Ward 5 Candidate Profiles

The following Ward 5 candidate profiles were originally published in the Guelph Mercury, October 15, 2010.

Lise Burcher

Age: 53

Occupation: Professor, University of Guelph

Education: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Master of Landscape Architecture.

Lived here: 30 years

About the candidate: Long before being elected to council, in 2007, I had established myself as a dedicated community mobilizer and change agent. I have been contributing to neighbourhood and city-wide initiatives for over 20 years while living in Ward 5 and raising my family. I utilize my expertise in community sustainability and design, governance, and effective and meaningful citizen engagement strategies to strive for excellence through community collaboration.

Three issues I feel strongly about: My top three priorities are all related to managing growth and ensuring health and prosperity for our citizens. We have a very innovative growth plan based on extensive citizen engagement and rigorous study. I am proud to have taken a leadership role on the only growth plan in the province to have succeeded in reducing our population target by 25,000. We need to stay the course with our growth plan and Community Energy Initiative and apply the same rigour and excellence on implementation. My top three priorities related to managing growth are to strengthen our neighbourhoods with enhanced services, housing options for aging in place and for young people. Continue to bring good jobs to Guelph building on our success of over 1,000 new jobs recently announced. Implement transit strategy.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Some areas within Ward 5 do not enjoy a range of housing types to ensure appropriate accommodations throughout all stages of life. Some areas of Ward 5 lack services close by. Near-university neighbourhoods are also experiencing a great deal of pressure with some forms of rental housing which has led to neighbourhood destabilization. I have worked diligently this past term of council with my colleagues and stakeholders to remedy this challenge.

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

We have a strongly articulated vision and responsible plan for growth which is based on extensive citizen consultation. Our Growth Strategy will accommodate an increase in population of approximately 50,000 people. We have succeeded in delinking growth with energy use through our Community Energy Initiative. We will accommodate this growth within our current city limits through infill and intensification with no expansion into the countryside.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

This council has a clearly defined list of priority projects that have been debated by the public and council. Unlike previous councils, capital projects will only be put on the priority list if we have a financing plan for them, bringing discipline to the process. I will follow that plan. The central library project does not yet have financing attached to it. I will work to find financing strategies and partnerships to build the Baker Street project

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

While relationships are important in any partnership, the issue first and foremost is one of governance. It is my job to represent the citizens of Guelph and to ensure they receive good value for their tax dollars. It is also imperative that the citizens of Guelph receive a full range of social services delivered in the most efficient manner possible. With the current governance model I do not have access to enough information to ensure the above.

Leanne Piper

Age: 46

Occupation: Communications: Writer/researcher/editor

Education: Hons. BA, History and English, McMaster University

Lived here: 20 years, plus another 10 in Puslinch Twp.

About the candidate: I have served Ward 5 on city council since 2006, after previously being elected as a school board trustee for the Upper Grand District School Board. I bring a great deal of experience to the council table after having worked for over 20 years in government, the non-profit and private sector in the field of communications. I currently work part-time and can therefore devote the necessary hours to full-time council work.

Three issues I feel strongly about:

1. Preservation of Guelph’s unique character, quality of life and healthy neighbourhoods as we grow and transform according to the province’s requirements under the Places to Grow legislation.

2. Strategic investment in economic development and financial sustainability are absolutely essential to Guelph’s ability to thrive in the new global economy.

3. Stewardship of our municipal assets, such as infrastructure, heritage, natural spaces, energy systems, water, etc.

Many of these priority items have master plans well underway or completed, and I would like to see them through — such as the Community Energy Initiative, Guelph Innovation District planning, Water Conservation Master Plan, and Urban Forest Management Plan.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Ward 5 is an area in transition, with intensification pressures that may result in higher densities and increased traffic. The focus for next term will be to develop in a way that respects neighbourhoods, and preserves amenities, such as grocery stores, Centennial pool and arena, and appropriate reuse of vacant sites like College Avenue school.

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

Sustainability is key. Low-impact design, energy efficient building, walkable communities, increased urban forest canopy, neighbourhood amenities, parkland, live-work options, etc. are all forms of development that will keep Guelph healthy and vibrant. Ideally, Guelph should remain ‘human-scaled’ with limited highrise development. Employment opportunities and transit linkages will connect with existing neighbourhoods.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

New Main Branch Library

South End Community Centre

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

City-county relations are a historic balance of jurisdictions, and not always acrimonious. City councillors represent their citizens and county councillors represent theirs. Civility is a must, and a healthy respect for process and fairness. Egos have no place in future dialogue. We have much in common and must focus on those areas where we can mutually grow and benefit one another — such as transit, tourism, agricultural and economic growth.

Douglas B. O’Doherty

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired district chief Fire Dept. Toronto

Education: York University. B.A History; Ontario Fire College Graduate Management — Fire Command — Fire Prevention

Lived here: 19 years

About the candidate: My wife Maureen and I, with our three children, moved to Guelph in 1991. I commuted to work in Toronto while my wife was employed by Sears here in town. The pace of life here was so different in a positive way. We now have three grandchildren in our expanded family. It seems I was always studying or learning taking either fire department or university courses. I graduated from York in 1994, the same year I was promoted to district chief.

Three issues I feel strongly about:

The three main issues facing the city of Guelph are an overloaded debt, a lack of communication with ratepayers and the realization that there is a difference between the city’s needs and its wants. I am proposing a zero tax increase — yes, a zero tax increase. Until our debts have been paid we must scale back. We cannot propose a capital project one month and next month lay off civic employees. Guelph ratepayers have enough problems (the new HST, student housing in their neighbourhood). The new garbage system must be reopened. A similar system in Toronto is a disaster. The spending of the last council was gross mismanagement. We must petition the province to correct the underfunding of the in-lieu of payments paid to the city.

What is your ward lacking that the next term of council needs to deliver?

Ward 5 is lacking proper upkeep of our roads — especially Water Street west of Edinburgh Road. This primarily is a school zone. The mayor and local councillor have been petitioned by some residents by email and phone for the past two years. Nothing has been done. The new garbage system will cause huge problems for residents. This proposal should have been dealt with by the new council. What was the need to rush this through?

How should the city seek to grow in the next term of council?

The new council should shelve any unneeded capital projects. We should only finance those projects that we need, not the ones that we want. The various lawsuits involving the city show the lack of planning on council’s part. My zero tax increase would help alleviate the unfair burden on all the ratepayers including both homeowners and apartment dwellers.

What big-ticket capital budget projects should be started in the next term of council?

The big-ticket capital projects should only be started if they are needed and we can afford them. We cannot put forward an unneeded project and next give our hard working civic employees unpaid vacation days. What about 2011? Will we have 10 or 20 unpaid days? The mistakes of council should not be paid for by city staff. I am proud to live in such a clean and well-functioning city but we must stop overspending.

What must be done to improve city-county civic relations?

As a team member in the fire service I learned to not only give good direction but do it as a team member. There are no such things as problems, they are challenges. We share many of these challenges (emergency services, garbage disposal) so it is necessary to have dialogue with our county neighbours.

I’m Thankful for Guelph

Happy Thanksgiving!   My eldest son moved to Kitchener-Waterloo last year to pursue his education.   When he returns home for holidays or a visit, we often end up talking about how great it is in Guelph.   Isn’t it funny that we have to hear it from someone outside the city to appreciate what a truly fabulous community we have?

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:

1.  Caring citizens.   Neighbours helping neighbours and the army of volunteers, organizations and charities who give so much and enrich the lives of those who need our help.  We are the “most caring community in Canada” amd I am thankful for that.

2.  Trees, parks and green space.   I am thankful for Royal City Park, the Royal Recreational Trail, Riverside Park, Hanlon Creek Conservation Area, Preservation Park,  and the “James Street to Barber Scout camp” trail where the city disappears and I can be reminded that Mother Nature will reclaim her territory when given any opportunity.

3.  Art, music and dance.  I am thankful to live in a city where creative minds are nurtured from a young age and allowed to shine.   Thank you for the Guelph Studio Tour,  Youth Music Centre, Hillside, Jazz Festival, Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, River Run Centre and the endless concerts in the park, art galleries, studios and street performers.

4.  Clean water.  Thank you to our city forefathers who secured a pristine water source for future generations, and to the current generation for conserving and protecting this valuable resource for the next generation.

5.   Heritage Architecture.  Thank you to the builders and developers of long ago who invested in quality structures to withstand the test of time.  Our architecture is a physical link to the past and our buildings tell amazing stories.  I am thankful for the citizens who preserve them, and those who stand up when our cultural icons are at risk.

6.  Local business and labour.    Thank you to the local businesses, large and small, who have made a conscious decision to call Guelph home.  Our labour force is top-notch, our businesses give back to the community, and our economy has weathered a great storm this year because local businesses and workers stayed in the game.

7.  Seniors and Youth.  I am so thankful we live in a community that values all demographics — sports and recreation programs,  educational programs, neighbourhood afterschool programs,  the GW Seniors Association, the Youth Council, Kids Can Play and so many volunteer groups who provide opportunities for all ages to experience a high quality of life.

8.   Public Safety.  Thank you to  the Guelph Police Service,  the Fire Department and Land Ambulance services, for keeping us safe and secure.  As the “saftest community in Canada”, we all play a role in working with our service providers to keep watch over our neighbourhoods.

9.   The Farmer’s Market.   I am thankful for the farmers who grow the food we eat and provide us with local produce, for the craftspeople and performers who make the weekly market a cultural experience.

10.    Guelph’s founders.  Everything we have today was handed to us by a previous generation.   Our town plan, our railroad, our rivers, our university, industry, parks, ground water, even our newer subdivisions, came from careful planning and long-term vision. 

I am thankful to be part of a continuum of excellence that, one hundred years from now, others might find cause to give thanks.

I could go on, but 10 is enough for one day.  Happy Thanksgiving !



Two major land sales were announced at the Guelph City Council meeting last night! Two employers, bringing a combined total of approx. 370 to Guelph, plan to locate at the Hanlon Creek Business Park. Due to confidential negotiations re: purchase, the names of the companies cannot be released at this time.

This is exciting news for Guelph and its citizens. General Manager of Economic Development and Tourism said during his presentation that both employers were impressed with the city, it’s reputation as environmental leaders, and it’s responsiveness to the needs of their business.

Chamber of Commerce – Candidate Questionnaire – Leanne Piper

Chamber of Commerce Candidate Questionnaire

  1. Question:

Ignoring the current traffic problems caused by the construction, do you feel Guelph is on the right track with its current transportation plan (The Hanlon, Grid System, Public Transit and the new transportation Hub)?

Answer:   Yes.  There are improvements to be made in design and implementation, but the overall direction has solid reasoning behind it.  Multi-modal transportation is essential – bus, train, automobile, bicycle, etc. – in an age of business expediency, commuting, peak oil, and attracting new jobs to the city.

  1. Question:

The current property tax assessment is 84% residential and 16% industrial/commercial, what ratio would you like to see? What strategies should the city employ to reach the ideal ration of property tax assessment?

Answer:   75:25 is realistic and achievable.  Residents would like to see it lower, but we must shift to a ratio that reflects the services provided.   The only way to change the ratio is to attract more ICI businesses to Guelph, not to stop residential growth.  The first step is to ensure we have serviced land available.  We are doing that now, with the Hanlon Creek Business Park, the future Guelph Innovation District and our Brownfield Incentive Plan.   The second step is to provide dependable energy systems, infrastructure and a high quality of life to new and existing business so they are attracted to build or expand in our city.  The Community Energy Initiative is a key part of this strategy, as is our Water Supply Master Plan and Transit Growth Strategy.  We are well on our way – and I am optimistic that another four years will yield the fruit we have planted over the past term.

  1. Question:

What is your tourism vision for the city?

Answer:   Arts, culture, heritage, agri-tourism, food, music.  We have so much to offer, but need to place ourselves apart from other communities.  Let’s capitalize on what we already do best – music festivals, food, heritage.   We have the events in place, let’s expand.  For example, Doors Open brings up to 4,000 visitors every year – but it’s only one day long, so we should create a 3 day event program around it.

Agri-tourism is a booming sector.  We have the university, businesses and facilities to host major events – horse shows, dairy festival, etc.    It would be quite something to bring people into town by making better use of the Guelph Junction Express, as a mode of transportation from in and out of town, but also as a featured experience.   Also, Guelph has a thriving brewing and micro-brewery sector.   Similar to Niagara’s wine tourism, there is value in Guelph poising itself as the centre of brewing and malting in Ontario – revitalizing the “Ale Trail” program.  Create a museum of Canadian Brewing and Malting.  Partnerships with existing private tourism assets (such as Guelph Junction, Sleemans, Wellington Brewery, F&M, etc. ) will make this possible.

  1. Question:

How will you advance your own political agenda in a timely fashion while, at the same time, working with a variety of interest groups?

Answer:  In the first six months of any new Council, it is imperative to create, or reaffirm, a Strategic Plan and most important, to identify the actions and resources required to make it happen.  Then stick to the plan, making adjustments as new information or conditions arise.   The Strategic Plan is only valid if created in collaboration with business, residents and all stakeholders at the table.

  1. Question:

Do you support the directions of the “Prosperity 2020” report? Please explain.

Answer:  Yes.  We are implementing it now and seeing results.  Lessons learned from the past can only help us to improve in the future.  We need to get on with it quickly, as seeds sowed today often take years to yield visible benefits.

ECHO Weekly – Candidate Questionnaire – Leanne Piper

ECHO Weekly Candidate Questionnaire

1) Why did you want to run again for city council?

Guelph is on a forward momentum path.  We are poised to be national leaders on a number of fronts – water conservation, wastewater, community energy, economic development, arts and culture, and more.   We need strong leaders at City Hall to keep us on that path.  I want to look back in 25 years and know that I did everything in my power to ensure Guelph’s sustainability and prepare us for the next generation.  A number of key projects are well-underway that I would like to see completed, such as downtown renewal, urban forest management plan, and urban design policies.

2) What initiatives/achievements are you proud of during the last term?

The Community Energy Initiative, Water Supply Master Plan, Water Conservation Plan and Culture and Recreation Master Plan are just a few.  We also cemented GO trains coming to Guelph, brought new green jobs (Canadian Solar) to town, and weathered a very challenging recession.   In addition, we brought in significant infrastructure money and are working to complete five years worth of badly-needed upgrades in one year.   The Market Square and Guelph Civic Museum project are key investments in quality of life for residents and I can’t wait until they are both open next year.

3) Please describe your position/ideas on the following issues?

a) Taxes

Taxes are inevitable.  They pay for the basis services that keep our city humming (roads, snow ploughs, parks, police, fire, ambulance, waste management, etc.).  But taxes also pay for amenities that impact our quality of life – arts, recreation, heritage, etc.  The challenge is to invest wisely and find efficiencies that benefit the community the most.

b) Budget

Lower debt, stronger reserves, transparent accounting, and timely reporting.  The current council has made major change to the way we administer the budget, debt and reserves with new policies in place to ensure our AA credit rating is on solid ground.

c) Transit

On time, on budget, increased ridership, friendly staff, improved technology and better inter-modal linkage.  The Transit Growth Strategy speaks to all of these key issues and I strongly support the growth and efficiency of our system.   The new transit hub on Carden Street will make linkages easier and more pleasant for riders.  My family of young adults (high school and university) and myself are transit users, and know the importance of a dependable system (including holidays).

d) Development/Infrastructure

Guelph’s growth cannot be the same old form.  Densification makes better use of existing infrastructure and creates a vibrant core.  But it cannot be out of scale or character, and requires careful planning, strong urban design policy and creative and innovative partnerships with architects and developers who are willing to make Guelph different than other cities.  As we grow, we must protect green spaces, revitalize our river corridors, preserve heritage, create a new public realm (such as Market Square) and protect agricultural lands.

e) Arts & Culture

Guelph is a hub of creative talent – arts, culture, music, heritage, etc.  We have recently created a partnership with Artscape to explore and expand opportunities for artists of all genres to collaborate, create, perform and exhibit.   We need a new visual and performing arts space for this to happen.   Our cultural assets, including libraries and museums,  help to attract new business and economic activity.

5) What’s your message for voters?

Get out and vote.  Be informed about the candidates and cast your vote according to your vision for Guelph.

Guelph Tribune – Candidate Questionniare – Leanne Piper

Guelph Tribune Ward 5 Candidate Questionnaire


In addition to my current position as city councillor, I work in the communications field as a writer/editor/researcher and graphic designer.  I have over 25 years work experience in education, non-profit and the private sector.


I never underestimate the importance of thorough research and communication.  Understanding issues, listening to all voices, dissecting the facts, examining best practices, asking questions and analyzing alternatives help a councillor to make the best possible decision.   Many of the decisions that councillors make will have a lasting impact on the next generation.


Excellent.  Our first order of business in 2006 was to create, in partnership with the community, a strategic plan to guide us.  We completed backlogged initiatives and have set the wheels in motion for some very exciting and innovative projects that will yield fruit in the next term — such as water conservation and supply, natural heritage preservation, economic development projects, community energy generation,  infrastructure renewal, transit sustainability and growth management.  During the worst global recession since the 1930s, we maintained our AA credit rating, attracted new jobs, increased reserves and developed new debt management policies and capital spending limits.


I hear an incredible buzz of optimism.  Guelph has a lot going for it, and citizens understand that city council plays a major role in keeping our community on the leading edge of wellness, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.   Even the road construction is a good sign — that we are prospering and thriving and looking to the future.


Economic development, transit growth, urban forest management,
water/energy/waste conservation, debt management, tourism/arts/culture and building healthy and vibrant neighbourhoods for all demographics, including seniors, young adults and families.


I believe it is a privilege and an honour to serve in public office.  I bring a strong record of experience and collaborative leadership to the council table.

Guelph Wellington Seniors Association – Candidate Questionnaire – Leanne Piper

Guelph Wellington Seniors Association

1. What issues do seniors in your Ward have?

Seniors in Ward 5 face the same issues that many wards have. Seniors contribute substantially to our community – as volunteers, neighbours, mentors, and as customers of our many facilities, such as recreation centres, libraries, museums, parks, trails, etc., as well as our economic prosperity.

Our facilities, roadways, parks, trails, sidewalks and city buildings must be accessible to all.

Dependable, friendly, economical and flexible public transit means that seniors have the ability to travel around the city safely and efficiently. Whether it be by conventional bus or mobility transit, seniors are more likely to remain active and healthy when access to transportation is not a barrier.

Quality of Life
The demographic shift to a greater proportion of “boomers” has resulted in the need for increased active lifestyle opportunities for seniors – recreational facilities, programming, cultural venues and outdoor spaces. We need more opportunities for seniors in Ward 5 -– programs, services and supports – an “Evergreen” South would be ideal.

Aging in Place
Healthy neighbourhoods include seniors who are able to stay in their homes as long as possible. We need to insure that, as we grow and increase density of housing, that we maintain mixed use neighbourhoods where seniors can stay in their current home, downsize, or use their home as rental income, so that they can continue to enjoy their established neighbourhood.

At the same time, we need to plan for additional seniors housing, affordable housing, and lifestyle retirement living.

Ward 5 is very fortunate to be home to the “Village by the Arboretum” where a large population of seniors can enjoy a community focused on their needs. Small pockets of this type of housing form in other areas of Ward 5 can extend the benefit of senior-focused development.

Taxes are an ever-increasing burden for seniors, especially those without employment pensions. It is incumbent on city council to ensure that taxes are spent wisely and benefit the greatest number of citizens. We also must promote and maintain tax payment alternatives (such as payment deferment option currently available) for seniors who are financially burdened. Council must also encourage the development of more affordable housing options for seniors (such as the St. Joseph’s development).

2. Do you subscribe to the “Essential Features” of an “Age Friendly City” as set out by the WHO?

Yes, wholeheartedly. An “Age Friendly City” is of benefit to all citizens. After all, not one of us is getting any younger! Investments made today to make our city more age-friendly will serve to benefit future generations.

Leanne Piper
Ward 5 Candidate

Phone: 519-824-9000
Email: campaign@leannepiper.ca
Website: leannepiper.ca
Facebook: Re-Elect Leanne Piper Ward 5 Guelph