Q. Did you support the Civic Administration Complex?
A. No. It is an $80-90 million extravagant expenditure that every single year will be about $1.5 million more than our current leasing costs.
Q. Whatever happened with Subbor?
A. Subbor was dump locked by the last term of Council, which meant they could no longer operate. The resulting $32 million lawsuit against the City has already cost the taxpayer about $5 million in legal fees and the judge has not yet announced a decision.
Q. Why should my taxes pay for the parking garage downtown?
A. No, your taxes will not be used to pay for the downtown parking garage. It will be paid for by parking permits and fees so only those who park in the downtown area will contribute.
Q. What really happened at the Wet plant and why was it closed?
A. The unanimous decision to close the Wet plant was when Council learned of ongoing Ministry of the Environment concerns over odour issues. We did not let the plant deteriorate or cut funding from it. The closure had nothing to do with a corroded roof as Council had already planned a replacement. Anyone proposing to spend millions of dollars on the plant at this point in time will only be wasting your tax dollars.
Q. If the City increased taxes by 4.7% this year, why did mine increase more and did you support this?
A. No I didn’t support the tax increase. The extra tax hike was due to a property reassessment by Provincially regulated MPAC. Because assessment in the South End went up more than average, your tax increase was higher. Given that assessments in the South End are higher than similar properties elsewhere in the City we have to pay more property tax. This method of calculating tax upsets me as well.
Q. Why is it so difficult and onerous to get rid of yard waste at the Wet/Dry plant?
A. I agree, it was onerous for homeowners. The changes were ordered by the Ministry of the Environment and the City had to comply. This is one reason why I asked for the review and am supportive of improved yard waste collection for the spring of 2007.
Q. Is growth as rampant as we are lead to believe?
A. We have reduced the number of approvals for new homes this term of Council and the growth rate has declined. Population growth in the last two years was 1.5% compared to an average of 2.2% last term of Council.
Q. What are your top three (3) prorities for moving business forward in Guelph?
A.1 – Need a readily available supply of serviced land with all approvals in place. Accelerate government processes and reduce red tape.
2 – Keep taxes competitive and provide long-term stability in water supply and waste management.
3 –Market and promote available lands and the City. Use partnerships to sell Guelph as an attractive city to work and live in (eg Partner with high profile organizations such as Canada’s Technology Triangle), advertise in trade publications and attend trade shows to increase exposure.
Q. Are you concerned that the current residential assessment is 84% of the total assessment? Yes or No? What specific strategies and tactics will you employ to address this imbalance in the short-term and in the long-term?
Short term – We already approved the Commercial Policy and the Hanlon Creek Business Park is close to being approved. We now need to improve and streamline approval processes.
Long term – We always need to plan ahead so we don’t run out of Employment lands. We must remain competitive in taxes and services. We must build on our retention and attraction program.
Q. What specific actions would you take to create cohesiveness and direction to the operation of the City and Coucil?
A. 1 - Demand that staff present complete reports with viable options so decisions are based on all the facts to avoid political bias.
2 – Meetings shouldn’t engage in political and personal bickering and decisions shouldn’t be taken personally.
Q. Shipping Guelph's waste to St. Thomas and our compostable waste to Niagra Fallsm NY or Hamilton is not viable long-term. How would you address the current situation?
A. We are conducting the Waste Management Strategic Plan that will be completed in 18-24 months.
We must look at proven options that consider the social environmental and economic impacts.
We need to review options for regional solutions because waste management is extremely expensive.
Q. There are huge infrastructure replacement needs in the older areas of Guelph. Waht would you do to ensure that there will be adequate funding available to proactively deal with these infrastructure replacements?
A. We have approved and funded (including hydro dividends) an infrastructure plan.
We must be dilegent in the next term to execute and extend the program.
We must get our priorities in place so we have funds for infrastructure. This includes critical review of projects to avoid expensive mistakes that don't provide any value to the taxpayer.
We must direct Federal and Provincial funding such as the gas tax, to infrastructure, where allowed.
Q. Do you live in Ward 6?
Q. If yes, how long?
A. 10 years
Q. How long have you lived in the City of Guelph?
A. Over 20 years
Q. What attributes and experience do you believe constituents are looking for in their council members?
A. I believe that Council members should have the following attributes and experience. They should be honest, hard working and listen to their constituents’ concerns. They must truly care about your community, use common sense, understand ramifications of decisions and have genuine concern to do the right thing, and make the right decisions based on facts. They must be able to understand complex issues, be intuitive and not be afraid to challenge the status quo and question staff reports. Business experience is an asset and it has guided me in understanding issues and implications of decisions.
Q. Briefly state your own vision for Ward 6 and overall vision for the City of Guelph.
A. My vision for Ward 6 includes keeping taxes reasonable and ensuring that municipal services are effectively and efficiently provided. My vision for Ward 6 includes more shopping choices, better emergency response times and a recreation centre in the south end of Guelph. These are goals that I set for the next term of Council.
My vision for Guelph is:
- Well planned growth where we preserve the fundamental character of our neighborhood and respect the natural resources.
- Safe communities where people are proud to live, work and shop.
- A city where young families can grow and prosper.
- Healthy industries that provide job opportunities and a great tax base.
- A community that is affordable.
Q. If elected, do you intend to solicit community input into your decision-making process as a Ward 6 Councillor? How?
A. Absolutely. I’ve always been available to listen (519-826-0567). Given how the Ward has grown, there are now more neighbourhood groups and I will work closely with them to identify and resolve issues. If a neighbourhood group wants a town hall meeting, I would be more than happy to arrange and facilitate one.
Q. Please indicate the City of Guelph public meetings, open houses, and workshops which you attended and at which you provided input (either written or oral or both) in the last 3 years (e.g. Transportation Master Plan, Commercial Policy Review, Guelph- Puslinch Groundwater Protection Study, Traffic Calming, Waterworks open house, Water Supply Master Plan, Permissive Truck Route, etc.).
A. I have attended many meetings, open houses and workshops. My role as a Councillor is to observe, listen, ask questions for clarification and seek additional information. When an issue comes to Committee and Council, my role is to be unbiased and to fully consider staff reports, public input, including written submissions, and the implications of the decision and my vote. Committee and Council meetings dealing with these topics are public meetings.
Q. The Council mandated average Emergency Services (EMS) Response time for fire and ambulance is 4 minutes. Areas of Ward 6 do not meet this time. What solutions do you propose to remedy this situation and how do you plan to accomplish this?
A. Councillor Hamtak and I worked on this initiative and advanced the Ward 6 Fire Hall in the capital budget from 2009 to 2007 to respond to this concern. The site search is underway to acquire a multi-use facility which would include fire, ambulance and police in the south end of Guelph. This will provide local emergency service presence and dramatically improve response times.
Growth in Guelph and Property Taxes:
Q. Do you support the Provincial Places to grow mandated rate of growth for Guelph? Elaborate briefly.
A. I don’t support the Provinces mandated rate of growth. Guelph is undertaking a growth strategy and will be presenting a growth rate to the province that fits in with the City’s vision for growth and its water and sewage resources. I support this approach.
Q. How do you believe the already approved growth will impact the city and specifically Ward 6 residents?
A. The City has recently approved a new grocery store and library at Clair and Gordon, the Salvation Army Church, new schools and new retirement residential development. Ward 6 development is creating the neighbourhood services to complete the south end residential neighbourhoods. Now that the growth has happened, the services can, and will be efficiently and effectively provided.
Q. Do you support Places to Grow infill intensification? What types of intensification would you support for Ward 6? Briefly elaborate.
A. Yes, intensification that maintains the residential character of the existing neighbourhoods should be encouraged.
Q. Do you support the preservation of heritage buildings and landscapes in Ward 6 and elsewhere (e.g., Loretto Convent, etc) in the city? Please explain how you intend to preserve heritage buildings and landscapes.
A. Yes, I supported the preservation of the heritage farmhouse located on Gordon Street. The recent Hanlon Creek Business Park included the preservation of a heritage farm house located on City owned lands. The Heritage Act has been changed to make it easier for municipal Councils to preserve heritage structures.
Q. Property taxes have gone up 16% in the last three years. In your opinion why has this happened?
A. Last term of Council voted to dump lock SUBBOR and prematurely closed our landfill. The SUBBOR decision cost almost $5 million and the taxpayer received nothing in return. These two bad decisions alone accounted for almost half of the 16% you mention. The last term of Council should have seriously considered the ramifications of decisions like these before they made them.
Q. What do you propose to do to prevent increases in property taxes? How do you plan to accomplish your proposal and why?
A. Council decisions have a profound impact on the taxes by Guelph residents. Council must understand the financial implications of their decisions with an emphasis on providing basic municipal services. We must budget and prioritize wisely and be fully aware of the financial impact and consequences of your vote.
Q. Do you believe that growth pays for itself? Briefly elaborate.
A. The Development Charges Act does not permit a municipality to charge for all the costs of growth. Development charges do not cover the full cost of some projects. I have asked for a review of the financial and economic impact of growth and it will be coming to committee in the next term of Council (The CN Watson presentation did not use any Guelph data).
Q. Do you believe that Guelph development charges should be raised in order to recoup the costs of growth? Briefly explain.
A. That would be illegal. Municipalities are lobbying the Provincial government to change the Act so that all the costs of growth can be charged to development. The City does make agreements with developers to pay costs above and beyond development charges.
Q. The ratio of residential to industrial/commercial new building permits is out of balance. Please explain how you would remedy this situation?
A. Council has already begun to remedy this situation. The Commercial Policy Review was approved creating new retail areas; the City has also approved the Hanlon Creek Business Park which will bring employment lands on stream in the City.
Q. What suggestions do you have to bring new industry and businesses to Guelph? What types of new industrial/commercial businesses would you like to locate in Guelph and in the industrial and commercial areas of Ward 6?
A. The City has strength in the agri-food sector related to the University of Guelph which should be built upon. A major factor to attract employers is to have a supply of ready land which has been achieved. Long term costs such taxes are important factors for industries deciding where to locate. A municipality should create the environment to welcome industries. A safe city with good schools and a good labour force will attract industry.
Water and Wastewater and Waste Services
Q. How do you believe the proposed Clean Water Act will impact Guelph? Briefly explain.
A. Guelph has always had to be very conscious of its groundwater. The Clean Water Act will help the City protect this important resource. The City has committed approximately $30 million to comply with this Act.
Q. The province has identified that planning should be done on a watershed basis. How many watersheds in Ward 6 have no (completed) watershed plan?
Q.Of the (number of) watershed plans, how many have City Council implemented in full?
A. I believe it is only one, the Mill Creek Watershed that hasn’t had a completed plan. Some of the monitoring recommendations for the watersheds have not been completed.
Q. Briefly outline how you as a councilor will ensure that future planning will follow provincial guidelines? If you don’t support these planning principles indicate why and how you would proceed
A. The Provincial Policy Statements indicate that planning since 2005 must be consistent with these policies. Reviews of all development applications are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement and reports from staff and questions to staff, confirm, and clearly indicate that Provincial Policy is being followed. In addition, the GRCA reviews applications in this context. We continue to lobby the Province to change the Development Charges Act to allow us to collect funds to pay for monitoring and I will continue these efforts.
Q. Do you support all the options in the draft 50 Year Water Master Plan (WSMP)? Explain briefly.
A. No. I do not support the pipeline because it is extremely costly and we have a quality water supply that we can rely on if we plan properly.
Q. If elected will you support the WSMP recommended water conservation funding and implementation?
A. Yes. Council has already done this.
Q. What are the implications for growth because of limited capacity at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and in the Speed River?
A. Growth must meet the approved capacity of the sewage treatment plant and the assimilative capacity of the Speed River. We can expand the sewage treatment plant. Once the assimilative capacity of the speed river is reached, growth would cease.
Q. What future options do you support for Guelph’s waste? Briefly elaborate.
A. We have a Waste Management Master Plan in progress. We will be looking at all options, including composting and energy from waste options. We will look at the social, environmental and economic impacts.
Q. What do you see as the problems, if any, with the existing 3 bag system? What alternatives and solutions would you recommend and why?
The Waste Management Master Plan, which is underway, will evaluate the options, the cost and environmental impacts of the choices. Any review of the 3 bag stream would only come after we complete the Master Plan.
Q. The City of Guelph has been developing a Natural Heritage Strategy and stronger Tree by Law. To date neither has been brought before our current City Council. If elected what are your goals and priorities for the protection of Natural Heritage in the City of Guelph and Ward 6 in particular?
A. Development applications which are brought before Council for consideration include a requirement for tree saving as a condition of approval. City staff have completed the first phase of the Natural Heritage Strategy. My priority and goals are to incorporate the Natural Heritage Strategy into the Official Plan when we do the comprehensive review.
Quality of Life and Social Services:
Q. If elected will you support a new senior’s centre for South Guelph? If yes, what time frame would you support for building it and how would you accomplish this? If no, why?
A. Yes. I would like to see it incorporated into the South End Recreation Center. I would accomplish this by identifying it and moving it forward in the capital budget.
Q. If elected, what is your opinion on how soon the city should build a South End Recreation centre?
A. I would like to see it as soon as possible. The planning process and funding will take some time. Partnering with groups such as the seniors may help us advance the building of this facility.
Q. If elected what programs and activities do you support for the youth in Ward 6?
A. The City Community Services Department provides many youth programs and activities including swimming, dance, crafts, skating etc. I supported the new indoor soccer dome on College Avenue.
Q. If elected will you support a permanent skateboard park for Ward 6 (or somewhere else in the City of Guelph)?
A. We currently have the traveling mobile skateboard park that has been very well received. There are currently plans to build permanent facilities and I will support this in the right location. A great location would be the South End Recreation Centre.
Q. If elected do you support the current City of Guelph leash free areas in Ward 6? What changes, if any, would you make to the current policy?
A. This went through an extensive public process and I have had no calls or concerns in the past three years regarding this.
Q. Do you believe that the existing stock of subsidized/affordable housing is adequate in Ward 6 and in the City of Guelph? If you believe that it is inadequate what is your opinion on how and where more units should be located?
A. There is a waiting list for subsidized housing. The last Federal/Provincial/Municipal program constructed nearly 100 units in the City and the next round of the program is currently underway. Wellington County is the Service Manager for this and will be constructing 55 units of tenant supportive housing. A new aspect of the program will provide support for 56 home ownership units. There are many sites throughout the city that are appropriately zoned for this housing. Any application for a zone change that would be required for a new site would be dealt with on a case by case basis and I fully consider staff recommendation and public input on planning matters.
Q. Do you support the current ward system? If your answer is no, what is your suggested alternative and why?
A. I can see the advantage of a hybrid system with one ward representative and at large members mostly because it allows people to have more say and vote for more positions on Council than 3. This question is for the constituents to answer which is why the question has been put on the ballot.
Q. Please indicate your position on a pesticide ban and the pesticide by-law.
A. The City has not use pesticides in parks and on boulevards for over 5 years. Staff have been working on a pesticide bylaw and will be bringing it forward in early 2007. It will be comprehensive, including education and control. I will support regulating pesticides and using them as a last resort, in conjunction with Integrated Pest Management.
Q. If elected what solutions would you propose to deal with vandalism in neighbourhoods?
A. The construction of a multiuse fire, police and ambulance facility in Ward 6 will provide a local presence for emergency services. We do need citizens to be active participants and keep an eye on suspicious activity, neighbourhood watches and patrols.
Q. Do you support the police union’s request for more frontline officers? Briefly explain.
A. The police have added 25 staff and the budget increased by 35% in the past 3 years. The budget put forward by the Chief and the Police Services Board will add 5 more officers in 2007. The Chief and the Police Services board are in the best position to determine the needs of Police Services. About 20% of the calls for police are for the entire area South of Waterloo Ave.
Q. If elected what are your priorities for traffic management in Ward 6 neighbourhoods?
A. I worked hard and made significant changes to the Transportation Master Plan to reduce serious impacts on Ward 6 roads such as Downey, Woodland Glen, Kortright, and to reduce cut-through traffic. I will continue to review traffic issues and affect changes such as those implemented on Edinburgh, Clair and Gordon.
Q. Do you support traffic calming on all types of streets? Briefly explain.
A. I supported the traffic calming and stop signs added to Teal Drive in the Kortright Hills Community.
Q. Do you support community safety zones? Briefly explain.
A. Yes, I’m supportive. However, Community Safety Zones, like maximum speed limits only work with enforcement to be effective.
Q. Do you support lower speed limits in school zones? Briefly explain.
A. Yes. Staff have been directed to review this in consultation with the Guelph Police Services and will come back with a recommendation.
Q. Guelph is still under serviced with doctors. What are your ideas for bringing more MD’s to Guelph?
A. I will be supporting the enhanced recruitment program coming forward for approval. This is the best way to have a focused and effective recruitment program that sells Guelph as a great place to practice, close to several medical universities and great amenities. I have supported applications that provided additional office space that can be used for medical practitioners.