“I decided to run for council, because I care deeply about Guelph and my community. With all the history, social and cultural diversity, there’s no place like our beautiful city. But there’s work to be done. We must build safer, more sustainable and affordable future for our children.”
Why are you running for city council?
I decided to run for council, because I care deeply about Guelph and my community. With all the history, social and cultural diversity, there’s no place like our beautiful city. But there’s work to be done. We must build safer, more sustainable and affordable future for our children. I would love to be the voice of all the great people who share my love for this city. I will listen and fight for what’s important to you. I stand for trust, honesty and integrity.
Tell us a bit about your background and experience, and how that will inform the way you work as a city councillor?
As a father currently trying to set my daughters up for their future I’m seeing that affordability is becoming a huge problem. My goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, confident and independent women. We’re already seeing that more and more of the young adults are dependent on their parents as they enter adulthood. We must build a safer, more sustainable and affordable future for our children.
I was raised with three siblings and was taught at a young age by my parents that if you want something in life, you have to work hard for it. So that’s what I did. As the years went by, I worked in restaurant then to the factory industry and even owning a packaging company, never wavering in my resolve to become the best version of myself with each career move. I made a move into the real estate industry over ten years ago when I realized after buying my first home, that being a real estate agent isn’t about sales, but actually more about mentoring, advising and helping people.
This election, we need to vote for the candidates who can work collaboratively with each other and get the results our city is asking from us. As a Realtor, this is what I do on a regular basis. We have to come up with win-win solutions for our clients. I have to find ways to work together with other Realtors to achieve our clients goals.
What do you think was the most consequential decision made by city council during the 2018-2022 term?
In today’s world of alternative facts, discrimination, and incomprehension, it has become clear that libraries are critically important now more than ever. They put residents on a level playing field. No matter what your income, level of education, ethnicity or age, libraries are a safe place and a resource to better our community.
I feel sometimes people forget that not everyone has access to internet and some people are forced out of their homes whether it be due to a family crisis or for people new to our country, libraries are sanctuaries for the most vulnerable members of our community.
Let’s not forget the primary purpose of the library, the free unlimited educational resource for everyone and anyone. This all said, I also feel the budget allocated towards building the new library seems high so I’m looking forward to reviewing why this is. Being in the real estate industry and working alongside contractors and developers for over a decade, I feel there’s potential to reduce this budget.
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?
We need to work with developers on getting the approvals faster. As a Realtor, I’m seeing new construction delays on a monthly basis and that is just unacceptable during a housing crisis. If we constantly have a lack of supply then demand continues to grow making
affordable housing more difficult to achieve. We also need to work with other municipalities to attain more supply otherwise their demand will continue to spill onto us.
We need to encourage second dwellings and accessory apartments through grants or low-interest loans, so that we don’t only rely on high rises to increase our density. We can also change some zonings to allow for more mixed homes in our communities such as three unit and four unit dwellings. This way we don’t sacrifice Guelph’s history and character.
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 regular volunteer at Hope House, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of community members experiencing homelessness. Many of them, suffer from addiction or mental health problems. I listened to our provincial representatives say that they would advocate for OHIP to cover mental health expenses, I plan to hold them accountable to this.
Wait times to public facilities have grown since the pandemic and what I’m hearing from professionals in this field is that people need ongoing support.
I would advocate to the higher governments to create a public – private partnership with the private mental health and addiction facilities. More supportive and affordable housing is also essential.
Would you support a more collaborative relationship between the City of Guelph and the County of Wellington? What would that look like?
How would you increase accessibility at city hall? How will you make sure that your constituents feel well-informed and well-represented in council?
I will be accessible via email and multiple social media platforms that will also serve as as a resource for constituents to learn about discussions happening at our meetings. People will also be free to send me issues that I will bring to councils attention.
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 top priority that I am very passionate about. There has been a lot of division between people recently that pains me. We as leaders, need to work collaboratively to set an example and start bringing unity back to our communities. I feel we need to do a lot of listening. We need to hear the history, concerns and issues that these movements are bringing to our attention and are faced with in their day to day lives. We as a community must fix this and make everyone feel welcome.
Schools are a start and I’ve witnessed my children being informed throughout the school year but there’s more we can do. I feel there is no easy solution to this but we need to make diversity and inclusion part of our core values. If anyone would like to send me ideas please do so at johnbertrandforguelph [at] gmail.com.
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?
We need to make transit easier, more reliable and affordable to use.
We can discount senior tickets or even let them ride for free like they do in a lot of European cities. I will advocate for more funding from the provincial and federal governments to support additional GO train connections.
We can create a bus lane on our busier streets to make public transit more convenient during high traffic hours. Guelph is the model when it comes to green initiatives and public transportation is one of the easiest ways to protect our environment, lower our carbon footprint and help with the traffic congestion.
Excluding 2-way/all-day GO Train service, how would you work to expand regional transit options to and from Guelph?
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?
Affordable housing I feel is the biggest issue at hand. As a professional in the real estate field I’ve witnessed first hand the lack of housing supply resulting to record breaking home prices. The province has informed us that we need to raise our population to 208,000 by 2051 and if we can’t get our housing supply issue under control then affordable housing will become more and more challenging.
My plan is to emphasize the importance of getting more supply on the market. Work with the city and developers to get their approvals faster, create incentives/grants for homeowners to construct accessory apartments in or on their existing properties and find other creative ways to create more housing without sacrificing the charm of Guelph.
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?
Finish this sentence: I would be very disappointed if we got the end of this election without debating…?
Where can people learn more about you, and your campaign?