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MEET THE CANDIDATE: Centre Wellington Ward 3, Barbara Lustgarten Evoy

EloraFergusToday asked candidates in the upcoming municipal election to tell us a little bit about themselves and their platform
Centre Wellington Ward 3 candidate Barbara Lustgarten Evoy

EloraFergusToday asked candidates in the upcoming municipal election to tell us a little bit about themselves and their platform.

Name: Barbara Lustgarten Evoy

Occupation: I am the very proud, small business owner of Fergus Educational Services and an active local volunteer. I’m also the current UGDSB Trustee for Centre Wellington and have been Vice Chair of the Board for the last three years.

How long have you lived in Centre Wellington? My husband and I moved to Centre Wellington in 2007.

Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes, I have been living in Ward 3 for the past 15 years.

Why are you running in this election? I decided to run for councillor in this election because I believe that, as a deeply committed community citizen dedicated to doing whatever I can to effect positive change, it’s nothing short of my duty to do so. The last several years have been very challenging for everyone.  I know that all of us; family and friends, neighbours, and fellow business owners, have been faced with having to make difficult decisions about everything from managing our health and welfare concerns, to being able to pay our bills. We need to work together to effect the change I know many of us seek. We need to commit, as a council, to listening to the voices in Centre Wellington. I believe it is time - NOW - to prepare ourselves and our community, to begin the process of rebuilding from the trials of yesteryear and to collectively agree to establish a safer, more prepared, more stable, and an overall brighter tomorrow. 

What qualifies you to represent your ward? I feel very confident that I am qualified to run for this position. Having served as an elected official for the last eight years, and as chair, vice-chair, director, and member of many local boards and committees, I’m acutely aware of the challenges we face and of the success we currently enjoy. My experience affords me the knowledge and the insight to understand what’s happening today in Centre Wellington, and what can and should happen moving forward. 

Why should people vote for you? I encourage every voter to choose their candidates based on what they know to be true. My experience and commitment to our community is real and is proven. I have never stopped stepping up to serve, I have demonstrated my allegiance to Centre Wellington, and I have shown that I am both willing and able to do the hard work to help make things even better.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Having taken the time to meet and to chat with many people in Ward 3, I have clearly seen those matters that are of greatest concern. In addition to concerns about cost of living and inflation, one of the primary issues that almost every single person with whom we spoke shared, is that they are deeply disturbed by the speed of traffic on our streets. Every citizen needs to know that their roads are safe and that passing vehicles will not put children, pedestrians, bikers, pets, and other vehicles at risk. In response to this we need to consider adding more stop signs and/or other possible traffic calming measures, as well as the potential of radar speed signs and even speed cameras to help us achieve a safer community. Making our streets safe is a top priority for Ward 3.

What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Centre Wellington on a broader scale? We absolutely must address the matter of rising property taxes to help ensure that those who live, work, and play in Centre Wellington can continue to do so in a way that’s affordable and sustainable. From a broader lens around Centre Wellington matters as a whole, I see many issues of importance. We must consider our choices when it comes to urban sprawl. It’s not only because so many people living in and around our community are either farmers, employed by farmers, or are family/friends of farmers that we need to embrace this concern, rather it should be, that because without farmers, we simply can’t exist. We’re incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by so many people and places growing our food and we must recognize that our choices shouldn’t be just about how to ‘lessen the sprawl’, rather how to manage it much better. When understanding our role as stewards of this land, we should be further embracing infill and land recycling while considering options beyond single family homes.  I support a strong mix of higher density housing like duplexes, townhomes, and apartments and look forward to working together to help ensure these are viable options.

What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Centre Wellington? Change around how we’re making decisions to best meet the needs of our community, is what comes up first for me. Many people with whom we spoke, are frustrated. One might question whether or not some members on the current council are listening to one another, let alone to the people of this community. We can no longer afford to make decisions based on WHO is bringing a matter to the table; rather we have to vote based on WHAT the matter is and how it will best serve us all. I’m committed to listening to the voices, issues, and concerns of our both my colleagues at council and to the community we all represent. I can be counted on to work hard to strive for consensus and cooperation at the council level, with an added focus on what’s best for the future of Centre Wellington. I believe we can work together to maintain the historic character of our communities and make decisions that work to protect the natural environment, our farmland, and our water resources. I’m confident we can live in a more sustainable way and that it’s our responsibility to practice environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility at every turn.  

What services need to be improved in Centre Wellington? When examining the services, I see first-hand that we are doing good work in many areas but that we have much yet to accomplish. Infrastructure and Planning and Development come to mind as two priorities and two areas where we can afford to do better. I honor our community’s heritage and want to work hard to find a way to continue to do that while simultaneously striving for healthy growth. When looking at roads, bridges, and overall infrastructure we need to ensure that they are safe and well maintained while meeting the needs of our growing community. Once again, we want to protect our farmland and the natural environment and need to make this a priority. We must respect our water supply and distribution and must agree to protect our cherished water sources. I am proud of our tourism and look forward to continuing to celebrate the small town feel we all so dearly love.

Is Centre Wellington growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? Is the speed of our growth too fast, too slow, or just right? What I know for sure is that it’s here and our task should be how to make this growth work for us instead of against us. For many residents, the pictures and memories of yesteryear might include recalling what it was like to have one option of every service, very few traffic lights, and neighbours we can call friends. Change is upon us but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We can maintain the ‘small town’ feel that Centre Wellington is known for while continuing to build on our economic opportunities, to sustain our roads, bridges, water, and parkland, and to work towards even higher levels of recreational programs and facilities. We can continue to shop local and to support our small businesses, arts, culture, and our many community events by choosing to better support those people and groups doing the hard work to make it all happen.

What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? Because the cost of housing is far from ours to control, we should instead be looking at what is within our grasp to manage. We must ensure, moving forward, that our community is committed to building balance. Attainable housing has to be an equal part of the puzzle when planning ahead if we’re sincerely looking for healthy and sustainable growth. Perhaps, as we look ahead, we might consider mandating that, within every new community, there is also affordable, attainable, and high and low-density mixes, that are built to include parks, green spaces, and retail options. Federal and provincial governments also play an important role in battling the housing crisis and I believe it’s our duty as township council, to work together with all levels of government on behalf of Centre Wellington residents. I can be counted on to support objectives that will serve our community. I strive to see issues from a more global lens to help ensure that I’ve considered as many people, in as many different situations, as I possibly can.  

Do you support building a new $27 million operations centre? It would appear that the Operations Centre will in fact be beneficial in the long run.  Like so many choices, this might appear to be too costly or that it will take too long to serve us and that it might not serve us enough to warrant the costs, but based on what I’ve learned on this matter, I do support it thus far. 

How do we make Centre Wellington an even better place to live? We can bring in a council that’s committed to working together and dedicated to addressing the issues and needs of our community. Together we can build a community rooted in being equitable, inclusive, kind, supportive, understanding, and willing to see and to hear every voice. Let’s commit to serving those who’d like to walk and shop downtown, attend a festival, volunteer at an event, hike a trail, or use a recreational centre, to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy that which we celebrate every day. We must begin by recognizing what is, and what isn’t, currently working. We should be considering options that help all of our people to feel that they belong.  We can create pathways that uphold viable ideas designed to support our community mission and vision, that may be brought to us by our citizens. We need to find a way to make that journey from their homes to our council chambers, an easier one. We should commit to doing what it takes to work together, both at council level and with the people we represent. We must learn to compromise in a respectful way and we absolutely must be prepared to listen.

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