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Voters in downtown, Quidi Vidi area have eight options
The official list of Ward 2 byelection candidates was released Thursday morning by the City of St. John's.
Voters will have a choice of eight people to replace the vacancy left by former councillor Hope Jamieson, who resigned Aug. 4.
In a diverse ward that stretches across downtown from the Quidi Vidi area to Cashin Avenue, the candidates also hail from a wide range of backgrounds — from one of the province’s top curlers to the former president of the province’s largest union, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).
What follows are candidate summaries in an effort to help voters make a choice, and for other residents of the city to learn about the views of the soon-to-be newest councillor.
The election period runs from Oct. 5-20, with the winning candidate sworn in on Monday, Oct. 26.
Furlong, NAPE president for roughly a decade, said her Number 1 concern is ensuring taxpayers are not faced with a tax increase.
She said she’s also passionate about snowclearing, “especially in areas of high pedestrian traffic,” and improving access to affordable housing.
Regarding the latter, Furlong said the city ought to “aggressively pursue” the matter with both provincial and federal governments.
She said the city needs to set an objective of eliminating the subsidy to Mile One Centre.
Some of the more controversial decisions city council makes often involve developments, and Furlong said the city should develop a 10-year plan that balances the need for development with environmental concerns.
“This approach would demonstrate to taxpayers that environmental issues will be very much a part of council’s decision-making. At the same time, developers will know the rules of the game well in advance. We cannot develop a sustainable environment and development plan on an application-by-application basis.”
Furlong grew up in Ward 2 and currently lives one street away from the ward.
She can be reached at 691-5701, [email protected], on Facebook and on her website at carolfurlongward2.wordpress.com.
A former downtown bookstore owner and current residential youth care worker, Howse is a resident of the ward.
Three of his key issues are ensuring all development respects tradition and the needs of the community, not privatizing public infrastructure and services, and working toward a goal of making all sidewalks safe within 24 hours of a snowfall.
Howse said the city should revisit its decision on the ParkHotel development, and argued “it would be a mistake to approve” the proposed Parish Lane development for Queen’s Road. Howse said the preservation of heritage and green space should outweigh development “every time.”
On the economic front, Howse said the COVID-19 pandemic and Snowmageddon should not be used as excuses to “slash budgets, privatize public infrastructure and erode the quality of services.”
He recommended other ways to increase revenue and maintain services, including eliminating the vacancy allowance for commercial landlords, collecting business tax from Airbnb operators and scrapping the PayByPhone parking app in favour of a publicly owned and operated solution.
Howse can be reached at 770-9349, by email at [email protected], on Facebook at @matthowseforward2 and at matthowseforward2.ca.
Loder is co-owner of downtown restaurants Boca Tapas Bar and Cajones. He is a former retailer, having opened Ballistic Skate & Snow in 1995, and he organized the popular Harbourage music festival.
Loder did not respond to an interview request in time for this story, but last month he told The Telegram that two key areas he would focus on as a city councillor are the arts and small business.
He said as a small business owner he is constantly looking at annual budgets, and that’s a skill he’d love to bring to city hall.
“It’s all about efficiency, being more frugal, making those dollars go further. Those are some of the things I’d like to focus on.”
He said he would also pursue free WiFi for the downtown area.
Loder recently said on his Facebook candidate page that the sale of Mile One Centre “must be given strong consideration,” as it’s “been a burden to St. John’s taxpayers for many years.”
Loder lives in the ward. He can be reached at lorneloder.ca and facebook.com/LorneLoderforWard2.
Noseworthy is a private-practice lawyer who lives in the ward.
He said three key issues for which he would advocate are introducing curbside compost, improving access to affordable housing and transit, and ensuring streets are safer and quieter.
If elected, Noseworthy said he will not vote to increase the mill rate. He said the city cannot “needlessly strap residents and businesses with additional taxes to balance the budget.”
He said he would push for a reduction to the commercial realty tax to attract more businesses to the city and ensure small businesses remain open.
While he said development is necessary for a prosperous city, it “cannot come at a cost of the city’s livability.” Noseworthy said he would push to pass a bylaw that requires the preservation of green space with new and existing developments.
He said he would also push for greater population density to protect the city’s capital works budget, and advocate for denser developments, allowing for more affordable housing.
Noseworthy can be reached at 689-0074, [email protected], www.facebook/votenoseworthy and on other social media at @votenoseworthy.
Ravencroft lives in the ward, and is an academic working on her PhD in ethnomusicology at Memorial University.
She said the top three issues for which she would advocate include improved sidewalk snowclearing, accessibility initiatives, and the promotion of public transit and active transportation.
Ravencroft said the city should reorient its budgeting focus to ensure essential services are better delivered.
“These are challenging times for everyone, and putting the needs of vulnerable people first means we're spending what money we do have very wisely.”
She is also an advocate for increased density as a way to keep services close to residents and prevent sprawl. That said, she wouldn’t do it at a cost of green spaces, which she said are “too important to destroy.”
Ravencroft also argues developments shouldn’t clash with visual surroundings or the sense of community in which they’re located.
She can be reached at 699-5014, [email protected], and at @voteophelia on Twitter and Facebook.
Ryan is a cartoonist who instructs at the Anna Templeton Centre, and is also a podcaster.
He could not be reached for an updated interview for this story, but last month he told The Telegram he’s relentless when it comes to pushing issues — a skill he honed as a former editorial cartoonist for The Telegram.
He said he is dedicated to advocating for issues that are important to people who live in the ward, such as recent petitions he co-ordinated to make changes to the former Rawlins Cross roundabout and to implement the Water Street pedestrian mall.
Ryan said one of his biggest concerns is keeping taxes at their current level, and not raising them because of any fiscal concerns at city hall during the pandemic.
Two specific issues he’s interested in addressing are traffic noise in some downtown areas, and environmental concerns around the Bike St. John’s Master Plan.
“The bike trail program generally is a good idea, but I think it needs some tweaking, mainly with paths along Rennies River. I think they should be left more pristine, if possible.”
Ryan lives in the ward. He can be reached on Facebook by searching "Wallace Ryan for Ward 2."
Skinner is a former provincial cabinet minister and former St. John’s city councillor, and says he is eager to serve residents again.
Key issues for him include no new taxes, and an efficient and accessible city with safe and affordable housing.
“The city should recognize it cannot increase taxes,” he said.
“It must live within its current fiscal framework until the economy improves and people are better off. People are hurting and having to make tough decisions. The city will have to do the same.”
Skinner said the city needs to reduce reliance on individual vehicles, create a better public transit system and work to ensure accessibility concerns are not left out of decision-making.
He said the city needs to work with developers to allow them to make their projects work economically while respecting built heritage, neighbourhood characteristics and the impact on surroundings.
“Each case is different but must be considered within the same context,” he said.
Skinner lives in Cowan Heights, but grew up in Ward 2. He can be reached at 364-7051, facebook.com/ShawnSkinnerWard2 and shawnskinner.com.
Smith is one of the province’s top curlers. He was skip for the provincial team at the 2018 Brier Canadian men’s curling championship.
Key issues for Smith are a more pedestrian-friendly and accessible city, including ensuring sidewalks and laneways are clear year-round.
He said he would advocate to keep the pedestrian mall open as long as economically viable for all businesses, with seasonal markets and events on the street, and push to expand into parts of Duckworth Street.
He said he’d like to see more garbage and recycling bins in residential areas, particularly at Metrobus shelters and on streets that are pedestrian arteries.
Smith is opposed to tax increases. He said the city can, if needed, tap into its surplus reserve funds to address the deficit it's facing this year.
“I think there are some ways to combat the economic struggle we are in without additionally taxing our residents,” he said, noting he’s “very keen on the potential sale of Mile One” and eliminating the subsidy to St. John’s Sports and Entertainment.
A resident of the ward, Smith can be reached at 725-3996, gregsmithnl.com, facebook.com/gregsmithforward2yyt and on other social media at @gregsmithnl.
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