As a small business owner, everyday brings me the opportunity to meet with many different members of our beloved community. I enjoy getting to know and having a healthy conversation on issues that matter to people and how it is impacting them and their families.
(This page is continuously updated)
My priority is to advocate and support affordable housing projects and finding alternative ways to build, without increasing property taxes. We need to put Guelph and future residents first. We must think growing sustainably and with greener measures if our population is to hit 208,00 in the future. We need to have affordable housing projects instead of building homes that have become increasingly unaffordable.
Housing affordability is one of the key issues that is affecting everyone, this also includes raising rents and property taxes. With the end of exclusionary zoning, where only a parcel of land can be zoned for one purpose, now can be zoned for multiple purposes. Newer develop can now include different purpose dwellings like residential, offices, or commercial spaces. Not only that but this zoning allows for easy changes between all three forms. A commercial that might have closed down, can switched to an office or an office becoming a residential dwelling. Not only that but flexibility and potential tax revenue associated with mixed zone development provides greater tax revenue (watch this small case study done by Not Just Bikes (from 2:36-5:30)). We should really be focussing on the building and expanding on the existing infrastructure we have, rather than continuously building newer zones which in the long run will cost money to maintain to its purpose. A good example in the city if mixed development is the apartments on Woolwich and Macdonell where spaces have been allocated to commercial, offices and residential dwellings; a key focus on intensification.
Moreover, with many new projects coming to Guelph it is important to note all the overall cost of ownership for that home. Recent construction on apartment buildings and their maintenance fees have become astronomically high. This includes a mortgage payment and the monthly maintenance fees associated for living the unit; current monthly maintenance fees are anywhere from $400-$800+, which is just unaffordable. We need to introduce monthly maximum maintenance fees on apartments, and encourage builders through policies to go beyond the minimum requirements of building.
We need to prioritize projects that are most needed and are affordable for everyone. Projects in the city need to follow a strict deadline for when it needs to be completed, otherwise the continuous cost of delays will continue to increase and place burden on the taxpayer. Therefore, developing accountability in funding these projects will inspire trust and reliability where tax dollars are spent. Our development must be sustainable to support the needs of current and future residents. We need to have affordable housing projects instead of building homes that are increasingly becoming unaffordable.
My focus is building reliable and affordable public transportation that encourages Guelph residents to use public transportation. Let’s think outside of the box and the see the biggest reasons why!
Guelph is a growing city, and it is very important to continuously improve our transit network. Many community members use public transportation for their commutes to work and to run errands around the city. Public transportation needs to be affordable for everyone and easily accessible for those that cannot drive. Essentially, investing in public transportation increases equity and affordability. According to the Transit Action Alliance of Guelph “around 20-40% of Guelphites do not own or have access to car because of their age, income or ability, or choose not to drive”. Furthermore, increasing public transportation gives easier access to many city amenities, eases getting to work or makes it easier to do errands around the city.
Moreover, we must consider that Guelph and many other surrounding areas have seen considerable growth in population eg international students, refugees or newcomers. Car accessibility is challenge for these people. Rather, they rely on public transportation. Having access to public transportation not only increases equity, but it becomes an affordable option for those that need to get around the city.
Ward 4, includes the industrial belt and for many in Guelph and KWC work in the area. Having regional integration between Guelph and KWC is crucial to reduce congestion on Highway 7 and Industrial Area, and its environmental impacts. Transit needs to be reliable, efficient and convenient.
Increased reliability, efficiency, and convenience can help with reducing carbon footprint and tackle climate change. If transit comes at better times and provides a faster alternative, then people would be more inclined to take transit. However, transit reliability needs to prioritise so that people can plan their trips without needing to seek out other methods ie cars. Hence making changes will be needed such as planning out more frequent stops, introducing bus lanes and lights that allow a bus to go first at an intersection. Public transportation needs to become reliable in Guelph. Lastly, to improve public transit we also need to have bus shelters along these routes to protect riders from the weather.
Road safety is another issue for all of us, particularly for pedestrian, kids, & bikes. We need to develop much safer zone for those choosing alternate modes of transportation. I will be your voice on Road & Streets safety, here my biggest concerns on Road Safety.
As we are growing, it also means that we are seeing a large increase in everyday traffic and large increase in commercial vehicles. This should tell us we need to start reconsidering our roads in Ward 4. Ward 4, has seen a large increase in car and commercial vehicle traffic due to many new developments. We should be thinking about alternative modes of transports when building new developments.
While canvassing, I met with many Ward 4 residents and many raised their concerns on speed control, children safety, cycling, and walking. Speeding needs to be addressed in many neighbourhoods, this could be through narrowing the lane, providing proper lane marking, and adding speed bumps with raised pedestrian crossing (requiring a driver to slow down and pay attention). Additionally, all residential streets should be required to have bike lanes and sidewalks (both sides). As such we should remember that residential streets are a place of destination, home, and a safe place for many. Improving roads and changing the way it is designed helps with enhancing safety.
Ward 4 needs to reflect on current development and ask how we can make increase bikeable and walkable access to parks, recreational facilities, commercial areas, and residential areas. Guelph needs to shift away from its car centric approach in development and figure out how to prioritize other modes of transportation first. The goal is not to get rid cars but provide options for those that do not have a car to use another method of getting around the city.
Mental Health & Wellness
The current needs for mental health and wellness are not being met. During, the pandemic people have faced issues related to their mental health and their well being. I have lived in this Ward for the last 18 years, and am disappointed in the fact that we do not have proper access to mental health and medical services. We have to go to other ends of the city to meet these needs. We need to have closer and easier access to these services as they are being more important for kids, adults and seniors. I will advocate on the bringing easier access to these services and constantly push for services that prioritize mental health and well being of people. See my blog regarding Westwood Pharmacy.
Communication & Transperancy
While door knocking, I have seen many different responses. Some are angry, some are upset & others did not want to talk. People have expressed their main concern of not being informed about what is going in the Ward. I want to improve this barrier by creating better transparency & communication between Councillors and their constituents. I want to be the change for Ward 4 as voting means change.
Being experienced in having many healthy discussions with local community members connecting with them is key in understanding their concerns. Door knocking, social media & hosting town hall meetings will improve the communication & transparency barrier that currently exists.
No one is born homeless, together let’s create a home for those homeless where they are not left alone or homeless. With the onset of the pandemic, Guelph has seen an increase in the number of homeless people.
Homelessness usually means to have a person that doesn’t have a fixed address, but instead it is more than that. Homelessness means a person not knowing where they will be sleeping, determining how to spend the money someone gave them, being forgotten or being lonely, or if their backpack or bag is where they left or dealing with mental health issues. Being homeless in Guelph should not come with being constantly anxious about many things.
Throughout the pandemic, I have collaborated with many charities through meal donations, and noticed the lack of funding and social support to those that are homeless. If people are treated like people, then it makes them feel like valued members of society. The first step is to provide a place or housing that creates a sense of stability and control.
The City needs to invest in mental health, addiction prevention, and social housing to combat the issue of homelessness. If all three services are funded then long term would hold benefits. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), addresses the homelessness problem in Colorado through transitional housing and permanent supportive housing. This approach is known as the Housing First method. The results of this program have benefited many such as “43% of participants having better mental health, and 50% had better health conditions” (Figure reference). Link to results. This will provide ways for people to improve themselves through stability and recover safely knowing their future will change.
Tourism & Festivals
Guelph is beautiful city, with many things to offer for those visiting. We recently rated #8 as one of the Canada's best small city (Best Cities 2022)
(More update coming soon)