Chamber of Commerce Candidate Questionnaire
Ignoring the current traffic problems caused by the construction, do you feel Guelph is on the right track with its current transportation plan (The Hanlon, Grid System, Public Transit and the new transportation Hub)?
Answer: Yes. There are improvements to be made in design and implementation, but the overall direction has solid reasoning behind it. Multi-modal transportation is essential – bus, train, automobile, bicycle, etc. – in an age of business expediency, commuting, peak oil, and attracting new jobs to the city.
The current property tax assessment is 84% residential and 16% industrial/commercial, what ratio would you like to see? What strategies should the city employ to reach the ideal ration of property tax assessment?
Answer: 75:25 is realistic and achievable. Residents would like to see it lower, but we must shift to a ratio that reflects the services provided. The only way to change the ratio is to attract more ICI businesses to Guelph, not to stop residential growth. The first step is to ensure we have serviced land available. We are doing that now, with the Hanlon Creek Business Park, the future Guelph Innovation District and our Brownfield Incentive Plan. The second step is to provide dependable energy systems, infrastructure and a high quality of life to new and existing business so they are attracted to build or expand in our city. The Community Energy Initiative is a key part of this strategy, as is our Water Supply Master Plan and Transit Growth Strategy. We are well on our way – and I am optimistic that another four years will yield the fruit we have planted over the past term.
What is your tourism vision for the city?
Answer: Arts, culture, heritage, agri-tourism, food, music. We have so much to offer, but need to place ourselves apart from other communities. Let’s capitalize on what we already do best – music festivals, food, heritage. We have the events in place, let’s expand. For example, Doors Open brings up to 4,000 visitors every year – but it’s only one day long, so we should create a 3 day event program around it.
Agri-tourism is a booming sector. We have the university, businesses and facilities to host major events – horse shows, dairy festival, etc. It would be quite something to bring people into town by making better use of the Guelph Junction Express, as a mode of transportation from in and out of town, but also as a featured experience. Also, Guelph has a thriving brewing and micro-brewery sector. Similar to Niagara’s wine tourism, there is value in Guelph poising itself as the centre of brewing and malting in Ontario – revitalizing the “Ale Trail” program. Create a museum of Canadian Brewing and Malting. Partnerships with existing private tourism assets (such as Guelph Junction, Sleemans, Wellington Brewery, F&M, etc. ) will make this possible.
How will you advance your own political agenda in a timely fashion while, at the same time, working with a variety of interest groups?
Answer: In the first six months of any new Council, it is imperative to create, or reaffirm, a Strategic Plan and most important, to identify the actions and resources required to make it happen. Then stick to the plan, making adjustments as new information or conditions arise. The Strategic Plan is only valid if created in collaboration with business, residents and all stakeholders at the table.
Do you support the directions of the “Prosperity 2020” report? Please explain.
Answer: Yes. We are implementing it now and seeing results. Lessons learned from the past can only help us to improve in the future. We need to get on with it quickly, as seeds sowed today often take years to yield visible benefits.