Councillor Ceschi-Smith: Why she’s not running again, and what she wants you to know about Ward 5
In November 1994, Marguerite Ceschi-Smith was elected as an “alderman” of Brantford’s Ward 5. Passionately advocating against the exclusivity of gendered language, by Feb. 1995, Ceschi-Smith had worked to change the name of city representatives from aldermen to councillors – and so began her ardent 20-year representation as Brantford’s Ward 5 Councillor.
Since 1994, Ceschi-Smith has been involved with a number of municipal initiatives, like The Teen Esteem Program, maintaining the Canadian Military Heritage Museum, replacing dated sidewalks and establishing The Brantford Cultural Network. She chaired The Trail and Bikeways Committee, The Waterfront Master Plan, and helped to establish the tree-protection bylaw.
Ceschi-Smith has also acted as firm opposition in the city’s plan to expand the Brant Southern Access Road (BSAR). “It was a bad plan twenty years ago, and it’s a bad plan today,” says Ceschi-Smith. She highlights that the plan would cut off the Eagle Place neighbourhood from the rest of the city, and that the road would run through the Six Nations Glebe farm lands.
Ceschi-Smith has been the only consistent woman on the city council roster for the past twenty years, often being accompanied by another female representative, but occasionally being the only woman on council. Ceschi-Smith would like to see more representation of women in the local government structure.
Ceschi-Smith recalled an occasion in which City Council proposed cutting costs by introducing dimmer lighting to the downtown area. “What are you thinking?” Ceschi-Smith recalled saying, “80 per cent of the students who go to school downtown are women.”
Since 1999, when Ceschi-Smith began to chair Brantford’s Brownfields Technical Committee, she has not let the issue disappear from the municipality’s agenda.
The City website defines Brownfields as “commercial or industrial properties that are underused, vacant or abandoned and contain (or are perceived to contain) industrial wastes or environmental contaminants.” Brantford’s Greenwich-Mohawk Brownfield Site contains three abandoned properties, and the environmental conditions have led to a number of serious fires over the past years.
Now that the city is finally breaking ground to develop the Brownfield Sites, Ceschi-Smith feels her job is done on council, and she intends to move to British Columbia.
“It’s been 20 years. You should never be on council too long,” says Ceschi-Smith. “Now that they’re actually digging, I think I can go.”
“Never forget, this is where you live,” says Ceschi-Smith. She urges students to be active participants in October’s election, as it is the role of the municipality to sustain the quality of life in Brantford.
“Read what people leave at your doors, ask them about what they’re doing,” says Ceschi-Smith. “That’s part of being a student.”
An introduction to Ward 5
In a few weeks, Brantford will undergo a restructuring of local leadership.
Alongside the integral vote for mayor, Brantford residents will also be able to elect two councillors to represent which ever of the five local wards they live in. This means that anybody who resides in Brantford, locals and students alike, will need to pick the three names they believe will best represent them in the local municipal government.
During the 2014 election, Brantford will be operating under new ward boundaries, and the Laurier Brantford campus falls in Ward 5.
Ward 5 includes the East Ward and Downtown areas. Within the boundary of the ward are many components, vital to maintaining quality of life in Brantford like:
– The Casino
– The Farmer’s Market
– Harmony Square
– Mohawk Park/Mohawk Lake
– The City Landfill Site
– Laurier-Brantford University
– The Brownfield Sites
Who is Running for Ward 5?
Why he’s running: “Politics is broken. I want to help fix it.
The current municipal government of Brantford isn’t focused on the issues that truly matter to the people. They care more about expanding our borders, designing new logos, and increasing their property tax base. City council lacks the strong desire to fight for the future and prosperity of Brantford in the face of grim economic, social, and environmental realities…”
“The global world is changing rapidly, and we must ensure that Brantford is ready to react, adapt, and improve. Governments, however, tend to become short-sighted, bloated, and ineffective… Local government needs to become smaller, smarter, cheaper, and faster.”
“I’m the type of leader that will make the smart, sustainable and fair solutions that Brantford needs. As your City Councillor in Ward 5, I’ll take the big, radical actions necessary to ensure that the major issues we face today as a society aren’t passed down as a heavy burden to the next generation.”
Where are students in his platform? “I will always strive to ensure that the university prospers and grows. The university creates a “brain hub”, boasting a large population of educated workers…”“I would support the expansion of Laurier Brantford to include programs in the sciences and business, and maybe one day in engineering.”
Why he’s running:“It’s the opportunity for continuous improvement in our community that inspires me to run for Council. Brantford is a city in the process of redeveloping itself after suffering through a catastrophic series of changes in the global economy over the last thirty years. We are transforming our city after nearly a century as a world leader in heavy industry.”
Where are students in his platform?“We have a wonderful post-secondary campus developing downtown and much more needs to be done to secure Brantford as a campus of choice for future students.”
“I have always supported the growth of safe neighbourhoods with ‘good neighbours’. Our student population is overwhelmingly female and their safety is paramount. Brighter streetlighting, as well as better security at our municipal parking facilities will go a long way to improving this.”
“I support the development of effective and affordable transportation options, including and especially the extension of GO Transit service to Brantford.”
“As Councillor for the East Ward and Downtown I will push for improved property standards for off campus student housing. And I will also push for new residential development Downtown, to bring new housing choices and more density to the Core…”
“It takes time to develop a high quality of life for students in a Downtown campus in a city in the process of transformation. Our campus in Brantford is only about ten years old. To date the municipality has supported the growth of Laurier Brantford with capital contributions (cash and buildings).
Why he’s running: “My reason for wanting to represent the great people of Ward 5 is simple, I want to give the power back to the people.”
“Members of any government are not just supposed to say they work for the people, they are actually supposed to do it.”
“Believe it or not the taxes collected by the city, and used by the members of the Municipal Government are not there to be spent on personal agendas. Every single tax dollar spent is supposed to benefit the taxpayers, and that’s just not happening here.”
“I’m running because I believe it should be the taxpayers that decide how and when their money is being spent.”
“I also want a review of the City Workers Operation. Do we really need [three] city employees standing around talking while [one] city employee does all the grunt work? No we do not. There needs to be some serious changes in this area, because right now they are far too many workers taking advantage of the taxpayers, and it must stop.”
Where are students in his platform? “The students are such an asset to our community. As they study their chosen areas, they are creating, jobs, and adding a great amount of money into our economy. We need to do whatever we can to make sure the students are made to feel welcome, and most importantly protected at all times. After all these students are our future.
I would love the chance to sit down with the students and find out what they believe is lacking in the downtown core. I believe there should be places for the students to go to blow off steam that does not involve drinking. Not every student drinks. I know the YMCA is building a new facility downtown, but that’s a long way away. You should not be forced into going to a bar just because it’s the only source of fun. I believe more options need to be placed in the downtown core where the non-drinking students can go and have a good time.”
Tracy declined comment to The Sputnik, his Facebook page says, “A candidate for Brantford’s Ward 5, Tracy Macdonnell believes in transparent, accountable government, strong communities and sustainable re-development.”
Why he’d like to be re-elected: “Let’s get the job done!” says Dave Neumann. Neumann says he would like to be re-elected in order to, “continue to put my knowledge and skills to work for you.” Neumann has been involved in Brantford politics since the seventies, having held titles as councilor, mayor, and MPP.
Where are students in his platform? According to documents provided by Candidate Neumann , “Community engagement is a key issue. I have hosted regular Town Hall meetings in Ward 5 and work closely with neighbourhood associations. Important topics like the future use of brownfield lands, the proposed BSAR road through Ward 5, and balanced post-secondary growth downtown, require ongoing broad community consultation.”
“I am a key supporter of Downtown Revitalization that involves post-secondary growth balanced with important community initiatives and priorities. I have been a member of the Downtown BIA for the past four years, and was instrumental in the founding of the new Downtown Neighbourhood Association (DNA), giving voice to those who live downtown.”
Why he’s running: “I firmly believe that ward five needs a kind, caring, compassionate individual to advocate for ward five. We have the highest rate of poverty in the City, more children going to school hungry, and more individuals living on the streets then any other part of the City. As a local Pastor I run a food bank and a youth community meal, often advocating for those on ODSP [Ontario Disability Support Program]. If I am elected it will allow me to more effectively advocate for people I am already serving.”
Where are students in his platform? “The student population is an important part of our community, without the students our downtown would be empty without any redevelopment. Students need a safe environment to study and learn. Student housing needs to be monitored. Slum landlords are not acceptable for families and they shouldn’t be acceptable for students. Students need to be able to access all areas of the City; I hope to be able to establish a precedent that gives each full time student a free three month bus pass in September.
The City needs to ensure that students are able to move about the downtown area safely. The police need to increase their presence ensuring that all students are safe. It is my hope that housing and education are both affordable and good quality. I would also like to see community meals established for students. Hopefully students will enjoy their life in Brantford so much so that they will decide to marry and settle down in our community.
My key campaign platforms, kind, caring, compassionate leadership combined with financial integrity. We have a spending problem, we need to spend wisely, focusing on important issues like food and safety while putting aside new logos and pay raises.”
Why he’s running: “My mother moved to the corner of Aylmer and Nelson in 1990. I spent most of my weekends there and began my martial arts career at the corner of Colborne and Clarence at Master Kwang Lee’s Taekwondo school. I would later takeover the school at the same location from 2003 – 2013. I attended BCI and Laurier Brantford. Having been a student and a business owner I am currentlyhave been a part of the foundations of our downtown that we are now trying to stimulate and enhance.
Bike rides at Mohawk Park, sledding down Arrowdale in the winter, and baseball at Iroqouis Park are fond memories from my childhood and something I share as a stay at home father of three.
I have spent a great deal of my time living, playing, working and learning in and near Ward 5 so it makes good sense for me to represent this area…”
“Having had the experiences of being a stay at home parent, a business owner in the downtown, and a student of Laurier been a part worn many different pairs of shoes. If our ideal downtown is a place to bring the family, have a diverse selection of small shops, and a successful University we need someone who has worn and is still wearing those shoes for effective and relevant representation. Experience and a vision of where we want to go are traits I bring to the table.”
“As a councilor I will use my influence to increase employment in our City, reduce our taxes, and make prosperity more accessible. We do a lot of things well in this City. Let’s build on Laurier, continue attracting employment opportunities, and work with our neighbours to ensure Brantford, Six Nations, and Brant County is an accessible, inexpensive, and beautiful place to call home.”
Where do students fit in his platform? “Laurier specifics need to be centered around making life inexpensive and easy for students.
Getting a grocery store inside the downtown core is a direction we need to go in. The walk to Fresh Co is not desirable especially in winter. The buses could use some tweaks. But aside from those two issues I haven’t heard much to improve that the City can apply itself to do from the students I have talked to.”
Why he’s running: “I live in Ward 5 (downtown) and own the Brantford Station Gallery located at the VIA Rail Train Station, and am a fifth generation Brantfordian.”
Where are students in his platform? “Taylor, As a Ward 5 Councillor I would actively pursue the main Laurier campus in Waterloo to invest in more money in sports teams for Brantford, and look at expanding programming, for example computer engineering.”
Brian Van Tilborg
Why he’s running: “My interest in being a ward 5 councillor , is to bring a vision to council that represents a change in how things are being done. I will listen, work with and stand up for our community. From the Student to Senior , homeowner or renter, I will bring strong representation. I am known for standing up for people and people need to have their voice , input and acceptance that we are working on their behalf and for their benefit.”
Where do student fit in his platform?: “I was actually canvassing in and around Laurier and spoke to a lot of students. They have a lot of the same concerns I had when I was a student getting my B.A…”
“An uncertain job market, rising debt-loads, and affordability for things like housing. One of the things that always strikes me when I talk to Laurier Brantford students is how many of them want to stay in Brantford. That is great but there is an issue – Brantford has adapted well to have student housing to meet that need. And we’ve also got a good deal of suburban housing that is out of reach for a number of recent grads due to cost.
One thing we need to improve on is reasonably priced housing for those recently graduated students who want to remain in and contribute to Brantford.
For them student housing isn’t the right fit and a $280,000+ home is out of reach.
I will be promoting the B Home Program. It is for first time homeowners and makes home ownership affordable and accessible to those entering the job market after their post secondary education.
If we really want to become the vision of SMART Brantford – a program I support – then we need to retain more of these students we are training and educating after graduation. More mid-cost rental units in Ward 5 and around the entire city would help with that a great deal.
Further I believe in working to make Downtown a cleaner, safer, more walkable, more vibrant and more economically attractive area for businesses that serve students and the general public – this improves everyone’s quality of life be they a student, a non-student, downtown employee or business owner. We need all of them for the best Ward 5 and best city we can have.”