In their own words, candidates tell us a little bit about themselves and where they stand on the issues. A different ward will be featured each evening this week.
Name: William Albabish
How long have you lived in Guelph? 15 years
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes
Why are you running in this election? It has been my privilege to live, study, work and volunteer within the city of Guelph, my hometown, for the last decade and a half. My involvement in the community for many years has made me aware of the needs of our citizens. As a result of my volunteer efforts and work experiences over the past decade, I have gained a better understanding of how democracy works, as well as how to be accountable, transparent, and ensure everyone has a voice in the process. Observing politics, I have seen some great and some questionable decisions. Furthermore, I have seen firsthand the progress and, unfortunately, the stagnation of our city in recent years.
Consequently, I decided to run for mayor in order to protect the affordability of the city we all love, while at the same time improving the current infrastructure. Further, I want to make sure that what happens in city hall is transparent, and that decisions will be made in your best interests – the citizens and small businesses of Guelph. Ultimately, I want everyone to have a safe and affordable place where we can call home.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? My reputation as a critical thinker who is eager to learn about everything is well known to anyone who knows me. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to learn and master many skills and trades while working in different challenging environments with individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds. The projects I have undertaken have always been successful and often exceeded expectations, all completed on time and on budget.
Through my doctorate degree, I have honed my ability to excel in a new situation or in a new field, within a short period of time. Moreover, I am able to analyze large amounts of data critically and formulate solutions that are efficient, effective, and feasible. More than 300 pages of council reports? Bring it on! I would be glad to analyze and present the best option for the community.
As a member of multiple organizations and teams, I have first-hand experience with the democratic process. My political involvement and interest began in high school for me, where I was a member of the Student Council among other organizations. My interest in politics continued into my university career where I participated in many different councils, clubs and committees.
Why should people vote for you? My greatest qualification for representing my community is that I am a member of this community, someone who has lived and experienced Guelph from many different perspectives, someone who has been involved and given back, whether it is by removing snow from neighbours' yards or organizing various fundraising events.
My experience as a student in Guelph made me want to become a citizen because of the goodness I saw in the residents. I have witnessed the strength that the University of Guelph and its community brings to the city. Throughout my career as an instructor and mentor, I have had nothing but positive experiences with thousands of students. As a result of my approachability, I am able to connect with the University community on a deeper level.
As a Guelph resident, I've experienced our housing crisis from both the tenant and owner perspectives. Current spending policies leading to outrageous municipal tax rate increases are not sustainable, especially as inflation rises to unaffordable levels. Tax hikes hurt owners and renters alike, including students! Financial accountability will be my top priority. We must do MORE with LESS! Fixing our roads and infrastructure should be our priority, not wasting taxpayers' money through poor decisions.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Affordability: Halt or even reduce municipal taxes!
Housing Crises: There is a major housing shortage and not much is being done to address it while we continue trying to “expand”
Healthcare Crises: a larger population with the same hospital infrastructure, leading to obscene wait times and at times, unavailable ambulance service. What about the senior population who this city was built by? Often forgotten by their city and passed along as a “provincial problem”.
Opioid Crises: The opioid crises that is now considered a drug poisoning crisis.
Crime rate: Theft and break-and-enters that are financially devastating to small businesses and citizens.
Green City: As we push more for a green city, perhaps it’s time to update our deadly bike lanes and maintain/bring back green spaces!
Infrastructure Maintenance: Stop posting “rough road signs” on York Rd and fix it! I don’t know about you but holding the title of “Worst Road in Western Ontario” is NOT flattering.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? See above. Ultimately, there has to be accountability in order to appropriately disperse funding and do more with the resources we already have.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? See above.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?
Many factors influence the answer to this question, including the status of current projects and financial accountability. According to many residents, Guelph is indeed growing too fast in terms of infrastructure. For example, the ratio of residents to green spaces has substantially increased over the past 10 to 20 years! In addition, the availability of necessities such as water resources is also questionable. It is my understanding that council is currently seeking access to wells outside the city. As it stands, water restrictions are in place for a reason, and the growing population doesn't help.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? The housing system is a complex one that is integrated throughout all levels of government. There are many things that can be done at the municipal level to combat rising housing costs. A simple solution is to stop excessive expenditures that result in increases in municipal taxes and water/wastewater fees. Guelph's obscene housing cost is directly contributed to by these fees, which are passed onto homeowners and renters. There are also other options for the municipal government, including allowing the right number of new builds, expediting approval processes/permits, and ensuring certainty of approvals.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? Another complex issue we need to tackle is homelessness. Municipal governments play a big part in this and it’s important to use all of the tools available to us at the Mayor’s Office to make sure no one in our community gets left behind. There are excellent organizations in Guelph that are doing amazing work around the clock to address this. Obviously, homelessness is a complex challenge and it takes a community of dedicated people to address it. We’re going to be working a lot more with organizations like the Downtown Community Health Centre, Stonehenge, and all of the grassroots organizations. We talk about affordable housing - and of course it’s important to prioritize this – but it’s way more than that. Homelessness doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Addictions, mental health, past trauma, social supports, employment – they all play a part in this. When we work together as a community to tackle all of it, we’ll see peoples’ lives really start to change. The Downtown CHC, Stonehenge, Homewood, the Family Health Team, all their partners – the folks on the ground – they know what they’re doing. We’re going to make sure they have the funding and staffing to bring hope back into peoples’ lives.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? I believe everything mentioned above gives a glimpse of some of the actions that that can be taken in order to make the city of Guelph a better and affordable city to live in.
Any link to an election website or social media account?