June Hofland got to keep her seat in 2014 by only a few votes. She’s obviously hoping to do better this year among some stiff competition.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for council.
I believe Guelph needs strong, experienced representatives who know how to build a diverse, resilient and prosperous city. Councillors who support strong, vibrant neighbourhoods while caring for our environment. I am proud of what we have accomplished together but there is still more to do so that is why I am seeking re-election.
2) What, in your opinion, was the most consequential decision on council last term?
The most consequential issue in th community last term was not one issue. Three come to my mind. Internet voting, hydro merger, Baker district including the library. Tough to choose one. Without a crystal ball it is difficult to discern what the consequences of these decisions will have on our community.
3) What is *your* issue? What is the one thing you want to accomplish during your term at council?
How can you ask just one? I believe transitioning to a low-carbon and climate-resilient city is a key issue for me. I also feel connecting our community with an efficient reliable bus system is so very important. I am also very excited about Baker District and the potential for downtown.
4) What is your understanding of affordable housing versus social housing? How can Guelph develop both?
The County of Wellington (CMSM) for both the County and City of Guelph is responsible for the administration of social housing. The county works with various organizations and the community to address local affordable housing needs. Social housing is permanent housing financed at least partly thru government funding and mortgage guarantees. A portion of the units is geared to income and the remainder may be rented at market rents. The city is required to make provisions for an adequate range of housing types and affordability options. We have approved affordable housing policies in the official plan when we approved the Affordable Housing Strategy. In consultation with the County we established and implemented minimum housing targets for affordable to low and moderate income households. The National Housing strategy hopefully will assist with housing needs across the country.
5) Guelph is required by provincial mandate to accept thousands of new residents by the middle of this century. How is the City presently managing growth? What should we be doing differently?
Correct and just last year staff were required to respond to the Province’s request for input into the 2016 provincial co-ordinated land use planning review specifically for the Greater Golden Horseshoe growth plan. We manage growth through our official plan. The plan guides our decision making and must be approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and conform to the Growth Plan and the Provincial policy statement. One significant change that occurred was the creation of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. I am not sure what we should be doing differently but I would never support annexation and I believe we need to be very diligent and our community needs to be highly engaged with planning applications. We have also managed well within the Places to Grow principles.
6) Transit. First, what is your experience using transit? Second, do you think council and staff presently understand issues with transit? And third, what is one specific thing you would suggest to improve Guelph Transit service?
We have lots of work to do around transit. We need an efficient, convenient and sustainable transit system. This system needs to be reliable and frequent. Yes I have used transit and spent a whole day riding the buses trying to understand the concerns and hardship of transit riders. You will never understand the issues with transit until you get out of your car and rely only on transit for a week or even a couple of days. We need to heavily invest in transit over the next budget cycles so we can improve frequency and more efficient, effective routes. I believe the service review will reveal that lack of investment in our transit service. As I mentioned this needs to change and transit should be a priority to all councillors.
7) What needs to be done to improve Regional Transit? (This includes intercity buses, two-way all-day GO trains, and high-speed rail?
All level of governments have to invest in getting people out of their cars and addressing gridlock and emissions.
8) If there’s one power that’s currently the jurisdiction of the province or the federal governments, but should be transferred to municipalities, what would it be and why?
None that I think would be helpful and besides when they download the money does not accompany the downloading.
9) How do you define a taxpayer? What is the responsibility of a councillor when it comes to budgeting?
I never use the word taxpayer but simply put a person that pays taxes to the city. Our responsibility as councillors is to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality and be prepared to make tough decisions.
10) Hypothetical: The City’s in a budget crunch, and a substantial tax increase is cost prohibitive for the average Guelphite, so a cut *has* to be made. What City of Guelph service do you look at and why?
There are I think 175 services to choose from but I would never make the decision to cut a service without meaningful engagement with the public. I would rather direct staff to look for efficiencies or suggest an efficiency target. There are other ways to address a cost prohibitive tax increase other than increase taxes. I would look for creative solutions and also explore revenue channels.
11) Describe a time you had to make a tough decision, and the thought process you went through in order to reach that decision? (Doesn’t have to be political)
Hydro merger was a challenging decision for me for many reasons. Potential job loss, loss of a local gem, attachment to a Guelph utility. I devoted hours of time to this particular decision. I read dozens of dense reports, meet with Board members, past and present, met with community members, and attended several meetings with staff, lawyers and accountants. I relied heavily on the energy experts and took time to understand utility 2.0. I gave lots of consideration to the risks, benefits and financials. It was the most difficult decision of the term for me.
12) Is there a municipal issue that you don’t think gets enough attention? What is it and why should it get more attention?
I do not know of an issue that needs more attention BUT I believe we need to increase public participation and find different and more meaningful ways to engage the public. The city has many community engagement processes but it is so challenging to get people excited about municipal government unless of course it is in their backyard.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?
In an effort to solicit your views on issues, I will continue the campaign tradition of knocking on doors throughout Ward 3 through September and October. Remember to vote June in October.