Rodrigo Goller is one of five challengers looking to take at least one of the available Ward 2 council seats on October 22.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for council?
I am passionate about community building and have the leadership and experience to be an effective councillor. I believe in addressing issues proactively. I believe in lean and efficient government, and I believe in the power of community. I am tired of councillors who get elected and forget about their constituents. I am tired of councillors who drive their own agendas, waste council’s time discussing provincial or federal issues, and make decisions without taking the time to listen to, and understand what their constituents really want.
2) What, in your opinion, was the most consequential decision on council last term?
The merger of Guelph Hydro with Alectra and bringing a Green Energy & Technology centre to Guelph. Through this merger, Guelph residents avoided 10% future rate hike increases over the next 10 years. The Green Energy & Technology centre will also bring a $5 million investment and green energy sector jobs. Guelph will also get an additional $10 million in dividends over the next 20 years, which the City can apply towards our operating costs. As a Guelph resident I was disappointed that three of our current councillors voted against this merger and against getting these benefits for everyone in Guelph.
3) What is *your* issue? What is the one thing you want to accomplish during your term at council?
Councillors need to focus on municipal issues and on delivering effective municipal services. I have seen councillors forget the people who elected them and this is not acceptable. As your Ward 2 councillor I will work hard to understand your issues and your priorities. I will also work with City Council to host community conversations focused on addressing complex issues that affect everyone in our community — issues like rising crime and drug addictions. These issues cannot be tackled by our municipality alone, so I will invite public agencies, municipal and provincial representatives and neighbours affected by these issues, so we can work
together to create real solutions.
4) What is your understanding of affordable housing versus social housing? How can Guelph develop both?
Social housing is government funded housing, including rent-geared-to-income housing, subsidized retirement homes, emergency shelters and transitional housing. Affordable housing is a broader term that refers to both government funded and privately owned housing that rents below market price.
It’s important to note that although Guelph pays the County for social housing, this is primarily a provincial responsibility. However, the scarcity of affordable housing in Guelph has a real impact in our community. Municipal councillors have a role to play in hosting conversations between neighbours, the City, the province and the agencies that provide social housing, to explore solutions to the issues created by the shortage of affordable housing in Guelph.
City Hall can address this issue by providing incentives for the private sector to build more homes and apartments in Guelph, and enforcing requirements for each new development to include affordable housing units.
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?
Current City plans include designed central ‘nodes’ around the city, where high density residential units are built around commercial zones. Two examples of these nodes are located around the Paisley & Imperial intersection, and the Clair & Gordon intersection. This plan allows for the City to manage the required population growth while providing essential commercial space so Guelph residents can access services close to their homes.
As your Ward 2 councillor I am concerned that these mixed used nodes are mainly planned for other parts of the City. I will advocate for the City to bring some of these ‘mini-downtowns’ to the north-east end of Guelph, so Ward 2 residents have access to more commercial spaces.
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?
I have ridden buses in Guelph since I was a high school student, and more recently, to get to work. I am well acquainted with our public transit system.
I know that sometimes buses run late or altogether miss runs, and sometimes the wrong times are posted at bus stops. We have a great team of drivers and administrators who work hard to keep the city moving; however, our system is not perfect. I fully support the comprehensive service review currently underway, and look forward to exploring how we can improve our transit system.
7) What needs to be done to improve Regional Transit? (This includes intercity buses, two-way all-day GO trains, and high-speed rail)
This is a great question! I have heard from many of my neighbours in Ward 2, that the lack of intercity transit between Guelph and Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Hamilton is a big concern for them.
In Ontario, Intercity-transit is a provincial responsibility, and the Ministry of Transportation completed a study on intercity transit in 2016 and are currently creating a transportation plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. I look forward to hearing what this plan entails.
In the meantime, I will work with City Council to fix transit inside our City, and then I will ask our transit team to explore how Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge
and Hamilton can work together to create intercity transit options.
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?
I believe that our municipality would benefit from being responsible — and this includes having provincial funding — to address mental health care and addictions. Currently the City pays for police and emergency services, but we do not have the mandate or funding to create prevention programs.
Having both the mandate and the funding would allow us to better coordinate emergency response (police, fire, ambulance), and agencies dealing with mental health care and addictions, to create local prevention programs.
9) How do you define a taxpayer? What is the responsibility of a councillor when it comes to budgeting?
A municipal taxpayer is anyone who pays property taxes in Guelph — this includes both people who own and pay property taxes, and by extension it also includes people who rent in Guelph. People work hard for their money, and they trust the municipality with their property taxes. The responsibility of a councillor is to be respectful of that trust and strike a balance between the level of services that we want to provide in Guelph, while keeping municipal taxes as low as possible.
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?
I strongly support having municipal service reviews to proactively examine every service provided by the municipality, and see if (1) the City should be providing that service and if so, determine if (2) there are more effective ways to provide those services. I don’t think we should keep on spending tax dollars just because we have been doing so in the past. This proactive approach will prevent us from being in a budget crunch.
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)
I am a small business owner and my business has a busy season and a slow season. Whenever the slow season comes around, I have to lay off employees. This is never easy. I am proud of being a good employer, and this includes giving our employees enough shifts for them to earn the money they need. I disagree with the business practice of hiring too many employees and then giving each of them fewer hours than they were promised. When I have to let an employee go, I always go back to the books and make sure that we keep as many employees as the business can support. Once I am certain of the number of employees the business needs over the slower months, I look at the current employees and identify those who contribute most to the business, the workplace culture and the team-work.
12) Is there a municipal issue that you don’t think gets enough attention? What is it and why should it get more attention?
Modernizing the public service! I understand that government is slow to adapt to new technology — however, fear-led actions to eliminate electronic voting or slow the uptake of new technology to communicate with residents is not acceptable. I understand that government moves slower than the private sector when adopting new technology because it has to be accountable to taxpayers. However, there is a big difference between being fiscally responsible and being regressive. We have to understand that difference and push for our municipality to adopt new, proven technologies that make more efficient use of tax dollars, allow us to keep up with the private sector, and meet people’s expectations that government use modern service delivery methods.
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.goller4ward2.ca