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MEET THE CANDIDATES: Tracy Hipel, Ward 3

'We need to spend less while providing the same level of services, and reduce red tape and bureaucracy to expedite the process of building the housing we desperately require,' says Ward 3 candidate Tracy Hipel
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Tracy Hipel is a candidate in Ward 3.

Tracy Hipel

Age:53

Occupation: Health and safety representative at BWXT

 

How long have you lived in Cambridge?

53 years

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

I live in Preston and am running in Ward 3.

Why are you running in this election?

Ward 3 deserves a Councillor who cares deeply for the future of this community. This ward and city are facing many challenges and I will be a strong voice for the residents, promoting positive results. For me, community involvement is something that I highly value and why I contribute my extra time and effort as a volunteer for many events and projects. Running for city council is a natural extension to this commitment. Communication, accountability and transparency are important in maintaining public trust in council, and will be a priority in my open door policy. As an elected public servant, municipal representatives are answerable to local communities, and I want to bring good decision making that benefits our community, all the while respecting the taxpayer. 

What qualifies you to represent your ward?

The Hipel family have deep roots in Preston going as far back as the early 1900’s. My extensive knowledge of this area, its’ history and the families has given me a great understanding that will assist me with the many decisions that are made on council. I have had great success in advocating for our Preston community, dealing with many levels of government over environmental issues, fighting at the Tribunal, resulting in tax reductions for the residents that were affected. Being engaged with the residents was important and where I held meetings to keep everyone informed and up to date. Due to my background in Health and Safety as well as my understanding and knowledge of basic financial and accounting principles, I am well suited for making decisions that use taxpayer dollars effectively.

Why should people vote for you?

I will do my best to be worthy of your ballot. I have a proven track record of being a committed leader within our community, a strong advocate achieving positive results, and keeping residents informed. I am a dedicated volunteer helping out at community events. I was one of three who brought the memorial benches to the Preston Legion and Cenotaph to honour our veterans. I’m a little bit of a car buff and have helped our local car group arrange special occasion drive-bys with our classic cars, bringing smiles to many.  As your Councillor, I am here to work for you, to listen to your concerns and to take action on getting results. I want to make this city the best it can be. To make it affordable to live here, to play here and to work here. Having 25 years of being a coach and referee of various sports in Cambridge, I feel it is important to keep everyone, from our youth to our seniors, engaged in a healthy and active lifestyle. With your support, I can do more and contribute to the community of which I am so proud to be part.

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

When speaking with the residents in Ward 3, I hear many things. Everyone provides a little different viewpoint as to what is their main concern. Overall, they are concerned of the lack of engagement with City Hall. They are feeling very unsafe in their downtown and on the trails and even in their homes, and where a build up of traffic compounds congestion and speeding throughout their residential streets. I’ve noticed that these are the same or very similar concerns that were expressed during the last election and it is disheartening to see that very little progress has happened in these past 4 years. This reminds me of the time when I promoted having 2 ice rinks as part of the partnership with the Ice Park, and the idea was shot down. However, years later, the shovels are in the ground when we could’ve had them sooner. I would like to see more positive action addressing these concerns with better and quicker results.

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

The issues of taxes, housing affordability, crime, and safety extend beyond Ward 3 to the entire city. It's essential to address the current issues now so that they do not spiral out of control and become unsustainable.

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

Respect of the taxpayer. All the municipal services that are provided by the city, and the region are paid for by the taxpayer. At a time when many are struggling to pay their own bills, we need to work even harder to spend the money more wisely and more effectively. The first step in treating taxpayers with respect is to understand the taxpayers’ perspective. Communication, transparency and accountability of these tax dollars builds the trust between the people and city hall. A reduction in the tax burden and effective management of budget and property tax increases are key to regaining the respect of taxpayers.

What services need to be improved in Cambridge?

Progress has been made, and must be celebrated, however, we are still lacking enough recreational facilities evenly distributed throughout our communities. Recreational facilities are essential to personal health and wellness, bringing a positive atmosphere, which in turn can reduce reliance on healthcare and other costly social services. Youth sports have shown to be an effective tool for preventing antisocial behaviors, violence, crime, and drug use. Even our much valued and needed trails are in need of improvement and where they help people to live a more active and healthy lifestyle.

We are seeing crime escalate throughout our city. Cambridge alone can not solve this widely spread concern. We need help from all levels of government to work cooperatively in finding new ways to ensure our citizens feel safe. Our downtown areas would benefit from more police presence as a deterrent to break-ins and serious crimes. As crime increases, investing in more police officers provides a pretty good return on investment. 

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

This is a great question, and when I talk to the residents in ward 3, I get many different responses. We are in desperate need of more housing. The housing of today is more about investment and profit than meeting the city's needs. There is a long wait list for affordable housing, and accessible housing, in addition to the condos and townhouses being built. Our basic infrastructure will be strained if we grow too fast, and we are not prepared to rebuild it and keep within budget constraints. Much time can be saved with development if we review the process so that we can reduce the time it takes for all the permits and red tape. By reducing these timeframes, the cost to developers will be lower, and these lower costs could be transferred to the buyer, making housing just a little more affordable. We can also look at creating development fees that attract investment, without waiving development fees that end up being placed as a burden to the taxpayer. Cambridge is a beautiful and unique city and we need to keep our heritage at the same time we provide the various housing that is very much needed.

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

The reality of what can be done locally is obvious. Any type of increase to the property tax will be tacked on to the rental or listing price, making housing more expensive. By maintaining sustainable property taxes for residents, we will be able to have more money coming in than going out, inadvertently making living in our city more affordable. We need to spend less while providing the same level of services, and reduce red tape and bureaucracy to expedite the process of building the housing we desperately require. We need to review, and involve our local talent, who can provide new ideas that promote new technology and methods that provide economical housing options.

What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?

Homelessness describes a range of housing and shelter circumstances, and each presents their own challenges in which to overcome. From chronic homelessness, to transitional homelessness, to the hidden homeless, they are all in need of help, but the solutions are not the same. When you add the issues of addiction and mental health unwellness to homelessness, the challenges are even greater in finding housing.

We are not resolving the issues by directing all homeless to the same starting point and grouping them with those who are in need of extra care and treatment. We have to review our current intake process to complete an immediate review of the need of the individual person, and then provide the best option. We require detox and mental health centres for on demand treatment, with longer term support systems. Transitional housing can work if we have the proper follow through to help people to improve and move towards permanent housing, and for them to not have to be in this transitional situation for the long term.

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

I have lived in this city for my full 53 years. I love our city.  I love our community and its history. My family has roots to this city that date back to 1913. To me, there is no better place to live. There is however, always room for improvement, and by working together, through communication, transparency and accountability, and by respecting the taxpayer, we can provide the needs and the wants, so that we all contribute and enjoy the place where we live, work and play.

To learn more about Tracy, visit the following links:

hipel4ward3@gmail.com

hipel4ward3.ca

www.facebook.com/tracy.hipel.1