This is the text from the all candidates meeting at St. Andrews Church, Oct 3, 2018
Good Evening everyone
My name is Bob Bell and I am running for re-election as your Ward One city councillor.
I will start with a bit of my background and career here in Guelph and then move on to issues.
I have lived in downtown Guelph my entire life. I grew up around Exhibition Park and 20 years ago moved to Arthur St. in Ward One.
Upon graduating from Queens University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering I worked overseas as a project manager for a large transnational for five years. I missed Guelph and I came back here to work in the manufacturing sector. After employment at a number of local businesses on progressively larger capital projects I started the Wike bicycle company in my basement. That was 25 years ago. Since then Wike has grown slow and steady to become the largest manufacturer of bicycle trailers in North America. We ship our products to over 20 countries and this year won the gold award from the European bicycle industry for innovation. Most of our products are made in Guelph and most of our employees live in Ward One.
Everyone running for public office has different strengths, mine are the ability to understand complex budgetary/technical issues and relate them to a proper cost/benefit analysis. I have, for the past three terms, taken the responsibility as your city councillor to spend your tax money with the greatest care. I believe I have earned the respect of all Guelphites when it comes to spending your tax dollars.
I am very proud of to be part of the process that delivered the following accomplishments for residents in the last 12 years.
One of the highest waste diversion rates in Canada, four years running with Multi Residential pick-up next year
One of the lowest per capita water consumption rates for similar sized communities in Canada
Other accomplishments are the new completely rebuilt Victoria Rd. Rec center, an East Side library linked to east side trails and new playing fields at Eastview, many remediated industrial sites with a wide variety of housing types
And lastly a beautiful downtown where it seems a lot of people want to live.
But the last 12 years have not been without disappointments
1.Zehrs choice not to build in the East End has created an incomplete community, however we are well on the way with Plan B to work around Zehrs and rezone of York Road for better commercial development.
2.Housing affordability continues to be a problem and I will continue to support capital allocations to build housing for the less fortunate. We are moving forward with redevelopment of the Imico site into affordable housing and that site should be remediated within a couple of years.
3.The failure of GMHI to deliver a plan to create district energy in the City of Guelph with the loss of Millions in the pursuit of this unattainable goal.
Going forward I think the following are important issues which I will continue to focus on.
1.Move to address excessive speeding on residential streets by implementing red light cameras and speed radar as a revenue neutral deterrent. Also reduce speed limits on quiet residential streets to 40 kph. People are just driving too fast and many pedestrians feel threatened. At the same time I would try to improve connections in our trail networks so walkers and cyclists have an alternative to busy arterial roads.
2.Address housing and homelessness through substantial new capital allocations for both social and affordable categories. I believe that city councillors need to return to the Social Services Committee at the County where housing and homelessness decisions are made. We need to be at that table and we are suffering from our continued absence. The city did not create the current income disparity but that does not mean that we can duck the responsibility to mitigate to effects.
3.Improve transit, not by throwing money at it, but by doing it differently. We need to change to a ridership model where non performing routes are changed or dropped and new routes are introduced that travel on major corridors at frequent intervals. People will probably have to walk a little further but the overall travel times will be reduced.
And lastly to fight at budget time to keep your tax increase to minimum
1.What one thing would you be proud to have accomplished in your term on council if elected?
There are many issues of concern to me such as: Housing and homelessness, Dolime influence on the quality and quantity of our water and speeding cars; however the one thing that I would be the most proud to see accomplished would be the completion of the York Rd. Redevelopment east of Victoria
This is much much more than a repaving job.
York Rd. has become the key factor in redefining Retail in the east end. Since it became apparent several years ago that Zehrs would not be building in the East End and that they effectively controlled most of the retail properties and could stop other groceries from building, the city undertook to create more commercial opportunities along York Rd. An area that Zehrs does not control. That comprehensive re-zoning is almost complete and it was long process, started in 2012.
We have also brought the York Trunk Sewer line, an enormous +$30M capital project, to Victoria Road. We have a completed EA for York Rd. east of Victoria with a connected active transportation network along the river and streams, we are ready to resolve ROW issues at the old ESSO site on the corner, and we have a completed secondary plan for the Innovation District. We still need to obtain control of the parklands on the south side of York Rd. from the province and I am working on that now. The city will be ready to begin the rebuilding York Road in 2019. This road is very important to the future of the East End. I assure you that the city has been diligent in the planning. It would be great to see the execution of the plan in this term of council.
2. What are you hearing at the doors as you campaign?
People are concerned about traffic speed, housing and homeless, taxes, lack of east end commercial, increase in petty crime/theft as a result of addictions/mental health, tenting, and bad neighbours. One other comment I hear at the door is -Thanks for trying to keep our Taxes down Bob- Most residents understand that I am not a -Tax and Spend- city councillor.
And what one issue would you personally like to tackle if you were elected?
The one issue that is fairly easy to resolve is traffic speed. Residents don nott like the speed that cars are traveling through quiet residential neighbourhood streets. As I mentioned previously I think we should consider lowering the speed limit in these areas and enforce these lower limits with -Revenue Neutral- fines sent by speed radar.
This will be the fifth time I have run for election in Ward One. I believe that this group of candidates is the best that I have ever seen, both in the city at large and in Ward One. So with so many good candidates to choose from why should you vote for Bob Bell on Oct. 22.
Firstly because I am an independent councillor, I am not part of a slate and I do not participate in block voting.
Secondly I quickly respond to constituents in need of help when they are dealing with city staff.
And lastly I always take the long view. I am not a retail politician and I will tell you what you should know, not what you want to hear.