Ward 7 challenges political knowledge
All six candidates running in Ward 7 attended the debate. The issues that were raised shed light on each of the candidates’ visions for the city.
On the question of the environment, the candidates were unanimous in promoting more sustainable practices, which Peter Woolstencroft summed up by stating, “The best legacy a council can leave is a better environment in four years.”
The debate became more heated as Duncan McLean turned the focus of the environment specifically to the Waterloo Moraine, which in 2003 had developments approved on the area.
“What council did was meet provincial standards,” Woolstencroft responded, adding that more could have been done to ensure the protection of the moraine. Retaliating at this response, McLean said that Woolstencroft was “generalizing” the issue and providing no solution.
Following a comment by Epp on the need to intensify the city’s core which is “mandated by the provincial government”, she shifted the topic of discussion to student accommodation asking her fellow candidates how they would improve housing.
Pointing to the problem of “sub-standard” houses that students live in, Edwin Laryea said, “I would change the bureaucratic approach in dealing with these issues.”
Laryea went on to add that he would like to create “friendly competition” between neighbourhoods to promote community building.
Better enforcing by-laws to ensure the quality of student homes was a solution addressed by all the candidates. “We need to get by-law more involved and to [keep up] the property standards,” said Melissa Durrell. “There’s no need for a couch on the front lawn.”
Also calling for a better standard of housing, Noel Butler suggested creating an online database that provides housing regulations and lists whether homes have met those standards after inspection.
Yet it was not the issue of students that resulted in strong disagreement between candidates. A question on the increase or lowering any of the three municipal taxes — commercial, industrial and residential — was posed by Woolstencroft.
Durrell’s immediate response covering all three areas stating, “I would raise taxes at an inflationary rate,” invoked strong dialogue as Woolstencroft pointed to the candidacy’s lack of knowledge on the municipality’s finances.
“I think residential tax payers are getting hit hard,” Woolstencroft expressed, clarifying the purpose of his question, which sought to outline each candidate’s view of whether tax burdens should be shifted.
Laryea disagreed with Woolstencroft’s question, explaining, “Council is more than just taxes.”