Occupation: food & beverage retail
How long have you lived in Cambridge?
I was born in Burlington, moved around that area for a bit, then moved to Ward 2 at age 6.
Do you reside in the ward/city you are running in?
Yes, of course. Running in a jurisdiction you don't live in seems dishonest to me.
Why are you running in this election?
Cambridge (and more specifically, Hespeler) has been my home for all the meaningful years of my life and, like anyone, I want what's best for my home. I believe I'm the best candidate to bring those results to the people of Hespeler. Mike and Piyush seem like fine men, but I believe my lived experiences, age and field of study collectively give me the upper hand.
What qualifies you to represent your ward?
The rules about who can be a candidate. I meet all the qualifications, and any other answer to this question is a waste of words and, therefore, your time.
Why should people vote for you?
Many people could see my age as a downside. I see it as a strength. As someone who loves his community dearly and as someone who would be more than happy to live out my life here, I've got more to lose. Decisions I make on council will factor in long-term implications for the community and property tax rates. This is something older candidates may not consider, since they may not be around to feel those impacts. But I will be. It's my job to make decisions based on what my constituents want, but I'll do that in a way that helps us all now AND 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward?
Based on what I've heard from people, affordable housing is a major issue. Considering that approx. 89 per cent of Ward 2 residents own their homes, I'm pleasantly surprised to see people care about an issue that may not directly impact them. We need more of that, especially these days. I know some people are frustrated with the magnitude of some developments happening locally.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Cambridge on a broader scale?
Much like Hespeler residents, I know housing affordability and development are key concerns across the whole city. Traffic has also been a hot topic for multiple election cycles, and appears to be yet again.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Cambridge?
Zoning. Our current zoning bylaws allow for sprawling suburbs or high density development, with nothing in between. We need to change these regulations to allow for medium density development and infill, so we can get housing built in a way that respects the heritage of our cores and other neighbourhoods.
What services need to be improved in Cambridge?
Doing anything that requires a permit in this city can be exhausting. I've heard stories of residents waiting way too long for a very simple permit. I get that we have a lot going on here and that permits take time to process, but if solving that is simply a matter of hiring one or two additional staff, then let's do that!
Is Cambridge growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?
If you grow a city properly, Cambridge could double in population by next year and everything would be fine. That scenario will not happen, but we are still feeling growing pains. This needs to be addressed. Growth is a good thing for various reasons, but the way we grow needs to happen in a way that doesn't gridlock the entire city.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing?
As mentioned earlier, zoning is a big factor. With our current zoning system, we force builders (big or small) to build unaffordable single family homes or high-rises. With changes to zoning bylaws, we can let smaller developers build smaller, wood-framed buildings in more areas. This reduces competition for land, lessens the financial burden of construction (wood is cheaper than concrete), and allows us to add new housing to existing neighbourhoods in a way that is appropriate.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?
Finland has taken the right approach to this issue, and I encourage everyone to look into it in more depth. One of the biggest roadblocks from escaping homelessness is a stable living place.
Without a permanent address, even getting a job can be extremely difficult. Should we decide to go down this path, it will take cooperation from all levels of government. Spending tax dollars on aiding the homeless isn't popular, but it has to happen in some capacity, regardless of whether we take the Finnish approach or otherwise.
How do we make Cambridge an even better city to live in?
Going forward, we must:
- protect both built and natural heritage (buildings & farmland)
- ensure new communities encourage walkability (which includes accessibility), and be as efficient as possible to reduce future demand on our power and water systems
- reduce congestion by investing in safe alternatives to driving
- update our zoning bylaws to allow for housing to be built more affordably
- attract businesses and industries that pay well and will work with the City to improve the community they operate within
This all makes the city more desirable and attractive to businesses and residents, which will help drive the local economy, incentivize a greater plethora of services and amenities, and generate higher tax revenues for the City, which can then be put to use in a way that increases quality of life for us all.
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