Saturday, September 2, 2006
The relationship of Mayor Quarrie and the councilors has been stressful on the corporation of the City of Guelph’s staff and to the public that elected them. It is important to note that Mayor Quarrie had no experience in chairing any committee of any kind, which was not helpful to council as a whole. It is very important that a relationship be established [between the Mayor and Council], which did not happen.
They were so interested in their own personal agendas that the purpose they were to fulfill got lost creating a “Do-Nothing” Council. They did not appear to trust the CAO or the management staff of the corporation, so Councilor Ray Ferraro took it upon himself to negotiate the services of George Cuff & Associates to look into the administration and governance of the city. He took his proposal to council and being reluctant to go through the tendering process, council approved spending $100,000 on the Cuff report, which noted that council was dysfunctional. But the new CAO took the corrective action by eliminating five management positions and saving approximately $1 million.
2) Why did you decide to run?
I decided to run for Mayor because the present leadership created a dysfunctional council. With my experience of 12 years (1980-1992) as Chair of different missions, I feel I can provide the leadership required to bring the corporation into the 21st century instead of the 19th century. Former Mayors promised transparency, accountability and financial responsibility. The taxpayers did not receive this. Under my leadership, the taxpayers will get transparency, accountability and financial restraint.
Expenditures have been excessive under previous leaders creating unnecessary debt. Closing the deal to pay Nustadia’s debt of $10 million for the Entertainment Centre was a bad deal from the beginning; we were the ones that ended up paying off the debt. A decision was made not to buy the post office and now we’re paying $2.7 million for renovations to a building we don’t own. Funds of $4.5 million were wasted on the wet organic plan, now closed due to being built improperly and now we are the laughing stock in Ontario and not a leader in waste management.
We obviously “lack” the communication of public input in the decision-making process. A city built on communication allows the city to work for you – the taxpayer. I’m committed to this change. My champion is “open local government,” that means more public input in the decision making process. We will advertise the agendas of council meetings and committee meetings. We will create funding for town hall meetings in every ward. You as a voting citizen will see the “open local government” you’ve never had under Kate Quarrie or Karen Farbridge.
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?
The Joint Great Lake Commission in Ottawa and Washington will forbid, indefinitely, the extraction of water from the Great Lake through a pipeline. The city of Chicago wanted to divert water from Lake Michigan into the Calumet River canal and this was forbidden by an international commission. Therefore, there would not be a pipeline to Lake Erie that would cost millions of dollars which is definitely a real waste of taxpayer dollars.
b) How will you address issues of development in the city and what is your plan for the continued growth of Guelph?
We will manage growth by controlling the number of lots to be developed in subdivisions throughout the city. We will incorporate the city’s official plan, council’s strategic plan, and the master plan with the principles of Smart Guelph. The urban planning subdivisions will have to include transit, medical clinics, and retail conveniences into a walkable community.
c) If you are elected to council do you intend to lend your support to the continuation of the student bus pass?
It is my understanding that the student bus pass could continue if the monies from the University pay for the two month discount from the normal rate of regular users pay for the transit pass. So far, I can support it as it stands.
d) The GCL is concerned about the size and number of bike lanes on Guelph roads, will you push for greater bike access?
When these bike lanes were originally raised, they were to access bike trails. At present it appears these bike lanes are not wide enough to provide safety to bikers or transit to pick up passengers on the same side of the road. I do have my concerns about these bike lanes in regard to your safety. It will be a priority of council if I am elected.
4) Is there another issue(s) that you think voters should be aware of when considering their choices at the ballet box?
I believe we need to have a terrorist plan to protect our residents from any harm. And I think council should pass a by-law to stop the panhandlers downtown. And we also need a by-law for loitering downtown and both of these by-laws need to be enforced.
Further, the voters need to know that Mayor Quarrie wants to move buses to Carden Street and out of the downtown core. This project is an inter-city transit terminal using the VIA Rail building as a ticket station for Greyhound, GO buses and trains, Grand River Transit, City Buses and Mobility vans. This project will have to take apart the whole block (Carden St., part of Wyndham and part of Macdonell) and this could cost taxpayers approximently $100 million. It is my understanding that Mayor Quarrie does not want this project to be a campaign issue. A project like this could hurt the small businesses, residents and the hotel. This project needs a lot more work on the drawing board and its target date needs to be set back further than 2009, to 2015 instead.
5) What’s you final message to U of G students?
It is wonderful that the students want to be involved in understanding municipal election issues, but please keep in mind that you may not get all that you want to achieve being students who have issues. I certainly will, as Mayor, work with the CSA. Most importantly, you students should be pushing to educate the students who are partying on campus and causing a lot of problems for the good students who are here to learn and achieve their dreams of the future. I believe it takes the undergraduates to educate the freshmen on campus the ‘accountability’ scheme. Thank you all for your interest and hopefully we, you and I as Mayor, can make so changes together.