The Dream Team
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Without further ado…The Team:
The defining moment of this council wasn’t the overwhelming endorsement of pro-development candidates in 2003’s election or when the Jesuits laid down arms against 6&7 Development this past summer. No, the defining moment was in a council session in 2005 when Mayor Quarrie, with a motion on the floor, abruptly ended debate with little regard for protocol or common decency for that matter.
Mayor Quarrie has repeatedly showed a lack of concern over anything but her own agenda. When Kate wants to get it done, it’s full steam ahead, like when she didn’t postpone a council meeting so that Gloria Kovach could give the closing address to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, of which Kovach is President.
Guelph has come too far too fast and we need an experienced hand to man the helm because, unfortunately, there isn’t time in enough to give someone new on the job training. Mark Briestensky has had some interesting things to say that are well worth hearing and we’ve certainly grown to admire Bev Izzillo-Ustation perseverance, but Farbridge has proven herself a progressive minded leader. She manages to walk that fine line between a forward looking agenda while being fiscally responsible. Her past accomplishments have included Wet/Dry, increasing city services and an extension of Guelph Transit.
Sufficient to say, Farbridge will build more bridges than she burns and not vise versa should she be elected to the big chair.
Kathleen Farrelly, who would be a new face on city council, carries values that have been of the utmost importance throughout this election. While supporting the re-instatement of Guelph's waste management system, Farrelly is also concerned about our downtown. One of the most important parts of Guelph is our beautiful and historic downtown core, which some care very little about. Farrelly is adamant about re-establishing the cultural importance of this central area. This in mind, there are areas of Guelph inadequate for students to reside in, since many have no access to a vehicle and rely on services and stores nearby. Farrelly would like to see adequate schools, services and stores in all areas of Guelph, which would greatly benefit students, since the transit system does not easily access all areas.
Bob Bell, who would be another new face on council, carries with him the expertise that is needed for the position. If elected, he would be a clear asset for students when it comes to issues of concern to us. Transit is in need of a major overhaul, with routes that extend further, and with shorter wait times. In the summer months, many students are employed in areas that are not accessible via transit. A cross-town grid layout is needed, and Bell recognizes the urgency and importance of this issue, not just for students but for other residents of Guelph who rely heavily on the transit system. Students rely heavily on transit and would benefit greatly from improvement in the service. Issues raised in the student run campaign "Get Pissed OFF!" were creating more - and widening - current bike lanes, saying no to a pipeline from Lake Erie and creating more sustainable growth. Bob Bell supports building walkable communities, investing in "biker friendly" infrastructure, and saying no to the pipeline.
In our view, the incumbent councilors have not addressed the problems facing their Ward, such as infrastructure deficit, traffic and unbridled suburban sprawling. (They have actually contributed strongly to this last one, witness Wal-Mart and the daily-increasing north end of Victoria Rd.)
Beard is strongly in favour of having, in her own words, “a people friendly city." This includes better communication routes, a more varied urban landscape, and much more diversity in terms of city services and commercial spaces. In short, she has, in our view, the sharpest ideas about what isn’t working in Ward 2 and about how to fix it. She is also solidly backing student issues such as the continuation of the bus pass or the increased development and use of bike lanes, and is the only one to acknowledge the contribution that graduating students make to the Ward. We hope that she will defend her views on, and solutions to, these issues to City Council, since a great deal of what ails Ward 2 ails Guelph as a whole.
Ian Findlay owns Thomas Video, that artsy-movie-rental place downtown. If this seems like a rather weak reason to vote for him, consider this: he has managed to successfully operate a local, and not exactly mainstream, business in the city for many years, and his platform favours a strong local economy based on Guelph businesses and Guelph customers, because he knows it is feasible. In fact, Thomas Video is the exact opposite of the amenities and services wasteland that, in our opinion, Ward 2 has become. Findlay is also strongly in favour of continuing the bus pass service and promoting bike lane access in the Ward, and argues very strongly for conservation over any other consideration in the pipeline issue.
Although June Hofland would be new to the council, yet she has a good grasp of the important issues that face Guelph. Encompassing positive views on the restoration of our waste management system and on the increase in the walkable nature of our city, Hofland believes that council needs to be more accessible and responsive to its constituents. A vote for Hofland means electing someone who believes in the value of speaking with students and hearing your views. Hofland is content with putting environmental impacts and conservation needs in top priority when it comes to planning development and growth. When it comes to transit services, Hofland is supportive of the student bus pass, wishes to expand the number of bike lanes and is interested in hosting a car-free day in Guelph. It is clear that Hofland is supportive of the issues that matter most to students.
Maggie Laidlaw, incumbent city councilor in Ward 3, stands by students on issues of great importance. Improving the transit system, keeping Guelph Transit fares affordable, maintaining a sustainable system of growth and connecting students to the city are just a few of her strong points. Laidlaw believes strongly in the importance of maintaining the downtown core. As one of the main individuals behind the initial implementation of bike lanes in Guelph, Laidlaw is ready to push for improvement. She will push through the pesticide by-law and she will strive for a new public library main branch in the downtown core; this would keep it accessible for students. Not only this, but Laidlaw will ensure there is no pipeline from Lake Erie to Guelph, and she will promote the importance of showing our commitment to the three bag garbage system.
“Experience counts…” says Kovach’s campaign signs and you’d hard pressed to find many in Ward 4 who’d disagree that Kovach doesn’t bring considerable experience to the horseshoe. Over the past three years she’s been a steady voice for sensible development and community minded issues of benefit to the entire ward and the greater Guelph community. She’s also environmental minded as highlighted by statements on her own website as well as her Cannon survey response and is looking to expand council’s focus to take a deeper look at energy planning and youth issues. Finally, and arguably most importantly, she is the current President of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, giving Guelph an important voice and place at the national table. Even those that don’t agree with much of Kovach’s platform would have to concede that she is an articulate and open-minded leader both in the city and on the national stage.
Ward 4 dwellers knew an election was nigh when Mark Salisbury’s signs popped up shortly after Labour Day, but hitting the ground running is not Salisbury’s only virtue. In his life, Salisbury has been both an entrepreneur and a landscape architect; experience in two vocations ideally suited for any discussion about development. He comes from Brampton and knows first hand what happens when sprawl is unchecked and development happens for its own sake. Also in his favour is the fact that he’s a fresh face and a new voice that hasn’t been knee deep in some of the rancor of past councils.
But primarily he’s knowledgeable about this 800-pound gorilla in the room that we all need to talk about: balancing necessary growth with sensible planning.
In addition to being an associate professor of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph, Lise Burcher seems to have a lot of progressive student friendly ideas. Burcher has proved her commitment to the job over the last three years as councilor and is a good candidate for re-election in Ward 5, having lived there for over 25 years. She names responsible public consultation and community involvement as key elements in her platform, which students will be happy to hear. She has also shown a commitment to the environment and practices of sustainable growth. During last month’s mayoral debate on water and growth Burcher spoke articulately about the importance of planed growth and water conservation, arguing for controlled growth instead of unregulated urban sprawl and the building of big box stores. She does not support the controversial pipeline project and instead supported addressing the water problem by looking at conservation plans. She also supports a “vibrant downtown” and a walkable manageable community, ideas which are especially appealing to students without cars
Leanne Piper has served as a school board representative for the last three years and is a long time resident of Ward 5. Like Burcher she seems to have several progressive ideas about how the city should be run, as well as a commitment to effective public consultation. She seems to be fairly environmentally friendly, supporting the restructuring but continued use of the wet-dry plant and garbage system. She shares a commitment to “smart growth” and livable walkable communities with a central downtown area, which includes the extension of bike lanes and Guelph transit services. Piper also emphasizes the importance of maintaining cultural events like the student friendly Hillside festival and the U of G run Fair November. According to her campaign website, cleaning up municipal politics and making sure council is open to public input are two main areas of concern. She calls for a partnership between all interested stakeholders, which includes students, in order to effectively govern Guelph.
Frankly, there’s not a lot of choice in Ward 6. None of the candidates stand out as particularly progressive or student friendly in their attitudes or their policies. However Ken Morgan does seem to be a little bit more of these things than the people who are their right now: Peter Hamtak and Christine Bilings. A resident of Guelph for 19 years, Morgan jumps on the cleaning up city hall bandwagon. He argues for the introduction of a new city hall code of conduct to reduce dysfunction and arguing amongst politicians. Although he has some disturbing anti-taxation rhetoric he does name environmental solutions as a priority. He argues for long term waste management and water conservation in conjunction with nearby regions and does not support the pipeline project. On growth he seems a little ambiguous calling for more businesses to reduce the taxpayer’s burden but says he supports responsible and properly planned development. He says he supports the student bas pass but seems to see bike lanes as simply add-ons when building new roads. He does seem fairly receptive to student input and ideas calling for the collaboration and involvement of student groups in city planning.
Karl Wettstein seems to be another candidate in Ward 6 who is fairly progressive and receptive to students. In response to a questionnaire from the Cannon he expressed concern over the way growth is being dealt with in Guelph and emphasized the need for “balanced and responsible growth” involving council, developers and the public. He pledges support for the both the bus pass and hesitant expansion of bike lanes, where traffic calls for it. He also opposes the construction of a pipeline and argues for creative solution for both environmental and growth based problems. He singles out students as important stakeholders in the municipal election and calls them the “leaders of tomorrow” which would seem to indicate that he would be fairly receptive towards the needs of the student population. Like Morgan, although far from perfect, Wettstein does seem to be a better choice than the two incumbents from Ward 6.