CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE – Dan Gibson, Ward 1 Councillor

“Having served on city council for the past 8 years, I am committed to continue advocating for equitable City investment in the east end of our City (Parks, Trails, Road Improvements), as well as transparent, accountable and financially responsible local government.”

Why are you running for city council?

Having served on city council for the past 8 years, I am committed to continue advocating for equitable City investment in the east end of our City (Parks, Trails, Road Improvements), as well as transparent, accountable and financially responsible local government.

Tell us a bit about your background and experience, and how that will inform the way you work as a city councillor?

Professionally speaking, I am a Sr. Environmental Specialist in the Renewable Power Industry. Working on large scale energy projects with multiple stakeholders and rights holders requires that I be a collaborator. Listening and accommodating the many voices, interests and concerns on a given file before making a decision is something I am experienced in. For some, decision making is difficult in the face of opposition, but in this role (City Councillor), a candidate must be comfortable making tough decisions and living with them.

What do you think was the most consequential decision made by city council during the 2018-2022 term?

Two decisions made during the past term of council that have the greatest potential consequences are the approval of a 2 year near 10% increase in property taxes between 2022-2023. With inflation creating all new pressures for city finances, the second year increase (2023), is currently set at >5%. The new term will have an opportunity to address this through the budget confirmation process if the will of council allows. But that takes political will.

The second decision made (which is certain to add to the already soaring cost of inflation), was the decision to build a >$70M dollar new library on Baker Street. Reports based on development charges and growth projections (square feet needed), put the original cost of this project at approximately $40M (if built in accordance with growth), however, the desire of council was to build a significantly larger library that would bring a new 20 year tax levy to Guelph residents in order to pay for it. I support the construction of a new library to replace the ageing downtown branch, but I also believe the cost of this decision was a mistake and if given the opportunity, I would vote to re-evaluate this decision in the new term.

Guelph has to make accommodation for 208,000 people and have 116,000 jobs ready by 2051. What’s your growth strategy, and how will you co-ordinate with developers, neighbourhoods and community groups to achieve it?

With successive provincial governments establishing very aggressive growth goals for our City since the early 2000’s, unfortunately Guelph has limited control over the speed of growth in our community. With our growth targets set at the current pace however, Guelph does have a responsibility to get more homes built in our City. This must be a focus of the next term of council because it ties directly into housing affordability. Ensuring timely reviews through our City Hall planning/engineering department as well as efficient and effective public consultation is a governance responsibility the next term of council must take seriously.

Homelessness and the mental health and addiction crises are having a profound impact on Guelph, what can be done at a council level to address these issues, and what will you do as an individual councillor to address them?

Despite ongoing concerns related to homelessness in our downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, I believe this past term of council has had some success in getting supportive housing projects started in our City. I believe these initiatives will be impactful in the coming years in housing many of our homeless population.

Would you support a more collaborative relationship between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington? What would that look like?

I feel like the relationship between the city and the County of Wellington has improved in recent years. Guelph has a seat at the table and our Mayor regularly engages the County in it’s decision making. As a councillor I have no issues asking for greater transparency and results based metrics from the County on their housing initiatives. To date (to my knowledge), they have always accommodated any/all requests from Guelph City Council.

How would you increase accessibility at city hall? How will you make sure that your constituents feel well-informed and well-represented in council?

One way to help residents feel informed (in my opinion), in ensuring residents feel connected with their local councilor. In a similar way residents connect with neighbours (i.e. as much or as little as they want 😊). Councillors being responsive to residents. Being seen in the community. Relating to the joys and struggles of daily life is something that I firmly believe a municipal councillor should be. Maintaining this connection between resident and local representative is an important part of maintaining Guelph’s small town feel and big city attraction.

Movements like Black Lives Matter and the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools have made the creation of more equity and inclusion at city hall a top priority. How will you help promote greater representation and work to create more equity and inclusion at the City of Guelph?

This is a very personal question and one that I am happy to respond to. I am connected to, and have made myself available to, numerous council candidates from the BIPOC community throughout their decision making process (when considering running for council) and will continue to do so. I believe diversity of perspective and lived experience is an important quality for Guelph City Council to have.

The City of Guelph, as a corporation, is responsible for three per cent of emissions locally. What will you do to encourage and assist the Royal City to reach it’s net zero and 100 per cent renewable goals?

My voting record on this issue speaks for itself. I was the first councillor to bring forward a motion in 2016 looking to electrify our corporate transit fleet and have supported all corporate decisions with regards to the Community Energy Initiatives, Net Zero initiatives and our 100% Renewable corporate energy goals. I’ll point out that Guelph’s Net Zero 2050 Goal was established well in advance of the Federal Net Zero Goal for the same timeline.

Excluding 2-way/all-day GO Train service, how would you work to expand regional transit options to and from Guelph?

I believe in providing truthful and realistic answers to your questions Adam.😊. As such, I must say, regional transit improvements will largely be tied to Go Train Service and political will at the Provincial/Federal level. I know this feels like a non-answer but this is how I see this issue.

If you could dedicate your time on city council to one issue over the next four years, like you were a federal or provincial cabinet minister, what would that be, and why?

This is a great question. While I wouldn’t want residents to feel like I was solely focused on one issue alone; one that I see as needing the most improvement is the current state of our downtown. Guelph and it’s partners with the County of Wellington as well as the Guelph Police Service and Court Services, must continue coming together to help solve the issues and concerns related to the downtown. Our homeless population needs facilities to support them during the daytime (in addition to shelter services), and our downtown patrons and merchants need assurances of a peaceful and pleasant experience.

It’s budget time: You have a heritage building redevelopment project, the modernization of a key city service, or you can reduce the proposed budget increase by a full percentage point. You can either fund one of these endeavours in their entirety, or you can assign each option a portion of funding. What’s your motion?

If it’s a city owned asset I do not see a “1% budget reduction” as an option in this scenario. As part of any diligent asset management program, City owned facilities must be maintained. In terms of modernizing a key city service, I believe a proper business plan compete with a rate of return on the investment should be considered.

Finish this sentence: I would be very disappointed if we got the end of this election without debating…?

Affordability vs The Current City Building Capital Agenda

Where can people learn more about you, and your campaign?
@DanGibsonCllr on Instagram and Twitter
Dan Gibson Guelph on Facebook

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