2022 Ontario municipal election: Meet the Waterloo Ward 1 council candidates

The entrance to Waterloo City Centre. File

On Oct. 24, voters across Waterloo Region will head to the polls to elect city and regional councillors, mayors and a regional chair.

Residents of Waterloo, the region’s smallest city, will elect councillors in seven wards as well as a mayor to form city council.

There will be at least three new faces in place, as Ward 3 Coun. Angela Vieth, Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Henry and Ward 7 Coun. Tenille Bonoguore have chosen not to seek re-election.

In Ward 1, Coun. Sandra Hanmer is seeking a second term in office. There were five people in the race in 2018 but Hanmer’s sole opponent this fall will be Robert Parent, who finished second four years ago by 426 votes.

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To help voters ahead of this election, Global News has reached out to all of those running for regional or city council, mayor or regional chair in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo with available online contact info. Those running for office were emailed a list of seven questions and in the coming days, the responses for every candidate who replies will be shared.

What follows are the responses received from those running for councillor in Waterloo, with the candidates being listed in alphabetical order:

Sandra Hanmer

Q.1 Please give a brief background of yourself including what you do for a living and how long you have lived in the area? (If you are an incumbent, please state how long you have held the position.)

My family has lived in Waterloo for almost 30 years. Together with my husband Greg, we raised our four daughters. The girls all attended schools in our neighbourhood and participated in the City of Waterloo’s synchronized swimming, diving, soccer and hockey programs. Greg and I were active supporters and coaches.

I believe being a volunteer and giving back to the community is essential. I have been a member of several volunteer boards of directors, a committee member, and held various roles as manager/trainer on sports’ teams.

Professionally, I have vast experience in the health care field being in a leadership role for VON WWD, COTA Health, and the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. I also had the privilege of going to Healthcare New Zealand where I gained a unique understanding of Indigenous peoples’ issues.
Currently, and for the past eight years, I work for Capacity Canada, an organization whose goal is to bring together the ideas, people, and resources that fuel social innovation. In 2018 I won the election for councillor for Ward One and have been representing residents since then.

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In 2008 I was honoured to receive the Oktoberfest Outstanding Business Woman of the Year Award.

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?

I have had four years’ experience at the council table. I learned a lot! Add Covid to the mix and I, along with the mayor and fellow councillors, were presented with unprecedented challenges. But like everyone else we made the best of it and did the job.

A huge part of the experience was the chance to meet with members of our ward’s neighbourhood associations, homeowners’ associations and neighbourhood groups to find out more about residents’ priorities for life in our ward and our city. I am a good listener and know how to take action – it has been enlightening to meet so many residents and hear varying viewpoints and suggestions.

There is work to be done for Ward One and for the City of Waterloo. I am very keen to be at the council table and be a voice for my ward as we move forward with strategic planning initiatives.

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

Everyone needs a home. Homes that are available and affordable are a pressing need for young families looking at purchasing a first home, seniors looking at downsizing, and people wanting to rent. I have worked with developers to encourage ways that affordably priced homes, with amenities and green spaces, are made possible for ‘middle-range’ buyers and renters. I also have an interest in encouraging and supporting unique ideas, taking a different look, at what an affordable home could be like.

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Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

During my first term, I could see my contribution making a difference. Together, council created safer streets and focused on economic growth. We declared a climate emergency vowing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 – our legacy to future generations. We established a team dedicated to Indigenous initiatives, anti-racism, and equity.

These are initiatives that I support and l want to be part of the decision-making that makes what is good, better, and what needs improvements, improved.

Q.5 What is your platform?

In my second term, I support Ward One’s priority to have housing that is affordable for first-time buyers, families, seniors and others to purchase or rent. Home affordability is a big issue and especially during these challenging economic times. I will continue to work with community and neighbourhood associations and developers to support planning measures that provide reasonably priced homes, along with amenities like lots of green space.

Traffic safety (measures are) also a priority. Around our schools, I support low speed limits, we must keep our children safe. We must also look at reasonable ways to keep our many walkers and cyclists safe as they are getting out for exercise and errands. Drivers need to be treated fairly with responsible and reasonable limits.

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A community for one and all – where fairness to people, regardless of ages, abilities, cultures, religions or life experiences is a priority. I want the ‘living in Waterloo’ experience to be fair to all. I am committed to supporting initiatives that help improve communication, break down barriers, foster understanding, enjoy diversity and encourage inclusion.

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

I really do like to work. Monday to Friday is dedicated to my jobs, attending events, and meeting with residents. Currently, I volunteer on two boards – Grand River Hospital and KidsAbility. I am also President of Waterloo Girls Minor Hockey Association.

I try to keep the weekends for family, especially now that we have a new granddaughter. My husband and I enjoy family visits, including visits from our passel of family dogs. We often meet with friends or simply enjoy running errands around town.

I do like to cook and I am told I make an excellent family-tradition beef pot pie. I love to read especially a good mystery and I never try to figure out who done it – don’t like to spoil the ending.

Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

There are several favourite things. I keep promising myself to get more exercise and I make good use of the trails, strolling through the neighbourhoods, doggy leash in each hand. I appreciate our many sports facilities and the many amazing innovative people I meet every day.

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I enjoy our library system and all it has to offer as well as having access to theatre and art exhibitions. During September especially, I feel energized by all the excitement that back to campus brings to our community. I also like the fact that I can get almost anywhere I want to go in Waterloo within 10 minutes or so; all the amenities of a bigger city and far less hassle.

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Robert Parent

Q.2 Why do you believe you are the right person for the job?

To start, I prefer to call it a “service” rather than a “job.”

Prior to running as a candidate in Ward 1 in 2018 and presently in 2022, I attended many council sessions as a citizen/observer to understand the process and workings of city hall. Seeking advice with staff and councillors enabled me to familiarize myself with municipal level government before declaring my candidacy.  It is important to be prepared, as best as one can, in understanding what the “job” entails.

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I would encourage other candidates to do the same. All candidates should determine if their work schedules, persona is a good fit for councillor. Do they have the time and work balance to be an effective councillor? I believe I am prepared and experienced enough to full commitment in representing Ward 1.

Secondly, I have volunteered and helped to organize many community events over the years in Ward 1 . This enabled me to appreciate and understand what the wants of residents may be. My running for city hall is an extension of my community involvement. Sitting on community or volunteer service groups gave me opportunity to oversee meetings, budgets, negotiate and compromise.  All requirements needed to serve in the best interests of residents.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly,  to be an effective councillor or any job for that matter, one must also enjoy what they are doing. I enjoy time spent in community, meeting others, listening, exchanging ideas, sounding off and of course cheering on the good things that happen in Ward 1 and Waterloo.

It is for these reasons that I feel I am the “right person for the job.”

Q.3 What do you think is the most important issue facing your ward and the city as a whole?

Issues in any election are fluid. Current events and decisions by city council can result in priorities changing rapidly. However, for the purposes of this questionnaire I will highlight current issues as heard and emailed from residents in Ward 1 during this campaign.

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The following is inclusive of both ward and city-wide issues:

1) Lowering of speed limits and city council vote. In spite of staff recommendations and public survey rejecting lower speed limits, city council went ahead and passed the proposed speed limits anyway. Was it lowering the speed limits itself or city council rejecting the findings of staff?
2) Property tax increases
3) City Hall response times
4) Maintaining seasonal services (leaf collection and increased snow clearing of sidewalks)
5) Anticipated growth in Waterloo and how this will effect green space and housing supply
6) Overnight parking and recreation vehicle permits
7) Rental Licensing Agreements

This list may not appear overwhelming or headline inducing but they are issues of importance to residents.

Q.4 Looking down the road, what are your long-term goals for the city?

To maintain sustainable growth while not losing sight of the historical architectural character of Waterloo and its neighbourhoods. We are facing an incredibly rapid increase in high rise developments and as a result I fear the loss of Waterloo’s natural character and charm. Cities that thrive and prosper allow for downtowns that mirror suburban/rural communities i.e. green space, parkways etc. Seeking growth while maintaining affordable housing options, traffic and alternative modes of transportation in a responsible manner. Initiate steps and work to increase commercial and business in Uptown Waterloo and in particular support small businesses.

Q.5 What is your platform?

In many ways one’s platform can be determined by the input received from residents. Residents know best what their needs and wants would be.  As councillor, my role would be to provide an opportunity to dialogue and provide residents a platform to be heard. To speak on behalf of residents not for residents.

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At this time and early in the campaign, I note a wide range of issues heard at the door and informal survey. I categorize issues as “ward” and “city-wide” issues. Therefore based on residential input thus far, the following will serve as items on my platform: traffic speed, improved accountability for projects that come in over budget, levies paid by landlords to the city, (rental licensing agreements) and spending.

This is not exhaustive, but instead a starting point as more viewpoints forwarded to me will be the foundation of my platform

Q.6 What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I exercise (biking, gym…) as much as possible. Reading, playing guitar/piano – as best as I can. Reading and following history/geo and domestic politics.

Q.7 What is your favourite thing about living in your city/ward?

A combination of small size, urban convenience and proximity of the rural countryside. Minutes away to the countryside. Farmers Market. The cleanliness, safety and resident/volunteer involvement that contributes to the sense of community in my ward.

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