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 night this week.
Name: Chidi Nwene
Occupation: Community engagement specialist
How long have you lived in Guelph? I have lived in the City of Guelph for 12 years.
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes, I have always lived in Ward 1
Why are you running in this election? My reason for running is very simple. Living in Guelph for many years, I have witnessed the demography of our city change and the population of its people diversify. Our city still produces homogeneous councils, this in some cases threatens the legitimacy of their decision making. I strongly see the need for diversity in our city council, in order to reflect the demography of our community. I am a career community engagement specialist, I work with different groups and community projects. I am a visionary and I know how to bring our community together, getting things done in a timely fashion. My career has been steeped in domestic and international social and environmental justice serving communities, marginalized and oppressed groups.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? I have been actively supporting lots of community-based initiatives in my ward and city of Guelph in general. In the last couple of years, I have advocated for many issues, like, outdated driveway bylaw, family friendly parks and recreation, safety of our neighbourhood roads and bike lanes where necessary. I have also been a committed cultural and diversity awareness advocate/educator, and affordable housing advocate. Working with different groups in our community all year round not just during election period.
Why should people vote for you? Because I believe in our community, I have a moral obligation to serve my community, not with special interest. I have done so much for my community without a mandate, imagine what I can do with a mandate. I have more volunteer hours than my paid day job most of the time. For me it is better to serve than be served, I have a strong passion to represent my ward, to be part of the decision making . I don’t believe in band-aid solutions, I believe in rational, equitable and sustainable long term solutions for our city and its people.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? The major issues are as follows:
- Unsafe roads, some motorists have no regard for residential areas with little children and elderly. I support some kind of speed limit reduction and temporary speed bumps for the summer period
- Not enough amenities. I support decentralization of services and amenities. My ward would like to have a government service hub (Kiosk) that will greatly reduce congestion of the downtown core
- Lack of diverse activities in our parks and recreation facilities
- Not enough schools for our growing community.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? As a rapidly growing city, we are faced with lots of issues:
- Housing affordability
- Increased homelessness, addiction and mental health, especially in the downtown core
- Safety and security of our city, due to recent increase in house break-ins
- Near future projected population surge
What is the most important thing you want to see change in Guelph? I want to see the city of Guelph elected officials diversify, in order to reflect our city’s demography. We need an equitable lens and decision making to have diverse representation in practice not on paper.
- To think ahead, have a short and long term transparent visionary strategy to confront the projected population surge
- Unreliable public transit system
What services need to be improved in Guelph? Public transit needs to be more efficient and effective. Some kind of decentralization to government offices that render general services, to be strategically placed in different parts of the city (kiosk-like centres).
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? The city of Guelph is growing fast, there is nothing wrong with that, but we need to have a robust visionary strategic sustainable plan to accommodate the projected population surge.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? For a local level solution about the rising cost of housing in our city, we need to review and change some outdated rules and regulations of issuing building permits to exclusive builders that monetized the market. These builders make it almost impossible for non-for-profit building developers to win any bidding to build affordable housing for hard-working Guelph residents.
Another problem is that they have bought almost all empty land and properties in and around Guelph, causing the monotony to continue. If the laws can be made in such a way that the city council has the authority to address community needs, then there needs to be a shift away from costly luxury homes to more affordable and accessible housing. I am talking about basic affordable housing with rules and regulations put in place against price gouging. I also strongly believe the city needs to further collaborate with the county to deal with the housing crisis that is projected to increase. “Housing should be a basic right for the people, not for profit”.
What can be done locally about the homeless issue? We can’t keep on implementing the “medicine after death” strategy, but in reality we need to tackle the root causes of homelessness.
- Domestic violence
- Personal circumstances and related problems
- System failures
- High cost of living
- Mental health and addictions barriers
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? Guelph is already a multicultural city, for us to make it more acceptable for different diverse groups, we need to accept each other, not to just integrate but to “UNITE”. Our diversity makes us stronger and beautiful just like the Canadian seasons. Figure out a way to work with each other, in order to achieve a common goal, in the benefit of our community.
Any link to an electronic website or social media account? For information on my campaign vision for our community, go to www.chidiforguelph.ca
For a detailed digital track record of my years of community engagement, social justice issues advocacy, go to @chidinwene - Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin or a Google search.