I want to say thank you to the organizers of tonight’s event for putting it on and thank you to my fellow candidates for putting your name forward on the ballot. It takes a lot of gusto to do that and I commend each of you for it. I wanted to take a minute of my introduction to say how happy I am that even with a crowded field of candidates, this has been a race about the issues and about ideas without any of the nasty mudslinging that’s really tearing apart the fabric of our democracy and again, thank you for that. I’ve been proud to call Barrie home since I moved here just over three years ago. There’s nowhere better to lay your roots and build a life. I’ve been fortunate since I left university in that I’ve been able to be largely self-employed, and having that flexibility has allowed me to follow other passions including serving the public good. The organizers of tonight’s event have asked the candidates to disclose any potential conflicts of interest and while I currently have none with any business before council not going to speculate about what business may come before council down the line where potential conflicts could arise. I’m excited by the momentum I’ve built on this campaign and I’m excited to serve ward three. We have our challenges like anywhere else, but we are truly the envy of Barrie in ward three and I don’t want to see this great part of town backslide due to risky or expensive decision-making that’s not good for our community. We need a steady hand at city hall to keep things moving forward. And I’m ready to go to bat for you. Thank you.
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?
Let me be clear. I want people to be able to get the help they need to get better and I like the idea of a safe consumption site, but if we as a city are going to put our endorsement on an application being sent to the provincial government, we need to make sure that the information is complete, correct, and that the application is being sent on time; as well, that the application moving forward will be a benefit to the entire community. For that reason, I would have to wait until we do have more complete information before I could support the site as it is currently proposed. As far as housing, we are facing a housing crisis and everyone deserves to have a safe roof over their head. As councillor, I will continue to support the creation of more affordable units in the city of Barrie as well as more units in general. When we’re in a housing shortage, we need more housing. Period.
What does culture mean to you, and how will you ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for the city of Barrie?
Culture is the very fabric of being in our city. It’s the arts scene. It’s the music scene. It’s what makes Barrie Barrie. It’s what makes Barrie a community that people from the GTA want to move to. It’s the reason that we have such a great city right now. And quite frankly, I think we do need to support the arts in our city, be it through more incentives to have local artists doing quality work on display in the city, having more music coming out of our city, supporting our local artists through policy, through budget, and ensuring that nobody’s being left behind.
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.
Thank you. Climate change is real and I’m encouraged by the changes that will see the city of Barrie stop using single-use plastics at city events and facilities and I support private businesses making their own decision to move away from single-use plastics as well. That being said, I don’t believe it is the place of government to tell a small business operator what packaging they can use or what straws they’re allowed to use. But I do encourage those changes. I also support increasing infrastructure for electric vehicles in the city of Barrie. More and more consumers are turning to electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and the market is really shifting that way. Every month we’re seeing more and more manufacturers releasing their newest EVs and that’s very encouraging as well. But as that market changes, we need to make sure that Barrie is EV friendly and is somewhere that EV owners will want to buy and use an EV.
Understanding the concept of induced demand how would you direct a shift towards sustainable transportation in our quickly growing city?
As an up and coming world-class city, it is important that we have a strong and reliable public transit system. I will support changes to transit lines to make them more accessible and more convenient for riders and I will actively push for better bus stops both in terms of shelter and maintenance. I will also advocate for a big change to our transfer system and propose a move to a two hour multi-directional transfer. A single mom shouldn’t have to pay twice to take the bus to the grocery store and a senior shouldn’t have to pay twice to take the bus to the dentist. It is time Barrie moves to the front of the pack on transit. As for active transportation, it is important that we recognize that most people in Barriewill continue commuting with their cars and we have to make sure that we’re balancing the safety of those who take advantage of active transportation with those who drive their cars to and from work every day. Be it by separating bike lanes from live lanes, with even reflective plastic posts or concrete barriers, we’re able to make sure everybody is safe.
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?
The biggest line items in our budget are some of our most vital. We’re not going to make cuts to our emergency services to our police, to our infrastructure. That’s not realistic. But we have had six straight years of major tax increases. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for tax dollars to support vital services in our community. And I’m not going to sit here and say that we should have a 0% tax increase in a growing city. I don’t think that’s realistic, but when seniors are struggling to make ends meet and working class families are struggling to get by we need to look at how we’re spending our tax dollars and make sure we’re doing it with respect to the tax payer. And really look to ensure that we’re not being wasteful. There are a lot of things at city hall where it may not be the biggest line item, but it’s wasteful and we need to make sure that we’re not having duplication of services, that we’re not wasting money on frivolous ventures and that we’re ultimately being responsible with taxpayer dollars. Thank you.
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?
Like I’ve said earlier tonight, Barrie has a housing crisis. We have a housing shortage and the only way to solve the housing shortage is to build more housing. That means more high rises, more single detached, more towns, more units in general is how you solve the housing crisis. And that means opening it up. We’ve already got some great intensification corridors all along the city. We’ve got areas, we’ve got nodes near our GO stations where development is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. We need to be building up where we can. We need to build out where we can. We need to densify where we can and ultimately we need to build enough units that we’re getting ourselves out of that shortage. Help get that rent rate down and make sure that everybody has a safe roof over their head.
Do you have any political party affiliations and have you accepted any financial or equity support from a political party in this by-election?
It’s no secret, I’m actively involved with the conservative party and I’m not going sit here and be ashamed of that. At the end of the day though, decisions made at the council table, they’re independent of party politics. There they have to be what’s right for the ward and right for the city. And partisan affiliation has nothing to do with that. As far as contributions. Absolutely. I’ve received well over 25, maybe 30 donations ranging in size from $5 to over 500. And if people want to donate and have their voice heard that way, I’m all for that.
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?
Having safe and healthy communities is so important and you know it’s simple. Those who can afford to pay for recreation and kids’ sports should pay and those who can’t should absolutely have some help from the city. There are lots of ways that we can help and subsidizing those programs for kids and families that can’t afford it is absolutely a step that we should take.
Do you have further political aspirations beyond our municipality?
Never say never. I’m young, I’ve got a long future ahead of me and right now I don’t see myself wanting to run for a higher office in the immediate future. Certainly not in this or the next term of council, but I’m not going to rule out what I might do in my thirties.
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?
Downloading from other levels of government is not a new phenomenon. It’s something that municipalities have been dealing with pretty well forever and it’s something that we have to be able to face. And sometimes that that means making tough decisions and making sure that we’re making smart allocation with our tax dollars to ensure that we are still getting the services that we need without compromising the bottom line or seeing those skyrocketing tax increases. Now that being said, I do have a positive and friendly working relationship with provincial and federal members, both here in Barrie and outside across the province and country. And having those good relationships means that I can have that dialogue with members of our federal and provincial governments and talk about the issues that Barrie needs and actually be able to have our voice heard by those levels of government.
Do you have any suggestions to reduce household food insecurity in Ward 3 and/or throughout Barrie communities?
To reiterate what’s already been said, that increased collaboration with the food bank goes a long way and making sure that we’re promoting our food bank outside of the holidays. Cause I mean, right now the food bank does really well at Thanksgiving, really well at Christmas and outside of that people tend to forget about it. So I’ll sort of use this as a chance to soapbox, make a donation, make a donation now, make a donation in the summer when, when you’re not thinking about it, think about it. And on top of that, you know, things like community gardens and those sorts of things, they do go a long way. That collaboration is great for the city and ultimately as well just lowering the cost of living in general so that people aren’t choosing between rent or groceries or heating and groceries, lower cost of living does lower food insecurity as well.
What motivated you to run for Ward 3 council and why should I vote for you?
I’m running because I care about my community. I’ve got a passion for service. I like helping. And at the end of the day, I think every one of us, we want to make the community a better place. And right now, it’s sort of like I said earlier and we’ll probably say again in my closing remark, Ward 3’s the envy of Barrie. Things right now in ward three, barring some challenges, are pretty good and I don’t want to see risky or expensive decision-making lead to a backslide of the north end of Barrie. And right now, there’s a lot of changes happening elsewhere in the city and we need to make sure that the north end is still getting our fair share.
Thank you again to Engage Barrie and thank you to everyone for coming out and listening to the candidates. With eight people running it can be hard to choose just one. I’ve been working hard every single day of this campaign to earn your trust and I will work even harder every single day to keep it. I know how much work it takes to get things done and I’m ready to do it. If you would like to get in touch, you can find me on social media. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or of course, give me a call at (705) 984-2966 all of that information is on the flyers that you can get at the back of the room after the meeting concludes. If you do vote for me and send me to fight for you at city hall, it doesn’t matter if you had a sign up for someone else or if you voted for someone else. I’m running to be a counselor for each and every person in this room and each and every person in Ward 3 and in the city at large. And I am ready to go to bat for you. Thank you.