Saturday, September 2, 2006
I would not be running for public office if I believed that council had been effective over the past three years; quite frankly the behaviour of some Councillors and their lack of respect for each other are one of the reasons that have compelled to act. Our elected officials must work together with city departments, the community, and other governments in an environment of respect, integrity, and mutual understanding in order to effectively manage this multi-million dollar corporation we call Guelph. When council cannot do this, we all lose.
My professional experience spans the full spectrum of business including private and non-profit corporations, entrepreneurial start-ups, community initiatives and grass roots organizations. I firmly believe in empowering people, the importance of communication and feedback and above all the concept of "principles before personalities".
2) Why did you decide to run?
One of my primary objectives for running in this year’s election is to restore the effectiveness of our City Council with respectful and professional leadership. I believe that professionalism isn't just a set of skills, abilities or even experience; rather it is a set of character strengths and values directed toward quality service to others through one’s work.
My education and training as a Landscape Architect give me a valuable perspective on urban planning and development issues while my business experience has taught me to seek out opportunities and explore new and creative solutions that make sense. In a nutshell, I think I can help our City Council do a better job.
3) The Guelph Civic League has highlighted four issues for the consideration of voting students. Please comment on the following:
a) What is your position on the proposed pipeline from Lake Erie to Guelph?
Drinking water is one of the most contentious issues facing Guelph today. One of the ‘visionary’ concepts put forward by Guelph City Council recently was the construction of a 150 km pipeline to pump dirty lake water, uphill from Lake Erie to Guelph. We are in a unique position in Ontario with the best water quality and supply in the province – local industry bottles and sells the water that comes out of our TAP.
The “pipeline” is not a viable or sustainable option to meet our future water needs, for the following reasons:
- Extremely high capital costs, treatment and operating costs
- Unsustainable energy consumption and expense to power the pumps
- Long-term damage to agricultural resources along the route
- Violation of the environmental principle of living within our resource capacity
- Recent political debate regarding the protection of the Great Lakes from proposed and existing water removal
- The limited capacity of the Speed River to accept additional sewage and the effect of increased waste water disposal on downstream communities.
- The encouragement of urban sprawl instead of “smart growth”
- Loss of local and public control of water
Guelph’s Water Supply Master Plan, identifies a number of alternatives to the pipeline concept that respect and preserve our existing water resources and meet the growing water needs of the city. By combining water conservation and smart growth strategies, a sustainable, local, long term water supply is possible.
b) How will you address issues of development in the city and what is your plan for the continued growth of Guelph?
When I moved from Brampton in the late eighties to start a business and raise a family, I chose Guelph because it was a vibrant community; it had character, and seemed the ideal place to raise children. In many ways, Guelph is still a great place to start a business and raise a family, however, more and more it is becoming just like Brampton, Mississauga or any other city that takes a “cookie cutter” approach to community planning.
We are on the cusp of a new era – we can either become the envy of other cities and towns or be filled with the same problems they have. SmartGuelph paved the way for community involvement in decision-making while the Places to Grow Act provide a provincial vision (and incentives) to manage how we develop our city.
I believe that we can manage our growth if we take a proactive, long range perspective in our City planning, build upon the solid foundation we have and learn from the mistakes and successes of other communities.
c) If you are elected to council do you intend to lend your support to the continuation of the student bus pass?
The University student bus pass agreement provides valuable income and cash flow for the City transit system while providing an affordable, inclusive and important service for the students of the University. I would like to explore the feasibility of extending this type of arrangement to the local school boards in an effort to increase transit ridership, improve the cost effectiveness of the transit service and encourage an entire generation to adopt public transportation.
d) The GCL is concerned about the size and number of bike lanes on Guelph roads, will you push for greater bike access? (350 words)
I originally moved to this city to open “The Bicycle Garage” in downtown Guelph. I am an avid cyclist. Having had the good graces to survive being hit by a car while cycling in Guelph, I share the GCL concerns for safe and effective bicycle traffic planning in Guelph.
4) Is there another issue(s) that you think voters should be aware of when considering their choices at the ballet box?
At this point in the election we are all aware of the problems and challenges Guelph is facing. Rather than a shopping list of deficiencies I would like to express my vision for this City. I think what it is important for everyone to know about me is that my wife and I CHOSE to live in Guelph. When we moved from our home in Brampton we could have moved anywhere – we didn’t have to move here, we CHOSE to move to Guelph, as a place to launch our business and a place to start our family.
We believe that Guelph is a great place to raise a family and it is good place to start a business and that we must protect these qualities. The Key is planning and community involvement. It is through communication and long range planning that we can avoid things like the destruction of the Mitchell farmhouse, the costly Wal-Mart battle, or the loss of the Old Post office as an opportunity for downtown revitalisation.
We are competing against highly efficient and well-marketed regional economic development initiatives around the globe. If we don’t step up to the plate with a coordinated business development strategy, our city is destined to struggle in the years ahead. Guelph must provide a fertile environment for the development of sustainable, profitable and long term industry in our city.
‘Quality of Life’ is a term that gets thrown around quite a lot during an election. I personally believe that it should be the ultimate vision for our elected officials and the final guiding principle for decisions at City Hall. What the voters are telling me is that they are looking for leadership with integrity, open-mindedness and willingness to work together to get the job done.
5) What’s you final message to U of G students?
I am one of the few candidates running in this year’s election who has attended the University of Guelph (graduated 2003 as a mature student). I believe that this provides me with a unique perspective with regard to student issues such as affordable housing, transportation, and quality of life issues as they relate to being a student in this city.
For more information please visit my website