Skip to content

MEET WARD 4 CANDIDATE ... Linda Busuttil

In their own words, candidates tell us a little bit about themselves and where they stand on the issues
Linda Busuttil 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: Linda Busuttil

Occupation: General manager, West Village Community Development Co-operative

How long have you lived in Guelph? 41 years.

Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes.

Why are you running in this election? I am running in this election for an opportunity to continue to make a positive difference in our community. I would like to use my community knowledge, leadership skills and experience to connect Ward 4 residents to city conversations, adding their values and voices to consultations, plans and decision making.

I believe that as local leaders we are all striving for the same goals, a community where everyone can afford to live, public transit that is seamless, affordable, frequent, convenient and connected to other active transportation. Safe streets and spaces for cyclists, pedestrians and mobility devices. And that we value and want to preserve our tree canopies, green spaces, and activate our commitment to fighting climate change with targets and action plans.

I am running for healthy communities, people-centred neighbourhoods where residents can afford to raise their families, today and in the future.

What qualifies you to represent your ward? Ward 4 is my home. I love our rich diversity and caring culture.

Every single day I connect with people, as a volunteer with our neighbourhood food support program, at community gardens, attending neighbourhood meetings, dog walking, speaking to parents at playgrounds, and at many community events.

Some volunteer activities in Ward 4:

  • With my husband, built an accessible community garden on Westwood Road., providing fresh produce to 70 families
  • Organized a weekly food order and delivery system during COVID for 100+ families
  • Worked with residents, raising attention and opposition to Metrolinx Park transformer proposal
  • Grow produce at Castleburry Park for food support program, Youth Skill Development program & Youth Market at Mitchell Woods PS
  • Organized community session at Gateway PS to discuss city’s urban canopy
  • Advocated and secured electrical outlets at Margaret Greene Park for community event use
  • Organize community building Fall Fair annual event in Margaret Greene Park
  • Organize volunteers for neighbourhood Clean & Green Park clean up
  • Organized Peaches & Pears Community Canning free skill building events, along with volunteers with UofG's Project Serve, and Church of Latter Day Saints
  • Organized west end Salvation Army Holiday Hamper evening pickup/delivery

Volunteering and public service has always been important to me.

Why should people vote for you? I believe I bring skills as a community connector, action-oriented change maker, and experience as a four-term elected municipal leader in the city of Guelph.

I have held various leadership roles and am the current chair of the Upper Grand District School Board, with a budget of over $500 million and 4,700 employees in Guelph, Wellington, and Dufferin County schools and operations.

My experience includes:

  • Operational and capital budget processes and priority setting, with a committed equity lens
  • Audit, policy, property, building, accessibility, student senate and environmental management, a few operational committees
  • Meetings and communication with mayors of Guelph, Wellington, Dufferin to discuss sewage treatment, child care, new school construction, and support for climate change motions
  • Regularly communicated, advocated, met with MP, MPPs, and provincial ministers
  • Elected Ontario Public School Board Association board member, Central West Ontario vice-chair and provincial policy chair
  • Art Gallery of Guelph board member

Proud to have accomplished:

  • SDG cities academy training and development of West Village Co-op plans
  • Led the establishment of the international baccalaureate (IB) program at Guelph CVI
  • Volunteer team member that developed the Guelph Youth Music Centre

It would be an honor to serve Ward 4 as a City of Guelph councillor.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Engagement: Ward 4 residents want to be included and welcome to contribute to city processes. Plain language and accessible opportunities for citizens, permanent residents, refugees, everyone, will more equitably identify priorities.

Parks: Parks and recreation is important, as the city completes final year of community consultation. A priority is the development of a splash pad, as no free water amenity exists in the west-end.

Integrated Transportation: Active connected transportation, trails, cycling and transit, that is reliable and frequent. Rail transportation study recommended a tunnel in Margaret Greene Park to connect through to Paisley Road, environmental assessment to come in 2023.

Road and Pedestrian Safety: Residents are concerned with car speed and pedestrian safety on Elmira Rd, Willow and Westwood roads, and Paisley Road. I see first-hand, dangerous intersections and street signage reminding drivers to slow down for the safety of our children. Only one red light camera was installed at Willow and Imperial Roads.

Forests: West-end forests were devastated by Emerald ash borer. Residents hope the urban forest plan will restore canopies and address the aggressive spread of invasive species.

Affordability: Food, Housing and other costs continue to escalate. This is not unique to Ward 4.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? Affordability is at the root of so many issues in the city. Affordable food, leading to food insecurity, affordable housing, transportation, recreation, being able to afford to live in the city of Guelph is a growing concern. Families head out of the city and keep on going until they can find attainable housing.

An unaffordable city will have an impact on our labour force and local economy.

Families on wait lists for not-for-profit housing share that it will be over 10 years before they can access housing, and the list continues to grow.

The city of Guelph lacks suitable public land for affordable housing. There is an immediate need to advocate with all levels of government to support the development of a mix of housing that respectfully address a continuum of family circumstances and needs. This is a national and provincial issue not unique to Guelph.

What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? Like many governments and local municipalities, the City of Guelph is making efforts to balance all of our community needs through socio-economic, environmental and many other plans. All of these plans have a common long-term vision and goal for a safe, inclusive, resilient, sustainable environment, and healthy community. These are complex issues and holistic approaches are needed.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and #17 Partnerships for the Goals, are important and I believe should lead processes to scaffold our local efforts.

The city has taken great strides and supported SDG cities to raise awareness, build skills and support local not-for-profit agencies as they align their work and efforts. Local partnerships and collaborations, between local government, board, agencies, community-based organizations, and the private sector will move these goals forward.

I would like to see an opportunity for the engagement of our agencies, boards, and businesses in the local SDG work at the discussion and planning stage.

Ideally these partnerships and collaborations would result in plans that would align and elevate the city’s SDG efforts.

What services need to be improved in Guelph? The first service I would like to see improved is transportation. Transportation as the overarching catch-all for an integrated network, that includes transit with good ridership and a service that is frequent and reliable. Connectivity to other regional transportation networks, our local paths, parks, trails, and cycling routes is an important part of our urban planning.

The service that I have heard the most about from residents is the city development and planning processes, and the invitation of residents to delegate.

I understand that these local processes are highly regulated by the province, timelines and planning steps, but the reality is that residents feel that their engagement is performa.

Citizens delegate when a development application is being considered by council, and yet there are other processes that have taken place much earlier that inform consideration of these Applications.

If I could improve this service, it would be to have the planning process deconstructed and shared in plain language, “your input and values go here,”  early in another process that is used to guide development application decisions some time in the future.

Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? This is not an easy quick answer.

I believe that Guelph’s growth needs to be in sync with the funding and our capacity for development, such as our water supply (we find ourselves conserving with our current population so what would growth mean), our waste water, and waste system capacity.

Growth in the city comes with a cost, both infrastructure operating and capital. On the operating revenue side, the city’s budget identifies sources as property taxes, user fees, building permit, planning and development fees. Growth capital revenue sources are identified as property taxes, development charges, parkland dedication and the new community benefit charge.

The city will be developing a growth funding policy to support the principle that "growth pays for growth." The mix of operating growth funding in the city is one of the levers that needs to be monitored as the issue of affordability continues and the amount of property tax assessment growth.

I’m not in a position to provide an answer to the speed of growth question. What I do read about is the city’s ability to provide services in a sustainable manner.

What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? The city has provided incentives for the development of affordable housing, with little impact on the availability of housing. This is a complex economic issue that is rooted in the cost of land in the city as a significant driver.

At the local level, there is room for city advocacy for the funding of social, cooperative and alternative housing models to meet the growing and diverse needs in our community.

What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? For me, this is linked to the mix and a continuum of housing and affordability. Our current not-for-profit housing has long wait lists, so new tenants are not able to be added, and families who are paying market rent but would like to leave not-for-profit housing cannot afford to leave.

Existing city owned lands are insufficient or unsuitable for housing. Federal-provincial funding for the development of new community supportive housing is lagging and insufficient to meet the cost of land.

While other levels of government acknowledge the need for housing, the city must continue to strongly advocate.

How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? I have read recruitment packages that highlight our beautiful city, rivers, forests, parks and trails, history, public education and health care systems, economy, community services and celebrations.

I believe that we all want a community where everyone can afford to live and enjoy everything that Guelph has to offer. Ideally, a better city would address inequities through all of its systems and operations, and allocating resources so that everyone has an opportunity for a healthy quality of life.

Any link to an election website or social media account?

Twitter: @LBusuttil

Facebook: Linda Busuttil