CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE – Indu Arora for Ward 4 Councillor

Indu Arora was one of the first people to file her candidacy on May 1, so she’s fairly eager to represent Ward 4 in the next council.

1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for council?

As your ward 4 councillor. I will bring a committed and accountable voice to city hall. One of the current representatives, Mike Salisbury, has one of the worst attendance records. He was the only councillor to abstain from voting on the recent budget and has not actively engaged (until election time) with our ward. This is unacceptable as an elected leader. I am committed to attend, to collaborate, to listen, engage and fulfill my duties as your representative because you deserve nothing less.

As a community builder and leader, I see that many families require support and want to be engaged in city affairs. I have been running my own business for the past 14 years and understand when difficult decisions need to be made, such as when to save and reduce expenses. I understand when you need to make investments and I review how I operate my business in the same way. These same skill sets need to be used at city hall and I look forward to implementing them with your vote on Oct 22nd!

Ward 4 needs to focus on:

  1. Keeping taxes low
  2. Reviewing services
  3. Increasing transit routes and times to our industrial/employment areas
  4. Creating safe neighbourhoods for all

2) What, in your opinion, was the most consequential decision on council last term?

The elimination of online voting in the 2018 Municipal election. Guelph is the only municipality in Ontario to eliminate online voting. Guelph’s own Accessibility Advisory Committee advocated to keep it in place along, with City of Guelph staff. By a vote of 7-6, councillors removed online voting – Councillor Mike Salisbury being one of the 7.  This decision will restrict the accessibility of voting, which is a threat to our democracy.

3) What is *your* issue? What is the one thing you want to accomplish during your term at council?

I want to decrease crime, burglaries, speeding, drugs, and indecent acts, and improve the cleanliness of our public facilities (splash pads, parks, and other public spaces).  I am in support of Mayor Guthrie’s investment of up to $750,000 per year to the Guelph Police Service, prevention or supports and technology to help combat these issues in our city.  We deserve safe neighbourhoods and peace of mind for us and our families.

4) What is your understanding of affordable housing versus social housing? How can Guelph develop both?

Affordable housing is a subjective term, but the provincial policy defines affordable housing as 30% of gross annual income.  This poses a challenge for a city like Guelph where rents are quite high and not affordable to many residents.  Social housing is public housing, co-operative housing, subsidized housing, and shelters, and for the City of Guelph, social housing is administered by Wellington County on behalf of the province.  The City of Guelph, as part of the social services committee of Wellington County and in conjunction with other levels of government, can work to create policies that encourage affordable market housing.  This will ensure that the City of Guelph remains a welcoming and affordable city for all.

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?

The City of Guelph has grown and is growing quite rapidly. We can increase sustainability initiatives in our city and green spaces, and we can look to other cities for inspiration and implement ideas such as more community gardens. This will help preserve our unique local culture and the inclusive nature of our city.

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 am born and raised in Guelph and have lived in ward 4 since I was 7 years old!  I have used Guelph Transit frequently.  The current transit review, which is slotted to be completed by the end of 2018, will address the way Guelph Transit can be improved and we can implement new ideas to increase rider satisfaction. I would also like to see Transit work with employers to fulfill the transit needs of their employees, such as implementing dedicated routes to coincide with different shift timings.

7) What needs to be done to improve Regional Transit? (This includes intercity buses, two-way all-day GO trains, and high-speed rail?

The City of Guelph can work with both the provincial and federal Governments. Regional Transit needs to be reliable and affordable as this will help alleviate car traffic on our highways and reduce 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?

More fiscal and operational autonomy. Respecting municipal governments for the direct role they play to citizens and committing to dedicated funding that is expected on a yearly basis.

9) How do you define a taxpayer? What is the responsibility of a councillor when it comes to budgeting?

A municipal taxpayer is any person or business who pays taxes directly or indirectly to the municipality through property taxes and development charges.  The term “taxpayer” is not the ideal term, and I prefer the term “citizen” which is more inclusive.  Citizens contribute to the well-being of the municipality and ensure that our future generations will benefit from present revenues collected by the municipality.  A councillor is a steward of the people’s money and at budget time councillors need to make balanced decisions to spend our money wisely.  Councillors must do their due diligence to make sure budgets are aligned with the priorities discussed by the residents.

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 would not be in favour of cutting a City of Guelph service as a compromise for a budget crunch.  There are other solutions we can implement, such as using the service review results to help find savings and eliminate inefficiencies in our budgets.  We can also look at postponing expenditures on city projects which can be delayed to reduce the tax increase for that year.  Any cuts that are proposed should always include public engagement and involvement from city staff.

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)

The decision to start my own business as a freelance permissions editor was a tough decision.  I had a stable, well-paying job, but I was commuting from Guelph to Scarborough and it was especially difficult in the winter months.  It was a difficult decision to give up the stability of a steady pay cheque, benefits, and pension to become my own boss.  The results have been positive for me. It has given me a flexible schedule to spend more time with my family and children.  It has also given me time to follow my passion of helping my community and allowed me to be involved in many community initiatives.  My interactions with many grassroots organizations and neighbourhood groups have inspired me to run for City Council to further help the residents of Guelph by bringing their collective voice to City Hall.

12) Is there a municipal issue that you don’t think gets enough attention? What is it and why should it get more attention?

The issue of city tourism development does not get enough attention. Tourism generates revenue for the city, which can help lower the burden of tax increases on the budget, and we need to address the issues that impact tourism.  We need to implement new methods to promote and increase tourism.

13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?

I might be knocking on your door soon! However, if I don’t get a chance to connect in person, my contact information is as follows:

Tel: 519-221-9424
Twitter: @induarora
Facebook: /indu4ward4
Instagram: indu4ward4

I enjoy meeting for walks or coffees and I am available to help with any issues or concerns any residents may have.

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