Good evening everyone. My pleasure being here and my compliments to a local community group that took the initiative to bring us together tonight because municipal politics is important and these types of gatherings and opportunities to get to know the candidates are quite special around, otherwise they wouldn’t happen. I’m pleased to speak with any of you after as well. A bit about myself: I’ve lived in Barrie 16 years. Joe and I chose to call Barrie home because it exhibited the small-town feel that I grew up with and gave us great access to services we care about. My background and education is in public health and I’ve been working across the health system at different levels of government and locally for about 19 years. What I did about two years ago was I left my job to have more flexibility and actually get involved in moving healthy public policy into how communities are designed and built and bringing people together. So I started a consulting job in healthcare and that’s been quite successful for me and it’s allowed me to work with community not-for-profits. So over the past couple of years I’ve also had the good fortune of being on the executive council with the Barrie East-end Household Association and we put in a community garden. We’re doing some great work with connecting individuals across the community and from there, I enjoy spending more volunteer time as the board chair with the Alzheimer’s Society. I’m on the YMCA and informed the age-friendly community plan that I hope to get adopted across the city.
Understanding that there is a homelessness and addiction crisis in the city of Barrie what services would you support to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including a supervised consumption site?
I want to be clear, we have an amazing amount of information. We have fact-based information provided to us by experts working in this region who are medical professionals that have put together a four to five pillar strategy. You can find it. Harm reduction is a core pillar. You can find it on preventOD.ca. This is about saving lives. The delay that’s happening at a municipal level I think is unacceptable. I’m disappointed to see that because if we follow the process, it gets approved at the provincial level. There is absolutely no reason we should be supporting $50,000 for more review and considerations. Like any project, when you implement, you work with partners, you put together councils, and you share good information. You continue to look at opportunities to improve. I’m a full supporter of a safe consumption site and would be happy to continue the work I’ve been doing with Jeff on some shift government initiatives to end homelessness.
What does culture mean to you, and how will you ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for the city of Barrie?
I’m a big supporter of arts and culture. I’m personally support the Barrie— the Huronia Symphony Orchestra and enjoy finding space or walking into businesses downtown where you’ve got local artists. I’ve tried my hand at drumming. I’m not that good. So I’ve become a spectator. But what I believe are some of the gems that sometimes we forget about or don’t recognize is that we have a Barrie Arts Committee. And if you watched council the other night, there was a beautiful deputation by a representative there. And without the context that she provided, we probably wouldn’t appreciate that we have a low budget committee that we need to empower to continue to make great decisions. We’ve hosted and supported and funded a poet laureate. These are things that we should protect, celebrate, and include. And so I think we’re doing a great job. There’s always room to do better. And let’s showcase it at our events and activities across the city.
In light of the city's recent declaration of a climate crisis, and plans to ban single-use plastic, what are some concrete actions council can take to reduce our contribution to the crisis.
This aligns with my personal values. I do a lot of volunteer work with the Couchiching Conservancy. I’m connected to Nature Barrie and have done some work around looking at invasive species. So for me, this is how I walk in the world, an area that I ask questions about. I had the pleasure of speaking with Margaret Prophet with Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition recently on opportunities for us to be extremely effective. I’ve looked at our plans, they’ve been applauded. We had physicians presenting to council around climate solutions. When we talk about trees, we have extensive networks and parks. We should be looking at mature tree development and a strategy, but more than that criteria, that’s firm with some non-negotiables about looking at development and the whole lifespan from actual construction to how we use it and making sure that there are targets around reductions of emissions across that whole lifespan. I don’t think we can compromise our wetlands and I don’t think we can compromise really making sure that there are firm parameters around supporting reduced emissions.
Understanding the concept of induced demand how would you direct a shift towards sustainable transportation in our quickly growing city?
It’s a pretty exciting time when we’re seeing municipalities getting really switched on to this. So Vancouver’s just identified this all on board approach and they’re looking at accessible transit being affordable and on a sliding scale and reducing wait times around getting transit. And they see that not just as part of increasing ridership but also about part of the fabric of community and affordability and safety. And so I would like to see us really look at initiatives that drive ridership. We have a commitment to go emissions free, but we’re also seeing other commitments by communities that I think can create incentives for us to push this forward. And with that, some of it is also complete streets and looking at our timelines. So again, around waiting half an hour for a bus, that bus potentially not having the accessibility needs. I’ve met with patients that have to pay $20 for a taxi to the hospital and then another $20 back because they would otherwise miss appointments. So I think we need to think about transit and access and ridership a little bit differently and around how it becomes part of an inclusive community.
What do you believe are the three highest cost services to the city and what would you do to mitigate them and help alleviate tax burdens?
When I think about the three highest costs for me the emergency services are essential services. So if we invested in prevention, health promotion, we probably wouldn’t see the same degree of pressure. So if I think about driving costs that we see no benefit from are ones where we’re putting bandaid solutions on old road repair and infrastructure. We have an amazing network of infrastructure that we continually put in, patchwork a bandaid effects. This cost us and it doesn’t support, it’s money going out and nothing coming back. When I think about emergency services, what’s coming back is a health and wellness of our community and the benefit of people. The two pieces that I also think our other major expenses are the hidden expenses that sometimes we don’t see or talk about much, which is our debt ratio. And as we invest in infrastructure dollars and the gap to building new developments and having occupancy where we’re going to see revenue means that we’re compounding our interest on money that we borrow. And so for me the highest cost are things that I think we’re going to start to see around what it’s going to take to develop.
Historically Barrie has built single story detached homes and has the highest per capita percentage of home-owners. How do you think this has affected our development as a city and what should be done to address this to provide affordable and supportive housing?
A couple pieces come to mind around second suites. So we’ve seen city of Barrie incentivize individuals to do renovations. We’re also seeing part of the shift government initiative. There’s a couple of really inspiring and innovative initiatives happening. One of them was recently in the paper not too long ago around connecting individuals over the age of 55 with students. And so when we’re looking at housing options and affordability, I think we need to get creative in a range of housing stock that’s protected and look at where we can build up and not out on those options and protect the rates. And I think some of that is about how do we create opportunities where we’ve got a majority of homes that are empty or empty basements and doing that in a safe and affordable way.
Do you have any political party affiliations and have you accepted any financial or equity support from a political party in this by-election?
Absolutely not. I’ll just say I’m quite passionate and vocal about protecting municipal to be nonpartisan. And I hope people do regard it that way.
Do you believe recreation and sporting programs should be subsidized by the city or be fully paid for by the users? Should children have access to affordable programs?
I do believe physical activity should be supported around supporting a vibrant and a healthy network. And I hope to see that come out of some of the work happening with the Healthy Barrie project. I think when we look at that and Barrie does an amazing job around creating opportunities, the hockey rinks or even seeing outdoor activities and a lot of engagement. I think for me it’s also not just the cost but accessibility. So can we get kids there? And we also have a lot of partnership in the community that can help to subsidize. So I think some of it’s also making sure that resources like Service Barrie and staff at the city know how to help redirect and navigate individuals to partner agencies that support physical activity and subsidized access.
Do you have further political aspirations beyond our municipality?
No aspirations for me, it’s about residents for residents and I think I municipal would be a privilege to actually be serving the community.
In a time when the province is downloading work to the cities, how you work with the province to make sure services we need are available?
I think there are definite pressures where we’ve seen reductions, everything from basic income to corrections to infrastructure dollars that create great pressures. I’ve worked at different levels of government, even locally I participated in the pre-budget consultations as an advocate for the Alzheimer’s society of Ontario around what we need at a local level, respite care and other aspects. So, for me, I think it’s about having an effective voice and working across council and the Ontario municipal board and associations to look at how do we amplify our voice as representatives of residents at a municipal level that feel the impacts. I think from there looking at how to take nonpartisan approaches on certain issues so we realize how it touches individuals and how we live within our communities.
Do you have any suggestions to reduce household food insecurity in Ward 3 and/or throughout Barrie communities?
I really love the initiative that our public health unit has taken around, if you’ve seen it, the tagline, it’s around not being able to afford food is senseless. And there are been some beautiful partnerships with the food bank. I was excited years ago to support them around a fruit share program and the investment in our community gardens. I think if we look at that and an innovative way around what is the surplus that we’re either not harvesting in our fruit trees, we can be providing our food banks actual fresh fruit and vegetables at no cost. And then looking at how to make it accessible. So I worked with Jeff around an impact collective group and there were some great ideas at that table around how do we even have a food cart? So how do we also bring food and good fruit food at low to no cost? So we do have the good food basket. Sometimes it’s hard to get to, and I’ve volunteered with urban pantry, so I would encourage people to look at that and if you’ve got a fruit tree to register it. But I think there are several initiatives out there and I think it’s about getting that out, the communication about it and opportunities to support reducing food waste.
What motivated you to run for Ward 3 council and why should I vote for you?
I ran in the 2018 municipal election because my heart and values were aligned and it was about trying to take the work that I’ve been doing in health and public health and try and see it implemented into good policy. And I care about where I live. I love where I live. I’ve worked in Ward 3 for six years. My doctor, my pharmacist, my pub, my groomer, are in Ward 3. The northeast end is my Barrie. It is my community. And so for me, this is about stepping in and trying to make a difference. And I believe that hopefully my skills and qualifications will support me in being an effective, responsive and committed voice for you.
I really care about municipal service. I have some pretty high expectations. I’m getting involved because I think if I’m going to complain I better have some skin in the game. And so for me it’s about stepping in to try and support a better Barrie and grow where we need to grow and actually follow through on making really good decisions based on great information we have in front of us. And also leveraging community members. There are so many of you that are on committees, like accessible transport, active transportation and sustainability committee, our arts committee, our seniors. We need to amplify the voice and the work of those groups. We need to connect them, and we need to make sure that when people are coming to council and they are taking a brave step forward, and making delegations, that they are heard and not judged. And that we are incorporating feedback into everything that we do. So, for me it’s about valuing the voice, your voice. And I believe if you look at some of my qualifications, I think I will help to do that effectively. I have a good relationship with members of council. I would say I also have a very direct relationship with other initiatives that have happened with our other counselors. So, Keenan Barry and Clare. Wards. 1, 2 and 4. I believe I will be effective around relationship building, about professional conduct, as well as making sure that we are asking the right questions and we are holding individuals accountable to their decisions.