Updated Oct 19: Answering your questions, and going deep on the issues

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Updated October 19

I’ve received a number of questions from residents in the lead-up to this month’s municipal election. As a strong believer in the value of research, I welcome your questions. Here are a few that have popped up recently, followed by links to questionnaires that dive into specific issues from Waterloo Region.

What is your experience in politics? I’ve been politically engaged my whole life and remember staying up late as a 10-year-old to watch election results come in. As a news reporter at The Globe and Mail and for newspapers in Australia, I have reported on every level of government, from municipal to federal, winning a prestigious national media award for a series of stories that held government to account for a fatal stretch of roadway. I went into journalism because I believe in fairness and transparency. I will bring the same ethos to Waterloo City Council, and will expect — and welcome — rigorous oversight of my actions on Council.

Do you support towers in the Uptown core? Yes. I support the bid to build in and up in order to protect our countryside and aquifer. Having more people in a smaller area also means efficiency in our infrastructure. I would, however, like to see more variety of housing and development. Instead of a string of tall towers, I would encourage a more balanced approach that embraces mid-rise development and creative in-fill.

Is affordable housing a priority for you? Yes. It is a large part of why I am running. We need to address both affordable housing (otherwise known as supported housing) and overall affordability of housing stock. I am already sitting down with advocates and developers to find out what the City could be doing to make it easier to build and maintain affordable housing. This issue spans city, region and province, but I am sure we can take some action locally to help move these projects along. For affordability in housing, I am an advocate of greater variety of housing types, and through that, variety of housing prices. This requires towers (see the question above), as well as mid-rise, duplex and other infill developments, and partnering with the region on things like secondary suites. It’s up to us now to make sure Uptown remains open to all ages and incomes.

Will you protect the tree canopy? Yes! Mature trees do more than beautify — they replenish our air, provide shade, house animals, and are integral to our healthy urban environment. I will push for the City to adhere to its Urban Forest Policy. Where trees need to be replaced, the new trees should be of the same kind or one that will grow to a similar size.

Do you support safe injection sites? Yes. While Waterloo is not expected to be chosen as the location, I would not oppose a safe injection site in Waterloo. The opioid crisis is a clear example of the impact of addiction: it does not discriminate. By having safe injection sites, we not only provide a place where people can use away from public parks and other public spaces, we also provide an environment in which people battling addiction can come into contact with the social services that can help them eventually leave their addiction behind.

Would you strive to prevent the King St North student housing towers being replicated Uptown? I think much of Uptown looks at the University area with caution. I will work with the City and developers to make sure setbacks are maintained and the developments do not encroach onto public space or get too close to private residences or each other. I will strongly advocate for buildings to stay at or below their zoning maximum. This would provide more "mid-sized" development uptown, which provides density without overpowering heights seen elsewhere.

What can the City do to attract and retain young professionals? This is a significant issue. I believe a cohesive approach is needed to make sure the city remains a viable option for young professionals. Having strong work opportunities is the first step: while there is much focus on tech and engineering jobs, we also need to encourage greater opportunities for creative industries, health workers, trades and more. But we need to make sure young professionals can build a great life here -- not just a great career. That means we also need to look at things like more variety in housing options so that there is more available for people at different life/career stages and incomes. We also need to support and sustain a vibrant arts culture so that people feel just as engaged in their free time as they do at work.

What is your stance on the Ezra Ave parties? The rapidly escalating situation on Ezra Ave and surrounding area is a big concern. These events are not good for the City, as residents are left to cover an increasing tab. I'm also very concerned about safety and security of people and property. A committee is currently exploring solutions. I would like to expedite those discussions so we can get to a resolution earlier. My preference, and what I'm hearing from residents, is to shut down the illegal street parties. I am open to the idea of organized, legal events, preferably if they are run by non-profits or similar legitimate groups (such as Oktoberfest Inc) that are not simply promoting binge drinking.

Should you have a question for me, please email info@TenilleB.com. I’ll respond directly to you and update this blog post.

To find out about where I stand on specific issues, please read my responses to questionnaires from:

More will be added as they are made public.