Kelly Patterson McGrath
Kelly Patterson McGrath
Hi, I’m Kelly. I’d like to thank Engaged Barrie as well and the moderators for putting on this event tonight, and thank you for everybody coming as well. I’ve lived in Barrie in ward three for 27 years. I’m semi-retired and self-employed. I’m passionate about our community and our beautiful city. I am a big fan and I share that with everyone I meet and I am an enthusiastic participant in everything the city has to offer. Representing you is about listening to your ideas, concerns, and taking action. It’s about compassion for all of our citizens. It’s about taking care of our environment, ensuring our seniors, kids, and grandkids have a safe and healthy place to live, work and play. I have over 30 years experience in management, teaching, strategic planning, and leadership. I have successfully launched two small business ventures. I can manage budgets, read a balance sheet — not my favourite thing in the world, but I can do it — and see the big picture and how all the pieces fit together. I have seen firsthand the challenges our community faces as a Barrie police auxiliary officer. I bring a strong, smart, experienced businesswoman’s perspective to the table. I’m collaborative, not combative. We won’t always agree, but I will actively listen to what you say and learn from it. I am here to stay, to help Barrie grow successfully and sustainably into the future while making the best environmental choices for our planet and our home, the city of Barrie. 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?
Yes, I absolutely do support safe consumption sites. We need to support our vulnerable; we need to be compassionate; we need to have the services on the site that support their recovery, that support their mental health, and that support their livelihood. I am a big supporter of this. I realize that it’s out again for other options for sites, which is too bad. Hopefully, that will come back soon and we can make a decision and move forward real quickly. Affordable housing — I really support the affordable housing initiatives that Redwood Park communities has put forth with Lucy’s place. The city of Barrie has an affordable housing strategy. It was created in 2015. By 2024, we were supposed to have 840 affordable units, so let’s hope we do that.
What does culture mean to you, and how will you ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for the city of Barrie?
What does culture and arts mean to me in this city? I really enjoy attending the McLaren Art Gallery and seeing what new displays they have on. We have an amazing community in Barrie when it comes to culture and arts, whether it’s the Kempenfelt Community Players, the theatre groups that I love going to see, Talk is Free Theatre, the great committee that put together the outdoor art exhibits that we have in our community. What a wonderful group of people. They’re very passionate and very knowledgeable and having those pieces in our community for tourists to come and see whether it’s the Spirit Catcher… I think it’s wonderful and I think Barrie really needs to step up and keep doing that and keep supporting the arts and culture in our community. I love it.
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.
It’s a big issue and we need to address it. One of the things that I talk about when we need to look at how we can each individually impact climate change is we can start small with the little things and empower people and act as a leader in taking these things to task. We can look at how we manage our parks. We can look at how we can use our parks, making them more user-friendly, but also to start to naturalize them. Use the naturalization so we don’t have to maintain them. So we don’t have to use our two cycle equipment. So we don’t have to use a lot of a lot of staff to manage our parks. Planting more trees is one of the key things that we need to be able to do in our city in order to help combat climate change.
Understanding the concept of induced demand how would you direct a shift towards sustainable transportation in our quickly growing city?
Thank you. Sustainable transportation, I believe it starts with building complete and accessible communities so we can walk, ride or roll. We spend less time in vehicles. We electrify our transportation systems, so we are using less gas and more electrical and solar. This saves on tax dollars and road infrastructure. If we get more people using their own transport, whether it’s walking, biking, rolling, getting the roads connected so we don’t have to go very far to get what we need in our life, whether it’s through our grocery shopping, whether we’re going to the store, we want to have walkable, sustainable, supportable communities and that’s how we can help our sustainable transportation systems.
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?
I think we can all agree that the three highest cost services to the city would be the emergency services as everybody else has said. It’s a little challenging to try to reduce the cost and mitigate the cost as we grow. The population of Barrie is growing exponentially and these services, in costs, are only going to increase. I think we also need to look at our own house inside our city and how we run it and what kind of efficiencies that we can find and save dollars, tax dollars, there at our city hall. Empowering people to take a look at the amount of money they’re spending and the staffing and what does that really look like. We really need to take a step back and see what that looks like. Emergency services is a tough one to cut and it’s really tough to mitigate when, we need those services all the time.
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?
One of the things we need to do, again, kind of thinking outside the box and we really need to get more partnerships with developers and incent affordable housing developers that come into the city. Barrie does have an affordable housing plan that they created in 2015. I think we need to update it and address it and to see where we’re going with it. They decided that 840 units was going to be enough by 2020 or 2024. So I’d like to see where that stands. I don’t know where it stands, but I’d like to see it, but I don’t think it’s enough. The other thing that Barrie does right now, too, is ask developers to set aside 10% of what they build for affordable housing. I also don’t think that’s enough. I think it should be 20% and I think it should be built in right at the rate of the bottom line. So if you want to come in and build, then you need to include our affordable housing pieces to that so people can afford to live here in Barrie. Whether it’s the seniors or whether it’s people just starting out or overall people as well.
Do you have any political party affiliations and have you accepted any financial or equity support from a political party in this by-election?
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?
Yes, absolutely. Children should have access to affordable programs and I do believe that the city can put that into their budget to help people if they want to have access to recreation programs. I think it’s important for several reasons. One of them is building a safe and healthy community. If we have active participants in our community, we are healthier. If we give them subsidies to be able to participate in our community, they are happier, they are connected. Our seniors are connected and they’re building community and they are building relationships. So yes, I do believe we can. And, and we should.
Do you have further political aspirations beyond our municipality?
Nope. Hazel McCallion is my hero. So, if I could stick around municipal politics as long as she can. Boy that would be pretty awesome. So absolutely not. I’m here to stay.
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 it’s about collaboration, and yes, I think it’s unprecedented the amount of what our municipalities are responsible for now, especially when it comes to affordable housing. It’s putting a lot of pressure on us and that downloading from the provincial government is a real strain. So I think if we look effectively at collaborating with each other and other municipalities and looking at how we can work together to assess what our needs are and also to think about putting a little pressure where it’s needed so we can actually get some of that funding back. It’s really important as we grow to be able to sustain that. The downloading has been really unprecedented in the last 10 to 15 years for our municipalities. And it’s just too much strain.
Do you have any suggestions to reduce household food insecurity in Ward 3 and/or throughout Barrie communities?
I love community gardens. I love that idea and they just created a new one at Shear park this year, which was a very successful. It’s such a great opportunity for people that the plot rental is like, I don’t know, 20 bucks a year, I think for the plot. And it’s really accessible so people can help eliminate our food insecurity. That’s one way. Another way we could work with our local grocery stores. They throw out a lot. We could work with our local grocery stores to capture that food waste and filter it back into our support systems. Whether it’s the local food bank, whether it’s the Barrie Native Friendship Centre, they also do a little food bank there as well. So, we need to really think outside the box again here to help our food insecurity.
What motivated you to run for Ward 3 council and why should I vote for you?
That’s a good question. What motivated me to run, I’m a bit of an action person. So when I heard myself talking in my head, and to my husband, relentlessly about some of the things that I see and some of the things that I want to change, I looked at this opportunity and I thought, okay, here I can actually step up and have a say, bring diversity to our council table as a woman. Bring passion and compassion for my fellow Ward 3 community members and really be able to help you and listen to you. Actively listen to you, to hear what you have to say with your great ideas and your complaints and get an opportunity to bring those to the table and take action for you.
I’d also like to thank Engage Barrie for hosting this event and for everybody coming out tonight. When I think about why I decided to run, I had this overwhelming feeling of humility and gratefulness that I have this opportunity to represent my community. I have this opportunity because we live here in Canada. I have this opportunity because we live in a democracy and we are free to make a decision to run in a municipal election and vote for who we want to represent us. I’m grateful for this privilege and it is a privilege because of those who went to battle and made the ultimate sacrifices for us. If elected it is my goal to listen actively and respond to your concerns and ideas to represent our ward in the city. Transparently, collaboratively, and effectively. Ensuring we maintain our roads, look for ways to save taxpayers money, caring for all of our citizens. Our first nations are marginalized, our seniors and our youth and making sure we live in a safe and healthy city. I believe Barrie can be a leader in sustainable growth and climate action, affordable housing and high paying local jobs. This is your chance to have your say and choose who you want to help guide Barrie into the future, and I appreciate your consideration.