Karen Farbridge

Saturday, September 2, 2006

1) What is your opinion of the job that council’s done over the past three years?

Over the past three years this Council has consistently been unable to work together for the benefit of the entire city. They have abandoned long-established best practices with regards to financial management and consistently micro-managed City staff. Decisions are being made behind closed doors, driven by petty politics and personal agendas. Long-term financial planning is non-existent. Partnerships with the county and the province are damaged. Citizens are not encouraged to express their opinions. This Council is dysfunctional. Their consultant said so, although Council chose to ignore his report. This inability to work together in order to build a sustainable future for Guelph, is costing us all.

Growth is being allowed to occur at a rate that we can’t afford. Important tools and strategies to keep growth in line with our ability to pay for it have been cast aside by this term of Council. We are planning the next 25 years using discredited planning models that have succeeded only in ripping out the hearts of other communities. Guelph has a reputation for being a difficult city to do business with. While other communities are successful in attracting new business, Guelph’s industrial tax base has fallen to its lowest level in its history. Heritage buildings have been threatened. Our natural environment and parks are not being protected. We are not planning for the social and community health needs of our community as our city grows and our population ages.

We have gone from being leaders to losers in waste management and we have abandoned our commitment to excellence in managing our environmental systems. Guelph has fallen off track.

2) Why did you decide to run?

Over the last few years, I have watched good planning decisions be overturned in favour of special interests. Many citizens have expressed serious concerns about the state of our city. I could no longer bear to see the community that I have chosen to make my home continue down the path it was headed with this Council.

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?

I do not support the proposed pipeline from Lake Erie to Guelph. Least cost and local – these are the principles that should guide how we address our future water needs. It is wrong to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a pipeline when there are low cost, effective ways to get more out of our existing water system. I will ensure funding is returned to water conservation and efficiency projects.

We have the purest water in the country. We need to protect it. I will not trade our local water for lake water. I will repair our relationship with our neighbours so we can work together to harness new local water supplies. Water won’t be the only thing to go down the drain if we open the taps to a pipeline. A pipeline would be an admission that we have squandered this natural inheritance. We will be passing a degraded legacy to our grandchildren.

b) How will you address issues of development in the city and what is your plan for the continued growth of Guelph?

Guelph is located in one of the fastest growing areas in the province. We need to manage this growth to ensure that we can meet the economic, social and environmental needs of our community.

In Guelph, taxpayers are footing the bill for our rapid rate of growth. Taxes have increased more in the past three years than ever before. Growth is being approved at a rate faster than we can afford. New residential developments do not pay for themselves. Growth does not pay for itself. As a consequence, planning for many essential projects is happening too slowly or not at all. Funds to repair aging infrastructure are being redirected to meet the demands of growth. And Guelph is not able to provide the services our community needs – especially to our newest neighbourhoods.

I do not oppose growth. I oppose poor planning for growth.

I will insist on long-term financial planning which measures the impact of growth on taxes so we can work to get the cost of growth off the backs of taxpayers. I will work to make growth pay for itself so we have the resources to build a prosperous, well-maintained and vibrant community for everyone. If we don’t take these essential steps, we will continue to see Guelph’s taxpayers take the hit for uncontrolled development. I will ensure that growth pays for itself, improves our quality of life, pays attention to energy and community health concerns, and maintains Guelph as a city that others envy. When it comes to managing growth, I will Put Guelph Back on Track.

c) If you are elected to council do you intend to lend your support to the continuation of the student bus pass?

During my past tenure on City Council, I was proud to support the successful bus pass system used by University of Guelph students. I will continue to do so. In fact, I also support Guelph Transit building on the success of the University of Guelph bus pass to establish similar fare arrangements with University staff, other institutions and private sector employees.

Many students rely on our transit service. I support extending the hours of our Sunday service, moving away from the downtown radial system to a grid system and increasing service frequency. I am also an advocate of enhanced regional transit service, which will help students traveling from other communities to study in Guelph.

d) The GCL is concerned about the size and number of bike lanes on Guelph roads, will you push for greater bike access?

I don’t need 350 words to answer this question. My answer is yes!

4) Is there another issue(s) that you think voters should be aware of when considering their choices at the ballet box?

Under Kate Quarrie’s watch, we have gone from being a leader in waste management to being a loser. Our internationally-acclaimed Wet-Dry system has been thrown into crisis through neglect and bad planning. The short-sighted decision of this Council and Mayor to adequately plan for the future has been costly and embarrassing. I will put our waste management system back on track. I will restore our composting system. I will continue to look for practical, cost-effective improvements in the way we manage our waste.

5) What’s you final message to U of G students?

Students bring creativity and vitality to our community. They volunteer extensively with organizations like Big Sisters and the United Way. They have launched many successful community events, most recently Guelph Reads. They generate significant economic activity in the city. Students have introduced new and better ways to run our City and enhance our quality of life through innovative partnerships between the City of Guelph and University faculties.

Students and the University of Guelph have much to offer our community. A healthy and active relationship will ensure the community enjoys the best that this publicly-funded institution has to offer. I graduated from the University of Guelph and spent 10 years working for a student-run organization based on campus. I have taught at the University for the last three years. I spoke on campus frequently during my Mayoral term and will continue to do so when re-elected. I know the issues that concern students, the University and the City.

Many of the unique partnerships between the City and the University have fallen by the wayside. I would reinstate and build upon these partnership opportunities to capture the innovation and enthusiasm of students for the benefit of the Guelph community. It is well known that many U of G students remain in the city once they graduate. That’s why it’s important that they be involved in what goes on in Guelph. It’s your future. Any decisions made about this city must include active input from our student population.

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