“I have enjoyed the satisfaction from volunteering in the community over the past 5+ years, and I am looking to make a career change so that my employment allows me to give back as well. Giving back and making a difference is what provides the greatest fulfillment at the end of the day.”
Why are you running for city council?
I have enjoyed the satisfaction from volunteering in the community over the past 5+ years, and I am looking to make a career change so that my employment allows me to give back as well. Giving back and making a difference is what provides the greatest fulfillment at the end of the day.
Tell us a bit about your background and experience, and how that will inform the way you work as a city councillor?
I think as a former administration staff member at a private club, I am uniquely qualified to be successful as a city councillor. Working for and with members, all of whom come from different backgrounds with different perspectives, has allowed me to find ways to work with a diverse team of professionals while keeping the needs of the members top priority. To me, this is like a microcosm of what working for my constituents would be like.
What do you think was the most consequential decision made by city council during the 2018-2022 term?
In my opinion, it is the lack of determination to at least start work on the South End Community Centre. The fact that we don’t even have a shovel in the ground for this project is a failure of the last 2 terms of both the mayor and city council.
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?
My growth strategy would prefer to see fewer high rises in the city. Our growth has to be measured and sustainable. We also have to work with residents and with businesses to find a better balance of property tax rates between residents and large corporations. Our residents pay the highest property taxes in the quad city area and they are receiving poor infrastructure and services for those higher taxes. Our diverse neighbourhoods and variety of community groups need to have a stronger voice in how new developments are managed, so that there continues to be green space and the right mix of facilities for all.
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?
In my opinion, council needs to be proactive in the work that is done in the city for the mental health of our citizens. We need to approach the needs of the individual with compassion and respect and try to provide the services that each person needs. There is no one size fits all service, so we need to make a variety of support services accessible. I will try to ensure that I am a strong advocate for any individual, just as I have been a strong advocate for my children when they have required access to services. Sometimes you have to be the ‘squeaky wheel’ to get things done.
Would you support a more collaborative relationship between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington? What would that look like?
Yes I would. Wherever there are overlaps in services or grey areas, we need to work together to find efficiencies. Not just financial efficiencies, but working together to provide residents quicker access to services. If possible, streamlining processes to achieve this would be a great place to start.
How would you increase accessibility at city hall? How will you make sure that your constituents feel well-informed and well-represented in council?
If elected I plan to continue my various social media outlets as well as ask my constituents to sign up to my monthly newsletter. I hope that by engaging the residents of Ward 6 right from the start of the election, they will feel confident and comfortable in reaching out to me in whatever way suits them best in order to voice their opinions and concerns.
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?
I have been working on this same concern as a member of the Board of Directors at Guelph Soccer. In order to create more equity and inclusion, the representatives of the City need to connect more directly with community groups and individuals who may not recognize how directly city government impacts their standard of living. This starts by encouraging more of our residents to vote in this election, and then continues by making sure they believe their voices are being heard and their perspectives are being understood.
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?
In my opinion we need to encourage ideas. For example, I believe that Guelph Transit needs to start thinking outside the bus. As a city, we have access to data that can help us plan better routes, using the correct size vehicles. We also have the ability to start investing in electric buses. I am not familiar with the structures of many of the buildings managed by the city, but I wonder if additional living walls and rooftops would be something that could be considered. As one person, I can only approach these challenges from my perspective, which is why I will rely heavily on ideas and suggestions from many others. I also believe we should be doing more at the city level to promote the purchase of electric vehicles.
Excluding 2-way/all-day GO Train service, how would you work to expand regional transit options to and from Guelph?
I think we need to work with the cities around us to find better ways to encourage transit options between the cities. Obviously, the greatest traffic goes to and from the GTA. However, we have students as well as residents of Guelph who work in Waterloo, Cambridge and Kitchener. We should be working together (along with the county) in finding ways to provide these residents transit options other than their personal vehicle.
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?
For me, it would probably be infrastructure and facilities. I mentioned the failure so far of the South End Community Centre. Youth activities programming is increasing quickly in the City and we are running out of well-maintained facilities for our youth physical activities. Physical activity contributes to better mental health, and yet we are making decisions such as closing junior soccer fields that were in use every weeknight as well as on the weekends to open up a dog park. As far as infrastructure is concerned, all you have to so is go to the CAA’s worst roads listing to find Guelph has 3 of the top 5 worst roads in southwestern Ontario.
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?
Knowing what little I know now about the City’s budget this is a difficult question to answer. My preference would be to modernize a key city service. Right now I feel as though our residents are paying high taxes for poor services, so this would make the most sense to me at this time.
Finish this sentence: I would be very disappointed if we got the end of this election without debating…?
How we plan to provide the diverse services our residents require, especially those newer to Guelph.
Where can people learn more about you, and your campaign?
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – craigdisero.com
Instagram/Twitter/TikTok – @cdiseroward6