Mayoral Debate Engages the University Community
Tuesday, October 7, 20140 Comments
This past Tuesday during the busy lunch hour, six of the seven Mayoral candidates running in the upcoming Fall Election debated in a lively conversation in the heart of the University’s campus UC Courtyard, their discussion geared towards how the upcoming election will affect student issues.
An energetic, mixed crowd of students and community members alike of around 200 gathered to hear current mayor Karen Farbridge and hopeful candidates Jason Blokhuis, Andrew Donovan, Councillor Cam Gurthie, John Legere and Joseph St. Denis.
Prior to the debate and questioning period, each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and further expand upon their various platforms and their projected goals. Each candidate was given two minutes to state their platforms.
"We cannot let reckless ideology of privatization derail everything we have built in the past year," says Karen Farbridge, Guelph’s current mayor who is pining for a re-election with the promise to make Guelph Canada’s greenest city while “increasing energy security through local production that’s by Guelph and for Guelph.”
A former Guelph Gryphon himself, candidate Andrew Donovan spoke of how he fell in love with the city of Guelph during his political science undergraduate degree, and present a platform which advertises lower taxes and a visibly more transparent government.
City Counciller Cam Gurthie plans to create a transparent government by generating cost-efficient services, while working to eliminate the “Guelph Factor” by systematically altering the culture in the downtown core and City Hall. Gurthie describes the “Guelph Factor” as “…the routine setting aside of extra time and money when working with the City of Guelph to account for unexpected delays, process issues, public opposition, appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board, and so forth".
Jason Blokhuis pledges to create “…appropriate growth for appropriate reasons…” and is running for mayor to cultivate a community which promote sustainable development, efficient government services and to put a definitive end to property tax increases.
John Legere is running to change the way we govern ourselves, encouraging a vocal community and a truly representative government to actively listen and act for the city.
Shoeless Joe, or Joseph St Denis the anti-consumerist self-proclaimed philosopher of the race who emphasized the low voter turnout as utterly shameful. St. Denis admits to not really having a platform for his campiaign and instead has been handing out campaign literature in both hard copy and DVD.
Before the debate before, a survey was taken at the University, asking the students who so vibrantly support and contribute to Guelph’s community what issues they would most like to see addressed by the candidates. The results returned exhibited a high concern for the transit systematic issues and the importance of maintaining Guelph’s green space.
All six candidates agreed that transit is an absolutely essential aspect of a city in which a large portion of the population is students who depend upon, and fund a significant portion of this public service.
Former Guelph Gryphon, Donovan emphasized with the students, saying he remembers the trails of primarily depending upon public transit and said that students should have to wait for two, three buses for an empty one. In addressing this issues Donovan suggested looking to outside sources, and contacting experts in this field to find efficient solutions,
In response to this issue, Mayor Farbidge offered how Guelph needs to honour the essential nature of a public service such as transit, and look to larger urban centre to see how we can learn, and then adapt to the ridership rates, which are steadily increasing each year.
"Over the past few years, the city of Guelph has spent 400000 on transit consultants, yet it is still an absolute disaster," says city councillor Gurthie. Many municipalities privitize shelters and then use the advertising revenue generated to their advantage, Gurthie concluded.
The second issue raised by students, voiced by the debate’s monitor Galen Fick was poised to the candidates through the question form of how will does one plan on balancing economic and population growth while maintaining and expanding Guelph’s green space?
Again, all candidates agreed that preserving and further growing upon Guelph’s designated green spaces is an essential aspect of this community which is so passionately committed to creating a environmentally conscious urban centre.
Candidate Jason Blokhuis voiced his support of sustainable development, proposing the idea that developers should be held responsible for planting five trees for every six which are destroyed in the process of development.
Karen Farbridge proudly reminded the crowd of how she has implemented a Natural Gertiage Strategy within Guelph, therefore protecting almost a quarter of lad from further development. "I will always resist annexation of land, in particular that which threatens to reduce park and farmland," Farbridge pledged.
Gurthie reminded the crowd of how he has fought for community gardens are trail systems during his four years as a city couciller, yet shot a subtle attack on Farbdieg saying it is entirely wrong to “destroy downtown businesses”, to further expand Guelph’s downtown green space.
Farbidge rebuttled in a timely manner, saying how in order to create a thriving and healthy downtown population, there needs to be easily accessible green space. "Downtown cores shift and change and we need to be able to adapt to that," Farbidge concluded.
Legere offered his ideals of cultivating a more active and populated downtown population, by removing the current height restriction to create affordable living spaces.
St Denis, the quirky candidate who has long boycotted wearing shoes in a demonstration against child labour practices enthuastiacally told the crowd how going barefoot is the best thing for health, but that he wasn’t going to pretend that he had all the answers . St Denis proposed contacting experts to make Guelph
The voting will take place on Monday, October 27 where any resident of Guelph can add their name to the voting list right up to the day of. Voters from any ward can vote at the Guelph City Hall, Stone Road Mall or Evergreen Seniors Community Centre on Election Day. For more information on any of the various candidates please visit the municipal website at vote.guelph.ca.