a hand gesture perspective. 
So yeah, I won't be voting Birtwistle on Election Day. Thanks for making that vote easy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire - Karl Wettstein (Ward 6)

1) Why did you want to run again for city council?
2) What initiatives/achievements are you proud of during the last term?
3) Please describe your position/ideas on the following issues?
a) Taxes
b) Budget

During this past term of Council we have made excellent progress in some key strategic areas that were of particular interest and concern to me. My background and experience enabled me to play a meaningful role in the following areas:
  • We significantly strengthened our financial management and discipline through the approval of a number of key financial policies – designed to guide us through a very difficult recession and to position our financial decision making going into the next decade and beyond.
  • We established an Audit Committee to oversee the critical areas of Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Audit.
  • We overhauled the Budget process to ensure we finalized out annual budget in a timely manner – before year-end. We began deliberations earlier and added a number of stakeholder input steps prior to the final Council deliberations.
  • We developed a new Governance model, with supporting policies, to ensure we maintain our current culture of teamwork and mutual respect – especially as it relates to Council, the Sr. Management team, our Unions and the public at large.
  • We implemented a functional re-organization of the corporation to streamline decision making, eliminate the silo effect, and improve efficiency and responsiveness to all of our stakeholders.
  • We initiated significant structural changes to our interface with the County. The primary objective being to protect the financial interests of Guelph taxpayers.
  • With the help of the General Manager and his Board of Directors we developed a strong partnership with the Chamber of Commerce – recognizing the critical importance of ensuring Guelph is seen as a business friendly community.
  • Primarily due to the recession and the need to put some major projects on hold we didn’t get as far as we had hoped on the South-end Recreation Centre – We did manage to maintain it as one of our top priorities and I look to the next council to make it happen.
  • With the help of the University of Guelph, Neighbourhood groups, Landlords and a number of other stakeholder groups we are making very good progress in understanding and dealing with the critical issues in the Shared Rental Housing area. I have had the opportunity to be significantly involved as a sub-committee member and at the Town & Gown meetings.
Although we have made progress in a number of key areas, we need to be diligent in making sure these changes take root. This requires a Council and Senior Management team that clearly understand the critical roles that strong financial policy, good corporate governance, positive and constructive teamwork, and the ability to find consensus solutions play in running an effective and efficient 300 million dollar complex corporation.
During this past term I have chaired both the Finance Committee and the Audit Committee – I also sat on the Governance committee, Guelph Junction Railway Board, River Run Board, as well as attended all standing committee meetings dealing with all major strategic issues and all issues related to Ward 6.
I would like to help make sure these successes are fully implemented.

c) Transit
I am fully supportive of our recently approved transit growth strategy – designed to take Guelph in to the next generation of transit.

d) Development/Infrastructure
The recent $66 million infrastructure program, though disruptive to for all of us, will have major tax saving implications going forward.

e) Arts & Culture
This is a critical component of our community. Our functional reorganization will significantly enhance bringing these voices into our decision making processes in a much more effective way.

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

5) What’s your message for voters?
Thank you for your support, guidance and assistance over the past 4 years. Please vote!

Candidate Questionnaire - Scott Nightingale (Mayor)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?
I ran for Mayor out of a yearning to dig out the pertinent and otherwise nitty gritty bits of information on how our particular council runs. I am finding the minutiae of municipalities to be rather muddled and inaccessible. I have a mind for what may to some seem mundane and boring. As long as I may use this mind to help those around me understand and in some small cases control their environment, then this is truly a good thing.

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?
Personally, I believe in the good of people. I do truly believe that people are inherently doing what they believe to be the best of their options. The last council was presented with many challenges and suffice to say they made it through and the efforts of the council and the city staff are all around us. Given the same situation and information myself would I have made the same decisions? It is impossible to say that I could have saved the council from any unseemly errors, if we can call them errors and not justifiably call them attempts. In closing, I believe that the council did what they could with what they had and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for civic service can be a thankless and over-whelming undertaking.

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

a) Taxes
I personally am just learning the lower echelons of how taxes work within our Government. This is something that has not seen the last of Scott Nightingale. Taxes will always be daunting and unappreciated, but they are a necessary element in the City's tool belt and would seem to be an effective source of revenue albeit far from perfect or pleasurable. Only clarity will save you from the lions. Clear descriptions of how taxes are used will quell the fires that lie in the taxpayer’s heart. If they can see their taxes at work, they are LESS likely to be concerned.

b) Budget
I can not wait to get my hands on the budget and an economist. This to me is a lesson sent from heaven. Right now I have a wing of desire and a prayer that one day I will master the budget and delegate myself to improve upon it. It is a tempestuous beast and there is nearly never enough. The bleeding hearts of me and my people would likely give all our money away but we would not like it later. The budget is about reserve and preventative maintenance right now as the projects pile high and the federal funding seems foggy somewhere maybe in the future. The budget must be kept calm and cared for like a cholicky child.

c) Transit
Transit is a service that the city requires. A healthy transit makes for a healthy interconnected community. It is important to get people where they need to go when they need to get there. This being said, transit is a huge headache and Guelph is an inconsistent user of public transit, or I’m lead to believe that by surveys and studies. I personally have been led to believe this more by experience and from what I hear on the street. And the street says we need transit and transit needs the backing of the city.

d) Development/Infrastructure
D is for Development and it is coming. Oooh boy is it coming. The development is designed to keep Guelph a strong community involved in Guelph things done by mostly Guelphites. The developers are married to the city and in this marriage there must be compromise on both sides. The Council must make the city appealing and lure in development: residential, commercial and industrial. In order to be appealing there must be infrastructure. The last council has got the ball rolling all we have to do now is build a foundation of trust between the people and their businesses and the City and its council.

e) Arts & Culture
Lastly, but not leastly, Arts and Culture are alive and limping in Guelph. There are many artists and many opportunities for culture in the City if you know where to look for them. We have but to give them a venue and a nice big green pat on the back. But who, who do we give the venue to and who the green backs? I would say there is a turning of the tide in the young, they want to have something, to be involved in making the city the greatest it always has been. We must celebrate our alumni artists and encourage them to leg up the little guys. With an arts community there comes great opportunity for something new. A colossal web of culture can be founded right here in Guelph but it will take some back breaking labour and serious hours of volunteering to make it a good solid lasting community. They are out there and they are working hard. Let's shine a light on them.

4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
An issue I would like highlighted specifically is our plight of voter apathy. As the machinations of municipal politics gets more and more convoluted so does wane the interest of the every man. We work hard these days to survive and raise a family and maybe even find some time to relax. Budding young families are popping up all over the place but times get harder and the recession doesn’t help. My issue is with ground level democracy, empowering the public to not necessarily be knowledgeable about all the issues in the city, but to feel as though they can understand and even act within the city. Right down to permits and tax receipts there should be a co-operative feel to local government. I would like to take back the town and give it to the people. But, governance is a two way street. If I can start a fire people might just stare at it for hours and see in its licking flames exactly what they want, and if that fire should spread then maybe just maybe we can really have a democracy.

5) What’s your message for voters?
Love something, learn about it, and never lie to yourself or others. Get out there and vote, get out there and educate, get out there and act.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire - Tamara Williams (Ward 1)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?
My role in public service positions has spanned the entire 18 years that I have lived in Guelph. The thing I like most about Guelph is the people and I would like to be on city council so I can help build a great quality of life for its citizens. There are so much great things about Guelph, but I would like to work for the people of Ward 1 so they are heard. I am a good listener and can translate this need into real policies that will benefit people.

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?
Council met many challenges last term. I think their accomplishments will come to fruition over this next term. I’m hearing that people would like to see less spending and more planning concerning the real needs of the people. City Council has a responsibility to do this. There are some hopeful signs of good things to come. A transit service that runs every 15 minutes during peak hours is one of them. In Ward 1 people want to have services in their residential neighbourhood and the W.C. Woods land needs to be developed with the cultural heritage and values of the Ward neighbourhood being thoroughly considered. Once construction is finished a comprehensive traffic study should be done so our children are safe while playing and going to school.

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

a) Taxes
Many people have told me that they are worried about rising taxes in the city. Taxes are necessary to support our budget and our quality of life. How the money is spent, where and when, must be considered carefully so there is little waste. Council should continuously work to get the best value for each tax dollar. For seniors, I am proposing that city council have a program similar to the one in Elliot Lake. There, if seniors who are on fixed incomes and it is low, they would bring in their proof of income to city hall and their taxes would be frozen at the rate they presently are paying. This program is wonderful so people can continue to live in their homes and have the independence and dignity that they deserve.

b) Budget
Council budget should always be transparent, visible and based on the vision and values set out by the people and their needs.

c) Transit
Many have told me about their concerns over accessible transit, safe neighbourhoods, traffic control including safe sidewalks and roads is of utmost importance. This is one place where money should be invested. I myself am a transit rider and the cutting of this service to people in the most vulnerable of our society is not appropriate. i.e. No Sunday service last summer in August.

d) Development/Infrastructure
We are going to grow to a population of 175,000 by 2020. City council needs to infill and invest in brownfield development. Urban sprawl onto our farmland must not be a choice during this development.

e) Arts & Culture
Guelph is unique because of the large population of artists and musicians within the city. This represents a large group of very talented people giving to the city. We should continue to support the arts and our cultural heritage which would also promote tourism and result in good business for the city.

4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
In Ward 1 people have expressed concerns about traffic and access to shopping in their neighbourhood. This is a local concern that should be addressed. The legacy that we want to leave for our children needs to be one of fiscal responsibility and environmental consciousness.

5) What’s your message for voters?
If elected I will work for you and be accessible throughout the four-year term. Take the time to vote on October 25th. I would be honoured to represent you on city council. Please help me make a difference and vote for Tamara Williams.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Get Your Early Votes in Now

I'm a little behind on this, but this week, the advanced polls are open for the municipal election. See below for the times and locations. And please vote. It's more than your right, it's your responsibility. Remember: if you don't vote, you really can't complain.

Tuesday, October 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., City Hall, 1 Carden St.

Wednesday, October 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., City Hall, 1 Carden St.

Thursday, October 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., City Hall, 1 Carden St.

Saturday, October 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following locations:
  • Ward 1: Guelph City Hall, 1 Carden Street
  • Ward 2: Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, 683 Woolwich Street
  • Ward 3: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High school, 54 Westmount Road
  • Ward 4: West End Community Centre, 21 Imperial Road South
  • Ward 5: John McCrae Public School, 189 Water Street
  • Ward 6: Arkell Road Bible Chapel, 39 Arkell Road

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yeah, it's a Correction...

So somewhere in the drunken tirade about postering in the City of Guelph, I misspoke about a certain key detail. Court Desautels, the General Manager of the Borealis Bar & Grill e-mailed me about a line in that post calling Borealis part of a chain. But while Borealis is part of a family of restaurants, it is not yet a chain, and beside the point, all the restaurants in the family - including the Woolwich Arms pub - are Guelph-based, owned and operated.
To further prove my sincerity to make amends for this oversight, I publish the following excerpt from the e-mail sent to me by Desautels:
"We (our family) have lived in Guelph for over 35 years and have been in the restaurant business for over 20 of them supporting everything local with the goal to keep our community unique and honest. We don't do this because it's trendy, we do it because it is something we deeply believe in. In fact the Wooly just celebrated its 20th anniversary and has been following that philosophy since day one! It is with overwhelming community support that has allowed us to open the Borealis Grille and Bar in December '08. A truly unique concept that will prove we can take our philosophy to the next level, not just for Guelph, but for the entire restaurant industry. From day one we have served local foods and drinks, showcased local musicians and artists and it doesn't stop there. We even built the restaurant out of local stone and wood and use only wind and water energy from Bullfrog Power. I could go on and on, so instead I urge you to check us out at: http://www.borealisgrille.ca/our-story/
For my part, I was confusing the Borealis with another establishment. So I offer heartfelt apologies and regret for the confusion, and I hope this correction, and the correction in the original post make amends to the owners and workers of Borealis.  
I will add though that despite my earlier slight and ignorance, the Borealis was known to me already as place that showcased live music from local acts. No matter the origins, we do need more places across the city - not just in the south end - to take a greater share in promoting the cultural richness of this city. Which is why when I handed in the question about how the Ward 4 candidates would promote Arts and Culture in the city at their debate, I added the extra line about "outside of downtown".
Still, mea culpa to Borealis (and my friend Candice who first pointed this out).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire - Jim Furfaro (Ward 1)

1) Why did you want to run for city council?
I believe that one of life’s mandates is to “be of service.” I have always believed in and practiced public service. Life is not always about “taking.” It should also be balanced with “giving.”
A common and often heard complaint from voters is that that candidates are visible to voters during the campaign and once elected are seldom seen. I want to assure voters that their support will be recognized beyond Election Day. I plan to “put constituents and their needs first.” I will keep voters informed (townhall meetings) and up-to-date on key issues that have a potential impact on Ward One or the entire city.
I have many years of leadership experience (in education) that will be valuable when addressing the many challenges that face Councillors. I also served as a Catholic school Trustee for the last four years. While chairing the Corporate Services Committee, I gained a lot of insight into the budget process that will greatly assist me as a city councillor.

2) What do you think of the performance of the last council?
On the positive side, Council gets credit for a number of initiatives. A much improved organic waste processing facility, 25 infrastructure projects that will save taxpayers millions of dollars, a new transit terminal, a partnership with Guelph Hydro for photovoltaic electricity and the new Hanlon Creek Industrial Park.
Balance the above with the following: Guelph Civic Museum is expected to be considerably over budget. We have an organic waste plant that was built larger than necessary. The Region of Waterloo gets two-thirds of our facility for 20 years. Why did the city not partner with The Region of Waterloo to cut costs and debt load? The Canadian Federation of Independent Business conducted a survey last June. A total of 272 firms were asked to rate city hall’s performance as good, adequate or poor in five areas. A “poor” rating was the grade in each area. IMICO is the elephant in the room nobody wants to acknowledge. It’s been an embarrassment to the ward and city for many years. When will Council realize that rehabilitating this property is good for Ward 1 and the entire city?

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

a) Taxes
In the last four years, property tax increases have totalled 16.4 per cent, an average of 4.1 per cent per year. This is considerably more than the cost of living or inflation rate. Industrial commercial taxes need to be adjusted upward from the present rate of 16 per cent. I believe this is possible with the newly developed Hanlon Creek Business Park. More serviced land is available and a plan should be in place to gradually raise the present rate to at least 20 per cent. I think this is attainable and would take some pressure off the residential rate which is 84 per cent.

b) Budget
The 2011 budget should not contain many big-ticket items. Several deferred projects are presently on the books. Library ($50M), south end rec centre ($37M), Wilson Street parkade ($16M). Let’s also keep in mind the possible over run in costs associated with the many infrastructure projects, the Guelph Civic Museum, the Transit Hub and the three bin garbage system to be phased in 2012.
The new council needs to set a "ceiling" on property taxes prior to the budget process. This tax cap will help councillors focus on expenditures that are well planned and absolutely vital.

c) Transit
I am not fully versed in the current “official” transportation plan, however, the city needs a system that is comprehensive enough to serve the needs of commuters, those who rely on the various means of public transit (GO Train, coach) plus students and seniors. The system needs to be reliable, efficient and cost effective in order to encourage ridership. I would like to see an official review take place every couple of years to determine if the transit plan (of the day) is meeting the needs of those who use it.

d) Development/Infrastructure
There are a number of opportunities in the coming term for council to address development and infrastructure. The Wood/Kilmer property is awaiting a demolition permit, which is the first step to developing is prime brownsfield and key component of the overall downtown development plan. The former Marsh Tire location is another downtown property that will need to be looked at and determine what role it will play in the downtown development plan. Finally, there is the long forgotten IMCO brownsfield. I would like to see this long forgotten albatross addressed in earnest. It has been neglected far too long. Residents within the immediate area need to know that IMCO will be given “top priority.” It’s time to meet with prospective developers, establish a number of partnerships and discuss potential uses for the site.

e) Arts & Culture
The annual “Festival Italiano” is a great success story. I believe it’s possible to duplicate the format with other cultures. The “multicultural festival” is a one day experience where numerous cultures attempt to do what Festival Italiano does over three days. Consideration should be given to a different format. Have all the participants of the multicultural festival choose one full day throughout the summer months to showcase their food, music, dance and related activities. This now provides a number of opportunities for the public to participate and become more familiar with the varied and rich cultures we have in our city.

4) Is there another issue that you’d specifically like to highlight/focus on?
While campaigning door-to-door, the vast majority of seniors had lots of questions related to the newly proposed three bin garbage system. Their concerns revolved around the issue of storage, size, odour, maggots and the unknown challenges of winter. Will the use of bio-degradable (liner) bags be explored? Will council seek public input prior to implementation in 2012? Council has more than one year to provide answers to many questions. Council needs to do its homework and get this three bin garbage system right the first time.

5) What’s your message for voters?
This election is as much about “change” as it is about issues. There are ten incumbent councillors seeking re-election and twenty-three individuals believing they can make a difference. Be prepared for “business as usual” in how things are done in the council chamber if voters choose not to make substantial changes.
I have held positions of responsibility. I possess a range of skills. I am in good health and prepared to take on the challenges of this job. I will be visible and provide a quality level of service to Ward 1 constituents and the city.
I want to work for you! Hire me on October 25.