2022 Ontario municipal election: Meet the Kitchener Ward 6 council candidates

Kitchener City Hall.

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 Kitchener, the region’s largest city, will elect councillors in 10 wards as well as a mayor to form city council.

There will be at least three new faces in place, as Ward 3 Coun. John Gazzola, Ward 5 Coun. Kelly Galloway Sealock and Ward 10 Coun. Sarah Marsh have chosen not to seek re-election.

In Ward 6, Anwar Arkani will challenge Coun. Paul Singh, who was first elected by Kitchener residents in 2010.

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Anwar Arkani

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.)

Kitchener is the first and only city Anwar has been living in for the last 25 years, since his arrival in Canada in 1998. He bought his first house in Ward 6 in 2010 and has been residing there ever since.

Anwar is a father of three lovely children. He works as a linguist and speaks eight languages. And he has lived experience of diverse cultures.

Anwar is a genocide survivor from Burma. After having lived in various countries as an “illegal immigrant and un-counted person” for about 15 years, he got a chance to resettled in Canada as a government-sponsored refugee in 1998. Soon after he was awarded a scholarship to study at Indiana University [USA] where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in IT and Business combined [CIS] in December 2002. Being a first-generation Canadian, Anwar understands all too well being at the bottom of the “food-chain” and tools needed to climb out of that.
Story continues below advertisement

Role to thrive as a community:

Since 2007, Anwar has been helping the newcomer Rohingyas resettled in Canada with their post-settlement work. He vigorously advocated for the newcomers’ employability, skill training, basic literacy and numeracy training and provided extra support to help the low-income families in Kitchener-Waterloo areas from a grassroot perspective. He led and supported a language school for the Rohingya newcomers, and as a result, most of the newcomers’ children that he assisted are now enrolled in colleges and universities. In 2014, Anwar was honoured with an outstanding award for his community services by the Community Coalition of Refugee and Immigrant Concerns. The ripple effect of his continuous work at the grassroot level to improve the community is highly impactful.

Social and Humanitarian works locally and internationally:

Anwar also engaged in international humanitarian work for several years prior to his work as an IT professional. In 2006-2007, Anwar intervened in person by coming to the aid of and freeing thousands of stranded Rohingya boat-people at the Thai-Burma border. As a result, he was invited to talk at the United Nations, Geneva, about the Rohingyas’ plight: first time in March 2009 at the UNHRC, and a second time in April 2009 at the Durban Review Conference held in UN-Geneva.

Story continues below advertisement
Anwar is the founder and director of the Rohingya Association of Canada [RAC] established in December 2007. RAC has been at the forefront of various Canada-wide advocacy campaigns highlighting the Rohingya crisis. RAC played an important role in removing Aung San Suu Kyi’s statue from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, revoking her Canadian honourary citizenship, Canada’s recognition of the plights of Rohingya as “GENOCIDE,” and contributed significantly toward the production of “Time To Act: Rohingya Voices,” a Rohingya exhibition at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Anwar has been a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars addressing the Rohingya crisis. He was invited to testify at Canada’s Parliament and Senate on several occasions as a subject matter expert.

Anwar works as Linguistic Specialist for a living and he speaks 8 languages.

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

When you are in one role for an extended period, it’s easy to become complacent. A fresh perspective brings fresh ideas. I am passionate about being an advocate for our community and its people. I want to serve my community. Running for city councillor is the next logical step in being able to assist them better.

I am not a career politician. I am a fresh mind ready to bring innovative ideas to find sustainable solutions to many lingering problems we have been having, and to develop the city further for the sake of collective prosperity and wellbeing.

Story continues below advertisement

I am a natural changemaker, I have created positive changes in many lives throughout my life.

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

Here is a short list of the most important issues in my point of view:

– The housing crisis and homelessness issue

– Unemployment issue

– Maintenance of local streets, upkeep and beautification of parks and playgrounds such as McLennan Park

– Lack of resources for the community centers

– Post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery challenges

– Environmental issues related to highrise buildings and new housing development of subdivisions

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

My long-term goals for the city are:

– Improve city governance by having civic engagement in the decision-making process, and hold the officials fully accountable and transparent of their fiscal responsibilities

– Making Kitchener one of the most innovative high-tech cities in Canada

Story continues below advertisement

– Invest tax dollars in repairing and building infrastructures that accommodate the future growth of the city

– Making Kitchener an inclusive community where its residents can live a dignified life with better safety and security

– Making Kitchener an environmentally-friendly city where affordability is not an issue

Q.5 What is your platform?

My priorities are broadly categorized into four sections as follows:

Inclusive Community [Civic Engagement]:

I am committed to making sure that the voices of Ward 6 are heard and that the community is involved in any decision making processes that will affect their lives.

I intend to:

– Create platforms and opportunities where community members can have their questions and concerns addressed.

Story continues below advertisement

– Engage with local grassroots organizations, community members, front line workers to foster more inclusivity in decision-making processes in an aim to re-establish any disconnect between the constituents and councillors.

– Share information via many platforms such as email, social media and possible gatherings on all businesses that will affect Ward 6, the city of Kitchener and Waterloo Region.

– Establish a multilayered and collaborative team to search for sustainable solutions to our affordable housing crisis.

– Address concerns of infrastructure upkeep including: overdue road maintenance, fixing potholes, park maintenance and attention to curbsides.

Ethical and Committed:

The true pathway to sustainable development and the solutions to lingering crisis is ethical commitment. I am committed to making decisions ethically and with transparency. I believe that:

– Care must be taken to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent not just wisely, but where they are needed most.

– Input from the civic engagement must be taken into consideration in the decision-making process in order to make informed, ethical decisions.

– Approval of any project, large or small, must be done ethically and with transparency.

Employability and Locally-Made:

Story continues below advertisement

The city’s future development is heavily dependent on jobs-development with supportive infrastructure. I intend to make sure all entrepreneurs are encouraged and supported as much as possible by the city, as well as the building of new infrastructures to support this development. I intend to:

– Take the hassle out of registering a small business by simplifying the process.

– Focus on skill training of youths to enhance employability.

– Foster an environment of community, where locally made commodities can be promoted and sold.

– Support local businesses by giving them access to information on local, provincial and federal support.

– Work with other community leaders to bring events to Ward 6, therefore bringing tourism and opportunities for the local economy.

– Utilize tax dollars in the best way possible to build and upgrade infrastructure to support the future growth of the city.

Responsible Development:

Be it infrastructure or housing, all projects must be evaluated for sustainable development that is environmentally acceptable, as well as supports future growth of the city. Prior to any approval, projects must be examined thoroughly and decisions must be based on research and evidence. I believe that:

Story continues below advertisement

– Infrastructures must be built to sustain future growth.

– Proper infrastructure must be in place prior to construction of any housing projects in subdivisions.

– Process improvement evaluation should be conducted frequently to address any improvements to be made and catch any misappropriation.

– All environmental impacts must be top priority when considering any developments/projects. This applies most especially if the high-rise building permit is approved.

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

I spend time with my family: my wife and three lovely boys, and spend time with my community, especially the newcomers. I enjoy going to farmer’s markets on the weekends and walking on the trails. I am also heavily engaged in international advocacy work that is related to ongoing Rohingya Genocide in Burma.

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

Kitchener is the first and only city I have been living in for the last 25 years, since my arrival in Canada in 1998. Kitchener is a vibrant city with its natural beauty with parks and trails and with its inclusive diverse community. I feel safe here and would like to make it even safer.

Story continues below advertisement

Global News has also reached out to Paul Singh but has not received a response as of publication. This copy will be updated as further answers arrive.

Sponsored content