The Platform (in one page)
Guelph, we’re at a crossroads. We’re growing: we’ll have nearly 200,000 people by 2040. We’re already struggling under the strain. We need to think differently, think long-term, and address the root causes of our city’s issues. Let’s build resilient systems, using proven solutions, to fix traffic, affordability, and crime, to protect our green spaces and water, and to encourage new business growth.
Traffic and Roads
The solution to traffic is to get cars off the road. Let’s do it the cheapest and most effective way: by investing in transit and alternative transportation. Bike routes are far, far cheaper than roads and once built, last for decades. Transit is cheaper than cars. Let’s learn from Kingston: more frequent service + express routes between hubs means more people can actually get where they’re going, when they need to.
Let’s build separated bike routes and trails to keep bikes off busy roads. Let’s build a real transit system that gets people where they’re going. These solutions take cars off the road, reducing traffic and reducing the cost of road repairs — and, in the long run, are the most effective way of keeping Guelph affordable.
Housing costs are going up — for renters and owners. When a 10% down payment is equal to a year’s salary, a first home is out of reach for a lot of Guelphites. Renters don’t have it any easier — with less than 1% vacancy in primary rental units, finding a place to live isn’t easy.
But despite that, we still have over 20% of our city’s accessory apartments vacant! These units are vacant because they’re inaccessible — you can’t live there without owning a car.
The solution: build an effective alternative transportation system. Then, leverage the system to make living in Guelph more affordable. Amend the zoning bylaw to encourage more accessory apartments near transit hubs. Increase the amount of affordable one-bedroom apartments in the city. We can’t effectively reduce housing prices at the municipal level but we can make living here more affordable — leaving more money to set aside for that down payment.
We already know that, by itself, increasing police budgets does not reduce crime. Instead, we need to invest in real, proven crime prevention programs. We also need to use our police officers more effectively: for example, red-light cameras and other automated enforcement lets us pull officers from traffic duty and put them where they can be more effective.
We need to address our city’s opioid crisis at the root causes. Substance abuse programs like our overdose prevention sites are far more effective than police at reducing the harm of drug use.
Business and Industry
We can attract modern business and industry to Guelph. When companies relocate, the most important questions they ask are: how livable is the city? How connected? We can build new industry here, too, by investing in startup incubators and business development programs. With this support we can make sure our U of G grads stay here when they build businesses around their tech innovations.
Guelph’s at the center of the Innovation Corridor. Let’s use that: fight for all-day regional transit and high-speed rail to connect us with Waterloo and Toronto. Let’s build a modern, livable city, to encourage businesses to relocate, and to make sure our best and brightest stay here and build their businesses here.
Guelph’s green space is under threat. We found out recently we don’t have as much parkland as we thought. We’re building new neighbourhoods without enough parks to serve the people living there. Instead, we’re cramming in as many houses as we can.
In addition to all the physical and mental health benefits, protecting our green space now makes Guelph more affordable in the long run. One example: to complete our system of parks along the riverbank, Guelph is preparing to purchase the Wellington Plaza (site of Angel’s Diner) at a cost of nearly $20 million (2012 dollars).
Fixing the mistakes of the past is very expensive. Let’s make sure we set aside enough parkland at the beginning, when we approve subdivision plans, so we can avoid these expensive mistakes in the future.
Our water’s under threat from unconstrained development. Building the new Clair-Maltby neighbourhood on the Paris-Galt moraine puts the whole city’s water supply at risk. We need to protect the groundwater recharge function of the moraine, instead of covering it with impermeable roads, houses and driveways. Let’s build this neighbourhood for the 21st century — connect it with transit and bike routes, and make sure it’s actually walkable.
We need to bring the mediation with the Dolime Quarry to a satisfactory close. The continued operation of that quarry is a risk to our entire aquifer.
We need to continue to oppose industrial water-taking efforts in the area, and make sure that as we grow, we still have enough groundwater to supply our city.
Let’s make our elections as accessible as possible and make sure they reflect the will of the voters. Let’s watch London’s election closely: they’re using the ranked ballot for the first time. If there are no serious issues on polling day, let’s bring the ranked ballot to Guelph, and make sure everyone gets the government that most closely matches their preference.
Many people want online voting — but it’s a bad idea. Safe, secure online voting does not exist. There’s no way to trust that an online election provides accurate results. Until the technology is ready, we can’t promote online voting. Instead, let’s create better ways of ensuring voter accessibility — like mobile poll workers that come to your house, free transit on polling day, and making sure polling stations are close to where people live.
All of these issues — traffic, affordability, crime, business, parks, water — are difficult problems with expensive solutions. Sustainability means designing intelligently, to minimize these issues in our new neighbourhoods. Sustainability means building things right to avoid big problems later.
Sustainability means lower taxes and fewer problems in the long run.
On October 22, let’s elect a government that takes the long-term view.