Occupation: Engineer and entrepreneur
How long have you lived in Cambridge/Waterloo Region?
Why are you running in this election?
I am running to begin the transformation of Regional Council to reflect its success and its diversity. I am a positive example of both. Regional council is a large institution with big budgets, responsibilities, and services to provide. I know how and have desire to include those who have felt left out. I know many are struggling. Together we need to get the real and important work done on time, on budget, on target.
What qualifies you to represent the city at regional council?
Waterloo Region is Ontario’s innovation capital. I am confident we can better address many of the anxieties affecting our cities and region like affordability, smart growth, and sustaining the services each community needs. It takes leadership and an ability to get the important work done. I offer both.
Why should people vote for you?
Knowing the right questions to ask and where to look for opportunities to save money, I am going to ensure Cambridge gets our fair share of investment and value for the tax dollars sent to Waterloo Region.
My presence on Regional Council I think will better enable many of the constituencies in our community to connect to what council is doing and being more proactive in soliciting their comments and recommendations.
This is instead of everyone finding out after the fact and feeling, understandably, that they were not included despite decisions impacting them the most.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the Region of Waterloo?
Affordable housing and more housing supply, homelessness, neighbourhood safety, transit, and economic development. Proper funding allocation to our region from Federal and provincial partners to address mental health wrap around services and effective policing to maintain law and order.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Cambridge/the Region of Waterloo on a broader scale?
We need to focus on delivering the core services of what our community needs. Responsible growth is a must before spending our tax dollars on unproven ideas that are not the Region’s responsibility. We need get the priorities straight and ignore “nice-to-do,” projects.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed at the regional level to have a positive impact on Cambridge?
Spending is not currently based on the population and not equally distributed. Kitchener and Waterloo get bigger pieces of the pie and Cambridge is getting the leftovers. What must be done, needs to get done first.
What services need to be improved at the region?
Improvement is a continuous process, and it must follow the money. Using my experience and skills I have learned in my own business to right-size how the region operates will strengthen accountability measures, increase disclosure on spending and decision making, and create a culture where all employees are empowered to question the status-quo to break the "this is how we have always done it” mentality.
You work hard for your money; the Region should work harder to ensure it is spent wisely.
Is Cambridge/the Region of Waterloo growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough?
In my opinion, it is growing just at the right amount. When we have good universities, colleges, trade schools, well-paying jobs, easier connectivity to GTA and USA borders, and a caring community. Growth is inevitable and we need to be prepared with proper infrastructure, services, and related agencies to ensure people are less dependent without worrying about what the regional government should do proactively to take care of its residents.
What can be done about the rising cost of housing?
The rising cost of housing is not unique to Waterloo Region. It’s a national issue. The province and federal government have more tools at their disposal frankly and the revenue streams to assist the region.
What the Region of Waterloo can expedite priorities that hasten approvals for projects, cut red-tape, and get applications approved faster.
What can be done locally about the homelessness issue?
We need to work as our first priority to reduce barriers to building more housing faster and smarter. Identify the areas where we could develop four season trailer parks, take inventories of abandoned buildings to look at potential conversion, and also certain buildings owned by the region and city to have density and height restrictions revisited and lease it to developers to build and operate affordable rentals.
There are too many opportunities, so little time, and too many are out of time to secure safe, long-term housing. The list is not getting any shorter on a daily basis. It’s a crisis and as a developed nation, it’s not acceptable to see our own people suffer. If we don’t take care of our own citizens, no one else will.
How do we make the Region of Waterloo/Cambridge an even better place to live in?
Roads and transit both remain core mandates of local and regional government. There is never a time where they are not focal. Greening our transit system is not just a priority with which I agree but has support with the province and the federal government too. I am committed to leveraging my relationships with provincial ministries to ensure they know what the region and city needs with respect to traditional infrastructure funding and inputs are along with the social services that protect the vulnerable.
Increasing capacity outside of traditional health-care delivery for rehabilitation, addictions, and mental health services is critical. I am a big believer that one-size fits all solutions create mediocre results and would like to see made in Waterloo region solutions that could be pilot-project tested with collaboration and funding from the province and federal government. It takes the right know-how from my years in business and operations to know how to get the all the people, ideas, and
performance put together to be effective.
Council must address the balance needed between providing compassionate and effective remedies for those struggling with addictions, homelessness, and mental health while still ensuring our communities are safe and livable for everyone.
Achieving this is not an "all or nothing" equation. The region just needs to be more inclusive of the diverse voices and stakeholders who could bring effective solutions but to date aren't asked or incorporated to change outcomes. I know where these community builders are and where their talents and perspectives can help improve outcomes.
To learn more about Prakash, visit www.voteprakash.ca