Does our Taxi System Work.
In the last few months I have been reviewing the various forms of transportation, one of them the taxi service. I was extremely dismayed to find that the taxi companies have a veritable monopoly on the provision of taxi service in the city. You can only get a licence to drive a taxi, through one of the established taxi companies, if you are employed by them. No one else can get a licence. And the Region sets the licencing ratio which currently stands at 1 licence for every 1650 residents. Essentially, controlling supply and demand.
Now Uber, a company that is operating in other major cities, wants to come to the Region. They say they are not a taxi company but that they are a virtual service, connecting those who want to provide rides with those who need them.
The argument in favour of a taxi monopoly is two fold. 1. Regulation in order to ensure safety,training and certification and 2. Licencing Ratios to control demand, and provide enough revenue to make a living.
Let’s take regulation. According to a recent article in the Record, 6 taxi drivers have been brought up on sexual assault charges in the last year and a half. The article states that the manager (at the Region) of licencing and enforcement is worried about the safety of Uber. What?? These are not Uber drivers. These are regulated taxi drivers. Should we not be worried that the system you have in place may not be working? That your own regulations may need to be reviewed? And does this not show that your regulator system is not in fact ensuring our safety .Do I believe that the taxi drivers, Uber or otherwise should be regulated..yes. I work in an industry that is regulated. I cannot practice as an accountant if I don’t pay my dues, continue to upgrade my skills, and act in accordance with the legal requirements of the tax system. So regulation yes, but a look at the current taxi regulation system may be in order.
Let’s go to the next argument. Licencing Ratios. What other industry operates with such ratio restriction?. Any industry is regulated by the pure economics of supply and demand. Hair Salons, Accountants, Plumbers, there are as many as the market can bear. And if you want to make a living,and maintain market share, you strive to be the best and provide better service. So now Uber is creating that market competition that I, for one, think is missing in the taxi industry. Do I believe in this licencing restriction..no. So if Uber comes, the taxi companies will have that competition, and we, as consumers, will reap the benefits of a competitive environment.
November 16th, 2014
Traffic Concerns on the West Side – We need to keep an eye on the back door.
When I first moved to the West Side of Waterloo, we used a small side road to get over to Kitchener that we had nicknamed the “snake road”. The road was a small two lane road that “snaked” around until it came out on Highland. It was a well-kept secret, and we very rarely saw anyone else on the road. That was 15 years ago. Today the secret is out and that road is Ira Needles.
As residents of the West side, our choices to leave the area are Columbia Street or Ira Needles, both of them congested and time consuming. Leaving the Westside by car, bike or walking is not easy. Many articles have been written, council meetings held and backyard barbeque discussions have taken place on how to fix the traffic congestion these two roads are facing, and the draw backs of incomplete sidewalks and bike lanes.
The problem with both Columbia and Ira Needles, is that the roads were planned for the traffic at the time, and it seems that no consideration was given to future growth. I dare suggest that the roads were not even built to accommodate the traffic of that time.
But there is no other way to leave the West Side. Or is there? Actually, we once again found a “secret” way to leave, taking the back way out of Erbsville and coming back into the city on Northfield Drive. Over the course of the last 5 years, we have seen this exit grow, with more and more cars, bikers and pedestrians taking this “secret” path.
And you guessed it, once again the secret is out and change is coming. While we were watching the front door, the city began plans for expansion on this back way out. Conservation Drive and Beaver Creek Road will be expanded to accommodate the ever increasing “secret” use of these roads.
But this time they need to get it right. They need to ensure that they make the road wide enough to begin with. They need to be sure that they have bike lanes and walking trails for the hundreds who use these roads. They need to be sure that they build the road, for the future, not just the present. If they get it right this time, we won’t have to find a new “secret” way out, because frankly, we are out of options.
October 23rd, 2014
Over the course of these last few weeks, I have been asked many times why I was running for council. I am sure other candidates who are running have been asked the same question. And I can tell you truly why most of these people are running. During this campaign I have crossed paths with many other candidates – those running for mayor, those running for regional council and in many of the wards around the city. I have made friends with some and got to know more than a few – and you know what I found out? They are running for office because they genuinely care. They have put their names forward, walked countless miles, attended event after event, because they believe that they can make a difference if they get elected – they care about their city and the people living in it. They care – and so do I. It is the underlying basic reason behind why we do this,
Running for council, everyday is a new discovery.In Ward 2, we have a large percentage of the population of different ethnicity. This weekend, I took the time to investigate and find out about the Muslim Community and Culture. I was raised Catholic, and found many similarities in the two religions. And one important premise of both religions is – do no harm. The sense of”= “relation” that exists in the Muslim community is all encompassing Whether you are related by blood or not, everyone is an aunt or sister, or niece. The community is based on helping one another, and being there for each other. It was a truly remarkable experience to learn about this culture and these wonderful people.
Once again, running for council has lead me to find out more about an organization than I did before. On Thursday, the candidates in the Region were invited to participate in a sorting challenge at the food bank. We were given a tour of the facility, and learned all about the amazing work that the food bank does. The food bank provides 26500 pounds of food each week to its member agencies for their food hampers and community meals. We were divided into teams and were challenged to sort the food into the appropriate categories. It was HARD work! And the food bank has over 100 volunteers who help to do this sorting every week. I was grateful to be able to find out about the food bank and help for the little time that we did.
Oh, and by the way, I was on the winning sorting team!!!
October 15th, 2014
Last night the candidates in all the Cities and Townships were invited to attend an evening discussing their views and sharing with others their views on environment issues. It was a great event on two fronts. First, it gave me the opportunity to investigate the 7 groups who attended. I reviewed all the websites from REEP to CarShare, from TriTAg, to GREN from RARE to Sustainable Waterloo to CREW-WR . It again gave me the opportunity to increase my knowledge on the important environmental issues in both our city and our ward, Second, it gave me a chance to speak about the importance of environmental issues here in Ward 2. Ward 2 is on the Moraine. Ward 2 is home to the Laurel Creek Conservation Area. Ward 2 is the “line” to the country. Ward 2 is surrounded by the ESL. In short, Ward 2 and the Environment go hand in hand. As a candidate here in Ward 2, I do well to remember and protect that which we have.
October 8th, 2014
The candidates for Mayor were asked if they would consider a new committee like the former Citizen’s Budget Task Force.
As a former member of the Citizens Budget Task Force, I believe that the idea of a new committee is a good one. The problem that arose out of the original budget task force was twofold. First, the committee was not given clear enough direction in what their purpose was as a committee. The terms of reference were too broad, not focusing on one aspect of the budgeting or finances, but simply giving the committee carte blanche to review everything.
Second, the committee lost it’s momentum because of the broad terms of reference and the steep learning curve for all the information that the members needed to digest.
I believe that with a clearer terms of reference, and a tighter mandate, such a committee could be very productive.
October 6th, 2014
This past week has been so busy, meeting people, knocking on doors. I can’t thank my family enough, Charlie and CJ Moore, for their help on the campaign trail. My son took to the streets with my signs, literally on his back. It was a sight to see.
October 6th, 2014
What I find interesting about this campaigning is the journey of discovery that I am taking . Finding out more about so many people and organizations in the city than I ever dreamed existed. Yesterday I had the pleasure to be invited to the 2nd Anniversary for Spectrum. Their main focus is in helping those in the Rainbow Community. I had my head in the sand on this issue so to speak. I accept all life choices, so I naively thought that everyone else was as accepting. It was distressing to hear the young people are getting bullied, older people are still having to hide how they feel. The message that came through loud and clear yesterday was “It doesn’t matter who you love, only that you do love” I got chills hearing that yesterday and still have chills writing it today. This group of volunteers is owed our thanks for the work that they do.
September 30th, 2014
As I knocked on doors, and toured our Ward, I meet with many residents who informed me that they could not vote in the upcoming election. I said to them, if you live here, you work here you pay taxes here, you can vote. I was wrong.
Anyone who lives here but is not a Canadian Citizen, does not have the right to vote. I just don’t get this. We have a large group of individuals, and in Ward 2 it is very large, who have chosen to come to live in Canada, and they can’t vote. They pay taxes as “citizens” do, they utilitze the city services as “citizens” do, they live here as “citizens” do. They fit the definition in my eyes of “citizen” and should have the right to vote.
When I decided to run for Councillor, I did it thinking I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to get in there and make charts and graphs of all our city assets, all the facilities and the roads. I wanted to get myself deep into the budget and make sure we were doing everything we could to be fiscally responsible. I wanted to work with staff to see if we could do the accounting better and easier. I wasn’t going to forget about Recreation and Leisure, oh no. That is and will always remain important to me. I want to be sure we remain the City that facilitates all groups in providing a wide variety of Recreation and Leisure Activities. I believe in all of this but as I look at it now, after months of research, it was too narrow of focus. And let’s face it the accounting stuff is so dry, and oh so boring to most.
In the past weeks, I have meet with people, knocked on doors and talked with residents, sat with the neighbourhood associations and the University of Waterloo Students. I have reviewed email after email from Heritage groups, Arts Groups, Transit Groups and so many more. I have made copious notes and read many article and web pages about what the citizens want and what the groups represent. From all I have heard, everyone has well thought out wants and needs, and now I need to decide what I will bring with me to council, to champion for change. To see what I would like to accomplish, check out my page here on my web site.
While my son CJ was growing up he had a lot on his plate. He always wanted to do well in school, and put the effort in to achieve that goal. He is and was a competitive diver. He enjoys family time as well as school sports and other activities. One of the lessons that I feel I taught him well was to keep a balance in his life. Don’t ever do one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Take time to dive, to work hard at school, to enjoy the computer, family and friends. Always strive for a balanced life.
I think that philosophy is very important at the municipal council table. It will all be about balance. Balancing the need to be fiscally responsible with the need to provide services. Balancing the desire for sports, vs others who prefer the arts or other interests. Balancing our cities need for growth against protecting our incredible urban resource. Balancing the need of our vehicle travel and our growing need for transit vs the need for trails for bikes and pedestrians. Then tying it all together with the need to balance the budget and realizing that we cannot satisfy everyone’s needs. We cannot make everyone happy. But as I taught my son, we can strive for balance.
September 21st, 2014
Last week I had the pleasure of touring the Environmentally Sensitive Lands that lie on the borders of Ward 2. What an eye opener to behold such beauty literally steps from my backdoor. I love to go walking with my dogs in the neighbourhood, but I had no idea that this existed just beyond the paths I usually walk. I learned so much about why these lands are protected and why they should remain so. It was a lesson well learned, and I believe that as a Candidate for Councillor in Ward 2, I have a responsibility to know and understand what the ESL designation is and its purpose. How we plan our growth in the City and in this neighbourhood, needs to be done with consideration to this resource we are protecting. Stewardship is part of a Councillor’s job. Stewardship of our precious resources of land, water and nature. I will remember.
I have been meeting with a number of the Executive from the neighbourhood associations in our Ward over the past few weeks. They were willing to share with me many of their ideas and concerns for the neighbourhood. Safety is a number one concern. Be it for our children, our elderly or ourselves, everyone wants their neighbourhoods to be safe. Accessibility was another very important theme. In two different ways actually.
They spoke of accessibility to city staff. That it was important to be able to get a hold of someone at the city and have that person be accountable to answer their questions or to get back to them.
They spoke of accessibility through the trail systems. It was a common issue that the trails in our neighbourhood are not complete. They need to be finished and joined together.
Our neighbourhood should be as safe as we can make it. Our neighbourhood should be accessible through the trail systems. And we should be able to give city staff the tools they need to help when someone has a question. I will do my part to bring these ideals to city hall.
A few weeks ago, I met with the Student Union Leaders at the University of Waterloo. They provided me with a report of their ideas for the City of Waterloo and the Students living here. Their ideas encompassed safety, transportation, housing, and virtual connections with the city.
One of their Safety issues was Waterloo Park. The report indicated that many students make use of the path through Waterloo Park at night. And that many of these do so after the park is closed. The Student Union is requesting that the Laurel Trail that crosses the Park should be well lit to ensure the safety of the students.
The Park is a natural connection to the U of W and the uptown area. If you don’t cut through the park then you need to go all the way up to Albert Street or down to Westmount, adding time to a trip that would be half as long through the park
As councilor I would support this request, and ensure that the park is a safe place for our students after dark.
Recently there was an article in the Waterloo Chronicle about the City of Waterloo Neighbourhood Matching Fund. It is a great funding model, available to community groups to enhance life in Waterloo through arts, environment, history, recreation and more. The City will invest up to $2000 in funds as long as the group matches dollar for dollar with cash, donated goods or donated time. A number of groups have taken advantage of this funding over the three years that the program has been in place.
And now the decision will need to be made whether the city continues with this program and the funding model, and I am in full support of this program’s continuation. What a great way to for the City to help out the groups, as well as the groups investing in the city. It is a two way street paved with the best of intentions and results.
The article in the newspaper indicated that although this was only a three year pilot project, that City Staff hope to include it as a permanent budget item for 2015. I say yes to this plan.
August 7th, 2014
I had a very interesting and informative meeting with the University of Waterloo Student Federation leaders. They were updating me on the important issues that students have in the City of Waterloo.
They put a great deal of time and effort into providing the candidates, myself included, with ideas that they had for the students and life in the city. They didn’t just discuss problems they had good ideas and solutions.
The student population in our city, swells our population base by over 1/4. The students are an integral part of our city, and the student leaders reminded me of that.
July 27th, 2014
One of the most important aspects that I see in Ward 2 is the blend of urban and rural.
First, the Urban. We have wonderful neighbourhoods full of fantastic people. I know so many people who have moved, once, even twice, and each time they made sure they stayed right here in Ward 2. No one wants to leave.
Then there is the Rural We have biking trails and walking trails. We have natural and man made ponds. We have paths to explore and nature surrounds us.
I want to be sure that we protect what we have here, and ensure that as a City we continue to build neighbourhoods both here in Ward 2 and all over the city, that incorporates the incredible blend that we enjoy here.