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: Elia Morrison
Occupation: I currently work as technical director at Ed Video Media Arts Centre here in Guelph
How long have you lived in Guelph? I have lived in Guelph since moving here in 2013
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? I do live in Ward 2
Why are you running in this election? I am running because while Guelph is an amazing place to live, we have a long way to go to ensure that we are a city that is equitable and affordable for everyone. As a city we have been unwilling to make the bold choices that will lead us to a greener, more affordable, and inclusive future - a future that I hope to help move us towards.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? What qualifies anyone to become a politician? I don't believe that representing the public in office requires a particular form of education or career experience, but instead demands compassion and drive to make our city a better place for all those who live here.
Why should people vote for you? I can be a new voice for the people who live in Ward 2. I pledge to be a champion for diversity and equity in our city, lending my platform and privilege to those who have been traditionally excluded from political processes and decision making, and amplifying their voices rather than speaking for or over them.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Ward 2 encompasses a wide range of neighbourhoods, each with different needs, demographics, and built forms. As the city grows and population increases in density must be managed in a way that respects the built and natural heritage of the area while allowing new residents to find places to live affordably.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Housing, transportation, and food insecurity. Ultimately these three issues are closely linked and can be considered generally as the issue of affordability. By investing in supportive and affordable housing, a comprehensive public transit system and inclusive zoning, Guelph will become much more affordable and livable as a city.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? We need to increase funding to vital social services, drawing from overinflated budget lines rather than increasing taxes, cutting other services, or cancelling infrastructure or capital projects.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? Our top priorities should be improving public transit and social/supportive services. Transit is treated generally as a second thought, a service only for the young and the poor, but should instead be well-funded, fast, frequent, and comprehensive. Guelph transit should be the first choice for anyone wishing to quickly and easily get around the city, instead of the unreliable system we currently have.
Social services should ideally have the level of funding the city provides to the police force. A well funded support system for the less privileged people of Guelph, will have a great impact on the amount of crime in our city that happens simply because people are unsupported by our current systems.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? No matter how we feel about the speed at which Guelph is growing, we must acknowledge that the city is growing rapidly and will continue to do so. City leaders must be proactive in ensuring that we respond to the growth that has already happened, and build with future growth in mind, and in a way that supports the people who live here or will move here in the future.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? Creating more supply is one part of what must be done, but ultimately the bottom line for developers is to increase profits. The city must mandate that every new development or infill project includes a mix of housing styles and that a healthy percentage of them are actually affordable or geared-to-income rental units. Neighbourhoods must include a complete range of housing styles so people of all income levels and life stages can intermingle, creating a real sense of inclusive community.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? This is an issue that needs to be tackled holistically by all levels of government, as well as requiring a societal shift to a culture that understands homelessness is an indication that we have failed to provide for the most basic needs. As a city we must heavily invest in supportive housing to ensure that anybody who needs it has a place to live comfortably and safely. We must also stop the pointless cycle of breaking up encampments, waiting for a new one to pop up, then breaking it up again – instead social workers should work with encampment residents to ensure they are safe and their needs are being met, and potentially creating a sanctioned encampment site. As homelessness and addiction are two closely linked issues, we must also provide accessible treatment, safe injection/supply sites, and a compassionate city staff to provide necessary services.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? As I have outlined above, we must work towards becoming a city that values the people who live here over profits. City services mustn’t be viewed as profit making endeavours, but instead as investments into the well-being of the people who drive the prosperity of our society as a whole.