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MEET THE CANDIDATES: Amanda Maxwell, Ward 5

'We need councillors who understand planning and urban design and will work with developers to ensure a cohesive downtown, as we usher in this era of development,' says Ward 5 candidate Amanda Maxwell
Amanda Maxwell Campaign Photo
Amanda Maxwell is a candidate in Ward 5.

Amanda Maxwell

Age 39

Occupation: Former Realtor (currently home with my kids who will all be in school in the fall)


How long have you lived in Cambridge?

Since 1987 (35 years)

Do you reside in the ward/city you are running in?

I was raised in Ward 5 and currently live with my family in Ward 5.

Why are you running in this election?

I love living in Cambridge! I was raised here and now I am raising my 3 kids here. I want to see Cambridge grow into the dynamic city I have always believed it is so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come. This will take members of council who have knowledge of city planning and development, of which I have knowledge of both.

What qualifies you to represent your ward?

My life experiences have prepared me for my role as councillor. I have:

Honours B.A. in Communications and Urban Studies (Wilfrid Laurier)

  • I want to communicate regularly with constituents on social media channels so they are kept up-to-date on what is happening at city hall.
  • Applying knowledge of planning and urban design as we continue to see an increase in development especially in downtown Galt.

12 Years as a Cambridge Realtor

  • Vast knowledge of real estate and housing issues in all areas of Cambridge.

10 Years on the Cambridge Public Library Board

  • Took part in the City of Cambridge's budgeting process.
  • Saw completion of capital projects including the adaptive reuse of the Old Post Office.

I will be working as councillor full-time and not pursuing additional employment.  If I am elected, ward 5 will not be going from a full-time councillor (Pam Wolf  is a retired teacher) to one that works full-time and is a councillor part-time.

Why should people vote for you?

Cambridge is a city in transition, and downtown Galt is designated by the Province of Ontario as an urban growth centre. This means we are going to see a lot of development in our downtown. The quality of this development depends greatly on those with the power to approve it. Thoughtful urban design guidelines and planning policy are the tools to achieve this. We need councillors who understand planning and urban design and will work with developers to ensure a cohesive downtown, as we usher in this era of development.  I have the education and life skills to fulfill this role on council.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward?

1. Planning and Development (urban design guidelines for downtown Galt, tackling issue of traffic, attracting new development, stopping the Dance Pit)

2. Revitalizing Downtown Galt (supporting the BIA, helping people facing mental health issues, getting truck traffic out of the core, getting the LRT down to Galt)

3. Housing (we need more "missing middle" homes, encourage redevelopment of vacant lands and infill, more mixed use buildings with shops/office on lower floors and condos above)

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Cambridge on a broader scale?

The most common issue I keep hearing city-wide is traffic. It's hard to get from one end of town to the other during rush hour and it seems to be getting worse. Council needs to request that the Region of Waterloo fast-tracks the Cambridge by-pass stage 2 which takes MacQueen-Shaver to end at Dundas Street (It currently goes to Franklin Blvd).

This would allow transport trucks to by-pass downtown Galt and Hespeler Road by using Franklin Blvd to access the 401. Franklin Blvd seems to move a lot faster with the roundabouts whereas the trucks stopping and starting at every light on Hespeler Rd really slows everything down. It would also get the trucks out of downtown Galt which would greatly improve safety and walkability.

What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Cambridge?

I want to see really thoughtful development and urban design guidelines for the downtown cores. I think all 3 downtowns need to be a priority because they are what make us Cambridge.

Development will bring us together and connect us all if it's done really well. We can keep our charming downtowns and have more people living in them as long as we have good urban design guidelines in place. It can be done! Which is why we need councillors who know how to get things done by working with our city planners and developers to create cohesive downtowns. If we lack this knowledge on council then the development of our city lies in the hands of the developers and not the citizens.

What services need to be improved in Cambridge?

I think we need to make sure that our downtowns are being supported. That's both the businesses and vulnerable individuals in the area. One idea is the city having a peer outreach worker that supports businesses by responding to situations that do not require police while engaging with individuals to make sure that they are connected to the services that they need. Guelph has recently done this and I am interested to hear its success.

Is Cambridge growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?

It has not grown as fast as I thought it was going to, but perhaps that is exactly what we've needed. The next ten years we are going to see major expansion! We get one chance at development so we need to ensure that it's done really well!

We'll be building up, so buildings will be taller and they will be in key locations (close to all three cores and along Hespeler Road). It's something we are going to need to embrace as we welcome more residents to our wonderful city. I've heard a lot of people saying they're afraid Cambridge will lose its 'charm', but with good development that's done right doesn't have to be the case. We need to make sure that our councillors understand this and have the right guidelines in place.

What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing?

On a local level the most important thing we can do is construct new units. More units mean less people competing. We need to look at what properties are being underutilized and could potentially be used for housing. This might require zoning changes, such as industrial sites. Small office buildings would be a good place to look now that many employers are using a hybrid model and might be scaling back on office space. You can build a condo building with businesses on the main level and condos above. We are also seeing stacked townhouses which are gaining popularity. It's about using the space we have as efficiently as possible to create more housing units.

What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?

We need to look at what other cities are doing successfully. In Kitchener, temporary tiny homes have been constructed on a vacant lot which has been well received. Ultimately we need a better, more permanent solution with social support in place for those who wish to receive them for mental health or addictions but this may be more timely, and costly, to ensure that it's done right. As I mentioned above, a peer support worker that connects the individuals to the services they need would be of value to both individuals and businesses in the core.

How do we make Cambridge an even better city to live in?

I know Cambridge has its issues, but I think it's a great place to live! To make it even better I think we really need to focus on good development, supporting the BIA's and helping those that are facing homelessness, mental health and addictions. We need councillors who have the knowledge of cities and the way they function as well as a vision for the future. I have that knowledge, and I see a bright future!


To learn more about Amanda, visit the following links:

Facebook @AmandaForWestGalt

Instagram @AmandaForWestGalt