Q1: What is your position on the future of GRT transit to Elmira? Are you for/against the continuation of spending to maintain Route 21?
There is no discussion about ending GRT route 21 in Woolwich. In 2014 I promised to start the discussion about this route that has low ridership and is funded by taxpayers by close to 80% of the cost. A task force was struck and through that process, a pilot-project started in September with Kiwanis Transit. A free shuttle service to improve service and access for more residents is being studied. I recognize that there is a greater good to many in the community and would like the service improved to attract a regular ridership that would eventually bring costs down. There is more work to do on this file, but I am supportive of having a local, dependable transit option for residents.
Q2: Instead of a car philosophy only, will this council consider installing more cycling lanes on those streets being redeveloped?
With less than 1% of the population cycling, and a majority of those cycling for recreation, cycling lanes are an extremely expensive option to install and maintain. As previously stated, the roads infrastructure deficit is close to $50 million. There are at neighbourhoods with rapidly deteriorating roads that haven't seen paving in over 40 years that the Township is trying to tackle over many years. Cycle lanes within neighbourhoods and country roads are not an appropriate use of tax dollars in my opinion. When Barnswallow Dr is reconstructed in 2020 an off-road multi-use pathway may be an appropriate addition because of the volume of traffic. On Regional road projects I would support installing cycle lanes where appropriate. The Church St E reconstruction project will not have cycle lanes as it would require purchasing and demolishing several properties -- again, not an appropriate use of tax dollars.
Q3: Are there any new recreational initiatives that you can envision for the township over the next four years? What about in the longer term?
Maximizing use of our facilities is priority one. In my first year, I struck a task force looking for revenue-generating and new program opportunities for the community. Some of those efforts have been implemented, while others will be phased in over the years as budget and finance permit. The first year of the Elmira Splash Pad is being evaluated to how we manage $30,000 annual operating expense. The ice maker at the WMC will also need to be replaced very soon. Improvements to Bolender Park will need to be addressed to accommodate the expanded use. Washroom facilities and increased parking will have to be looked at. Breslau is looking to make park improvements at Breslau Memorial. Longer term recreational opportunities need a much larger community discussion.
Q4: Elmira’s downtown core is facing challenges from truck traffic, the disappearance of retail stores to services, and the removal of the ash trees (which haven’t been replaced), to name a few. What do you see as a priority for Elmira and do you see it as a priority for improving the downtown core?
More Council and community advocacy to Region to support a bypass route around Elmira before 2041 as is in the Region Transporation Master Plan 2018. I would like to see more crosswalks installed and decreasing speeds to 30kms in the downtown core to minimize noise and safety issues for pedestrians. Open zoning in downtown core needs to change to retail/commercial. The Region put off downtown reconstruction since 2013. Was again supposed to be reconstructed in 2019. Date pushed off again to 2021. The newly supported Elmira Greening Plan has suggestions for downtown tree replacement. Business will start if they know they have a supportive community -- that means if you want more retail/service businesses in the core you need to actively support them whenever you can.
Q5: What are your plans to stabilize the core residential neighbourhoods of our towns?
Interacting with our neighbours and working together makes our connection with the community so much greater. Encouraging more neighbourhood development and events is one way the municipality can help foster those connections to each other. Having more local services within our communities keeps us and our dollars working within the community. The buy local effect helps everyone in our communities helping stabilize all of our neighbourhoods.
Q6: On October 17th, recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada. How do you feel about this and how do you see this fitting in with the current culture in Woolwich Township? Do you see it being sold in stores downtown? What do you feel will be the impact on local government?
Having a criminal record for marijuana use never made sense to me, I'm glad the federal government has delegalized recreational use. Creating a retail market for marijuana is a different aspect that I am ambivalent about. In Woolwich Township we already have a licensed marijuana growing facility in Breslau — our municipality had no say in that decision. I have no idea what a facility would look like as to a fit in downtown Elmira. Liquor, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets are sold in stores in the core and have a similar perception to marijuana use. We had a horse racetrack with betting in Elmira for almost 100 years without conflict with the community. I'm willing to have that discussion before making a decision. The social impacts would be a Regional Public Health issue. From reports, it seems that smoking legislation will apply to recreational marijuana use, so little impact from a bylaw perspective.
I am still looking for information from the province on this subject. As of recently, it seems that our municipality has a one-time option to opt-out of retail sales with the option to opt-in at a later date. I would support opting-out at this time until the community has an opportunity to have a fulsome discussion of the impact on our communities.
Q7: Vaping has become an epidemic among teens. Are you concerned that there is a vape store just a short walk from the high school?
I am more concerned with vaping in general — I believe studies are starting to confirm their effects are as destructive as cigarette smoking. Parents are being too cavalier about allowing their children to start this habit as young developing adults. Vaping supplies (like marijuana) are largely purchased online and shipped to users. There is an abundance of access from across the globe for those choosing to participate in this use.
Q8: A councillor’s role requires interaction with many community groups, businesses, and stakeholders. How would you resolve or manage differences when working with community members?
Listen. Find common ground. See what concessions can be made between those involved and be guided by what's in the best interest of the public good.
Q9: With the new housing developments and growth in Elmira, what do you see as a solution to the traffic congestion on highway 85 and coming into Elmira at Arthur Street?
The Region needs to make investments in intersection improvements. The commute to Waterloo and home at many times throughout the day are brutal. Double lanes from Waterloo and a much larger roundabout would serve our community well. The community needs to help make the case to The Region to make these improvements.
Q10: Now that Ken Seiling is retiring, is there going to be a change in the township’s relationship with the Region of Waterloo? How can you ensure that the voices of the townships are heard?
The position of Chair is responsible for working with the townships and city as an equal partner. I don't expect that relationship to change. Mayor Shantz is Woolwich Township's voice on Regional Council and I anticipate she will continue to advocate on Regional issues for Woolwich. Being successful on Regional Council requires many relationships, not just the chair.