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Personal Info

 

1. What special skills or expertise do you possess that may be relevant to voters?

Ron Ellsworth: Through my business background, I have gained a great deal of experience operating under a tight budget and making the most out of every dollar spent. This becomes even more important when we are talking about spending tax dollars. I have also spent a great deal of time working within the community with various organizations. This has given me insight into what the needs are in the city and how the city can work with various organizations to help deliver services.

Jennifer McCreath: I am a strong independent person who won’t back down from a challenge and will never back down from standing up for what I believe in. At the same time, I feel I am a good listener and a team player who takes pride in reaching decisions based on consensus. I am not afraid to think outside the box or challenge norms. I want what’s best for this city and I am willing to devote full time attention to making this city all that I know it is capable of being. I do whatever it takes to engage people on issues that matter. I take pride in battling indifference and getting people to care and develop passion for their city. I have overcome some of the most difficult challenges and stigma known to mankind, as I have managed to survive hatred, discrimination, and phobia, as someone who has gone through a medical sex and gender transition. This experience has taught me how to lead and manage change in a challenging situation, and has also given me extensive experience dealing with Government policies and red tape. I like to think that my ability to engage and delegate, makes me a good leader. I take pride in having a strong record in taking diverse groups of people and finding ways for them to reach consensus and solve problems on various matters. I expect near perfection out of myself and I have always set very high goals. I am proud of my accomplishments in life as a marathon runner, a founder of non-profit organizations, an advocate and activist for citizen’s rights, and my professional accomplishments as a policy adviser with and for various government entities. I also take pride in my love for animals and the environment.

2. What community organizations are you or have you been a member of?

Ron Ellsworth:

  • 1995 – elected to the School Council for St. Pius X Elementary (now Rennies River Elementary)
  • 2001 – elected to the Avalon East School Board where I chaired the Finance Committee
  • 2003 – appointed to the Eastern School Board, representing St John’s
  • 2005 – joined the School Council at Macdonald Drive Junior High
  • 2005 – appointed to the Provincial Business Advisory Board, advising the Premier and the Minister of Business
  • 2006 – chair of the Business Advisory Committee for Work Place Inclusion under CCRA
  • 2007 – appointed to the board for the Genesis Center, a support network for technology-based ventures that are seeking business guidance and capital. Appointed to the role of Chair in 2010. Presently is Chair of the selection board.
  • Chair of School Council at Brother Rice Junior High
  • Chair of the group committee for St Pius X Scouts, and Scouting leader for 7 years
  • Appointed by City Council as community representative on the Paratransit Committee

Currently a member of the following boards and organizations:

  • Shea Heights Community Center
  • MacMorran Community Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Fundraising Committee
  • The Knights of Columbus
  • Chair of the Kidney Foundation Annual Walk
  • Honorary Co-Chair of the Atlantic Sports and Recreation Weekend for Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Skills Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador Multicultural Association
  • Former board member St John’s Boys and Girls Club
  • Member of Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Chair of fundraising effort for Daffodil Healing Garden
  • Have coached soccer, volley ball and supported the Regatta, Rugby, minor hockey, youth soccer and several Arts Groups for more than 15 years

Jennifer McCreath:

  • Co-Founded St. John’s Pride Inc. as a provincially-registered non-profit org in 2010. Acted as Board Chair and Head of Corporate Management for an 18 month period. I wrote corporate by-laws; internal policies and procedures. recruited board members and volunteers. I oversaw corporate operations, was responsible for citizen and community engagement, marketing, advertising, stakeholder engagement, partnership development. was also responsible for communications, information management, media relations, and  legislative compliance. I also wrote proposals for city grants and city permits, organized educational and entertainment events for a pride week celebration. I also co-produced and directed a made-for-television educational panel discussion. Acted as the face of the organization and an ambassador for the provincial Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities.
  • I founded two grass-roots organizations, The East Coast Trans Alliance, and the Newfoundland Patients Association for Transsexual Health. I collaborated with trans activists and trans allies in Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick, to lobby service providers and Government, to attempt to bring standards up to levels of global best practices, including practices already adopted and functional in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Provided advise and guidance to trans patients and their medical teams, to ensure understanding and compliance with global best practices. facilitated the completion of human rights complaints against provincial governments, including Newfoundland, with regards to transsexual and transgender issues, including fighting discrimination over health care, employment, and housing matters.
  • I created a grass-roots organization called the Newfoundland Animal Appreciation Society, to combat the unnecessary torture and starvation of water fowl on the campus of Memorial University. This group has presence on Facebook.
  • I am an active member of the Canadian Blood Services LGBT working group – a panel made up of national LGBT activists to advise how existing Blood policies impact members of said community.
  • I am a co-founder and co-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of International Frontrunners, a walking/running and social club that caters to members of the LGBT community, and their allies.
  • I wrote policies and procedures & delivered diversity and sensitivity training with regards to transgender/transsexuals in the work place with and for the Government of Newfoundland & Labradors’ Respectful Workplace Coordinators Office. I was also part of a Duty to Accommodate Committee, with regards to transgender/transsexuals in the work place.
  • I am a former acting chair for Pflag Canada’s Newfoundland Chapter’s monthly meeting. This is an organization that provides social and peer support for members of the LGBT community, their allies, and their family members.
  • I am a former member of a national Pflag ‘train the trainer’ program to prepare Chapter leaders to better understand transgender/transsexual issues.
  • I spent a year as an active member of Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, an industry association for individuals who are employed in a field that delivers health care products and services to members of the trans community. For my duration, I was a member, and lead policy writer, of a Membership Expansion Policy Committee, where I helped the organization find ways to expand their voting membership privileges to non-medical-credentialed workers.
  • I penned a gender-inclusion policy that allowed for the creation of a 3rd sex category for transgender and intersexed athletes at an international sporting event, the World Outgames.
  • I have acted as an adviser to Egale Canada, and Trans Pride Canada, two of the country’s largest Human Rights organizations for the LGBT community.
  • I provided consultative advise to provincial and federal governments, and opposition parties, with regards to health care and human rights policies.
  • I provided advise and guidance to general practitioners in NL to ensure they were comfortable treating transgender/transsexual patients.
  • I collaborated with Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) to coordinate a letter-writing campaign which ultimately lead to the cancellation of the airing on television, of a controversial homophobic advertisement by a Canadian fast food chain. This campaign also lead to the termination of this food chain’s relationship with the advertising agency who created the ad. I was interviewed on local radio for this story.
  • I have delivered guest lectures to university student audiences and high school classes regarding LGBT issues.
  • I have offered my time and knowledge to university students who were conducting projects with regards to Access to Information and Protection of Privacy, in Government settings.
  • I have volunteered at the annual Terry Rielly Teddy Bear’s Picnic in St. John’s and managed the “teddy bear hospital” providing entertainment for children by conducting quasi medical assessments on stuffed animals and dolls.

3. When and where have you run for public office before, and what public offices have you held?

Ron Ellsworth:  

Candidate in the following elections in the city of St. John’s:

  • Municipal Election 1997 – Ward 4
  • Municipal Election 2005 – Ward 4 – elected
  • By-Election 2008 –Deputy Mayor – elected
  • Municipal Election – 2009 Mayor

Jennifer McCreath:

None.

4. What business or commercial operations have you or your family members engaged in within the last five years that may put you into a conflict of interest in matters of municipal governance?

Ron Ellsworth: I have worked in real estate and currently own rental properties.

Jennifer McCreath: None.

5. In which ward and neighbourhood is your principal residence located?

Ron Ellsworth: Ward 4 – Elizabeth Avenue area

Jennifer McCreath: Ward 4 – Larkhall Street at Wicklow Street

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Multiple Choice Questions

 

1. Of the following list of municipal issues, choose up to six that you consider priorities for improvement:

  • Public Transit
  • Snow Clearing
  • Lower Taxes for Residents
  • Lower Taxes for Businesses
  • Affordable Housing
  • Controlling Spending
  • Promoting Tourism
  • Crime Prevention
  • Roads
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Transparency and Public Engagement
  • Arts and Culture
  • Fiscal Relationship with the Province
  • Electoral Reform
  • Traffic
  • Parking
  • Stormwater Management
  • Urban Sprawl
  • Regional Cooperation
  • Water and Sewer Infrastructure
  • Garbage, Recycling and Composting

Ron Ellsworth:

  • Affordable Housing
  • Controlling Spending
  • Transparency and Public Engagement
  • Fiscal Relationship with the Province
  • Water and Sewer Infrastructure

Jennifer McCreath:

  • Urban Sprawl / Regional Cooperation
  • Affordable Housing
  • Crime Prevention
  • Public Transit/ Parking
  • Snow Clearing / Roads / Traffic
  • Transparency and Public Engagement

2. For the following list of statements, indicate whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree:

a) The City of St. John’s should invest more in public services (water and sewer, public transit, snow clearing, etc.), even if this means raising taxes. 

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat agree

b) The City of St. John’s should reduce taxes, even if this means cuts to public services.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Neither agree nor disagree

c) The City of St. John’s should design regulations to encourage high density development in the city core and discourage urban sprawl. 

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat agree

d) Metrobus service could benefit from minor improvements, but large additional investments are not a good use of taxpayers money. 

Ron Ellsworth: Neither agree nor disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Neither agree nor disagree

e) The St. John’s Harbour Authority should be pressured to restore public access to sections of the waterfront that are being fenced off. 

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

f) The bylaw governing the use of mobile signs should be made more strict to discourage their use.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Neither agree nor disagree

g) New developments should be held to a zero net-runoff increase policy for stormwater, in order to protect watersheds and reduce the risk of flooding.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

h) Regulations to protect heritage areas in the city should be relaxed in order to encourage new development.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly disagree

i) The city should take a harder line with people who park illegally in fire lanes.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

j) Sidewalk snow clearing could benefit from minor improvements, but large additional investments are not a good use of taxpayers money.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat disagree

k) The senior citizens tax reduction should be extended to all low income homeowners. 

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

l) The City of St. John’s should implement a municipal composting program.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat agree

m) Political donations to municipal candidates should be published in a public report and posted on the City of St. John’s website.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

n) City parks could benefit from minor improvements, but large additional investments are not a good use of taxpayers money. 

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat disagree

o) Traffic calming measures, including speed bumps and lower speed limits, should be expanded.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

p) St. John’s should pursue amalgamation with neighbouring communities.

Ron Ellsworth: Strongly disagree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat disagree

q) Loud motorcycles are a problem and bylaws should be enacted to restrict them.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Somewhat agree

r) The city should encourage more mixing of commercial and residential development.

Ron Ellsworth: Somewhat agree

Jennifer McCreath: Strongly agree

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Long(er) Answer Questions

Arts and Culture

1. What specific initiatives would you undertake to support arts and artists in the city?

Ron Ellsworth: I’m not sure that I would undertake anything in particular, however I would support initiatives brought forward by others. I would commit to working with the arts community, business community and the community as a whole to find and take advantage of opportunities for collaboration.

Jennifer McCreath: First of all, I would like to meet community leaders from various arts and culture genres and organizations. These folks are the ones who can and should advise city council on how the city can help and what we can do in a leadership role. I’d like to put together a committee that meets monthly to discuss the state of arts and culture in this city. I’d also like the city to work closer and better with the provincial department of tourism, culture, and recreation and would also like to study other major cities that have gone through the growth and prosperity we are seeing now. The recent rumours about a large concert venue is definitely something that will help bring major international entertainment here. I would also like to do a better job promoting local talent.

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By-laws and enforcement

2. What should be done to discourage illegal parking in fire lanes and other parking violations?

Ron Ellsworth: Regular enforcement of parking violations would help to discourage people from breaking the law. Increases in fines could also be explored.

Jennifer McCreath: We need more enforcement officers to proactively patrol the city so we can catch more of these folks in the act. Secondly, we need stiffer penalties. fines need to be higher, and people should start to lose driving privileges. Improving sidewalk access, public transit, and car pooling might also help reduce the problem. Also, let’s go into the driving schools and let’s chat with provincial motor registration to ensure they do everything the can to teach drivers how to respect the rules and understand why they need to be respected.

3. Would you support a volunteer group of concerned citizens to monitor parking lots and issue tickets and/or report violations?

Ron Ellsworth: No. It would be extremely difficult to control, regulate and hold accountable these groups.

Jennifer McCreath: Yes, No, Yes.  I would love to have citizens monitor and report issues, but we need officials to issue the tickets. Having said that, we need more officials on the streets!

4. What should be done to improve the enforcement of traffic laws?

Ron Ellsworth: Traffic laws are largely enforced. The biggest area of concern for parking violations is in private parking lots. We can work with the companies who own these parking lots to have them help report any parking violations. Moving violations must be left to the RNC, but the city should constantly work with them to address areas of concern for residents.

Jennifer McCreath: We need more officers, tougher penalties, and more public education and awareness work to be done!

5. What can be done to reduce the number of parking tickets issued for parking on snow removal and street cleaning days?

Ron Ellsworth: We need to ensure better communications out to the areas we are doing, and provide earlier signage when we can.

Jennifer McCreath: Illegally parked cars deserve tickets. If people are unaware that they are breaking the law while parking during these two times, then we need to proactively tell them; better signs, and city mail-outs to bring these bylaws to the attention of car owners. Those who continue to park illegally after the information has been provided, should be subject to stiffer penalties.

6. What would you do to reduce illegal garbage dumping in the city?

Ron Ellsworth: The city is moving forward with cameras which will help to identify people and provide more information about the issue.

Jennifer McCreath: We need to improve curbside bulk garbage and recycling programs so people can throw their stuff out on garbage day, rather than have to take it elsewhere and dump it illegally. We should also work with the Province to increase police patrol in areas known for illegal dumping.

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Crime

7. What is your take on crime in St. John’s and what should the city do about it?

Ron Ellsworth: While statistics have shown an increase in our crime rate, St. John’s is still an extremely safe city. The city should continue to work with the RNC on a regular basis to address the issue. This also serves as a tool for residents to communicate their concerns to the RNC via council.

Jennifer McCreath: I have major concerns about the current situation of crime in this City. The challenging situation though, is that the Criminal Code of Canada is a Federal Statute, while the delivery of Justice services, are mostly at the Provincial level. Ultimately, we need to elect City Council members who will develop strong rapport with these entities to ensure they have a core understanding of how crime issues differ here, from the rest of the province. With regards to crime that is of a municipal nature, such as violations of municipal traffic and noise by-laws, the City should take a proactive approach to crime reduction through monitoring, handing out fines, and through education and awareness. The City should also reach out to community organizations who have a vested interest in crime reduction or crime prevention, and collaborate on programs that will achieve these goals.

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Development and Urban Renewal

8. The St. John’s Board of Trade argues that the city needs more high density residential development and less urban sprawl. Do you support the Board’s position, and if so what policies would you implement to achieve it?

Ron Ellsworth: I would support higher density in the appropriate place. We must ensure that new developments are not too intrusive on the area and do not have significant impacts on the surrounding residents.

Jennifer McCreath: I totally agree. I would like to see the City create incentives to developers to build higher density buildings. However, I am not sure I would want to create legislation that would deter developers from developing.

9. What should be done with vacant properties (e.g. abandoned grocery stores and soon-to-be-closed schools), and what should the city be doing to ensure that these spaces are put to good use?

Ron Ellsworth: With regards to vacant properties, the first step should be to work with the owners to redevelop the property. We can also explore the option of taxing buildings that have been vacant for a certain period of time to deter owners from intentionally leaving buildings vacant. Vacant schools obviously cannot be taxed, but we can still work with the provincial government to redevelop the property into something that benefits the community. For example, a school could become a co-op type building for not-for-profits to help encourage them all to come together under one roof.

Jennifer McCreath: We should eliminate the tax break for vacant commercial properties. If you own it, you should pay full tax on it. As far as empty buildings owned by Government, steps need to be taken to put these properties to good use, either as Government buildings, or by selling the property to developers or investors who have demonstrated their ability to put it to good use.

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Electoral reform

10. The City of Toronto is planning to move to a ranked ballot system for municipal elections. This system reduces the problem of vote splitting in races with more than two candidates. Would you support a similar reform in St. John’s? Would you support some other kind of reform?

Ron Ellsworth: I have never heard a complaint regarding the current system in place in St. John’s. If residents are satisfied with the electoral system we are using then there is no reason to change it.

Jennifer McCreath: I am always looking for ways to improve democracy. I would be open to looking at any possible electoral reform, that would promote and increase voters turnout and produce election results that best reflect what the electorate wants.

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Heritage

11. How do we balance real estate development with the preservation of heritage in historic St. John’s?

Ron Ellsworth: Deputy Mayor Duff has done tremendous work to ensure the heritage of our city is preserved and we must continue to do that work for years to come. We must work with developers on a regular basis to make sure that the look of buildings undergoing renovations as well as the type of renovations to maintain the same feel for the area. We need to ensure that for new developments or re-developments of old buildings that current standards and codes are met without exception. Working to make sure that historic buildings are being maintained so that they do not lose their historic value is crucial.

Jennifer McCreath: I think we can find a good balance by promoting development outside of the historic down town core of the city. There is tons of vacant land in other parts of the City that is ready and capable of being developed.

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Housing affordability

12. What initiatives would you support or undertake to address the following issues?

  • a shortage of available rental housing
  • rising costs of rental housing
  • rising house prices

Ron Ellsworth: All of these issues can be addressed by working with developers. By having open dialogue between the city and developers we can encourage them to develop the types of housing that meet the needs of residents and will encourage people to move to St. John’s.

Jennifer McCreath:

A shortage of available rental housing: I would like to take steps to provide incentives for developers to create apartment buildings in new development opportunities.

Rising costs of rental housing: The law of ‘supply and demand’ is likely accountable for this, at least in part. By increasing the number of units available, it will drive down the costs as supply will better equal the demand.

Rising house prices: I would like to take steps to provide incentives for developers to create lower-priced housing units. Building smaller units and building units outside of prime neighbourhoods, will allow for lower cost units to be more available.

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Immigration

13. What initiatives have you been involved with, or would you implement, to promote a welcoming and supportive environment for immigrants and refugees in our community?

Ron Ellsworth: The city needs to create a more inviting environment for immigrants. By working with groups such as the Multicultural Council and the Association for New Canadians we can identify gaps that need to be closed. Engaging groups such as these and the immigrant community as a whole will allow us to ensure they are receiving the services they need and are feeling welcome in their new home.

Jennifer McCreath: I would like to study how other cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, implemented immigration-friendly policies, as they went through their huge economic growth periods. I would also like to reach out to various racial & ethnic communities and their non-profit organizations, so I can best understand their issues and best understand how to help fight the racism and give them a City and a series of City services that will allow them to maximize their potential. I would also like to collaborate with the Provincial & Federal Government to collaborate, and perhaps piggy-back, on the work they are currently engaged with on this matter. Finally, I would also like to take steps to celebrate diversity, including having City involvement in various programs and festivals that promote education, awareness, and celebration, of diversity.

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Intergovernmental relationships

14. What are two specific initiatives/issues at the federal or provincial level that you would commit to advocating for if you were elected?

Ron Ellsworth: We must strive to achieve a better fiscal relationship with the provincial government. The recent elimination of the Municipal Operating Grant for St. John’s indicates that much work needs to be done on this issue. We also need commitments from the provincial and federal government regarding cost sharing upgrades to current infrastructure. Over the next several years we need to upgrade a great deal of our infrastructure but we cannot possibly afford to do this alone. We need concrete commitments from both levels of government.

Jennifer McCreath: I definitely think we need to develop a strong relationship with other levels of Government on the fight against crime. The Feds oversee the Criminal Code, while the Province implements the Justice system. The City needs to bring both of these entities to the table so they can better understand the specific situations going on in this City and so that steps can be taken to give the City more power, authority, and autonomy, to combat crime. Infrastructure is another area in which we must collaborate. It is in the best interest of all levels of Government, to have infrastructure in this city, that is sufficient for a booming city. Having good roads and public utilities in all cities is very important.

15. What opportunities for regional cooperation with neighbouring communities do you think should be pursued?

Ron Ellsworth: There is plenty of opportunity to further regionalize many services. We must continue with regionalization of water and sewer, fire services, transportation, and many others. We should also explore the possibility of regionalizing services that each municipality currently provides individually in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Jennifer McCreath: I would definitely like to collaborate with our neighbours on public transportation. We need more buses in and out of the City, so we can reduce the number of cars coming in and out of the city. I would also like to look at increasing the amount of car pool parking lots on the edge of town, and in neighbouring towns, as well as create shuttle or express bus services in and out of major city hub destinations. I also think we need to develop a collaborative approach to regional growth and development. It concerns me, for example, to see the town of Paradise growing substantially in terms of residential properties, but not having self-sufficient services in town. We need to take steps to ensure that there are jobs, office buildings, and retail outlets, in all of our neighbouring towns, so that residents of these towns won’t always have to come into St. John’s, if they don’t want to.

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Municipal pensions

16. A recent submission from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business called for reforming the pensions of public sector workers. Their recommendations include:

  • Converting from ‘defined benefit’ to ‘defined contribution’ pensions
  • Ending incentives to retire early
  • Fully disclosing pension liabilities using a consistent methodology

Where do you stand on this issue?

Ron Ellsworth:

  • Converting from ‘defined benefit’ to ‘defined contribution’ pensions: Any changes such as this to the current system would have to be done through the collective bargaining process. It is not a decision that can be made unilaterally by council.
  • Ending incentives to retire early: There can often be monetary value in offering an early retirement packages. It is difficult to make a blanket statement that they should either be offered or not offered. It is something I would have to look into further.
  • Fully disclosing pension liabilities using a consistent methodology: I completely agree that the pension liability should be disclosed to the greatest extent possible.

Jennifer McCreath: I am 100% supportive of all three of these suggestions and would push to implement them all, if elected.

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Public spaces and walkability

17. How would you foster community spaces and walkability in the city?

Ron Ellsworth: We need to continue opening up walking areas and more green space to allow free un-organized play for all.

Jennifer McCreath: The nature trails, parks and ponds that we have, are a precious beauty that makes this City unique. We need to take action to ensure that these spaces are kept intact and not subject to development. The recent destruction of wetland areas with the Burton’s Pond sidewalk excavation project, and more recently, the filling in of the swampy marsh area adjacent to Janeway, are two examples of projects I would have been strongly opposed to.

18. Do you support the harbour fence initiative? What would you do about it if elected?

Ron Ellsworth: (Provided same answer as for previous question) We need to continue opening up walking areas and more green space to allow free un-organized play for all.

Jennifer McCreath: It is to my understanding that Federal Regulations required an upgrade to fenced security. With this in mind, I don’t see how anyone could argue against having the fence built. However, there is absolutely no reason why the City should have contributed tax-payer money towards the project. The Federal Port Authority is a stand-alone Crown corporation, with the ability to raise funds through user fees. Ultimately, we need to take steps to ensure that future City council will not give money away inappropriately to other Government agencies, when there is no clear incentive or benefit to the City, to do so.

19. A commonly used walking trail between Cowan Heights and Sobey’s Square has been cut off by the Team Gushue Highway extension. Would you support the installation of a culvert tunnel so that pedestrians would not be forced to cross the highway?

Ron Ellsworth: (Provided same answer as for previous two questions) We need to continue opening up walking areas and more green space to allow free un-organized play for all.

Jennifer McCreath: I would definitely be willing to take a look at options for either a tunnel or an overpass bridge – taking into account vehicle and pedestrian safety, as well as cost-benefit analysis.

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Regulations and red tape

20. How would you increase the speed of regulatory approvals for new business operations in the city (i.e. certification for restaurants, cafes, etc.)?

Ron Ellsworth: There are a great deal of permits and licensing that must be obtained prior to opening establishments such as these, and for good reason. However, we should always be looking for ways to further streamline the processes that applicants must go through.

Jennifer McCreath: It is important that we take proper care to ensure that businesses have appropriate accreditation and meet standards and regulations, prior to opening. Having said this, I am very sympathetic towards the challenges and frustrations of red tape. I’d certainly be willing to take a close look at existing processes as well as seek input and advise from global best-practices, and take steps to implement more efficient and effective strategies, so long as integrity of the process is not compromised.

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Seniors

21. What initiatives would you support to make the city safer and more accessible for our seniors?

Ron Ellsworth: The best way to make our city better for seniors is to engage them to determine what needs we have not addressed that we should be addressing, and what needs we have addressed but in a way that does not actually meet their needs.

Jennifer McCreath: In 2002-03, I spent 8 months working with the Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat. Through this experience, I gained insight towards issues facing seniors. I would look to create some sort of Seniors policy and program office within the City, that would engage seniors, seniors organizations, and seniors care-givers, to gain a clear understanding of where the gaps in this City are, and what can be done to improve them.

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Snow clearing

22. How do you propose to improve road and sidewalk snow clearing in St. John’s? Please address both and provide specific details.

Ron Ellsworth: I am currently satisfied with the snow clearing on our roads. We can however make improvements to the sidewalk snow clearing process. By moving obstacles that are sitting just inside of sidewalks now, we can make more space for storing snow. In many cases there is not enough room beyond the sidewalks to store all of the snow so the sidewalk ends up as a storage area. Making room past the sidewalks can help to address this issue.

Jennifer McCreath: This has been a major concern for me since the first winter I lived here. It’s bad enough that we can’t keep our city sidewalks cleared, but even worse that we waste tax payer money to drive large tractors over the sidewalks. these tractors, while supposedly clearing snow, actually packs down the snow, so we get a thick layer of compressed ice on our sidewalks. First of all, we need to clear snow, and secondly, we need to clear it properly. Not only will clear sidewalks make it easier to get around, it will literally make an inaccessible city, accessible, to the many folks who can’t negotiate snow.

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Stormwater management and flooding

23. Last year, a City Commissioner’s report found that watersheds, bridges, and culverts are unable to handle any additional stormwater runoff from planned developments above the 190m contour (such as Dannyville). The report recommends a zero-net increase runoff policy for new developments. Would you require developers to submit a blueprint that clearly incorporates a zero-net increase stormwater management plan prior to any land clearance or developmental phase? If so, how would you ensure that developers follow this policy?

Ron Ellsworth: A zero-net increase policy should be enforced if the infrastructure downstream of the new development cannot handle the extra capacity. If there is already sufficient infrastructure in place then building more infrastructure that must be maintained is of no benefit. When the existing infrastructure cannot handle the new development then developers should be required to address the issue before any building permits are issued.

Jennifer McCreath: Yes I am 100% supportive of this. I would take steps to ensure that there is an assessment and evaluative process that will require developers to clearly demonstrate compliance, throughout the lifecycle of the property development process.

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Tax policy

24. Tell us your position on tax policy, addressing some or all of the following questions:

  • How important is it to keep taxes low?
  • Do businesses pay too much or too little tax relative to residences?
  • Should tax breaks be provided to low income people who are not old enough to qualify for the seniors reduction? What about to senior citizens whose income is too high to qualify?
  • How do you feel about the recent decision to blend the business occupancy tax and the business realty tax into a single tax?
  • Would you consider blending the water rate into the residential realty tax to encourage more basement apartments?
  • Would you consider introducing residential water metering so that households are charged for the amount of water used rather than a flat rate per unit?
  • Would you consider a tax on land value as opposed to property value as a way to encourage more efficient use of land?
  • Should the tax break for vacant commercial property be eliminated?

Ron Ellsworth:

  • How important is it to keep taxes low? Taxes should be kept at the lowest possible rate to encourage growth and development and to help address the issue of affordability for seniors and low income earners
  • Do businesses pay too much or too little tax relative to residences? No, businesses are paying a fair amount.
  • Should tax breaks be provided to low income people who are not old enough to qualify for the seniors reduction? What about to senior citizens whose income is too high to qualify? Tax breaks should be offered to all based on income level; we have a lot of working poor and single parents.
  • How do you feel about the recent decision to blend the business occupancy tax and the business realty tax into a single tax? This decision makes sense for the City.
  • Would you consider blending the water rate into the residential realty tax to encourage more basement apartments? No I would not consider this. The water tax is a user based system and this is for a reason. Two units would consume more water than a single unit would.
  • Would you consider introducing residential water metering so that households are charged for the amount of water used rather than a flat rate per unit? This is something that I am very much in favour of, however we need to communicate what it means to taxpayers. There is a great deal of fear that it will result in higher taxes and that it is a tax grab by the city. By communicating that it will essentially be the same system that is currently used for electricity we can hopefully address some of that misunderstanding.
  • Would you consider a tax on land value as opposed to property value as a way to encourage more efficient use of land? No I believe the property value method is still more appropriate.
  • Should the tax break for vacant commercial property be eliminated? Yes, in the case of vacant land, there should be a tax implemented.

Jennifer McCreath:

  • How important is it to keep taxes low? We need taxes to be low enough that they won’t impede the quality of life, yet high enough to ensure important and essential government services can be delivered.
  • Do businesses pay too much or too little tax relative to residences? I would like to take a look at the tax statistics for our city, and then compare them to other cities of our size in Canada.
  • Should tax breaks be provided to low income people who are not old enough to qualify for the seniors reduction? What about to senior citizens whose income is too high to qualify? My understanding of the Income tax system is that it is paid to provincial and federal governments, and that rate of tax is based on rate of earnings, and that age has absolutely nothing to do with it. With this in mind, I do not think age should be a factor in determining property tax rates. If you can afford to own property, then you should be able to afford to pay taxes on it.
  • How do you feel about the recent decision to blend the business occupancy tax and the business realty tax into a single tax? My understanding is that this merge will have essentially no affect on the rates that businesses pay, but it will allow the City to operate their business tax program in a more efficient and effective manner. I oppose special tax breaks for vacant commercial properties. If you own commercial property, you should pay taxes on it, regardless of whether or not you are using the property. Much like the last question, if you can afford to own property, then you can afford to pay taxes on it!
  • Would you consider blending the water rate into the residential realty tax to encourage more basement apartments? I do not believe this would be an effective way to promote an increase in basement apartment units. With regards to water fairness, I’d like to move towards a system that charges water rates based on water use, as opposed to a simple tax on property owners.
  • Would you consider introducing residential water metering so that households are charged for the amount of water used rather than a flat rate per unit? Yes absolutely, and apply the same to commercial establishments. We pay for power by the metre, so why not water?
  • Would you consider a tax on land value as opposed to property value as a way to encourage more efficient use of land? I think both should be taken into consideration. Both are capital assets that have assessment values.
  • Should the tax break for vacant commercial property be eliminated?  Yes – if you own commercial space, you should pay full taxes on it, no matter what you are using it for. I’d even consider raising taxes for vacant commercial property to encourage them to sell it to someone who will put it to good use!

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Transportation

25. In 2011, a transit study was released that made a number of recommendations for improving public transit in the City of St. John’s, including:

  •  Increase service between Downtown and the MUN/HSC/Avalon Mall corridor.
  • Negotiate a deal to provide Metrobus passes to all students at MUN/CNA for a mandatory fee.
  • Allow city employees to trade free parking at work for cash or a Metrobus pass.
  • Establish a park-and-ride program for commuters.
  • Increase the price of parking in the west end of Downtown.
  • Develop a regional transit plan involving Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, and Torbay.

What is your vision for public transit, with specific reference to some or all of the recommendations above?

Ron Ellsworth:

  • Increase service between Downtown and the MUN/HSC/Avalon Mall corridor: Increasing service to these areas would make service to the highest traffic areas more efficient and attractive for new users.
  • Negotiate a deal to provide Metrobus passes to all students at MUN/CNA for a mandatory fee: This is an option worth exploring.
  • Allow city employees to trade free parking at work for cash or a Metrobus pass: No I do not agree with this.
  • Establish a park-and-ride program for commuters: I would support this initiative: A park-and-ride program would help to address the issues of traffic congestion in high traffic areas such as downtown and would help to increase the usage of public transit.
  • Increase the price of parking in the west end of Downtown: It should not be more expensive to park in one part of downtown than it is in another part.
  • Develop a regional transit plan involving Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, and Torbay: A regional plan that involves all municipalities in the metro region is the best way to move forward and will help to develop a long term strategy for improving the public transit system.

We need to work more with the users of public transit to see how it can be improved to better meet their needs. We should also engage non-users to determine why they don’t use the service and what we can do to make it more appealing. .

Jennifer McCreath:

  • Increase service between Downtown and the MUN/HSC/Avalon Mall corridor: Yes, and also come up with some routes that are more direct.
  • Negotiate a deal to provide Metrobus passes to all students at MUN/CNA for a mandatory fee: I don’t want to force all students to pay for a pass they may not use. Some might be happy to walk to and from school for free!
  • Allow city employees to trade free parking at work for cash or a Metrobus pass: Yes absolutely. Alternative, start charging for parking as well.
  • Establish a park-and-ride program for commuters: A big-time yes here! We need major lots on the edges of towns, and ones outside of town, and shuttle bus services to downtown, MUN and the malls.
  • Increase the price of parking in the west end of Downtown: I’d increase the price for parking anywhere downtown! If you really want to drive downtown, then you must be willing to pay more to do it.
  • Develop a regional transit plan involving Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, and Torbay: Yes absolutely. We need Metrobus in and out of there regularly, including downtown express buses.

I currently have major concerns about the state of our public transit system. I think a key starting point is getting more buses in and out of Mount Pearl, Paradise, Torbay, etc. There are so many people who drive into the city every day, because (they) have no other way to get into town. I would like to see the development of shuttle buses from car pool spots at the edge of town off the highways, with some sort of incentive for folks to use the service. We need to find a way to get fewer cars downtown. I would also like to look at bike lanes and better sidewalk snow-shoveling so pedestrians would be more likely to leave their cars at home. I would also like to review existing bus routes and schedules, within the city, as many people have complained to me that it takes too long to get anywhere, because of long wait times, the need to transfer from one bus to another, or both.

26. What initiatives would you undertake with respect to transportation infrastructure in and around the city?

Ron Ellsworth: We must aggressively address the infrastructure needs we are currently facing. With St. John’s being the hub of the metro area we have seen, and will continue to see, increases in traffic volume. We need to work with surrounding municipalities to provide a regional approach to dealing with increased traffic and to offer an improved public transit system.

Jennifer McCreath: Reduce the use of large buses for areas with low passenger use and replace with small bus. Move big buses into shuttle and express programs.

27. What should be done about painted road markings that fade away for much of the year?

Ron Ellsworth: The city has studied the possibility of using thermo-plastic based paint for road markings. This type of paint would last longer, however this option was found to be very expensive. The reality is that our climate requires us to have heavy equipment plowing the streets and to use salt on our roads during the winter months. These factors have a huge impact on the road markings, however we have little choice but to use the heavy equipment and salt anyway.

Jennifer McCreath: Can we find better quality paint?

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Free Space

If there any other important issues you would like to address, please do so here:

Ron Ellsworth: No response given.

Jennifer McCreath: I am a strong independent person who won’t back down from a challenge and will never back down from standing up for what I believe in. At the same time, I feel I am a good listener and a team player who takes pride in reaching decisions based on consensus. I am not afraid to think outside the box or challenge norms. I want what’s best for this city and I am willing to devote full time attention to making this city all that I know it is capable of being. I do whatever it takes to engage people on issues that matter. I take pride in battling indifference and getting people to care and develop passion for their city. I have overcome some of the most difficult challenges and stigma known to mankind, as I have managed to survive hatred, discrimination, and phobia, as someone who has gone through a medical sex and gender transition. This experience has taught me how to lead and manage change in a challenging situation, and has also given me extensive experience dealing with Government policies and red tape. I like to think that my ability to engage and delegate, makes me a good leader. I take pride in having a strong record in taking diverse groups of people and finding ways for them to reach consensus and solve problems on various matters. I expect near perfection out of myself and I have always set very high goals. I am proud of my accomplishments in life as a marathon runner, a founder of non-profit organizations, an advocate and activist for citizen’s rights, and my professional accomplishments as a policy adviser with and for various government entities. I also take pride in my love for animals and the environment.

While most of existing City Council seems to be made up of rich upper class people who have thrived in the private sector, I bring experiences to the table that allow me to better relate to many of our oppressed and misfortune citizens. I understand what it is like to live pay-cheque to pay-cheque. I understand the challenges faced by minority groups, as I identify as a woman, a member of the LGBT community, and as a main-lander who has struggled to gain acceptance by Newfoundlanders. I bring experience to the table having worked in Government policy development positions & bring experience having run community-oriented non-profit ventures. I am an advocate for human rights and quality of living for all. I am passionate about citizen engagement. I am also keenly concerned about the well-being of the trust and respect of Government, as perceived by citizens.

For more information, please visit votejennifer.info or e-mail me at [email protected] or telephone me at 709-753-9529.