EloraFergusToday asked candidates in the upcoming municipal election to tell us a little bit about themselves and their platform.
Name: Ray Trafford
Occupation: I attended McMaster University in the post-graduate studies program in clinical behavioural sciences. My career focus at Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals was with adolescents and their families. A teenager might be identified as needing help due to behavioural or academic problems at school or in the community through run-ins with the law or problems at home. No single agency could meet all the needs and services required to help turn around a young person’s life. We developed a cooperative approach with each service contributing staff time to work on a service co-ordination team. This team was drawn from children’s aid societies, regional and local children’s mental health centres, residential treatment facilities, boards of education, psychiatrists, probation services and the Ministry of Community Services. This was not an academic exercise: Real life cases were presented to the team where it was determined which combination of services was needed and at what level. A spin-off from this innovative approach saw agencies expanding their services to include after school programmes, special needs classrooms, summer programmes and more. This networking model formed the basis of my future clinical career and my approach to so many aspects of life.
How long have you lived in Centre Wellington? After 25 years of marriage my wife passed away unexpectedly. At the time we had three children who were just setting out on their own and starting families. I had enjoyed every day of my career to that date but found I no longer had the heart for the job. After a few years of healing, I met a woman who lived in Centre Wellington, relocated and was married for 20 years. I had yet to find a local doctor and continued with my GP in Hamilton when I was diagnosed with cancer. I underwent successful surgery and chemotherapy and during my recovery pondered what my next career move would be. I surprised many who knew me when I decided to become a long haul truck driver. Being away for long stretches did not allow me to volunteer on a regular basis but I did help in a few provincial and federal campaigns and at a number of community events. In over 20 years of living here, I have developed lifelong friends and deep roots. Centre Wellington is my home and I live in Ward 3.
Why are you running in this election? I have always had a keen interest in community and local governance. I am fortunate to have a large group of acquaintances and friends from a broad range of backgrounds, some born in Centre Wellington and others here by choice. One thing they have in common is a love of this community and a commitment to help it thrive while sustaining its character. As you can imagine, many of our discussions centred on those issues and the conversation would often turn to the actions of council.
My primary reason for running in this election is in response to the divided nature of the current council and its members’ apparent inability to look beyond their differences. As a result, they did not instill confidence in some of the decisions made.
I am hoping to be part of a council where members respect each other, listen to everyone’s opinion, accept decisions when they have been voted upon and have the type of working relationship that allows them to respond effectively in times of urgency or crisis.
What qualifies you to represent this ward? Why should people vote for you? I am fortunate that I have been able to retire and have the time and energy to represent Ward 3 at council without any other major commitments.
I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have considerable experience in understanding and evaluating research and legislation and assessing complex situations. I believe in seeking and welcoming the expertise of others. I am a team player without positions that are set in stone. For over a decade, I drove through communities all over North America, from isolated towns across the Prairies to as far away as Los Angeles and as close as Paris, Ontario…and I observed their growth or decay. I would tune into local talk radio and the concerns of the callers were surprisingly similar to our own. We can learn a lot from how other communities have succeeded or failed with issues in common.
I have life experience. I have worked in blue-collar and white-collar jobs. I know long days and what it is like to worry about making ends meet. I do not want to have to worry if the people we elect are looking out for my community, if they are going to run a bypass through our neighbourhood or approve a high-rise that leaves us living in shadow.
I am not running for council with a debt to some special interest group or to further my own personal agenda. I have the time and energy to listen to and talk to the voters of Ward 3 who will define my agenda.
What do you see as the main issues facing your ward? I have my own thoughts and I am in the process of reaching out to the people of Ward 3 to hear their priorities. So far there seems to be common themes - traffic and roadways, housing affordability and growth. I invite residents to contact me via my email and bring their concerns forward. I will respond.
There have been specific concerns: parking in the core and the brownfield site owned by Suncor at the corner of Hill and St David Streets. Employers have pointed out that attracting staff is difficult because of the lack of affordable rental accommodation. If you are making $18 to $25 and hour, how can you afford rent that starts upwards of $1,600 a month?
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Centre Wellington on a broader scale? The specific needs of Elora, Fergus and the rural areas are unique to each community. The common concerns I see are taxes, municipal spending, traffic management, affordable housing, development and water resources. Honouring Centre Wellington’s rich heritage is important; a town without character is just a collection of buildings. From my personal experience, I feel we need to attract more doctors to the township. I still drive to Hamilton to see my doctor. The demand for medical services will only increase as we grow.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? Local council has a limited tool box to resolve housing costs. But zoning and bylaws are powerful tools, allowing for the building of long-term rentals such as granny flats or accessory dwellings, basement apartments and mixed-use development. And maximizing grant monies for thoughtful subsidized housing from the provincial and federal governments is something to explore.
Do you support building a new $27 million operations centre? I have sought out and heard both sides and received conflicting answers; I have read reports that seem superficial, leaving a lot of questions unanswered. There appears to be a lack of transparency about the decisions to date. Regardless, $27 million is a lot of money and the next council will be dealing with this issue where a more open discussion is needed.
Contact infor? (226) 449-9895
Raymond Trafford for Ward 3 (Facebook)