Mark Gernon is one of six challengers vying for the two Ward 1 seats against the two incumbents.
1) In 100 words or less, what’s your main reason to run for council?
The only way to make a difference is to get involved. I moved to Guelph; to the East End 18 years ago, and I have seen little progress on the development that was promised or upkeep of our Ward 1.
Traffic has increased as have the speeds of vehicles.
A home developer deforested my neighbourhood and left us with another empty rock filled field.
One councillor doing the work for two over the last term is not working; and not benefiting the Ward 1 residents.
I believe that a true and concerted effort is needed to bring these concerns to Council and work with City Staff to get results and advocate for Ward 1.
2) What, in your opinion, was the most consequential decision on council last term?
The removal of on-line voting, in my opinion was a step backward.
Why would any Council pull-out of on-line voting?
With no evidence of any wrongdoing in the 2004 election, with a higher voter participation rate, some councillors moved and passed a motion to remove a tool that allowed better access, and allowed for a convenient and alternate way to vote.
3) What is *your* issue? What is the one thing you want to accomplish during your term at council?
There are several issues that precipitated me to run for Ward 1.
At the forefront, I want and will advocate strongly for Ward 1, for East end development. To the East of Victoria Road are areas that have not received the attention needed. The Loblaw companies have not moved on developing its property at the end of Starwood and they are not a good or positive corporate partner in our community; York Road development is moving at a glacial pace and it is one of, if not the worst road coming into Guelph, and I am not pleased with having always go to Guelph South to dine out.
Second – Traffic.
As a community, we have to jointly address speed, and traffic rule compliance. I will work with Council, the Guelph Police Service and our Ward 1 residents, to find ways through the use of enforcement, technology, and traffic calming, or combination of all three to make our community roads safer, especially for our children and seniors.
Third, the Downtown Core. We have a great downtown area and we have to keep it accessible and safe for everyone at all times. Working with support from Council members from Wards 1, 3, and 5, and with engagement and collaboration with the Downtown Guelph Business Association, the Guelph Police Service, the University of Guelph, Public Health, and City Staff, we can make our Downtown the “place to be” .
4) What is your understanding of affordable housing versus social housing? How can Guelph develop both?
“Affordable” housing can be a subjective term. There are definitions that take into account the percentage of costs versus annual income. I believe it is important to address issues that mitigate increasing costs, allow the City to deliver cost effective services in order to keep housing affordable. Over the next Council’s term there will be updated MPAC assessments, and those assessments if based on inflated artificial home/property values may have a significant and negative impact on property taxes and may cause harm to “affordable” housing. We need to ensure MPAC is applied fairly and to look at incentives and by-law reform to increase housing inventory and to encourage different types of housing ideas.
Social housing is government funded. Social housing managed by the County of Wellington which receives funding from all level s of government. We need to look at incentives to allow people to access the rental market through social funding; look at increasing an integrative and inclusive co-operative housing plan.
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?
We need to engage the provincial government to revisit the Places to Grow Act, 2005, and allow the City to chart its own path as outlined in the City’s Official Plan.
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?
Living in the East End where there are limited to no nearby places to shop or dine, leads to relying on cars and not transit. My experience with Guelph transit is limited. My experience with other transit providers is unique, as I have worked for the Toronto Transit Commission, and have experience working on the construction projects for Light Rail and Bus right-of-ways.
I do believe current Council and Staff understand the issues on transit. Transit is a difficult file to address in a couple of paragraphs, and to improve our Transit, I believe speaking with the employees who deliver the service would be the best place to start.
7) What needs to be done to improve Regional Transit? (This includes intercity buses, two-way all-day GO trains, and high-speed rail?
Everything to do with regional transit needs to improve. The inter-city transit is lacking, and needs attention. This is not just a Guelph issue to fix. The City with support from the surrounding municipalities, the provincial and federal government, need to get the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail (RER) plan implemented sooner.
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?
Guelph and all municipalities continue to be burdened by the downloaded programs and services. We have to find ways to deliver services collaboratively. See Q9 – there is only one taxpayer.
9) How do you define a taxpayer? What is the responsibility of a councillor when it comes to budgeting?
There is only one wallet per taxpayer. It is the responsibility for a councillor to remember – this is not THEIR money – it is a trust that has been given for the purposes of doing the right thing for the benefit of the City and its residents/businesses.
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?
Hypothetical – Why is the City in a Budget crunch? Something went wrong if we are at this point. And we cannot take a knee-jerk reactions to solve these issues. There is no correct hypothetical answer to this question.
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)
Making the decision to run for office. This is not an easy undertaking. I made the decision with the support of Jen and my kids, because I saw and we experienced an ineffective and poor performance from a long-standing council member who only coveted my vote every few years and then went silent, ignoring everything that he ran on or committed to – and failed to respond to legitimate issues in Ward 1.
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 EAST END.
We have not got the attention yet
13) Where can people learn more about you, or your campaign, and how can they get in touch with you?