Municipal elections are fast approaching across southwestern Ontario. We would like to thank all candidates who have put their name forward to serve, we appreciate your commitment to bettering our communities.
Municipal elections are a great opportunity for residents to connect, consider, and debate important issues that impact our daily lives. As a credit union, we believe in the importance of democracy and our local governments as important institutions. We hope you will take the time to consider the following when casting your vote this upcoming municipal election:
Home ownership remains a distant dream for far too many individuals living in southwestern Ontario. Additionally, those who rent face rising prices and lack of supply. We need local governments to support attainable home ownership and rentals through:
- Inclusive zoning policy that will support a greater number of attainable units within projects
- Increased density considerations within zoning policy
- A focus on “missing middle housing” to support young families
- Aging in place housing that supports seniors and offers them supportive and needed amenities
- Affordable units to help those who are most vulnerable
- Purpose built rentals and pushing developers to support more units of this nature
Climate and Sustainability
Southwestern Ontario is not immune to climate change and rising risk from flooding, infrastructure challenges, regulatory changes, government expectation, and rising costs. Disaster mitigation and adaptation are things to consider as we seek to build more resilient communities. Local government can play a role, consider the following when voting:
- Ensure parks, waterways, wetland preservation, and agricultural land remain supported and protected
- Planning for the transition to a lower carbon municipality which may include public transit, buildings, infrastructure projects, water, sewage, and other areas.
- Community Improvement Plans that enhance building retrofits towards more energy efficient operations
- Increased diversion of waste from landfills
- Greater density within housing development to lessen burden on infrastructure and agricultural lands (urban sprawl)
Cost of Living
We recognize that the cost of running and operating local municipalities continues to present immense challenges and cost increases. Currently, residents in southwestern Ontario are challenged by rising inflationary costs across the board in almost all spending categories. Local leaders must be cognizant of this and consider how increased taxation, fees, fines, and charges may impact residents negatively. We would urge local leaders and councilors to consider the implications of decisions as they relate to the pocketbooks of southwestern Ontario residents, particularly for the immediate short term.
Disruption and Technology
As a credit union who meets with our Owners (clients) through multiple channels, we recognize the importance of both digital and physical service. Local government is no different. Residents need digital service delivery more than ever and finding ways to improve efficiency and time for residents will be critical. In addition, bad actors are seeking to steal information. We hope that technology discussions occur this election as more municipalities fall victim to ransomware based cyber-attacks. Ensuring that leaders understand the need for increased digital security and protection will be critical to move forward a digital first agenda for residents.
It’s no secret that many within southwestern Ontario rely on our vehicles to get from point A to point B, but more municipalities are seeking transit solutions to connect residents to needed services, hubs, and cities. New or more transit infrastructure can bring more employment opportunities and services to rural communities. Councils should consider how we move residents to and from critical areas such as schools, hospitals, industrial sites, and local downtown cores in new and innovative ways without burdening budgets.
Homelessness is on the rise across southwestern Ontario communities, and something that local governments must face and tackle. Partnerships, support, new strategies, and mental health/addiction services will be needed to tackle this growing problem. Local government must work with police forces, medical groups, mental health workers and agencies, along with community partners to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported as best as possible. Community is about taking care of one another, how we support those most at need within our community will define how others view, interact, reside, and invest within it.
Local Food Accessibility
At Libro we believe the more we can produce and keep local, the better. This goes not only for food, but all goods and services. Local food production, consumption and supports play a critical role within our communities. Unfortunately, food bank usage continues to rise for far too many. Local governments can play a role by seeking partnerships with farmers to help create more diverse food hubs and learning supports, enhance school nutrition programs, support on farm diversification related to local food sales, and continue to support local food banks with funding to ensure those most in need don’t go hungry.