The seven candidates in the Ward 2 by-election had a chance to speak and answer questions submitted by residents on Tuesday night, at the Bradford Board of Trade’s Virtual Meet the Candidates Night.
Hosted by VP of Public Relations Jennifer Harrison, the online one-hour pre-filmed event featured separate interview segments with each candidate, sharing their views on the town’s issues.
In alphabetical order, each candidate answered the following set of questions, submitted by Ward 2 residents:
- What experience do you have contributing to the town, before deciding to run for council?
- How do you plan to support local businesses, particularly through COVID-19? And how can you support diversity in the downtown core?
- How do you intend to address the Ward's current traffic issues?
- The phrase 'The Forgotten Ward' seems to come up frequently to describe Ward 2, how do you propose bringing the ward back to the fabric of the town
Carruthers is a professional engineer and ran for council in the 2018 Municipal Election against Gary Baynes and was runner-up. He has been involved in the Bradford Minor Hockey Association.
When it comes to supporting local businesses in the Ward, through the current pandemic, Carruthers says Nottawasaga Futures and The Bradford Board of Trade are wonderful sources of information and training for business owners, helping to pivot sales to an online platform using 'Digital Main Street' for free e-commerce development.
"We need to create an inviting area around the core that attracts residents and visitors to local businesses," he said. "The core will serve as the hub of the community."
Carruthers suggests the first step is to create an attractive entrance to the town, and a spot for people to park their cars and walk, "which would create an environment that would stimulate confidence in investors."
He identified key areas of concern for traffic that include Colborne Street, Dissette Street, and Simcoe Road, some of the busiest streets in town, and recommended a new stoplight be installed at the intersection of Jay and Dissette. His long-term solution would be to have photo radar installed along the town streets.
As for Ward 2 being 'The Forgotten Ward,' he says he is not convinced it has been forgotten. What is needed is investment.
"The time has come where the money needs to be spent there," he said.
Chudary says he is a 'community builder'. He was a previous BBT director working with the town and its residents on various events and committees including the Heritage Committee from 2011-2018. He is also the organizer of Community First BWG, a charity focused on giving back to members of the community.
He acknowledged the need to help support local businesses, especially during the pandemic. His plan is to help beautify the downtown core to attract more shoppers, as well as help control the traffic.
Chudary proposes widening the 6th and 8th Line to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion, including extending the 6th Line to Canal Road.
He would also like to see one side of Holland Street in the downtown core used for parking, with three lanes for live traffic - two lanes in the morning for eastbound traffic, and two lanes for westbound traffic in the evening.
"This is happening in downtown Toronto according to the rush and I think this will make a big difference," he said.
Chudary says that now is the time to be investing in Ward 2.
"I am happy with the new community centre, we have a big plan for there," he said. "That will bring some life back to Ward 2."
Besides running a home-based business herself, Leskiw is a member of both SWAN (Successful Women Always Networking) and the BBT, and has served on the board for each group.
To support businesses in the downtown, she suggests more incentives to encourage residents to shop locally.
"Unfortunately COVID makes it harder, especially with winter coming," Leskiw said, suggesting that the businesses be approached for their recommendations. "I think a lot of it will come from feedback from the businesses, and the town just needs to listen and adapt."
She said business has been lost downtown because there are not enough amenities for residents, like banks or grocery stores, and cited the uninviting, run-down look of the downtown core as one of the main reasons for the lack of foot traffic.
Many new businesses are finding space in the newer west-side of town; to draw them to the downtown, the town could potentially offer breaks in rent, or other incentive programs, she said.
As for traffic congestion, Leskiw suggests taking away left-hand turns off Holland Street to Simcoe and Barrie Streets, rerouting traffic to Marshview and Dissette.
"Ward 2 has some of the things I love most about Bradford," she said - the historical homes, indie businesses and downtown core. "I think it's only forgotten if you're not thinking about all the things that are great about it," she said, adding that the revitalization of the downtown will help residents think even more about it.
Maclean is a long-time volunteer with the Bradford Lions, The Bradford Legion, Bradford Community Meal and Bradford Helping Hand Food Bank. He has also been the face of Santa, in the annual Santa Claus Parade.
"I am one voice as a volunteer, and I can be the voice for Ward 2 council if elected," he said.
Maclean noted that the town has done a lot to support local businesses throughout the COVID pandemic so far, citing the innovative patio program for downtown restaurants..
He would like to attract more small businesses to the downtown. "We don't need any more of the big box stores coming downtown," he said, pointing to Unionville and Stoufville,with their small one-of-a-kind shops, as examples of the type of downtown he would like Bradford to emulate.
If elected, he plans to work with the Provincial Government to push forward with the 404/400 bypass, and also suggested the municipality could use traffic circles or speed bumps to slow down speeding drivers around town.
As a Ward 2 resident, he wants to let the town know the Ward is still here and it's time to bring some of the focus back to the older part of town.
Putric has lived in Bradford almost her entire life, and has volunteered in the community, at the Helping Hand Food Bank, and a thrift shop.
Now, as the youngest candidate to ever run in a by-election, Putric believes she can bring the perspective of a young female to the current all-male council.
"I think I can bring an innovative, energetic, exciting perspective to council," she said, adding she would like to get younger people involved in politics.
If elected, she says she will be donating her first-year councillor salary to those in Ward 2 who have been financially affected by COVID-19.
Downtown revitalization is one of her main priorities. She would like to ensure small businesses take advantage of the province's tax relief strategies, allowing business owners to see a reduction in property taxes.
To encourage more foot traffic to downtown businesses, she proposes 'Family Sundays' when the core would be closed to vehicular traffic, encouraging families to enjoy the downtown.
Putric would also like to divert traffic off residential streets, and consider automated speed enforcement cameras in school and safety zones with a fine only.
She noted that with the proposed community centre redevelopment, the downtown and its historical charm, Ward 2 should not be forgotten. "I think we should see it as the Ward of opportunity," she said.
Scott grew up in Bradford, volunteering in various community events through his local church, and writing political columns for the town paper. He has his own consulting business in town, and has been engaged in local political campaigns, in a supportive role.
"I believe I have the experience to hit the ground running and get things done for the ward," he said.
Scott's plan to support businesses in Ward 2 is to revitalize the downtown, by supporting the new community centre, moving trucks off Holland Street and implementing the patio program.
Congestion, speeding and transit are some of the main issues he will focus on if elected.
Working on the Bradford Bypass, improving the intersection at Marshview and Dissette, and revamping the GO Train station are some of the ways to address some of the town's current traffic issues, he said.
"I think Gary Baynes did a good job of bringing the Ward back, and I want to continue that," Scott said. "This Ward deserves to be treated with the same respect and same investment as the newer end of town," he noted.
Ward 2 native, Sinclair is a sole supporting parent who has helped to keep up the gardens at the Legion. Now that her son is in university, she says she now has more time to get involved with the community, and volunteer.
Her plan to get Bradford businesses back to pre-pandemic levels includes focusing on their real estate.
"We need to make the downtown location worth more money than it is (currently) by adding attractions and amenities," she said, adding that the buildings need to have things like functional Internet and greater curb appeal.
To address traffic issues, she would like to develop Dissette Street and has a vision of moving the GO Train station away from the downtown core.
"That will greatly direct some of the traffic coming into town, out of town," she said. "In order to get things done in this town, we need to make big moves."
As a Ward 2 resident, she would like to develop the parks in the area, provide more entertainment options for the younger generations, and ensure the voice of the residents is heard.
To watch the full Facebook event, click here.
For a full list of candidate profiles and voting information, visit https://www.bradfordtoday.ca/2020-byelection