UW grad takes Northdale

One candidate who got to celebrate a little earlier than most on Monday night was new city councillor, Jeff Henry. Just after 9:00pm it was unofficially announced that Henry had won the vote in Waterloo’s Ward 6, which contains the University of Waterloo (UW) and the largely student-populated Northdale neighbourhood.

Henry, a UW graduate himself, was elected with 1,061 votes, followed by Ed Korshewitz with 826, Mike Connolly with 802 and Anne Crowe with 787.

“It’s a validation of all the hard work we’ve put into [the campaign],” said Henry. “We trusted the voters and they’ve reciprocated by putting that trust back in me and I’m going to work as hard as I can to not let them down.”

One of the toughest challenges that Henry will face as the councillor for Ward 6 will be dealing with the Northdale neighbourhood. With issues surrounding relations between student-residents and permanent residents coming under much debate, Henry realizes that steps towards a solution must be taken immediately.

“For far too long we’ve treated the universities and the students as the enemies in the process and we need to start treating them as partners,” he said.

“Together, using the two universities as an anchor we can really start to transform the community and re-build those ties…. That’s where it begins and that’s what’s going to take a lot of work.”

That attitude towards students likely played a large role in Henry’s victory in the Ward and should prove to help matters as he moves forward in dealing with the issues that have come to categorize Northdale.

“I think he’ll be a good voice for students, which I don’t think we’ve had in the past,” said fourth-year Laurier student and Northdale resident Andrew Fryer.

“I think he’s a better representative for the majority of the ward’s constituents and he’ll see students and [permanent] residents on an equal footing as major stakeholders in the Northdale area.”

In addition to Northdale, Ward 6 has a high concentration of students due to the UW campus. According to Nick Soave, vice president of education of UW’s federation of students, the school had a mixed reaction to its on-campus voting.

“I would say that the voter turnout was good most of the day,” said Soave. “Students were telling me that the lineup was 15-20 people long and unfortunately people started leaving because the group at the polling station couldn’t keep up with the number of students.”

According to Fryer, greater initiatives need to be taken in order to increase student voting.

“I think that the students’ union should look into organizing a campaign and using their considerable mobilization powers to get student representation in the wards,” he said.

“I think you need some sort of organization to get people out of the grass roots [to vote]. I think WLUSU is probably the group to do it, I just don’t think they know it yet.”