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2022 Ontario municipal election: Meet the Waterloo Ward 7 council candidates

Waterloo City Centre. Google Maps

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 7, Julie Wright and Bruce Polan have entered the race to replace Bonoguore, who chose not to seek re-election after serving one term on council.

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.

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

Bruce Polan

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.)

I am a professional rngineer, working for a large consulting firm based in Waterloo.  My field of specialty is geotechnical engineering and construction quality control testing. I have provided consulting services for many local projects, including projects for the City of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo, and LRT construction.  I have lived in the City of Waterloo for the past 30 years and have raised my family here. I brought up two daughters here who have still love being close (to) the Waterloo area.

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

I am new to the political arena but have always had a keen interest in local and provincial politics. I am excited to offer my organizational skills, project management, and problem-solving skills to the city. I am able to work with people of various backgrounds and personalities, to determine effective solutions for the city.

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

With a large portion of council changing hands this year, including having a new mayor, it will be important to establish a list of priorities for council early on in our mandate. Effectively managing the city financial budget will be an early challenge as well.

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

I would like to keep improving the uptown core and continue the efforts of previous councils in making Waterloo a great place to call home.

Q.5 What is your platform?

Being new to council, I will be on a steep learning curve to understand the complexities of city government. My platform will be to improve the city for all residents, while maintaining our fiscal responsibilities.  My priority will be to focus on improvements in Ward 7, including making the core more pedestrian and bike friendly, by reducing speed limits, and closing streets where possible for public events.

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

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I spend a lot of time walking in the Uptown Core with my wife.  We enjoy spending time outdoors and going to the local restaurants and festivals in our area.  When I have time, I enjoy a round of golf, and used to be an avid tennis player at the Waterloo tennis club.

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

I am a long-time resident of Waterloo, and have lived in the heart of Ward 7 for the past 10 years. The transformations that I have seen in the uptown core over these 10 years have been fantastic! I love the convenience of living close to King Street, and being able to take in the local sites and events that happen in our backyard!

Julie Wright

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.)

I grew up in a small town in Woolwich with parents who ran a small business. I went to high school in Waterloo and moved away, living in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary before returning to the region in 2010 with my young family. We’ve called Uptown Waterloo our home ever since. I spent a decade leading the non-profit Waterloo Global Science Initiative, a science-based catalyst for collective action, before moving to the University of Waterloo as the Director of Partners for Action, a research initiative focused on empowering Canadians to be more flood risk resilient. I’ve been active in the community since 2010 as a volunteer and advocate for sustainability issues and co-founded and co-chaired the Uptown North Neighbourhood Association until stepping down to run for council.

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

I love Waterloo and want to ensure that we can all thrive here in the years to come. At heart, I am a problem solver. We face a number of big challenges: the local impacts of climate change, affordability, economic uncertainty, and the looming prospect of a brain drain as young people find it impossible to find a foothold here. How we approach these issues and the way we engage our community is incredibly important. This is the kind of work I’ve been focused on for the past decade, from global approaches to decarbonization to localization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through creative engagement strategies and highly relevant policy advice and tools, we can bring the right solutions to council and the rest of our community.

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

What I hear most in my canvassing is a general worry that Waterloo is becoming unlivable for many because of the rising cost of housing. Some don’t see a future here for their children, others can’t imagine how they’ll afford their senior years. To do that, we have to ensure that we have the right tools in place to match our housing inventory with the housing demand. And we need to focus on what will allow Waterloo’s residents to thrive — from affordable housing and transportation, education and economic opportunities, to the right mix of amenities like grocery stores and doctor’s offices, recreational facilities, and cultural experiences.

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

My ideal Waterloo is a city where everyone from our youngest to oldest residents have community and access to what they need to thrive. It’s a city with bountiful green space, high-efficiency buildings, affordable housing and transportation options. And it’s a city that uses its brain trust — from our youngest and most creative minds to our globally recognized experts.

Q.5 What is your platform?

Together, we need to build a resilient city that is future-ready.

The road ahead requires that we:

  • Think long-term and make responsible & strategic decisions today
  • Position ourselves so we can manage future climate change and housing issues from a place of strength
  • Centre equity in that decision-making
  • Invest in young people and involve them in problem-solving

Climate Action

Waterloo needs to build on its climate action strategy. At council, I will:

  • Champion infrastructure that promotes active, public transportation
  • Work to improve zoning, bylaws, incentives and enforcement measures that don’t meet the city’s climate action strategy
  • Champion a tree bylaw to protect urban green space, and advocate for increased tree planting and naturalization of city properties and parks
  • Advocate for food forests and local biodiversity
  • Work with the local universities to identify the areas of Waterloo that are most impacted by climate change

Affordable Housing

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We have to tackle housing and climate at the same time. One of the ways we do that is by integrating our housing and transportation strategy. We have to make it easy and appealing for people to choose to live in dense neighbourhoods.

At council, I will support:

  • Nimble approaches to zoning that create new, equitable opportunities for density along transportation corridors
  • Incentives for developers who create sustainable and affordable housing options
  • Housing diversity so that neighbourhoods remain lively, connected places
  • The co-location of amenities and services that every neighbourhood needs – like outdoor space, health care facilities and grocery stores

Resilient Uptown

A vibrant Uptown will help recruit new talent to the area, keep families in the core of the city, and support older residents who seek to age in place.

At council, I will support:

  • Creative approaches that ensure Uptown businesses have what they need to pivot and respond to changing conditions
  • Nimble approaches to filling empty storefronts and recruiting missing amenities
  • Incentive structures for anchor tenants

An all-ages-all-peoples approach to place-making across Ward 7

Brain Trust

At council, I will support:

  • Targeted recruitment of young people between the ages of 18 and 30 for all city committees
  • Paid honorariums for students to shadow councillors
  • Collaboration with local post-secondary institutions on civic problem labs
  • All-ages citizen science initiatives to support city data collection the Smart Waterloo Region Innovation Lab and its mission of making this region the best community in Canada for children & youth

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

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My household is very active and musical. I spend a lot of time in the garden and am a voracious reader — anything from Archie comics to sports biographies, science fiction and historical novels.

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

Waterloo is a fabulous place to grow things, from families and relationships to businesses and the fruits of our local agricultural community. We’ve got it all.

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