Meet the Cambridge candidates vying for Waterloo Regional Council

There are six candidates at Cambridge, two of whom will be elected on October 24.

Pam Wolf

Pam Wolf. (Submitted)

Who are you?

I am an experienced and effective leader committed to serving my community. My husband and I have called Cambridge home since 1974 when I started my teaching career. We raised our three children first in Preston, then in Galt and now our granddaughter lives in Hespeler. I have a deep knowledge, connection and love for all of Cambridge.

Why are you running?

Cambridge needs a strong voice on regional council where we only have three votes out of 15. After four terms on city council, sitting on several city committees ranging from economic development to the environment to heritage, I have the knowledge and experience to be that voice. I am a problem solver and will work collaboratively with staff, other advisors and the community to get things done. I will ensure that Cambridge receives its fair share of community services and funding allocations.

What do I see as the most pressing issue facing Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo and how do I plan to address it?

Affordable housing is a priority of mine and a critical need in Cambridge. We cannot solve homelessness without an adequate supply of housing. Average citizens are also unable to pay high rents and rising interest rates on their mortgages. I sit on three housing boards and we are currently building new affordable housing on Hespeler Road. We need to introduce inclusive zoning across the city and allow subsidies for social housing for students built on university and college campuses. Rent control to prevent evictions from Reno is necessary. These are some of the actions that I will advocate at all levels of government.

Tyler Calver

Calver did not attach a photo to his response.

Who are you?

My name is Tyler Calver, I am a former CTV News reporter who has covered many stories in the Waterloo region. I currently work for the Government of Ontario in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I am a proud resident of Cambridge and a proud Canadian.

Why are you running?

I’m running for regional council because every year I see our property taxes go up, our water bills skyrocket, there’s been an increase in homelessness, encampments and crime. Residents are seriously concerned about their safety, while others worry about how they will pay their bills. I believe we need new leadership on the regional council that is bold and courageous. We need new voices with new ideas to make sure our regional government is not wasting taxpayers’ money and is accountable to you. I want to be that voice and that counselor who offers practical solutions to the daily problems we face, a counselor you can call when you need it, a counselor who offers hope.

What do I see as the most pressing issue facing Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo and how do I plan to address it?

Housing affordability and a growing homeless population are the most pressing issues facing our region. To address this, we need to start creating mental health treatment and addiction treatment centers to combat the rise in drug addiction. The current orientation to tackle the growing number of homeless people is not working. Encampments are increasing, so we need to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes that other jurisdictions have already tried and failed.

Unfortunately, many homeless people suffer from mental health and addiction issues. Housing is part of the solution, but unless that person is properly supported to lead a substance-free life, with mental health services and adequate supports to find employment, too often that person cannot sustain his accommodation.

Currently, there is a five-year waiting list for mental health support services and an approximately 2-5 year waiting list for addictions support housing.

By improving overall supports such as increasing the number of rehab beds and treatment facilities and establishing a drug treatment court for those who commit crimes to support their addiction, we will see less homeless camps and a reduction in crime in our community.

Bobbi Stewart

Bobbi Stewart. (Submitted)

Stewart did not attach a photo with her responses.

Who are you?

I am a retired social worker, mother and grandmother with extensive experience in program management, social work and clinical social work. During my 35-year career, I have had the pleasure and honor of supporting children and youth, families, seniors and job seekers, including immigrants.

Why are you running?

I live and love the city of Cambridge. I want to serve the people of Cambridge and the entire Waterloo region. I want to use my skills and my experience for this purpose, and I am very interested in regional policy. I followed the meetings of the regional council during [the] months, and I am very interested in and support the recently adopted Strategic Plan to 2051 and the plan to help our homeless. I am an optimistic person. I see people’s strengths first rather than their flaws or weaknesses and I listen openly in a non-reactive and non-judgmental manner. I am a new face with extensive experience in community and collaboration. I have a lot of energy and I’m all about health and wellness.

What do I see as the most pressing issue facing Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo and how do I plan to address it?

The most critical and concerning issue for residents of Waterloo Region is the combined situation of the opioid crisis, mental health and homelessness.

It is imperative that the support services provided by the Aids Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo (AKKWA) at 150 Main Street, Cambridge are fully funded for as long as the services are needed. If elected, I will advocate for this funding if needed. We also need our Consumer Treatment Center (CTS) in this location as soon as possible as approved by Cambridge City Council. I will advocate with the provincial government for rapid funding for this purpose.

We need better access to mental health services and more services so people don’t have to wait months for services. I will work with community partners and politicians on needs assessments and advocate for the necessary funding with all levels of government.

I observed on August 11 that the regional council approved a series of measures to help alleviate the growing homelessness crisis. This included a very first decision to allow an encampment. This plan is a good start in mitigating the crisis. I will monitor the process, raise my concerns and advocate where necessary.

Prakash Venkataraman

Prakash Venkataraman. (Submitted)

Who are you?

I am your neighbor. My family moved into the old satellite motel on Hespeler Road when we started. Our sons were born at Cambridge Memorial Hospital and have raised their families in Cambridge for the past 22 years. An engineer and entrepreneur, supported over a dozen local charities and groups.

Why are you running?

I am running to initiate the transformation of the Regional Council in the image of its success and its diversity. I am a positive example of both. The regional council is a big institution with big budgets, responsibilities and services to provide. I know how to include those who have felt left out, and many struggle. Together, we must get the real, important work done on time, on budget and on target.

The Region of Waterloo is Ontarios innovation capital. I am confident that we can better address many of the concerns that affect our cities and our region, such as affordability, smart growth and maintaining the services that every community needs. It takes leadership and an ability to do the important work. I offer both.

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Waterloo Region and how do you plan to address it?

Affordable housing, homelessness, neighborhood safety, public transit and economic development. A funding allocation appropriate to our region to provide comprehensive mental health services and effective policing to maintain law and order.

Responsible growth is a must. We must clarify priorities and ignore distractions.

Spending is not currently based on population. Kitchener and Waterloo get bigger slices of the pie and Cambridge gets the leftovers. What needs to be done, needs to be done first.

We must work as a priority to reduce the barriers to building homes faster and smarter. Identify areas where we could develop four-season trailer parks, take inventories of derelict buildings to review potential conversion, as well as select regionally and city-owned buildings to review density and height restrictions and lease them out to developers to build and operate affordable rentals.

There are too many opportunities, so little time, and too many people are running out of time to find safe, long-term housing. Thiss a crisis and as a developed nation, it is not acceptable to see our own people suffer. If we givelet’s not take care of our own citizens, no one else will.

You work hard for your money; the Region should redouble its efforts to ensure that it was spent wisely.

Crystal Whetham

Crystal Whetham has yet to respond to CTV’s candidate survey.

Doug Craig

Doug Craig has yet to respond to CTV’s candidate survey.

Elna M. Lemons