Waterloo Region’s municipal election candidates

Features Editor, Madeline McInnis, talks to all of the candidates for Laurier’s ward and for Waterloo’s mayor this election season. Answers have been printed verbatim from interviews with the candidates but have been cut off at approximately 100 words per answer.

  1. Are you for or against expanding the ION? Why or why not?
  2. How can you ensure student retention in Waterloo post graduation?
  3. In your opinion, how has King street construction affected Waterloo? Has it been and will it be positive?
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Dave Jaworsky

  1. The first step in getting the ION successful is to build ridership on phase 1, which is around Waterloo and Kitchener. That way we can demonstrate to the federal and provincial government that it’s working here and it’s needed, and then we can seek further funding for LRT phase 2, which will take us down to Cambridge and will complete the system in Waterloo region.

2. The talent at the universities is a key contributor to the economic growth of Waterloo. What we are doing here in Waterloo is making it a more attractive place to live, work and play. We are focused on job creation and entrepreneurship so that new graduates have a great job and a great city. We’re building connections between our university district and uptown through Waterloo park with our new central promenade and exploring new transportation options like E-scooters to ensure that we look like a cool place to live and build your life.

3. The King street streetscape work was necessary because the old streetscape dated back 50 years and was car-centric. The new streetscape supports all modes of transportation including segregated cycling lanes, wider sidewalks for wheelchairs, strollers and patio lifestyle. We’ve installed new exciting tree lighting, an innovative invention of a local company, all along King Street to attract people here every evening so that our retailers can thrive. We will also have the ION running through uptown that will have a great way to bring tens of thousands of people through our uptown area each and every day. Uptown Waterloo is one of the most vibrant urban cores in all of Canada.

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Kelly Steiss

  1. I would really like to hear clearly from the Cambridge residents what they would want for the ION. We do need a system that serves our entire region, but I want to make sure we serve Cambridge in a way that makes sense.

2. We need to make sure that we have a variety of housing options available that are affordable. We also need to make sure that our city is a place where our graduating students feel welcome, where there is a diversity of economy as well as options for entertainment and belonging.

3. King Street construction has been devastating to our local businesses. I believe we could have done a better job. My hope is that as we move forward that we can make it look great, because right now we have to do better.

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Chris Kolednik

1. I’m against any expansion of the LRT and the ION, especially they’re talking about going from basically Fairview Mall area to Cambridge. So I’m dead-set against that. The proposed cost was going to be roughly a billion dollars or so. I’d rather see that billion dollars go towards high speed rail basically connecting Kitchener to Toronto.

2. Simply, jobs. In my campaign, I even specify in some of my Twitter, it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. What do people want after they graduate? And I know that I wanted the same thing, was that I wanted a good paying job. At the end of the day, people want stability, security and a good-paying job. Again, I want to be the jobs mayor. I want to create thousands of jobs in this region, not just in high tech but in manufacturing, continued insurance and continued in the education service.

3. From my perspective, it hasn’t been a good thing because I’m a commercial realtor, that’s my background. Some of those businesses on King Street are my clients and they were tremendously affected and we’ve actually seen businesses shut down as a result of the LRT construction and then the streetscape construction. Again, it’s not something that I would have been in favour of, per say. I think it should have been better organized and better planned for those businesses, but, again, it’s obviously here now and we have to deal with it. We have to shine a positive light on the situation and we have to get more people back to the uptown Waterloo core.

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Devon McKenzie

1. I would encourage the expansion of the ION to continue to connect our communities and our business areas.

2. First, we need to focus on affordable housing and continuing to build job opportunities for our newly educated minds.

3. As somebody who owns a number of businesses in uptown, it was a struggle to try and survive the construction. However, now that the businesses’ streetscapes are open, the businesses are starting to see an upturn in business. So we’re appreciative to have them open and widened.

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Rami Said

1. I am for expanding the ION. At this point, we’ve already invested a large sum of money into it and it’s in Waterloo and the region’s best interest to ensure that it’s successful. When you give up on something partway through, there’s no chance of it being successful and I think for future generations it’s going to be used quite a bit.

2. So there’s two parts to student retention: the first one is jobs and the second one is culture. So, obviously, some of my positions on the BIA and uptown business committee, we’ve been pushing for employment growth. So a good example is when we sold the art building, ensuring that it was devoted to developing more office space for uptown Waterloo. And in terms of the arts and culture, sites like the Button Factory, for example, you know, making sure people actually want to be in Waterloo. It’s one thing to get a job, it’s another to actually feel included and part of the community.

3. Well, that’s a complicated one. I think longterm we’re going to see a lot of positive results from it. Obviously, in the short-term it’s been very stressful, we’ve lost some businesses, rent rates are going up slowly, that’s a systemic problem everywhere. So there’s been some negative feedback in terms of how it’s gone. It was over 50 years old, some of it already crumbling and falling apart. This work had to be done. It wasn’t something we could push off saying that it’s not in our best interest. So for future aspects, it allows development, it allows for stronger businesses where things aren’t falling apart or breaking.

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Tenille Bonoguore

1. I’m pro ION, as long as, I want to make sure that it is supported by a robust bus system as well. As a transportation tool it is, hopefully, it is going to prove very valuable and essential, but also as a development tool it provides a strong spine on which to intensify. So it think both of those things are really important and great.

2. Waterloo needs to be a great place to live for all ages and all incomes and this pertains to families, it pertains to seniors but it also pertains to young workers, so its not just about making sure we have excellent jobs here, we also need to have an excellent culture that makes people want to stay. So for me it comes down to strong employment options as well as really thriving culture, a variety of things on offer in the core and across the city and a variety of housing styles so that there are homes that people can afford in the places where they want to live.

3. The next couple of years are going to be tough. We have to wait for people’s habits to change and to bring them back to uptown, and we also need to, there’s a lag time in the developments that are coming so the population that will be uptown going to their businesses isn’t here yet so I think long term it’s going to get off to a really positive point, but it’s been a hard couple of years and I don’t think the hard times are done yet so I think it’s really important for this city to be working very hard to continue supporting local businesses until those habits change again and people are coming back uptown and living uptown again.

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Carol Parsons

1. I would say I’m definitely for expanding the ION. We need to better support the active transportation in our city. We need to make sure we are bringing people into our city because while it’s allowing them to efficiently commute to work outside of our city, so we definitely need to support the expansion of the active transportation system in Waterloo region.

2. Again I think it comes down to a couple of things. It comes down to engagement, making sure that we create a community that they are connected to and therefore after graduation want to commit to staying in. I also think we have to — intensification is something that we hear a lot about and I think it’s so important because we need to make sure we are bringing people into our community by creating jobs and opportunities for them to be here.

3. It has definitely been challenging, I think especially for uptown retailers, being able to bring people uptown during the construction was difficult. I know that we have some great support from the uptown BIA as well as the city but that’s behind us and I believe that moving forward that it is a good thing, it will bring more people uptown, therefore bringing hopefully more retailers uptown, more business owners uptown and therefore more people uptown so I do believe it’s a positive thing moving forward.

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Elizabeth Sproule

1. If the ION meets expectations — we’re talking the LRT down King street — I would actually be open to considering another path that goes in a perpendicular direction, because I think that in order for it to fully service our city it has to go in more than one direction.

2. People long to live in a vibrant community where there are things to do, places to go, a sense of community and a vision that they can see themselves being in place for many years and I think that if we can build that we will retain people. People want services if they’re there if they say if there’s entertainment, community support, I think that’s the way we get people to stay in our city.

3. I think in the long term it will be positive when we get a more diversification of our businesses along King Street, assuming that the LRT will increase foot traffic, I think we will have a more robust Uptown at the end of the day. Of course it’s been such a struggle and we have suffered a number of loses, but I’m hoping that in the future that can be counteracted and it will really be a great place to be.

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