Brantford Sports Council Questionnaire

1. Why did you choose to run in this election?

I have the time, passion and historical perspective that would enable me to be a devoted councillor for residents in Ward 5 and the rest of Brant County. I have studied the voting history of the incumbent, and talked to all of my fellow Ward 5 candidates and feel that I have different strengths and abilities that will help me to do a good job in serving as Ward 5 councillor. I have lived in different countries, which gives me insight to promote and support inclusivity.

2. How would you describe yourself to the voters?

  • Volunteer Work: founding member of Sustainable Brant/Better Brant and of the Langford Conservancy.
  • Founding member of Sustainable Brant/Better Brant and of the Langford Conservancy.
  • Board of Directors Experience: Local National Farmers Union (NFU-O), Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Local Food and Farming Co-ops
  • Committee Member: Greenbelt West Coalition, Migrant Worker Solidarity Working Group of the National Farmers Union, Lynden Friends of Migrant Farm Workers
  • Experience on various Committees for Brant and Brantford: Biggars Lane Landfill Liaison Committee, Brant Parks and Recreation Committee, Environmental and Sustainability Advisory Committee
  • Work Experience:
    – Former Head Kinesiologist, Wellesley Hospital, Toronto (rehabilitation therapy and support groups for people with chronic health care problems (Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Chronic Pain);
    – Tenured Assistant Professor, Sociology (Environment and Health), Athabasca University (retired)

I am a fourth generation resident of Ward 5, Brant County. I grew up on a mixed dairy and poultry family farm; was active in 4-H and Junior Farmers and served as part-time church organist. As a youth, the Brantford Rotary Club selected me as their exchange student to Denmark. I currently run Hearts Content Organic Farm with my husband Richard Tunstall. We focus on medicinal and edible herbs, conservation, and eco-tourism.

3. What would you like the voters to know about you?

Experience: I have middle management experience as a professor – issuing contracts, hiring staff, addressing student and staff concerns.

Collaboration: I am used to working with colleagues on shared projects.

Time: I am no longer juggling a career and council committee work. I have the time to devote my energy to reading and evaluating council documents, attending meetings and attending to the needs of residents in Ward 5, and in the rest of Brant County.

Passion for Community Work: I have worked many years in a volunteer capacity with Sustainable Brant and the Langford Conservancy in particular. I treasure the agricultural and rural nature of my ward.

Historical Perspective: I am the fifth generation in the Brantford/Brant County/Ancaster/Boston area, the 4th generation in Ward 5.

Dedicated to Inclusivity: I am a member of the Migrant Worker Solidarity Working Group of the National Farmers Union. and Lynden Friends of Migrant Farm Workers.

4. What is your number one priority if you are elected?

There are several interconnected priorities.
We have rapid growth, but a lack of affordable housing. Brant County Council declared a “Climate Emergency” and its commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Yet, with the growth, we have increased, not decreased carbon emissions. Growth has brought more traffic, and more speeding everywhere throughout Ward 5. Residents want traffic calming solutions now (speed bumps, traffic lights, stop signs, speed monitoring devices, and radar).

While we have subsidized Brant Transit, it is not enough to get cars of the road. We need much better public transportation (cheaper, more frequent trains and buses for commuters), and an “active transportation system” with protected cycling lanes and good sidewalks.

The rapid growth has led to a huge loss of farmland, and added stress on our ecosystems. In addition, the community around Biggars Landfill now has to deal with garbage trucks and waste from all over the county. This is not fair to that community.

With growth, we need to reduce the waste that goes to landfill with better recycling (including plastic bags and styrofoam), composting, and the creation of a repair café like the one in Burlington (see Burlington.Canada.Repair.Cafe on facebook).

Communities want better consultation within their communities, and local newsletters to keep informed. Engage citizens to a greater degree –bring council meetings to the community. Have better representation/more diversity on committees.

5. If elected, what are 3 steps that you would take to ensure our community is on a firm financial footing?

  1. We need reduce our carbon emissions. Attract local environmentally sustainable businesses (e.g. local food, and value added food products; the arts, cycling ecotourism, alternative energy, sustainable building). Support and reward local sustainable businesses that are working to reduce our carbon footprint. Support working from home. This helps to reduce commuting, and provides workers more time for family and community. Protect our local ecosystem: farmland, wetlands, forests and the Grand River, which are the foundation of our economy.
  2. Address the Climate Emergency and its Potential Costs: Protect and restore wetlands, do not permit building on a floodplain, ensure that new construction (homes and infrastructure such as storm sewers) meets requirements to endure storms and floods.
  3. Follow the example of other communities and calculate the true cost of sprawl in Brant County. Ensure that taxpayers are not subsidizing the cost of sprawl. For example, Hemson found it now costs the City of Ottawa $465 per person each year to serve new low-density homes built on undeveloped land, over and above what it receives from property taxes and water bills

6. If someone came up to you with a proposal to build a new public infrastructure in our city (i.e. bridge, road, facility, park etc.), how would you evaluate whether the project was worth implementing?

I would ask the following questions to evaluate the proposal:

How does it help Brant County to its declared commitment to address the climate emergency and reduce carbon emissions?

If a road is built, does it include safe bike lanes and sidewalks to enable active transportation? Will the infrastructure help us to build 15-minute communities?

If a new facility is proposed (e.g. the Cainsville Community Centre), ask if the building will be multipurpose in order to serve the larger community.

How will the building enhance recreation opportunities for all ages? How does the structure promote more inclusivity for our growing diversity in Brant County?

If the facility or road is part of development, are developers paying their fair share or are taxpayers subsidizing the cost of the project?

If a bridge across the Grand River is proposed, will it attract more cars and increase carbon emissions?

Should we instead pursue affordable public transportation (e.g., Go train to Brantford with a stop in Paris as well; reduced VIA fares, easier access to ticket purchasing sites for Brant Transit).

7. If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with the funds?

I would make safe walking/cycling pathways to make the community safer, facilitate active transportation, and reduce carbon emissions.
I would promote 15-20 minute communities, whereby people can access their basic needs (parks, trails, schools, food, church etc.) within 15-20 min of walking, biking or using transit (bus, train, go train).This enables people to live car-light or car free. This requires community consultation on such as enabling

  • children who live near the Mt. Pleasant School to safety walk, bike or roll to school,
  • seniors in Hardy Terrace, Mt. Pleasant to safety cross the road to walk or roll to the local restaurant/shop, or church or school event,
  • Oakhill residents to safety get to the local coffee shop or airport café without using a car, and
  • residents in Cainsville, Mt. Pleasant, Oakhill and throughout the Brant County to get to Brantford using transit, dedicated bike lanes, or trails.

8. Where are your favourite places to spend time in your neighbourhood and in the community?

On our farm, which is along the Brantford to Dundas trail. Caring for trees. Cycling along the trail. There are beautiful places throughout Brant County. I enjoy canoeing down the Grand River, enjoying the vista over Fairchild’s Creek from Lynden Road, the Mt. Pleasant ponds, and the farms and nature throughout Brant County.

9. The Pandemic has been with us for the past three years and no one has been left untouched, what are the 3 key things you would do to overcome the impact of the Pandemic as we move forward in 2023 and 2024?

Practice precaution so that the community is protected from another pandemic.

Supportive innovative ways of doing business that enable safe distancing: – e.g. outdoor cafes, working from home, flexible work hours.

Care for the caregivers; ensure that there is adequate home care to help caregivers.

Support trails and outdoor recreation.