In their own words, candidates tell us a little bit about themselves and where they stand on the issues. A different ward will run each night.
Name: Dan Gibson
Occupation: Professionally speaking, I am a senior environmental specialist in the renewable power industry.
How long have you lived in Guelph? My wife Katherine and I relocated to Guelph from Eastern Ontario in 2010.
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes. Katherine, myself and our two sons Luke and Marcus live near Grange and Watson Parkway in the east end.
Why are you running in this election? Having served on city council for the past eight years, I am committed to continue advocating for equitable city investment in the east end of our city (parks, trails, road improvements), as well as transparent, accountable and financially responsible local government.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? Working on large scale energy projects with multiple stakeholders and rights holders requires that I be a collaborator. Listening and accommodating the many voices, interests and concerns on a given file before making a decision is something I am experienced in. For some, decision making is difficult in the face of opposition, but in this role (city councillor), a candidate must be comfortable making tough decisions and living with them.
Why should people vote for you? Living life and raising a family in the east end, I believe my concerns and values with regard to the role of local government are shared by many. Front door issues such as parks maintenance, snow and garbage removal, road maintenance, new parks and trails, are a core service that the city provides in exchange for taxes paid. Residents deserve quality service and an assurance that there are voices at city hall diligently watching over municipal spending. Among many other roles, I have been proud to fulfill this one.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Inflation and the cost of living/housing is impacting everyone’s daily life. I have said this multiple times in recent years but I believe it has never been more true than now, Guelph needs a local council that is focused on "not adding on” to the inflation pressures residents are currently feeling. What this means is we (as a city), need to focus diligently on maintaining the infrastructure and assets we already have, before venturing into costly new spending initiatives and large scale city building projects that residents will already struggle to afford. Initiatives and projects that are only magnified in cost now due to the current inflation crisis.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Despite my opposition vote on many files, the past two terms of council has committed Guelph residents to one the most unrealistic and costly city building campaigns in our city’s history; all while trying to play catch-up on our ageing infrastructure. The result is a permanent one per cent compounding infrastructure levy (originally promised as a temporary tax over 10 years), and massive tax increases (almost 10 per cent between 2022-2023), to fund costly, new city building projects. As I’ve said many times, 50 years of city building cannot be taxed and borrowed over a 10-year period. But that is the path we are currently on.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? I would like the new term of city council to not “confirm” the current multi-year budget (set at approximately 10 per cent over two years), but rather vote to reopen it. I believe the new term of council must refocus the city’s spending priorities on maintaining our existing assets, rather than building expensive new assets with no plans to pay for them except through new taxes and special levy’s.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? From my perspective, better attention to front door services such as park and boulevard maintenance, as well as greater investment and care into our youth sports fields should be a service the new term looks to enhance. This is something I hear from parents and sports associations about on a weekly basis; and with the pandemic now largely behind us, enrolment in organized athletics is something parents are focused on.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? With successive provincial governments establishing very aggressive growth goals for our city since the early 2000s, unfortunately Guelph has limited control over the speed of growth in our community. With our growth targets set at the current pace however, Guelph does have a responsibility to get more homes built in our city. This must be a focus of the next term of council because it ties directly into housing affordability.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? As mentioned, Guelph council has a responsibility to get homes built in our city. This must be a focus of the next term of council because of it’s direct ties to housing affordability. Ensuring timely reviews through our city hall planning/engineering department as well as efficient and effective public consultation is a governance responsibility the next term of council must take seriously.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? Despite the ongoing concerns related to homelessness in our downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods, I believe this past term of council has had some success in getting supportive housing projects started in our city. I believe these initiatives will be impactful in the coming years in housing many of our homeless population.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? One way to make Guelph a better place to live (in my opinion), in ensuring residents feel connected with their local councillor. In a similar way residents connect with neighbours (i.e. as much or as little as they want). Councillors being responsive to residents. Being seen in the community. Relating to the joys and struggles of daily life is something that I firmly believe a municipal councillor should be. Maintaining this connection between resident and local representative is an important part of maintaining Guelph’s small town feel and big city attraction.
Any link to an election website or social media account?