2nd Annual Spring Festival at the Food Forest

2nd Annual Spring Festival at the Food Forest

2nd Annual Spring Festival at the Food Forest
University Village Park – 91 Ironwood Rd
Sunday May, 21st
9am to Noon

The Guelph Community Food Forest and Hanlon Creek Neighbourhood Group are excited to host the 2nd Annual Spring Festival. Help with the garden, lots of mulch to spread, crafts and activities (make a kite, plant some seeds, make a bird feeder), yummy refreshments, more park Clean-Up. Bubble Soccer hosted by the Rotary Club of Fergus-Elora – $5 for kid (up to 14), $10 for adults. Family fun for all ages, a great community event and time enjoying the outdoors!

Online Voting – Another perspective

Online Voting – Another perspective

Dare I weigh in to the healthy debate our community is having about online voting!?
Of course, I will. I am willing to offer up my thoughts on this matter understanding that until I actually need to push the yea/nay button I am open to hearing other points of view. I do think I offer a unique perspective as I have been a Returning Officer in charge of delivering the provincial election here in Guelph.

I support online voting during the Advance Poll period as was done in the 2014 election but do not support the expansion to include Election Day. At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 10th, I did not support the motion to remove internet voting completely.

I have concerns regarding the integrity of the voters list that the City receives from the the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). I do not have complete confidence in MPAC’s voter registration process before the City takes control and this creates a vulnerability for fraud in the internet voting process. The City requires proof of ID for voter registration while MPAC requires no proof. Someone can register with MPAC and vote online without ever having to produce an ID of any kind. If you go to Elections Ontario’s website today, you can only register with valid ID. Elections Canada requires a driver’s license number. MPAC needs to have a similar requirement.

So why would I continue to support internet voting for the Advance Polls? There are many articles identifying the pros and cons, the successes and failures and lessons learned. What I do know is that internet voting has been used in Ontario municipalities since 2003 without any reported security or voter fraud issues. In the 2014 election 97 municipalities used internet voting. In Guelph 33% of people who voted used the internet. While I understand the jury is still out as to whether online voting increases voter turnout, Guelph’s voter turnout increased 10% from the 2010 election. We don’t know why. I believe the benefits of accessibility do outweigh any potential problems if limited to Advance Polls. Any voting system, including paper ballots, relies on the integrity of our electorate and those delivering election services.

The problems of the MPAC list extend to the paper ballot system as well. A person can register online with MPAC without ID and show up at a polling place and still not have to show ID to vote. As long as someone has a voter’s card, they only need to sign a declaration that states they are the person who is named on the card. Also, no proof of Canadian citizenship is ever requested in the voting process. The ID requirements are outlined in the Municipal Elections Act. The paper ballot system has its own unique set of problems.

Polling stations are mandated to be accessible for persons with disabilities and procedures are put in place to assist in the voting process. Election polls are set up in retirement homes and long term care facilities. Municipal elections do not require home or hospital visits as do their provincial or federal counterparts. The Ontario Human Rights Commission states that the “electoral principle of accessibility recognizes persons with disabilities should be able to vote without assistance.” Here is their supportive statement for internet voting in Toronto – http://ohrc.on.ca/ur/node/11576 Voting without assistance is important as it maintains dignity, independence and confidentiality. I would also point out that not all disabilities are ‘physical’.

Another reason I support internet voting during the advance polls is that candidates have an opportunity to see the list of anyone who has already voted in the Advance Polls. We receive this list before Election Day. I think large scale irregularities would be evident.

I acknowledge that many are concerned about security. I have asked our City Clerk to provide information regarding security measures used by the city for internet voting and have been told that there will be a supplementary information report for the April 24th Council meeting which will provide more in depth information about security and other issues raised by the public and Council. This report will be made available to the public.

Here is a link to the 2013 Council report which provided an analysis of alternative voting methods: http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/StaffReport_GuelphMethodsOfVoting.pdf

Happy to hear respectful input!


Ward 5 Hero: Jennifer Harrison

Ward 5 Hero: Jennifer Harrison

Leanne and I first met Jennifer Harrison in her role as one of the community leaders who challenged Hydro One over their plans to clear the hydro corridor in Silvercreek Park. Jennifer’s home backed onto the corridor. She became instrumental in bringing Hydro One, the City, the community and Trees for Guelph to the table to work out a plan for the retention of some trees and a plan for new plantings. It is because of Jennifer’s persistence that Hydro One donated $10,000 to Trees for Guelph to replant the corridor and turn it into a meadow of grasses and wildflowers.

Jennifer is also very involved with her children’s school, St Rene’ Goupil, where she is president of the school council. No surprise there! Jennifer is from a small French community in New Brunswick so she feels quite at home spending time volunteering with various activities, fundraising and supporting teachers. Jennifer says this is where she gets her ‘French fix’.

Outside of St. Rene’, she is part of Rainbow Day Camp and Supporting Kids in Camp programs. They teach kindness, inclusion and tolerance at camp in the hopes that kids will adopt these principles in their everyday life. Jennifer says, “I strongly believe that kindness is a choice and my hope is that I can help children choose kindness more often than not.”

We are so fortunate to have Jennifer in Guelph advocating for ‘kindness’ and for the wellbeing of our residents. Thank you Jennifer!

Jennifer is pictured here with her husband, Morrison, and their children, Max and Sam.

Ward 5 Hero: Eileen Hammill

Ward 5 Hero: Eileen Hammill

Locally, the history of the Guelph Public Library (GPL) is not told without mentioning the significant contributions of Eileen Hammill, a Board member for 30 years who retired in 2011. Eileen was always very well prepared for Board meetings, taking a businesslike approach to the many challenges facing the GPL. She was keen to hear about and research the latest trends in public libraries. Eileen understood that a free and accessible public library makes a significant difference in the lives of children and adults. In Eileen’s 30 years on the Board, the library increased its circulation from 400,000 to 1.8 million and grew from one location to six. The GPL was more successful than many other municipal libraries in the province. This was, in part, due to the strong leadership of board members like Eileen.

In the 1980’s Eillen played a lead role in the establishment of the Southern Ontario Library Service. In 1990, she was recognized as Trustee of the Year by the Ontario Public Library Association.

Eileen was and continues to be a strong advocate for a new main library in our Downtown. It is long overdue.

Eileen was also very interested in Guelph’s history and heritage buildings. In the 1960’s she served as the President of the Guelph Historical Society.

Thank you Eileen for your many years of determined and dedicated advocacy! Libraries matter! May your dream of a new home for our wonderful GPL be realized soon.

Ward 5 Heroes: Central Student Association

Ward 5 Heroes: Central Student Association

When we think of the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association (CSA), we usually think of the great advocacy work they do on behalf of students on issues like transit and housing. However, they take on many more issues that often extend into advocacy work that benefits the whole community. Connecting community and campus is a priority for Jay Rojas, the CSA’s new Local Affairs Commissioner.

Here is a list of just of few of the CSA’s advocacy initiatives:

  • Providing accessible and affordable reusable water bottles for community members
  • Starting a research initiative to better connect students with other community members
  • Collaborating with internal and external partners to ensure current and future campaigns, services, and activities are inclusive and accessible
  • Increasing awareness of CSA within the City of Guelph
  • Collecting 17,350 lbs of food for the Guelph Food Bank through Trick-or-Eat campaign
  • Providing a Lock4Lock campaign, where community members were abel to trade their old chain locks for a more secure U-Lock
  • Raising awareness of sexual violence and prevention
  • Providing community members with a safe and reliable escort to their destination after dark

More often our community needs to recognize the great partnership with have with the CSA. Thanks to the CSA for your advocacy work that benefits all of our residents!

In photo from right to left:

Jay Rojas, Local Affairs Commissioner; Zoey Ross, Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner; Meghan Wing, Academic & University Affairs Commissioner; Ryan Shoot, Finance & Operations Commissioner; Emily Vance, External Affairs Commissioner.

Ward 5 Hero: Norah Chaloner

Ward 5 Hero: Norah Chaloner

Norah is a longtime community advocate for the environment, social justice, food security and democracy. Wherever these issues are being championed you find Norah working diligently out front and behind the scenes to ensure the effectiveness of the advocacy work on matters close to her heart. As her nominator has said, “What is there to say? Norah has worked so hard on so many different areas of advocacy to make our neighbourhood, city and country a better place.” To name a few, Norah was a founding board member of the Guelph Urban Forest Friends and continues to work with the Wellington Water Watchers and the Council of Canadians-Guelph. Much of her time these days is spent turning the Yorklands Green Hub vision into a reality. You can read about her efforts at yorklanksgreenhub.ca . We would like to thank Norah for her passion, wisdom and commitment to the betterment of our community!