Ward 5 Candidate Profiles

October 17, 2010

The following Ward 5 candidate profiles were originally published in the Guelph Mercury, October 15, 2010.

Lise Burcher

Age: 53

Occupation: Professor, University of Guelph

Education: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Master of Landscape Architecture.

Lived here: 30 years

About the candidate: Long before being elected to council, in 2007, I had established myself as a dedicated community mobilizer and change agent. I have been contributing to neighbourhood and city-wide initiatives for over 20 years while living in Ward 5 and raising my family. I utilize my expertise in community sustainability and design, governance, and effective and meaningful citizen engagement strategies to strive for excellence through community collaboration.

Three issues I feel strongly about: My top three priorities are all related to managing growth and ensuring health and prosperity for our citizens. We have a very innovative growth plan based on extensive citizen engagement and rigorous study. I am proud to have taken a leadership role on the only growth plan in the province to have succeeded in reducing our population target by 25,000. We need to stay the course with our growth plan and Community Energy Initiative and apply the same rigour and excellence on implementation. My top three priorities related to managing growth are to strengthen our neighbourhoods with enhanced services, housing options for aging in place and for young people. Continue to bring good jobs to Guelph building on our success of over 1,000 new jobs recently announced. Implement transit strategy.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Some areas within Ward 5 do not enjoy a range of housing types to ensure appropriate accommodations throughout all stages of life. Some areas of Ward 5 lack services close by. Near-university neighbourhoods are also experiencing a great deal of pressure with some forms of rental housing which has led to neighbourhood destabilization. I have worked diligently this past term of council with my colleagues and stakeholders to remedy this challenge.

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

We have a strongly articulated vision and responsible plan for growth which is based on extensive citizen consultation. Our Growth Strategy will accommodate an increase in population of approximately 50,000 people. We have succeeded in delinking growth with energy use through our Community Energy Initiative. We will accommodate this growth within our current city limits through infill and intensification with no expansion into the countryside.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

This council has a clearly defined list of priority projects that have been debated by the public and council. Unlike previous councils, capital projects will only be put on the priority list if we have a financing plan for them, bringing discipline to the process. I will follow that plan. The central library project does not yet have financing attached to it. I will work to find financing strategies and partnerships to build the Baker Street project

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

While relationships are important in any partnership, the issue first and foremost is one of governance. It is my job to represent the citizens of Guelph and to ensure they receive good value for their tax dollars. It is also imperative that the citizens of Guelph receive a full range of social services delivered in the most efficient manner possible. With the current governance model I do not have access to enough information to ensure the above.

Leanne Piper

Age: 46

Occupation: Communications: Writer/researcher/editor

Education: Hons. BA, History and English, McMaster University

Lived here: 20 years, plus another 10 in Puslinch Twp.

About the candidate: I have served Ward 5 on city council since 2006, after previously being elected as a school board trustee for the Upper Grand District School Board. I bring a great deal of experience to the council table after having worked for over 20 years in government, the non-profit and private sector in the field of communications. I currently work part-time and can therefore devote the necessary hours to full-time council work.

Three issues I feel strongly about:

1. Preservation of Guelph’s unique character, quality of life and healthy neighbourhoods as we grow and transform according to the province’s requirements under the Places to Grow legislation.

2. Strategic investment in economic development and financial sustainability are absolutely essential to Guelph’s ability to thrive in the new global economy.

3. Stewardship of our municipal assets, such as infrastructure, heritage, natural spaces, energy systems, water, etc.

Many of these priority items have master plans well underway or completed, and I would like to see them through — such as the Community Energy Initiative, Guelph Innovation District planning, Water Conservation Master Plan, and Urban Forest Management Plan.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Ward 5 is an area in transition, with intensification pressures that may result in higher densities and increased traffic. The focus for next term will be to develop in a way that respects neighbourhoods, and preserves amenities, such as grocery stores, Centennial pool and arena, and appropriate reuse of vacant sites like College Avenue school.

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

Sustainability is key. Low-impact design, energy efficient building, walkable communities, increased urban forest canopy, neighbourhood amenities, parkland, live-work options, etc. are all forms of development that will keep Guelph healthy and vibrant. Ideally, Guelph should remain ‘human-scaled’ with limited highrise development. Employment opportunities and transit linkages will connect with existing neighbourhoods.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

New Main Branch Library

South End Community Centre

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

City-county relations are a historic balance of jurisdictions, and not always acrimonious. City councillors represent their citizens and county councillors represent theirs. Civility is a must, and a healthy respect for process and fairness. Egos have no place in future dialogue. We have much in common and must focus on those areas where we can mutually grow and benefit one another — such as transit, tourism, agricultural and economic growth.

Douglas B. O’Doherty

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired district chief Fire Dept. Toronto

Education: York University. B.A History; Ontario Fire College Graduate Management — Fire Command — Fire Prevention

Lived here: 19 years

About the candidate: My wife Maureen and I, with our three children, moved to Guelph in 1991. I commuted to work in Toronto while my wife was employed by Sears here in town. The pace of life here was so different in a positive way. We now have three grandchildren in our expanded family. It seems I was always studying or learning taking either fire department or university courses. I graduated from York in 1994, the same year I was promoted to district chief.

Three issues I feel strongly about:

The three main issues facing the city of Guelph are an overloaded debt, a lack of communication with ratepayers and the realization that there is a difference between the city’s needs and its wants. I am proposing a zero tax increase — yes, a zero tax increase. Until our debts have been paid we must scale back. We cannot propose a capital project one month and next month lay off civic employees. Guelph ratepayers have enough problems (the new HST, student housing in their neighbourhood). The new garbage system must be reopened. A similar system in Toronto is a disaster. The spending of the last council was gross mismanagement. We must petition the province to correct the underfunding of the in-lieu of payments paid to the city.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Ward 5 is lacking proper upkeep of our roads — especially Water Street west of Edinburgh Road. This primarily is a school zone. The mayor and local councillor have been petitioned by some residents by email and phone for the past two years. Nothing has been done. The new garbage system will cause huge problems for residents. This proposal should have been dealt with by the new council. What was the need to rush this through?

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

The new council should shelve any unneeded capital projects. We should only finance those projects that we need, not the ones that we want. The various lawsuits involving the city show the lack of planning on council’s part. My zero tax increase would help alleviate the unfair burden on all the ratepayers including both homeowners and apartment dwellers.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

The big-ticket capital projects should only be started if they are needed and we can afford them. We cannot put forward an unneeded project and next give our hard working civic employees unpaid vacation days. What about 2011? Will we have 10 or 20 unpaid days? The mistakes of council should not be paid for by city staff. I am proud to live in such a clean and well-functioning city but we must stop overspending.

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

As a team member in the fire service I learned to not only give good direction but do it as a team member. There are no such things as problems, they are challenges. We share many of these challenges (emergency services, garbage disposal) so it is necessary to have dialogue with our county neighbours.