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: Alex Green
How long have you lived in Guelph? 10 years
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes.
Why are you running in this election? The city is in dire need of a change in leadership. Whether you agree with the location, or even the decision to build it at all, 20 years to build a library is unacceptable. Fifteen years to build a rec centre is unacceptable. Potholes that are old enough to vote are unacceptable. If we’re going to move forward at a reasonable rate - and we must - then we cannot keep electing the same people who take decades to get anything done, except that award-winning parking structure downtown. That thing shot right up. I’m sure the fact that it’s right next to city hall is just a coincidence.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? I’ve lived in Ward 5 long enough to understand the needs of its residents, but I’m not so entrenched in one particular area that I think we’re a homogeneous group and everyone here is the same.
Why should people vote for you? I represent the opportunity for change and real progress. The city is failing at the most basic aspects of government, and it will continue to fail without new people on the council. I’m sure our current councillors will talk about how they have experience, and they love serving the community, but they certainly haven’t been serving my part of the community, and if your only experience involves overseeing the slow decay of the city, then maybe it’s time for a new career. We are not better off than we were four years ago, but we should be.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Housing costs. Since the U of G is in Ward 5, we have a massive, built-in rental base that turns over every few years, which means constant competition for rental space, but also increased competition when buying a home. I’ve seen so many people outbid on single-family homes that wind up turned into student housing, and I’ve heard from numerous friends who are worried that their children will have to move away from the city they grew up in, because they’ll never be able to afford to live here.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Guelph on a broader scale? High costs. If you take a quick walk around downtown, you’ll see a couple dozen empty storefronts. Not exactly the thriving marketplace we were promised when previous councils spent all that money on downtown redevelopment. The rents are too high, and no one can afford to shop anyway because their own costs of living have gone up so much. We’re getting close to a point where people who earn minimum wage won’t be able to afford to live in Guelph, if we haven’t passed it already.
The slow pace of development. It takes forever to get anything done in this city. Plans are constantly being made, debated, passed by the council, and then either cancelled or ignored. The most egregious example of this is the new library; various aspects of the government have been talking about the need for a new downtown library since the 1990s, and as of today, the chosen location’s still just an empty lot.
Crime. The council might like to toot its horn about how crime went down during a pandemic when no one went anywhere for two years, but I still say we won’t have solved the crime problem in this city until you can leave your car downtown overnight, and be confident that all your windows will be intact when you come back in the morning, or you can leave your bike anywhere at all for 20 minutes.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Guelph? The composition of the city council. If every incumbent wins re-election, I’m going to be very disappointed.
What services need to be improved in Guelph? Saying the transit system in Guelph is lousy is a bit of a cliché at this point. We’re getting to the point where I think we’ll have fleets of self-driving electric taxis taking us everywhere before we have a bus system that works.
Waste collection needs improvement, particularly in the areas of oversized and household hazardous waste.
Snow removal has been subpar forever. It seems like there’s never enough salt to go around, and there are some roads that the snowplows just never go down.
Then, there’s road maintenance. Everyone in Ward 5 knows about that huge chunk of Gordon Street that’s missing as you’re coming up the hill from downtown. It’s been like that for so long that it might qualify as a historic landmark at this point. When you drive in from out of town, you can tell when you’ve reached the city limits by how bad the roads get. It’s embarrassing.
Is Guelph growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? The population of Guelph has outstripped the city’s ability to properly serve them. I don’t just mean that in terms of services provided by the city government, but the city as a whole simply cannot properly support the number of people who live in it. That’s not the people’s fault, of course, but an utter failure on the part of the city council. We’ve all seen the numbers; we know how fast the population’s been growing and everyone knew it was going to be a problem sooner rather than later. Everyone except the council, apparently.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? We need to approve higher density developments. I know people are concerned that building anything other than single-family homes will change the character of their neighbourhoods. Do you know what else changes the character of a neighbourhood? Having every house bought up by a corporation and rented out by the room.
Every new development also needs to have a certain percentage of its space dedicated to affordable units, and I mean actually affordable, not $450,000 for a one-bedroom condo.
If it comes down to it, the city can always just build housing itself. When you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself, and when you’re the government, there’s no red tape to cut through.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue? Call me crazy, but I think finding people homes might be a good start. We need to bring down the cost of housing in this city. Full stop. Again, this is not an unforeseen issue. When I ran for council in 2018, I talked about how housing prices were insane. Here we are four years later, and we’re so far beyond insane. Everyone saw it coming except the city council, who seem to think passing a bunch of motions asking other people to do something about the problem and then patting themselves on the back is enough. Seriously, they had a meeting on July 4 where they basically passed motions asking the county and the province to fix the homelessness problem.
How do we make Guelph an even better city to live in? We plan for the future, and then we move towards that future. We say “This is what we want Guelph to look like in 10 years,” and then we make it happen. We don’t sit around for decades endlessly debating, scrapping plans, starting over from scratch, and not getting anything done.
Any link to an election website or social media account?