Tanya Saari

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Tanya Saari

Gerry, I don’t know if going first is the worst or going last is the worst? I’m not sure. I also would like to thank everybody for coming tonight. I have some supporters in the audience and I appreciate that. And I’d like to thank Engaged Barrie because during the 2018 municipal election we didn’t have the pleasure of having one of these, so it’s really nice that we have this as well as the panel ahead of you because I know we all would prefer to be out door knocking right now. [Laughter] So my name is Tanya Saari. I have been a resident of Barrie for 15 years. My husband and I have lived in several towns and cities in Ontario as well as coast to coast. We’ve been on the West coast and the East coast, but planted our roots here 15 years ago and had the pleasure of raising our three children here. And it’s been my favourite to live in by far. Used to be the big city to come to when I was a kid growing up in Port Elgin. Currently, I’m a real estate agent with Century 21, so my office was located on Bayfield Street. I also have a 10 year banking background with CIBC with lots of things ranging from account management up to mutual funds, sales. I have some finance as well. I had the pleasure of running in the 2018 municipal election and came in second. It was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting experiences of my life, but I’m proud and pleased to be back here doing it again. I’ve always been community involved, whether it’s through volunteering or through fundraising: Redwood Park communities, Gilda’s club, Alzheimer’s society. I like to stay on top of what’s happening in the city of Barrie from an intensification perspective for my job and my time is up, so thank you very much.

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?​

A safe consumption site — I’ll start with that one — I’m definitely in support of a safe consumption site. I think at this point we all know it’s a necessity. We are in an opioid crisis. I think we need to look at more wraparound services, stronger addictions counselling, and I think we have to actually reach out to provincial and federal government to help assist us with achieving those goals. But a safe consumption site is definitely required, as Steven mentioned, sooner than later. As far as affordable housing is concerned, it’s a huge issue here in the city of Barrie and I hear it every day. We have great programs. We have community builders. We had Redwood Park communities who are promoting second suites, and these are the type of people that we need, or the type of resources that we need to draw from to assist us in making these things happen. So both of those things are extremely high on my priority list for sure.

What does culture mean to you, and how will you ensure that arts and culture remain a priority for the city of Barrie?

I guess the problem with going last is that I’m going to repeat a lot of what everybody else up here has already said. Culture and arts is an extremely important part of the city of Barrie. I enjoy that they have now put art pieces in down at city hall in the rotunda that you’re able to go and walk and look at it. The McLaren Arts Centre does some amazing things and I would be lying if I said that I was aware of all the stuff they did until very recently, again at city council when the McLaren Art Centre did a presentation during budget talks. I had no idea how much that the McLaren Art Centre did within the city. And you really should look at it if you haven’t, because there are a lot of amazing programs that they offer there. We have Five Points Theatre now that offers a lot of opportunities to see some different things. I’ve attended events there. So it’s very important and it is the foundation for the city and I think extremely important to support.

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.

I’m going to address single use plastics because I was really excited to be at council the night they talked about reducing single use plastics. I know it’s not going to be an easy task because I think that one of the major issues was the plastic water bottles that we use at events down at KempenFest and at any city used facilities. So I know it’s a challenge, but I think we all have to take part and participate and try to reduce the use of single use plastics for sure. I agree with Kelly completely. I think there’s things we can do immediately like the planting of trees and add additional green space. I believe the building that’s being put up at five points actually has a rooftop green space. These are things we need to look to for the future to help get rid of emissions.

Understanding the concept of induced demand how would you direct a shift towards sustainable transportation in our quickly growing city?

I think this is a good one because we’ve heard pretty much everything I was going to say already as far as trends, I love the linx program. I’m very excited that Barrie does the linx program between Angus and Elmvale and even Collingwood. It gives people the opportunity and a lot of people aren’t aware of that. So I think, making people more aware that this takes place is a key mover. I’ve spoken to several people who didn’t know that this was an option. One thing about the busing system here I would love to see, I know it’s an ever evolving city and it’s ever changing, I would love to see some improvements to the busing system. My nephew actually had to take a bus from my house to the south end of town to go to work and it was an hour and 40 minutes for him to get there. That’s a significant amount of time to add to the day. I know we’ve made improvements, but we’re going to have to consistently, as we grow, look at making improvements to the busing system. So that’s a key thing I think as well. I think just mimicking what Kelly said. So everything Kelly said about walkable and bikeable and rolling, that’s what I was going to say.

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 our highest cost services are unfortunately our emergency services. Our policing, our ambulatory services. I wouldn’t say I would want to mitigate those. I don’t think we can make cuts to those important services because that will have a huge impact on us. I think the thing we have to take into consideration is that as a city we really need to look at every line of the budget when we’re looking at things to see where we can find funds to take from to go somewhere else. I know taxes is a huge issue that comes up at the doors and people are not impressed that we keep raising property taxes. But it’s tough because you can’t cut services, because we all depend greatly on what we’ve got. So I think more importantly, we just need to look at every line in the budget and see where we can make cost savings as opposed to cutting anything.

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?

I agree with a lot that’s been said here as well. A second suites and third suites is going to help ease the stress of the housing crisis. I just wanted to touch on what I haven’t heard anybody mentioned yet is that we do have an aging population and it’s come up several times in this campaign with people who feel that they don’t have appropriate housing for the aging population as well as accessible housing. So I think those are two key important things that we’re missing. Ssecond suites, third suites would be helpful, but I think purpose built housing for that demographic. We have 36,000 senior citizens living in the city of Barrie and I know personally, people want to downsize but they don’t have anywhere to go. And they’re not ready to go to a condominium yet. And I think if we had something. Collingwood does a great job with the Georgian village, I believe it’s called, where it’s bungalows for seniors. I know it’s building out and not up, but we need to build the purpose built housing to move things. Those people can move to something that it accommodates them, that opens up the real estate for everybody else.

Do you have any political party affiliations and have you accepted any financial or equity support from a political party in this by-election?

Political party affiliations. No. And did I accept any financials from anybody? I did not. I got donations, a couple from friends, but for the most part I am funding this campaign on my own well and my husband, but he doesn’t know that until now. (Laughter in the room)

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?

My short answer, yes. I do think we should help subsidize a recreational and sporting programs. I think every child deserves the opportunity to participate in recreational and sports programs. As Kelly mentioned, it’s healthy, it’s good for them. I think there’s a lot of creative ways we could do that. You can have a sponsorship program. You could ask the city for subsidies. I know, just going outside of the box, Canadian Tire Jumpstart offers a lot of for children to participate in sporting programs. So those are some things that people should be aware of. And you know, it comes down to offering an affordable option for families who might not be able to participate otherwise. Absolutely we should be helping them.

Do you have further political aspirations beyond our municipality?

Goodness, no. No, that’s, that’s my short answer. I have just an interest in municipal politics. I am passionate about what happens within the city of Barrie. I think Jerry mentioned it at the beginning about how important our municipal politics actually is and how it is one of, to me anyways, the most important political positions. So I have no desire to continue on any further.

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 agree. I think it’s a tough time. We’ve seen a lot in the last couple of years of offloading down to the municipalities and it’s been hard on us. And I know when I watched the budget being discussed, I will say at a council, it was tough for them and it’s hard to justify with the constituents in this city why we have to increase taxes and impact them. So I think it’s important that we keep the conversations open with different levels of government. I think we still have to have that open communication with the federal government, both to let them know what that is, what kind of impact that is having on us because it’s straining everybody. So, I think that part of the key component to that is keeping the open communications going from a municipal level, but having those good relationships with your federal and provincial leaders as well.

Do you have any suggestions to reduce household food insecurity in Ward 3 and/or throughout Barrie communities?

I feel like I’m just mimicking everything that everybody has said here. Because obviously the food bank is a huge issue, a huge contributor, so it’s a great resource as well as the community gardens which we see popping up more frequently and I believe there are more to come out within the new year. But I also wanted to recognize that there are people in this room who also take it upon themselves to do food drives. So, community support is also very, very important. And people who do community food drives should be recognized as well and if everybody maybe thought to do that a little more frequently it would be helpful as well. And as Devin said, not just at Christmas and Thanksgiving, let’s think about it during other times of the years as well.

What motivated you to run for Ward 3 council and why should I vote for you?

What motivated me to run for city council. I did run in 2018 in Ward 3 as well against an incumbent, which I knew was going to be an uphill battle. But the reason I ran most of them are sitting in this room is the support from my family and friends. I’m super passionate about the city of Barrie. I love it here. I plan to retire here. I don’t know if my husband wants to retire to our cottage and pull us in, but I’ll be staying here. We’ve raised our three kids here for 15 years, and I happen to really like them as well, so I want them to come back. So, I just want the opportunity to be on council to make that difference, to improve and maintain the beauty of this city so my kids will return. I think that’s it.

Closing Statement

I was going to go a little different approach and tell a little story. I’ve been out on the campaign trail since the end of November. I’ve had a lot of great conversations with great residents and one that struck me as kind of the drive behind why I do this and it was on a street and unfortunately I got into their house and stayed way longer than I should have. But in having that conversation with them, I’ve learned that this particular family knew the name of every person on the street from the top end of the street to the bottom of the end of the street. This particular family knew the names of those people. They knew what those people did. They knew those children’s names, their children’s names, how long they lived there for, and they knew the names of the people that lived behind them. This particular family went as far as to reach out for assistance when this family behind them ran into financial distress and aided them. And that just shows, that’s the community I want to be a part of. That’s the community that I want to preserve. It’s why I love living where we live in this beautiful community of Ward 3. And I mean, if I’m elected, I would hope that you would intrust me. I do everything that I do with honesty, integrity, and a strong work ethic. But more importantly, let’s preserve those strong community relationships. So, we can remain a strong community.