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: Carly Klassen
Occupation: Downtown Guelph business owner, The Sage Soap Company
How long have you lived in Guelph? I’ve lived in Guelph for 21 years but have also spent time in Ottawa, British Columbia and Europe.
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes -- I live in the Two Rivers Neighbourhood.
Why are you running in this election/Why should people vote for you? I’m running in this election because I think that it’s important to stand up for each other. I also believe that when we work together, we can get a lot done. I already lend my voice and time to local issues and boards, and I’d like to take my involvement in our community to the next level. I’m qualified and ready to help my community.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? I’m involved in the small-business community. Six years ago, I started my business The Sage Soap Company in the kitchen of my home. I used the Guelph Public Library to educate myself on running a small business and I was able to make connections with the community when I operated a booth at the Guelph Farmer’s Market. The Guelph community has nurtured my business and allowed me to grow to become a full-time entrepreneur. I am proud to now operate a shop on Yarmouth Street and be a member of the Guelph small business community.
I’m an avid volunteer. I have spent time volunteering for Hillside Festival, Doors Open Guelph and the GCVI girls basketball team as a coach. I’ve been a board member for the Guelph Public Library and currently sit on the Chamber of Commerce Board and the Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA). Through my business I started a community soap program where each month we donate half of the sales of a best-selling soap to a local non-profit or charity. I feel this is a great way for me to give back to the community that helped me get my business off the ground. We’ve been able to donate to the Guelph Black Heritage Society, HIV/AIDS Resources and Health (ARCH), Guelph Food Bank, Guelph Outdoor School, Children’s Foundation of Guelph Wellington, Guelph Wellington Women in Crisis.
I’m an expert communicator. Prior to working on my company full-time, I worked for three marketing companies. Over eight years, I helped businesses, non-profits and charities build and execute marketing strategies to communicate what they do, and how people can support them. In 2019, I started a local market called MKT MKT. I created this market to connect local makers to each other and to provide them with a venue and opportunity to build their businesses in the community.
I’m always learning. I’m currently taking a program through Innovation Guelph called Rhyze. I’m taking their scalable stream to help grow my company. I’ve also earned an undergraduate degree from Carleton University and a Masters degree in international business management from the ESC Rennes School of Business in France. I am bilingual and spent several years working in the sports tourism industry in France, England and Spain.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? In the next 10 years our neighbourhoods will be undergoing some major public infrastructure upgrades and new development, such as the Baker Street Development. These are necessary disruptions, but it is key that during this time the businesses affected be supported and that our community stays safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
I’m also here to listen to the residents of Ward 2 and talk to them about what issues impact them most. We live in a global and online community, especially post-pandemic, and there are a broad range of challenges that they are facing.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Guelph is undergoing significant development and it is important that we manage this growth in a way that respects established neighbourhoods. We need to invest in various types of infrastructure to meet this growth, whether that is active transportation networks, parks and green spaces, transit, or other public services.
We are living in a climate emergency, and everything that is related to growth should be looked at with that lens. Cities have integral role to play in driving and adopting more sustainable practices and in my mind, Guelph could be leading the pack. I think that the city could look at adding initiatives to push new development towards environmental building practices and work to minimize impacts on the local ecosystem. I’m also very much aware that I am not an expert in climate change and that it’s critical to rely on experts in our community and beyond.
Post-pandemic, we are still dealing with the fallout of mental health and understanding how we need to connect people with services that can help. If we don’t take steps to address this, we risk people falling through the cracks.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? We need to be making sure that developers are working for the people of the community and not just lining their pockets. We should be advocating as much as possible for affordable units, green spaces and LEED certification. We need housing, but we should be doing it mindfully and sustainably.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? We are facing a mental health crisis and at every level of government we should be asking what services are available to help people struggling when they need it most. We need to continue to ask ourselves if we are doing enough and if the plans that we have in place are working.
Active transportation infrastructure needs to be improved to encourage more people to travel in the city by foot and by bicycle. The city should be connected by trails and paths as much as it should be by roads.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? We need to advocate for developers to include affordable units in their developments. We can explore alternative living solutions such as cooperative housing. Where appropriate we can support medium density infill and accessory housing units on properties to increase available living space without drastically altering established neighbourhoods.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? As a community, we need to understand the root causes of poverty. We need to bridge the gap between people and services. With rising living costs people are going to have to make harder choices and it is important that we can provide support and services to help them manage. I believe it is important to listen to experts and community groups when it comes to developing solutions and strategies.
There are many people and organizations in our community who are already doing great work to help others such as Wyndham House, Hope House, and The Bench. These people need our continued support.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? We need to celebrate the people who are already doing amazing things in this city.
We need to encourage people to get involved in local issues.
We need to ask ourselves how we can better help our neighbours.
We need to give businesses the space to flourish.
We need to be good stewards of our environment.
We need to help people be heard when they feel no one is listening.
We need to have a clear vision for the Guelph we want to live in… and we need to do the hard work of making that happen.
Any link to an election website or social media account: www.carlyward2.ca; Instagram: carlyward2guelph