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: Hitesh Jagad
Occupation: Manager of a family-run small business (Kirtida Kitchen)
How long have you lived in Guelph? 18 years.
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes.
Why are you running in this election? I am proud resident of Guelph, and have lived in this Ward for 18 years. I am running because I want to represent the priorities that matter most to Guelphites.
Examples include creating and funding more support for affordable housing projects, better alternatives to control properties taxes and manage rising renting cost.
Throughout the 18 years of living in Ward 4, I have seen considerable growth in road safety, in traffic and carbon emissions. With this, I want to advocate better road safety, especially in residential areas, developing safer bike lanes and better establish our public transportation system.
This will encourage people to seek a better alternative, reduce traffic and carbon emissions. I will continue to advocate for more green sustainable growth, ensuring overall well being of Ward 4 residents and making sure how the tax dollars are spent in the city budget while funding the projects. I am local entrepreneur and community builder. Being elected by Ward 4 residence & representing them would be a privilege.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? As a small business owner, everyday brings me the opportunity of getting to know many different kinds people within in our community.
I enjoy getting to know and have healthy conversations on issues that matter most to people and how it is impacting them and their families. I am experienced and have good sense of understanding, hold the capability to have a healthy discussion on key issues that affect people and offer alternative solutions. I believe in continuous improvements and putting the community first. Seeing life’s ups and downs very closely, and am self motivated believing that opportunities are always presented.
I have persevered through many of the challenges presented when I came to Canada. I have worked in manufacturing sector and as a Home Financial Advisor. I have updated my educational credential by attending Conestoga College in Guelph, and have been accredited by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals.
In India, I graduated with university degree in Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com), and I am a multi-tasked professional with excellent knowledge of sales, marketing, administration & management. My back home experience includes working as an administrative manager at a water purification company & managing a Honda car dealership.
I am community champion who believes in building strong communities and putting them first.
Why should people vote for you? While door knocking, I have seen many different responses. Some are angry, some are upset and others did not want to talk. People have expressed their main concern not being informed about what is going in the Ward. I want to improve this barrier by creating better transparency and communication between councillors and their constituents. I want to be the change for Ward 4 as voting means change.
I will implement yearly required reviews of Ward development and progress. Connecting with residence through door knocking (yearly) and provide update through social media and quarterly town halls meeting with my constituents.
Being experienced in having many healthy discussions with local community members connecting with them is key in understanding their concerns.
Door knocking, social media and hosting town hall meetings will improve the communication and transparency barrier that currently exists. Its all about action and less talking. Voting for me means an actively focused leadership of Ward 4.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? While door knocking and meeting constituents in Ward 4 many expressed issues regarding road safety, mental health and medical services. People have raised concerns regarding residential street speed control and the safety of their kids.
Residential streets is a place of destination. If speeds on a street are high, then cycling and walking feels dangerous. We should be seeking sustainable road safety that prioritizes traffic calming and speed reduction. This can be done through using trees, speed bumps and narrowing lanes.
Everything in a street should brought down to human scale. However, a place with higher speeds should only be used when needing to get through traffic; roads.
Mental health and medical services in the ward are lacking. While there are many dentistry’s in the ward, we do not have access to social or mental health services, nor a walk-in clinic. Many residents have to drive to other ends of the city to find these services. I plan on bringing access to these services and mentioning them during council meetings.
In Ward 4, we have five different elementary schools, however, we do not have a high school.
Every single ward in the city has high school. Shouldn’t Ward 4 also have high school ? In the south end of Guelph, they currently have Bishop Macdonell, and are opening a new one. Ward 4 has seen a major increase in its population and development, however we have not kept with the growing student population.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale?
The main issues I see facing Guelph residents on a broader scale are housing cost and affordability, access to mental health resources and lack of regional integration between the tri-cities.
When it comes to housing affordability, we need to strike a balance between zoning bylaws and affordability. With the end in exclusionary zoning, container homes and multipurpose building should help address the housing affordability and crisis. We must also determine a better way of measuring housing affordability. Currently, we use the median price to income ratio, revealing how many years a person needs to save to buy a home in their area. However, these statistics are only based on private real estate transactions, which is not a sustainable model to determine housing prices.
Mental health resources are not being sufficiently met. Increasing funding and accessibility to these services will help in improving the overall wellbeing of residents. Ensuring that each ward has equal access to these services will be key priority.
For a growing city, public transportation is very important, and a call for improved transit is needed. Many community members depend on it for their every day commuting. While gas prices are on the rise, some people may not able to afford such prices. These prices might encourage someone to look at other options.
By encouraging people to use public transportation in their commutes, not only does it provide environmental benefits (like a lower carbon footprint), but also reduces traffic congestion.
The City of Guelph includes a large industrial belt, and many in Guelph and those living in KWC commute to this large industrial belt.
Establishing a inter-regional public transportation system would help to reduce traffic congestion on Highway 7 and the industrial belt. Moreover, we are seeing an increase in international students who do not have access to a car, and many of them are required to commute by bus to Conestoga College or the University of Guelph.
This also applies for residents that would like to upgrade their educational credentials and those commuting to work.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? The most important change I want to see in the city is the overall affordability and cost of living. We should be focusing on decreasing the cost of living and explore other alternatives that funds city budgets.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? Guelph needs to improve its public transportation. We are a continuously growing city, and it is time to think about developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation.
We need a perfect road map and encourage community members to shift from car dependency, and help in reducing their carbon footprint.
Another service that need to be improved is snow removal. Many times, I have noticed that bike lanes, sidewalks and residential streets are left out during the removal process or are the last ones to be cleared, which can create a dangerous situation while walking or driving. Snow removal should be done in an efficient manner.
Mental health and addictions prevention services are not being met. During the pandemic, I, as a local entrepreneur, took the initiative to do food donations to various local charities that work with the homeless population, and I recognized the lack of support and capacity of care related to addiction prevention and mental health services.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? Guelph is growing exceptionally fast, because many people want to live in a city that, offers better career opportunities, a diverse community, puts community first, and not to mention it was recently rated #8 as Canada’s best small cities, according to Best Cities.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? Housing affordability is one of the key issues that we all are facing. This includes the rise of property taxes and rent. With elimination of exclusionary zoning, where only a parcel of land can be zoned, one thing can now be zoned as mixed use development.
This kind of development can help the address the cost, as property is being used for multiple purposes. There are many examples in the city where mixed use zoning has been used. Take for example the apartment on Macdonell and Woolwich, where zoning has been allocated to restaurants, offices and residential dwellings.
With many new projects coming to Guelph, it is important to note overall cost of ownership for that home. Recent construction on apartments and their maintenance fees have become astronomically high. This includes mortgage payment and monthly maintenance fees. Some amounts for maintenance fees are in the $400-$800 range. We should introduce maximum monthly maintenance fees.
We need to prioritize projects that are most needed and are affordable. Projects should follow a strict deadline when it needs to be completed, otherwise the cost of delays will continue to increase and place the burden on taxpayers. Therefore, developing accountability in funding these projects will inspire trust and reliability where tax dollars are spent.
Our development must be sustainable to support the needs of current residents and future residents. We need to have affordable housing projects, instead of building homes that are increasingly becoming unaffordable.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? Through out the various charities I have collaborated with in the pandemic, I have noticed the lack of funding and social services to those that are homeless.
One way to decrease homelessness within the city is to provide support with properly funded mental health, addiction prevention and social housing. With all three being properly funded, people a part of the program can meet with a social worker who can provide ideas or advice of what they can do next.
They will have a chance to improve their education, find stable employment and recover safely, knowing their future will change.
No one is born homeless. Together, let's create a home for the homeless where they are not left alone.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? By supporting city services, creating awareness about our city development, and bringing more transparent communication.
Setting up a goal of sustainable growth, and top of all, my recommendation, an annual review of all ward development.
Any link to an election website or social media account:
Facebook: Hitesh Jagad
LinkedIN: Hitesh Jagad