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MEET WARD 4 CANDIDATE ... Anne-marie Blackadar

In their own words, candidates tell us a little bit about themselves and where they stand on the issues
Anne-Marie Blackadar, seen here with her son, is running for a seat in Ward 4 in the 2022 municipal election in Guelph.

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: Anne-Marie Blackadar

Occupation: I am a mother, a personal support worker and a developmental support worker

How long have you lived in Guelph? I have lived in Guelph on and off for 24 years.

Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes, I have called Ward 4 my home for the last 8 years.

Why are you running in this election? I am proud to call Guelph my home, and Ward 4 my community. The west end is where my son has grown up, and its where I want to continue our journey as he matures and flourishes.

Because I’m invested in my community, sustainability, safety and guardianship are at the top of my mind. I love the city of Guelph and I want a sustainable future for our city and children.

What qualifies you to represent your ward? Impassioned: I believe that for communities to flourish they need to be sustainable and healthy. I have deep-seated roots in Guelph and through serving some of my communities most vulnerable I have gained insight and awareness to some of the serious issues impacting so many in our community.

High expectations: As a competitive BMX bicycle racer, I like to raise the bar and I think that Guelph can do better. I am eager to serve, and advocate for the residents of Ward 4 at city hall. I am not afraid to speak out or step up.

Empathy: I have lived overseas, in two different countries for extended periods. I’ve had to adapt to new languages, lifestyles and ethnic traditions. I have the ability to understand and share with others. I know how challenging it is to be an immigrant in a new land.

Compassion: Sometimes, people need a good ear with sympathy and concern, as much as they need a powerful advocate for their needs. I can do both.

Integrity: I strive to lead an honest and principled life. I will bring integrity to the role of city councillor.

Why should people vote for you? I will fight for the things that are important to our community and I am a brave advocate.

Our city has weathered the storm over the last two years, and that is good, but we need to do much better because so many in our community are falling behind.

I am not afraid to take on the serious challenges facing us over the next four years. My broad and diverse experience working with people of various ages and background has given me an innate passion to serve my community. I will represent you, and champion your concerns at city hall.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Affordable housing, rent increases, and the cost of living in Guelph.

Road safety, effective bike lanes and active transportation. Particularly along the Imperial Road speedway (our primary link to the downtown and GCVI high school) and Speedvale Avenue, where two cyclists were killed. Pedestrians have had to walk along a mud trail at the side of the road to get where they are going.

Replacement trees for our struggling forests and streets. We are in a climate emergency and have lost entire forests to the emerald ash borer. We NEED more trees.

Connectivity of sidewalks and trails. Our kids need to be able to get school without parents needing to drive them, and we ALL need a way to connect to the rest of the city. Ward 4 is the only ward without a trail connection to the rest of the city. We need to do better.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Affordable housing, rent increases, and the cost of living in Guelph.

Water scarcity. We have seen water insecurity become a life-threatening issue for many around the globe over the last few years. Heat domes and other extreme climate events could seriously impact the largest communities in Canada solely dependent on ground water. Conservation and protection of our ground water is a vital issue for our community.

Addictions and mental health supports. The pandemic contributed to a skyrocketing abuse of drugs and alcohol in our community and people need help. Never before have I seen people shooting up on the streets of Guelph and this crisis effects all of us. In addition to lobbying the province for much needed community resources in Guelph, we need to improve how our community takes care of its own with creative and effective local supports and solutions.

Health care. We need to improve the services of our hospital. Long before staff shortages and COVID burnout, the ability of Guelph General to service our population was becoming a serious issue. We need to make sure the hospital capacity in Guelph will meet the population of our growing city.

What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? We need to raise the bar in Guelph with regards to affordable, sustainably built homes.

Developers should be required to build net zero (at minimum) and should be incentivized to exceed these goals. We can’t continue to build unaffordable homes that contribute to climate change when the solutions are available to us if we have the political will to use them.

What services need to be improved in Guelph? More affordable mass transportation options to nearby cities like Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge. Integration of our transit system with GO transit, Grand River Transit and Via Rail. We need better access to Toronto, Hamilton and the Waterloo Airport.

Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? I feel Guelph is growing at the right pace, but it needs to grow more sustainably. We need to start adapting to a changing planet. We can’t afford to grow if moving forward does not make resilience and sustainability a part of the balance sheet.

What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? In addition to encouraging federal and provincial governments coming to the table, we need to find ways to implement local solutions.

One example might be to ensure planning services are effective and affordable for builders in Guelph. Red tape and bureaucracy at city hall should never be one of the contributing factors to rising house prices.

What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? This is another issue where the solution is shared with the province, and in our case, the County of Wellington as well. However, in addition to financial support, we need innovative, community led solutions. I think one place to start would be to increase the diversity of housing types permitted in Guelph. We need to take a hard look at city-owned land, and building again to see what under-performing assets could be redeveloped into affordable housing.

Whatever solutions we choose, I feel they all must build community as well as provide shelter. The conversion of hotels on the edge of town into shelters gets people off the streets, but does little to help residents integrate people back into the community. They still have no access to social supports and networks, let alone shopping and recreation, things we take for granted.

How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in?

Improved sidewalks and trail access to the natural features of our city and beyond would significantly improve the quality of life for our residents.

During the pandemic, so many of us rediscovered nature and walking. Unfortunately, we also discovered where sidewalks ended, or never existed in the first place. One day, I realized "you just can’t get there from here” if you want to walk or bike anywhere from Ward 4. We must do better, and we can do better. It just takes leadership.

Any link to an election website or social media account:

Facebook: Anne-marie Blackadar

Twitter: @BlackadarWard4