It’s one of the biggest Wards geographically and one with an incredible amount of demographic diversity.
That makes it exciting to represent but also a challenge.
Coun. Debbie Hanlon has represented Ward 4 for close to six years and, though she sings the praises of being on council and says she enjoyed every minute of it, she’s not seeking re-election this time around.
“Ward 4 is very much a family oriented ward,” says Hanlon.
And that can mean a lot of things. It can entail the new families moving in to areas like Kenmount Terrace and Airport Heights, but can also mean older parents and seniors with families raised and gone who live in areas like Churchill Park.
Hanlon says in the areas with the young families, you’re dealing with people who want green spaces in their new neighbourhoods and traffic calming on their roads for safety purposes. Hanlon says the old style of small playgrounds aren’t appealing anymore.
“Large parks are going to bring a more community atmosphere to the ward.”
Older people are more concerned with having their sidewalks cleared and getting their garbage picked up on time, says Hanlon. But having an aging population also means affordable housing is an issue.
Hanlon recognizes the east end has developments for seniors, but questions if that will be enough and if they’ll be affordable for everyone. With the business sectors such as Kenmount Road, a councillor will also have to deal with those issues as the representative, but Hanlon says Ward 4 is really about people.
“The person that gets Ward 4, they need to focus on young families and seniors,” she says.
And that person will either be Lou Puddister, Bernard Davis or Tracy Holmes.
All three candidates recognize the issues that Hanlon has had the time to observe and work on during her time on council.
Puddister highlights the diversity between the young and old — the lack of green spaces, recreational facilities and multi-use trails in areas with young families and the increase in taxation that’s pressuring seniors who are on fixed incomes.
“One of the things I will be strongly advocating for is to widen the net and increase the ceiling so that more seniors can avail of the 25 per cent discount on municipal taxes because the best thing we can do for seniors is keep them in their homes,” he says.
Bernard Davis says the diversity in the geography and demographics in Ward 4 means diversity in issues that need to be dealt with.
“Pretty much every aspect of municipal services and issues that may came up are gonna come up in Ward 4 based on the huge demographic spread that we have here,” Davis says.
He sees the university as another area that raises the challenge of affordable housing for students — the need for housing that’s not just affordable, but also fit to live in. And in areas for younger students, Davis has lobbied hard to expand school traffic zones to make those areas safe for young people.
Davis said he’s excited by the challenges the ward would present.
Holmes too, welcomes the challenges it will bring. She recognizes that older infrastructure and a lack of services in certain areas will need money from council, but more money isn’t the only answer.
She says she’s also trying to get more people involved in community work, finding solutions in co-operation. A council can’t simply collect more money from residents so that it can provide more to them, she says.
“The object of city council isn’t really to make people worse off than they are. It’s really to help them out and try to take some of the burden off of them.”
The St. John’s municipal election is on Sept. 24. Voters have until today to mail in their election ballots. After today, voters can still drop off their ballot in the drop box in front of City Hall.
On Sept. 24, there will be a satellite drop off for Ward 4 located at St. David’s Presbyterian Church Hall on 98 Elizabeth Ave.