For a few months now, I’ve been walking through neighbourhoods and getting to know the residents of Ward 4. This experience has been incredibly rewarding, informative, and encouraging. Today, I’m taking a few minutes to reflect on what I’ve heard.
Support for Those in Need
Residents are concerned about low-income individuals and families, and the potentially exacerbating effects a challenged economy can create. As a candidate, I believe that public transportation, affordable housing, and supporting community service agencies are an important part of the work that needs to continue at City Hall. The upcoming St. John’s 10 Year Affordable Housing Strategy must take a holistic approach that considers poverty, access to work, affordable transportation, expanded support services, and landlord education.
The recent emergence of Fentanyl in our communities has also been a concern highlighted by a number of residents. I am in support of the current Fentanyl taskforce which includes community organizations, the Provincial Government, healthcare professionals and the municipality. As this work continues, I would like to bring a greater focus to prevention and rehabilitation as a broader initiative for the taskforce.
Services are Good, Not Great
I’ve heard mixed opinions of the quality and consistency of services delivered by the city. Most residents are satisfied with garbage collection, but many are disappointed with overflowing public or commercial bins, litter around the city, and the mess often created on garbage day by ineffective covering of bags on the curb. Snow clearing for streets and sidewalks remains a concern for many, and those living in cul-de-sacs are particularly frustrated by the amount of time it takes for snow removal, or the lack thereof.
I have also heard from many across the Ward about the substandard condition of some rental properties. The main points shared are regarding the safety and cleanliness of rental properties for tenants; the condition of the house’s exterior and property; issues with parking in areas with high numbers of rental properties; as well as the impact on residents from the revolving door of some rental units. The solutions proposed vary, but the common thread is that there are significant challenges to address that are causing day-to-day issues for many across the Ward.
My perspective on city services is centred on accountability and on the importance of all residents having a safe and comfortable place to call home. These services - from the delivery of safe tap water to keeping public spaces clean - are all paid for by residents through tax dollars. It is our city’s responsibility to deliver these services effectively and efficiently and any dissatisfaction, safety concern, or complaint must be taken seriously and followed up on. I commit to supporting continuous improvement and transparency in service delivery.
Many residents have expressed concerns regarding vehicle speeds on residential streets. High speeds are dangerous and diminish the feeling of comfort for families and children within their own neighbourhoods. As a result, many residents are more likely to stay inside and are not getting out for daily recreation, such as an evening walk, and kids have fewer safe spaces to play. This impacts the social well-being and the physical and mental health of our residents.
Creating better neighbourhoods is a central part of my campaign. Improved street lighting, traffic calming, and new signage are examples of ways to address the safety concerns. As a councillor, I will approach neighbourhood improvements based on the insights, needs, and expertise of residents. My recent proposal to pilot participatory budgeting offers a path to ensuring improvements capitalize on this expertise.
Desire for Transparency
From important infrastructure upgrades, such as the replacement of water lines or road improvements, to the approval of new developments, the common theme, regardless of whether or not residents agreed with the decision, has been a desire for greater clarity on how these decisions are being made.
Fees for home renovations, property tax assessments, and residential or commercial permit processes are examples of experiences that are leaving many residents without a clear understanding of the rationale driving decision-making.
Transparency is a core part of my campaign platform. Decisions rarely work for everyone and often require compromise. To me, a critical part of the process is transparency in the facts and opinions that are considered, who is involved, and how decisions are made. I am doing my best to incorporate this into my campaign by publishing all donations in real-time as well as sharing my campaign budget.
I am incredibly grateful for the conversations I’ve had and for the folks who have welcomed me into their homes and shared their stories. These experiences have not only helped me better understand the challenges residents are facing, but have also served to continually remind me that our city is full of amazing people who have an interest in improving the places we live and work. While canvassing, I’ve also heard from small business owners about their experiences, and will share more of those reflections soon.
I will be canvassing from now until election day. I look forward to talking with you on your door step. If you see me in your neighbourhood, flag me down. I would love to talk.
In the coming weeks, I will also be releasing details of my campaign commitments. Follow along by signing up for my newsletter and as always, you can reach me anytime at 709-771-4582.