Brendon John Da Costa
Occupation: Financial planner
How long have you lived in Waterloo region?
32 years (Kitchener and Waterloo; currently Kitchener)
Why are you running in this election?
I've lived in the region all of my life and have seen it grow rapidly. In recent years I have noticed a decline in livability both socially and economically - I believe it is my civic duty to get involved and represent the average persons' needs.
What qualifies you for the position of regional chair?
I currently operate as a certified financial planner, and have managed large amounts of business for over a decade. I have a degree in psychology and legal studies and criminology where I focused on mental health in the criminal justice system, and ran a sizable volunteer organization throughout my time at the University of Waterloo.
I may not have the political experience of some of my opponents, but I'm a tried and true middle class worker; I see the struggles that the average citizen faces everyday. I'm not a career politician, that means I'm not interested in votes; I'm interested in doing the right thing for this region.
Why should people vote for you?
They shouldn't. They should come out to vote for who they believe is the best representative for them.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the Region of Waterloo?
Affordability in the region (housing, homelessness, taxes), infrastructural quality including both public and private transportation, development for small businesses and home-owners/renters, addiction & crime, and a lack of budgetary transparency.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Cambridge/the Region of Waterloo on a broader scale?
Years of division and blame has crippled our society; we've forgotten what it means to be a good neighbour, to be Canadian. A lack of strong leadership has left us abandoned by provincial and federal governments, our healthcare systems are collapsing, and the result of poor fiscal policy is wreaking havoc on the middle class.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed at the regional level to have a positive impact on Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo?
Better community engagement. Many decisions are made at the municipal level that have poor support, but are pushed through with a disregard for what the broader communities want or need.
What services need to be improved at the region?
Public transit, housing, mental health and addiction services.
Is Cambridge/the Region of Waterloo growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?
This depends on how regional leaders can respond. The Region of Waterloo is growing rapidly, and has been for some time: if we properly prepare for the future, we needn't ask this question.
What can be done about the rising cost of housing?
I propose the development of a first time buyers initiative in Waterloo Region, wherein developers work with the municipality to produce low-cost condo-style units exclusively to be sold to qualifying first time buyers who reside here. The cost of housing is rising because renters are being roadblocked from home-ownership by arbitrary regulations and poor fiscal policies, which are limiting the amount of rental units we have. If we help progress renters into home-ownership it opens up the supply of rental space, reduces competition, and improves pricing.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?
We need to work together as a community and develop properly funded and staffed mental health and addiction centers - I propose that we create interim-housing options alongside these centers and move safe-consumption sites to these localized and shared spaces.
In addition, I suggest developing a "Shelter for Service" system that pairs able-bodied individuals experiencing homelessness with municipal jobs (such as street sweeping, clearing graffiti, maintaining parks) in exchange for permanent shelter, food and water, and a weekly stipend for discretionary purchases.
This will reduce costs to tax-payers, give back to the community to reduce stigma, and provide dignity and opportunity to the homeless.
How do we make the Region of Waterloo/Cambridge an even better place to live?
Through strong leadership and governance that is driven by the needs of the people, and not by ideological or socio-political pressures.
To learn more about Brendon, visit the following links: