Maggie Laidlaw

Saturday, September 2, 2006

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

As one of the non-majority-bloc councillors, I am appalled at the steps backward that we have taken. We have downgraded our downtown, shelved the SmartGuelph process, increased the amount of future sprawl growth we will have, approved four big box-like commercial centres at the four corners of the city, and approved the site for a Wal-Mart mega-store. We have neglected our Department of Recreation and Parks, fired some of our best senior staff, let the post office be sold off to the county instead of making it the new library, done nothing with the Baker Street parking lot, spent $100,000 on a report that did nothing to help governance of the city, increased transit fares, and have increased taxes while lowering services. We have also closed our wet-dry recycling plant and are two years behind in looking at either retrofitting it or looking at a good made-in-Guelph alternative, and we have displayed a serious lack of respect for our heritage buildings. As the current mayor likes to say, we have been “open for business’ but closed to communities, public input and neighbourhoods. Much of the city’s business has been done behind closed doors where even some of council doesn’t know what is going on. As one of a minority of progressive councillors I am very frustrated at what has happened in the last 3 years.

2) Why did you decide to run for re-election?

Like former mayor Karen Farbridge, I want to help Guelph get “back on track”, and become the vibrant community it once was. We need to return to our position in the forefront of environmental stewardship, to pay attention to our neighbourhoods, to enhance alternative forms of transportation to the private automobile, and to revitalize our downtown. I would like to be a part of rebuilding our city’s reputation.

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?

Over my dead body! The rate of growth a city can sustainably maintain should be limited by the amount of local water available, Not the other way around, where a desired (and unsustainable) level of growth (by developers) causes a city to require a pipeline to sustain that growth.

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

I would like a slowdown of growth; a completely different form of planning that takes into account new urban designs for planned communities rather than urban sprawl, and encouragement for residential development in the downtown area.

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

Absolutely! I successfully prevented an increase in transit ticket prices during the last round of budget deliberations by bringing in a motion to maintain current prices, and the motion passed. I will continue to push for affordable prices for tickets and passes.

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

I bicycle commute to the university every day, winter and summer, and was one of the founders of BUGG, the Bicycle Users Group of Guelph that succeeded in getting the first bicycle lanes in Guelph. I will continue to lobby for more bike lanes throughout the city.

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

Think of what you value in a city, then go to the GCL website and see if they have the same values. They will help you with your selections of who gets your vote (see Q5 for more details).

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

Go to the CGL website and look at the record of the current councilors. If you live in Ward 1, don’t vote for Rocco Furfaro or Laura Baily. For Ward 2, don’t vote for Ray Ferraro or Dan Moziar, Ward 3, not Dan Schnurr, Ward 6 not Peter Hamtak and Christine Billings. I am a Ward 3 councilor, and hope that you will vote for me and June Hofland, if, like us, you believe in the values of the GCL. Most importantly, get out and vote! You can vote at the university or in your ward if you live off-campus, and if you haven’t registered to vote, bring ID and a piece of mail with your name and address on it to the polling station. Thanks!

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