Room for Everyone

29 Apr

A City with Room for Everyone

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [her or] himself and of [her or] his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). On the highest level, I support a Housing First strategy as part of my commitment to affordable living because it is our collective responsibility as signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, there are many other reasons that I support a strong affordable living strategy, including a Housing First approach. One of my primary volunteer and professional commitments over the last number of years has been in working with young people who are marginally housed, and with organizations that support those young people. My first hand experiences with people who experience homelessness or near homelessness has made it absolutely clear to me that the causes and consequences of homelessness are very serious, and rarely the fault of the person who is homeless. We absolutely have the ideas, the resources, and the hearts to address this issue. We need to go forWARD. 

Fredericton has already made some moves towards more affordable housing; you can read more about some policy changes that took place about 2 ½ years ago here. There is also some great information about affordable housing, and about the city’s committee on affordable housing here.

One of the ways we can go forWARD is to embrace a Housing First strategy, by asking our provincial and federal partners to support Housing First, and by facilitating more initiatives like the John Howard Society’s new supportive housing project. Data from the first year of operation of the John Howard Society’s 12-bed supportive, affordable housing unit indicates that when people who have been chronically homeless are housed, they require: 88% fewer police services; 96% fewer nights in emergency shelters; have 94% fewer interactions with the justice system, and need 50% fewer detox services. This can be coupled with increasing the number of outreach workers, and working to provide further support to the emergency shelters, which play a critical role in helping people move from high risk situations into housing.

Beyond issues of immediate homelessness, many people I speak to on doorsteps are worried about being able to remain downtown. Rents are rising, or property taxes are rising (more recently based on assessment value than on tax rate increases), or access to services that keep people in their homes are hard to come by.

We can move forWARD on these issues too. Promoting responsible and mixed-used urban development is part of the solution. Increasing the number of homes and businesses paying property taxes allows us to provide increased services, or to decrease individual tax burdens. Keeping people closer together helps us improve public transportation options, and decrease the infrastructure costs associated with urban sprawl. Involving people in a vision for a vibrant downtown core can help us answer questions about what we want new developments to look like, how we want them to incorporate green technology, and what we want to do inside them (e.g., shared office space for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations, community meeting space, mixed-income housing).

For me, it is exciting to think about the possibilities for making our great city even better. I look forward to your thoughts. 

Leah

Advertisements

Reminder – Community Conversation #3

28 Apr

Just a little reminder that my third Community Conversation is Sunday, April 29th at the York Street Train Station between 1:00 and 2:00pm. Come meet your Ward 1o neighbours and exchange thoughts on our beloved city of Fredericton.

Click here to view the full schedule of Community Conversations.

Leah

All Candidates Town Hall / Why Vote?

22 Apr

Greetings Ward 10 Residents!

I’m writing to invite you to an all candidates Town Hall.

Date: Wednesday, April 25

Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: Connaught St. School

The Town Hall is a chance to hear more about the ideas of Ward 10 council candidates, and to be part of our democracy; a democracy that can be as vibrant as its citizens. So far, the process of going door to door has been an encouraging one. At some doors, I’ve been asked, ‘why should I vote for you’? It’s a fair question. I hope that our exchanges, as well as the ideas, information, and opinions I’ve offered have answered the question for you.

These exchanges have been with people who are, or want to be, actively engaged in local civic matters. They see themselves as voters. But in 2008, the last municipal election, only about 30% of Ward 10 residents voted. Every vote matters! Let’s drive the Ward 10 voting numbers through the roof (not literally, bad for heat loss)! So, invite everyone to participate in Wednesday night’s event, and to vote! Go ahead. If people you invite ask you why they should come on Wednesday, and why they should vote, try this:

Every day, you use the washroom and shower – with water provided by Fredericton Public Works-Water Utility. The waste water disappears through a sewer system, also maintained by Public Works. As your children head off to school, the crossing guards hired by the Fredericton Police Force will help ensure they reach school safely. You put out the garbage, which is picked up by employees contracted by Fredericton Public Works, and head to work on sidewalks or streets constructed, maintained, and plowed by the City. Perhaps you travel by Fredericton Public Transit, or pass a beautiful building maintained because of its Fredericton Heritage designation.

Once you get to work, you may park in a municipal parking lot, or spend your day in a building inspected by the Fredericton Inspections Division, or specifically zoned for its purpose according to the Fredericton Zoning By-law. After work, you rely on Fredericton Recreation & Leisure services for yours or your kids’ swimming lessons, ice time, or time spent at the youth centre. If ever you come upon an accident, you find Fredericton City Police investigating, and in very serious situations, the Fredericton Fire Department extricating people from their vehicles.

Once you get home, you call your elderly mother who is having trouble finding housing that she can afford on her limited and fixed income. You spend some time sitting on your deck which was constructed according to Fredericton’s Building Code, and you plan your next day off; full of walking on a city-maintained trail, taking the family to a city-owned park, and enjoying the beautiful gardens planted and maintained by Fredericton Parks & Trees. Sharing in your pleasure will be the hundreds of visitors who come to Fredericton each year, thanks in large part to the efforts of Fredericton Tourism

Maintaining and improving municipal services depends on your engagement, not only in the election, but in an ongoing way. Be a voter on May 14th. We’re going forWARD!

Reminder – Community Conversation April 22nd

21 Apr

Just a little reminder that my second Community Conversation is Sunday, April 22nd (earth day!) at Odell Park Lodge between 2:00 and 3:00pm. Come meet your Ward 1o neighbours and exchange thoughts on our beloved city of Fredericton.

Click here to view the full schedule of Community Conversations.

Leah

Fun at the Doors

20 Apr

 

Here’s a story I shared at my 1st Community Conversation held at Nirvana this past Sunday – going door to door has been one of the best parts of campaigning so far!

Leah

Happy Birthday Meghan!

20 Apr

A shout out to my friend and fabulous campaign volunteer, Meghan MacAfee, on her birthday.  Thanks for all your help and friendship Meghan!

Energy around Healthy Neighborhoods

18 Apr

Our first community conversation was a great success Sunday, with about 20 residents in attendance. Neighbours discussed their ideas about Healthy Neighbourhoods, identifying things they’re concerned about, as well as possible solutions to those concerns. Over the next three weeks, I’ll post a blog about each of the three pillars of my platform, and will launch some questions into the twittersphere (can I make up words like that?) to see what comes back. Please join the conversation!

Going forWARD on Healthy Neighbourhoods

People want to talk about bike safety! Concerns about bike safety have come up throughout the ward during my door-to-door visits. There is general agreement that a healthy city is a bikeable and walkable city. There is also recognition that managing the relationship between cyclists, pedestrians, and cars/trucks is difficult. My conversations with residents has reinforced the need to have residents, traffic engineers, and others come together to identify areas of concern within Ward 10 and move forward on addressing traffic safety priorities.

Continue reading

At your Door and in the Community

15 Apr

It’s been a great week of door-knocking, culminating with my first Community Conversation at Nirvana today.  I’ll be sharing a summary of what I’ve learned from you, my Ward 10 neighbours, in the coming days.  But for now, check out my latest blog post “Mailboxes and Musings” about my experience going door-to-door so far, and add our second Community Conversation to your calendar – Sunday April 22nd at Odell Park Lodge, from 2:00 to 3:00pm.

Meet Leah

9 Apr

My first attempt at a video post – only 4 takes to get a keeper!

Community Conversations

4 Apr

I want to run my campaign in the same way I plan to serve Ward 10 as your councillor – by being accessible and promoting dialogue among neighbours.  And so I’m hosting 4 Community Conversations throughout the election period to give residents of our Ward a forum to raise their ideas and concerns, and to meet and engage with each other.  These conversations will help us develop a common vision for our Ward, and priorities to take to the council table.  Below is the schedule of Conversations – I invite all residents in Ward 10 to drop in and connect!

Continue reading