“Prior to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, my professional experience was focused on helping organizations build and execute marketing strategies, building relationships with stakeholders and helping people to collaborate on completing projects. I know how to analyze and synthesize information, negotiate, compromise and make decisions. I like working with people and seeing projects through to completion.”
Why are you running for city council?
I’ve always been interested in helping people and being part of the community. Being political is how we live together in groups and a natural extension of our lives. Even when we say “oh, I’m not political” – you are. Every sidewalk you walk on, road you drive on, house you live in – requires us to work together in groups to make decisions.
Naturally, I’m interested in finding ways of connecting to people, and helping others connect. We are lucky to live in a great city, with a strong community where people are already doing great things. I want to help and help others make this place even better.
Tell us a bit about your background and experience, and how that will inform the way you work as a city councillor?
My post-secondary education started in Political Science at Carleton University where I got my first taste of volunteering for a federal campaign and completed my undergraduate degree. At Carleton I played on the varsity basketball team. I worked at a law office for a short time, but I ended up pursuing a different path choosing to travel and study French abroad. Later I completed a Masters Degree in International Management with a specialization in Sports, Leisure and Tourism Management from the ESC Rennes School of Business in France. After completing my Masters degree I worked for a number of years in Europe before returning to Guelph 8 years ago.
Over the years I’ve been volunteering for local boards (Guelph Public Library, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and recently the Downtown Guelph Business Association) and volunteering for different non-profits and charities. I’m also the owner of a downtown-based business called The Sage Soap Company. Prior to becoming a full-time entrepreneur, my professional experience was focused on helping organizations build and execute marketing strategies, building relationships with stakeholders and helping people to collaborate on completing projects.
I know how to analyze and synthesize information, negotiate, compromise and make decisions. I like working with people and seeing projects through to completion.
What do you think was the most consequential decision made by city council during the 2018-2022 term?
Oh it’s very hard to pick just one.
The decision to to rezone the Parkview Motel to allow for permanent supportive housing units. One major issue that I’m hearing when talking to people right now is the concern for our marginalized community members. The pandemic combined with lack of housing and affordability has resulted in more people in need of support.
We know that our supportive housing and our social housing is lacking in this city – I’m hopeful that this project, along with the new decision from OLT this week approving the temporary supportive housing project on Delhi St. will serve the needs of people who really need it.
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?
Guelph made the decision to stay within its existing city boundaries. This means that we’re going to be seeing higher density developments put forward to council, but I think there’s a lot to be said about creating policy that supports or incentivizes medium-density infill and alternative development as a way to bridge the gap without impacting our skyline.
In the same breath, we also need to be making sure that developers are working for the people of the community and not just lining their pockets. We should be advocating as much as possible for affordable units, green spaces and LEED certification. We need housing, but we should be doing it mindfully and sustainably.
When it comes to jobs, we need to foster an environment for LOCAL business and LOCAL industry to grow our LOCAL economy. Guelph is a great place to do business and we have a highly ranked university educating the next generation – working together
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?
As a community, we need to understand the root causes of poverty. We need to bridge the gap between people and services. With rising living costs people are going to have to make harder choices and it is important that we can provide support and services to help them manage. I believe it is important to listen to experts and community groups when it comes to developing solutions and strategies.
There are many people and organizations in our community who are already doing great work to help others such as Wyndham House, Hope House, and The Bench. These people need our continued support.
Would you support a more collaborative relationship between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington? What would that look like?
Guelph is the major urban centre in Wellington County and its growth has a great impact of the rest of the county. It’s critical that the the governing bodies work together to make decisions that are equitable.
I do not know how responsibilities and decision making are currently handled between the City and the County. I look forward to the opportunity to learn more and I know that it is crucial for us to have strong cooperation.
How would you increase accessibility at city hall? How will you make sure that your constituents feel well-informed and well-represented in council?
Since I started campaigning, I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people and hearing from them about what direction we should be moving in as a community. I look forward to continuing to connect with people face to face and I’m often at the Guelph Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and more than happy to meet with people and discuss what’s happening in our city.
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?
Canada and its political structure as we know it was created by French and British colonialists who came to this country to exploit its land and people. It’s a tragedy that the system was built to do this. The loss of so much life, the inhumane treatment of people, the oppression – it infuriates me and breaks my heart. But we can’t look away from our past.
We always need to be evaluating how our institutions still put up barriers for BIPOC people to have their voices heard, or be engaged or access the same opportunities that other people can. Sometimes we can be blind to things that don’t affect our lives and so it’s important to listen, learn and respect the perspectives of people who are still impacted by legacies of colonialism and racism.
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?
I support the city’s initiative to get city facilities, fleet and operations to use 100% renewable energy by 2050 and if elected would continue to support the initiatives to achieve these goals.
Excluding 2-way/all-day GO Train service, how would you work to expand regional transit options to and from Guelph?
I’ve spoken to residents who have friends who live in Kitchener who don’t have a vehicle. It can take them 2.5 hours to get to Guelph when it’s only a 40-minute drive. How can we expect anyone to take public transit if it’s unreasonable to travel efficiently? We need to be looking at public transportation models that exist in other countries if we don’t have examples locally to pull from. When I lived in France, I didn’t own a vehicle – but could easily travel from major cities to regional locations without too much trouble.
We need to work with the province and other nearby municipalities to create or strengthen regional transit and intercity connections. Guelph is positioned between three major urban centres (GTA, Hamilton, and Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge) and yet transit options are scarce or often impractical. In the face of higher fuel costs and climate change we need to start working with other municipalities to source solutions for getting cars of the road and providing affordable and accessible public transit.
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?
Even though health care is under provincial jurisdiction, I think that it’s a priority for residents to get a new hospital. This is something that I hear pretty much every day from people. So as a councillor, I would do my best to advocate loudly to get provincial support for new facilities.
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?
Watching council over the years it’s evident that hard decisions have to be made. Times are tough for Guelphites looking to balance their own financial needs and so often it seems prudent to look at making savings where possible when considering these decisions. Fiscal responsibility is an important trait for anyone considering a role as councillor, but it’s critical to balance fiscal responsibility with long-term planning. City councillors have to think about what the city needs will be in 5-10 years from now. Choosing to cut projects under the flag of saving short-term can often lead us to losing out on important opportunities, or compounding an issue further down the road.
Finish this sentence: I would be very disappointed if we got the end of this election without debating…?
… how to get more affordable housing ASAP.
… how we’re going to meet provincial growth targets that aren’t going to outpace our infrastructure.
… how to best manage transit with an increasing population.
Where can people learn more about you, and your campaign?
Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org