During the upcoming St. John’s Municipal Election, I will be offering myself as a candidate in Ward 3.
So, why am I taking this step?
I love our city and I believe we have reached a critical juncture in St. John’s development, as we are growing at an unprecedented rate. What I love about St. John’s is: the sense of community that exists here; that sense of belonging, and of knowing and caring for your neighbours. It will require the careful stewardship of City Hall to ensure we do not lose that amazing quality of community, while going through this period of rapid growth.
I also think this is a critical period in the history of municipal government. More than ever before, we are recognizing its value and its importance, as it is municipal government which touches our daily lives. We need to ensure that we have engaged and competent leaders at City Hall. I believe Council should act as a facilitator in the development and the management of the City by using inclusive, frequent, and consistent engagement of stakeholders and by drawing on the expertise that already exists in our community. The City ought to be action-oriented and focussed on brokering solutions to our challenges.
I believe I possess the right mix of education and experience to be an effective City Councillor and municipal leader. I began my career as a lawyer, but it was not my passion. As my family grew, I transitioned to being a full-time parent, but I still had those legal skills, so I grabbed the opportunity to apply those skills to many volunteer endeavours to help enhance our community.
My initial motivation in choosing causes to become involved with was the children. I carry that motivation forward - it is the same reason for my becoming involved in municipal politics – it is about them, it is their city, it is their future. I want St. John’s to be the kind of place where they want to live and raise their own families
I have been involved with various school councils here in the West End for many years. I began at St. Matthews School. After some struggle, we succeeded in having a playground built in front of the school. To this day, every time I see children playing there, I feel happy knowing that we improved their school experience.
So we dreamed bigger.
Of our many accomplishments, I am most proud of the fact that we will soon have a new West End High School built here, on Topsail Road. This took a sustained effort over a period of many years, but I am happy to say that the result will have a very positive and lasting impact on the West End. I hope the school will become a focal point for our community.
Another organization I want to mention is the Seniors Resource Centre of NL, where I sit as a Board member and Chair the Advocacy Committee. As such, I am working toward raising awareness of issues affecting seniors and toward effecting positive change to enhance the lives of seniors. One pressing issue is the need to have programs and supports which allow seniors to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
Additionally, the need for affordable housing for seniors as well as for low-income earners continues to increase. As the cost of living increases, every effort must be made to keep property taxes down. A new fiscal relationship with the Province could assist with this.
Another West End issue is the Mews Centre. It is in desperate need of revitalization. This facility is an essential component in enhancing the quality of life for people in the West End - for youth and seniors alike. There is so much potential in this immediate area of town - with the new St. Theresa’s being built, the pond and the walking trail, the skate park and the Mews Centre, I would like to see the addition of an outdoor splash park like the one enjoyed by children in Bowring Park and planned for Bannerman.
We have a need for greater recreational facilities generally, in the West End, as there is a gap between the Mews Centre and Mount Pearl.
As well, we need to enhance pedestrian safety on Topsail Road – especially with the new high school bringing over 860 students, who will want to cross over that busy four lane arterial. The idea of an overhead pedway has been suggested by many. Whatever is determined to be the viable solution for this impending safety concern, I recognize the need to be proactive in protecting our students, and will advocate for same. Another hotspot with regard to pedestrian safety is Waterford Bridge Road, which has a real and pressing issue with both speed and volume of traffic on a roadway which was not meant to handle either. Waterford Bridge Road is in need of some form of traffic calming. I am also aware that Harrington Drive residents have a petition before council regarding the speed of traffic on their residential street.
A final Ward 3 issue that’s on my radar is the bike lanes in Cowan Heights. Many residents find them to be problematic. I will be advocating for the bike lane program to be fully evaluated for its effectiveness and usage, with a view to issues being rectified, before moving on to the next phase.
Our life is lived in Ward 3, but every voice at the Council Table must have a vision of the City as a whole.
I am inspired by Naheed Nenshi, the Mayor of Calgary. He is known for engaging stakeholders, having vision and for cutting through red tape in order to get done what needs be done. We visited Calgary last summer and I met Mayor Nenshi when he was here last fall speaking at MUN. There are many parallels between Calgary and St. John’s with the oil industry creating rapid expansion. One thing that surprised me about Calgary, which they have made a conscious effort to create, was the pockets of walk able areas with music and art and space to interact socially. It was very enjoyable. They are creating a vibrant culture. The thing that struck me is, we have that already! We are culturally rich, and others want to experience it. It is our strength. We need to protect it, and to capitalize on it.
For example, I recently heard Allan Hawco describe Republic of Doyle as an “Art Fish Plant”, by that, he meant that the show creates employment and has a huge positive economic impact here. He loves this place, he had vision, and he made it happen – here! Not in Toronto – right here!
Research has shown that “loved cities do better in every way – from quality of life to economic bottom line.” (Katherine Loflin, Urban Planning Consultant) By focusing on how to make our community beautiful, enjoyable, and welcoming, we will attract more young talent, more newcomers, more businesses and entrepreneurs, and we will be more liveable for children, seniors, and everyone
We are at a crossroads. We can go down the same path like other North American cities that have become sprawling nondescript metropolises, choked by traffic, OR we can create a vibrant, liveable city with green space and healthy watersheds. We can pursue mixed-use development which creates inclusive neighbourhoods, and an environment where businesses thrive and where entrepreneurship is valued and rewarded.
To secure our future, we must be mindful of the environment we are creating today.
This is the type of City I want to live in. This is the type of City Council I want to be a part of. In this time of growth, this vision is achievable, if we all work together.
I am passionate about our community. I have demonstrated that I am an effective advocate. With my educational background and volunteer experience, I know I will be an effective city councillor.
So together, in September, let’s make it happen!