EloraFergusToday asked candidates in the upcoming municipal election to tell us a little bit about themselves and their platform
Name: Rick Schroeder
Occupation: Rick retired from a successful professional career at the beginning of 2022, having worked for over 40 years in the Information Technology industry with a small number of Canadian Insurance companies and financial organizations. For the last 30 years, he has held various IT architecture roles dealing with such things as networking, technology, application, solution, and enterprise architecture. In general, all these architecture roles share the goal of implementing superior, cost effective, value-adding solutions that are aligned to strategic business objectives.
How long have you lived in Centre Wellington? Rick is a long-term resident of Centre Wellington. He has been a member of the community since moving here in 1998 with his wife, Linda, and their five children, after having spent twelve years in Nova Scotia. They were seeking to raise their family in a healthy, safe, and “small town” community away from the hectic pace of big cities. Seeking a community progressive enough to provide all the services a family would require. Rick and Linda have thoroughly enjoyed the last 24 years of life here and remain steadfastly committed to Centre Wellington, with no intention of ever leaving.
Do you reside in the ward you are running in? Yes, Rick resides in Ward 6, in the south end of Fergus, near the public high school. While it is not a municipal requirement, he feels it is important for a Councillor to live in the Ward they seek to represent.
Why are you running in this election? Having recently retired, Rick strongly desires to stay active and to remain a good neighbour. With increased time and scheduling flexibility, he is eager to sharpen his focus on giving back to the community that has been such a rewarding place for his family to live. He has always been service oriented, but with his newfound availability, he can dedicate more time for community volunteer activities and service employment roles (e.g., his current work at Groves Hospital). Acting as Ward 6 councillor would be an ideal way to serve, should residents kindly confirm him in that role.
What qualifies you to represent your ward? In addition to having the motivation and time to serve, Rick has acquired diverse skills from his extensive career. Additionally, he has continued to nurture his natural gifts and talents. Rick considers himself, pragmatic, creative, hardworking, logical, discerning, analytical, diligent, respectful, collaborative, detail-oriented, and a problem solver with the ability for visionary strategic thinking. His business experience, training, and personality are well aligned to the role of township ward councillor.
Why should people vote for you? Rick comes to this position with no particular agenda or set of promises. Instead, he humbly offers his commitment to work hard and with integrity, to represent the best interests of the residents of Ward 6 and all of Centre Wellington Township. If you share his desire to make Centre Wellington an even better place to live and work, you can vote for him with confidence.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of the ward? Ward 6 is perhaps the most rural of all the Wards in Centre Wellington but shares much in common with the township as a whole. Key issues include Infrastructure and road renewal, affordability, greenspace and parkland, water protection, creative and inclusive housing development, and effective service delivery. Rick is very eager to listen and learn from residents of Ward 6 to understand their unique challenges and potential opportunities.
What do you see as the main issues facing residents of Centre Wellington on a broader scale? Rick would prefer to seek out opportunities that can be developed rather than focusing strictly on issue resolution. He believes that almost every issue can present an opportunity and that many of these opportunities can be found in approving healthy growth policies; creating an even more green, active, and caring community; planning environmentally responsible development that respects our heritage but sustains our future; protecting our drinking water; engaging the aspects of affordability so that all residents can enjoy life in CW unburdened. Of course, all this requires a strong economic base supported by excellent financial stewardship. Rick will do his part to ensure CW Township council works effectively as a team, with common good intention and respect, to support CW today and into the future.
What is the most important thing you want to see changed in Centre Wellington? Rick feels that Centre Wellington is already on a solid track with a well-focused strategic plan. However, change remains a constant, so even good plans must adapt. There are always opportunities to better coordinate and align the individual imperatives in the six pillars of this plan – fine-tuning to optimize results. Of course, there will be much to learn and adapt to in the future,
which will require flexibility. Continued effective policy and planning implementation by the CW administration will be key, as will the need to listen to and communicate transparently with the residents of CW. Clear and meaningful communication with residents, administration, industry, and other levels of government will help reveal the positive change opportunities and imperatives for Centre Wellington.
What services need to be improved in Centre Wellington? This is not an area that Rick currently has sufficient knowledge to respond to in detail, as he is not yet aware of specific service needs or improvement requests. In general, though, improvement of any function or service is always possible. Exploring new technology, methods, and creative ideas can help to avoid staleness in service delivery. Ensuring we build scalability and capacity to handle future growth is essential. However, the value associated with that improvement must be balanced against any increase in cost, change coordination, and other implementation impacts. Things can reach a point of diminishing returns, and one needs to be able to discern when “good enough” is good enough.
Is Centre Wellington growing too fast, just the right amount, or not fast enough? Of the three options presented, Rick struggles to believe that anyone would think Centre Wellington is not growing fast enough. Indeed, Centre Wellington has been experiencing steady growth for many years now. There will be several opinions on whether that growth is just the right amount, or too fast. Rather than engaging that debate, Rick feels it is more important to ensure that the growth CW experiences is carefully planned, thoughtful, healthy, and sustainable – all while still respecting the small-town legacy and sense of community that is our heritage. Growth almost always presents both challenges and opportunities; we need to intelligently make the choices that best serve the residents of CW.
What can be done at the local level about the rising cost of housing? Rick agrees that the cost involved in purchasing and renting a home has undoubtedly become a challenge for many residents. Additionally, the increase in cost of living exacerbates the issue of housing affordability. While the causes of this are not strictly local, we are able to implement changes at a municipal level to ease the pressure. We should pursue creative thinking and innovative solutions that involve developers, industry, and other levels of government. Rick feels the township has the ability to approve zoning applications that encourage more multi-purpose, inclusive, innovative designs, and introduce sustainable housing options that can ultimately increase housing supply and affordability. Younger generations in particular, need municipal leaders to make affordable, quality, and healthy housing a priority.
Do you support building a new $27 million operations centre? Rick understands that all physical infrastructure will need to be actively maintained, renovated, and eventually replaced. Any scalability and surplus capacity in older infrastructure will inevitably be consumed due to Centre Wellington’s steady growth. When we exceed that capacity or infrastructure falls into disrepair, this invariably impacts the quality and delivery of township services. Investment in capital renovation and replacement across the township needs to be prioritized based on factors such as timing, cost, and service impacts. In other words, we need to balance anticipated value against the cost and risk of deferring investment. Additional considerations would include leveraging new technology, building methods, and modern design – all of which can create opportunities for further service improvement and ongoing operational savings.
Rick doesn’t have the complete information that informed the township council’s decision, but he understands the decisions are more likely related to timing as opposed to taking no action at all. Indeed, these facilities have already been flagged on the township strategic plan. In the end, council approved a staff recommendation to proceed in two stages, presumably to defer a single large investment and to facilitate incremental transition.
How do we make Centre Wellington an even better place to live? Rick believes that Centre Wellington is already a “jewel” within Ontario, and our continued growth is indicates that many others are also discovering this. He also believes that Centre Wellington’s future should embody the following characteristics: responsible growth with respect for our heritage; affordability; environmentally considerate; increased green space, parks, trails, and active transportation; safe, clean, protected, and planned contingencies against the unexpected or disaster; community engagement, support, caring, and being good neighbours to one another; solid municipal financial stewardship; superior collaboration with administration, other levels of government, and local industry and business.
In short, we can work toward ensuring our children and grandchildren are healthier, happier, and safer in the future, even as we now enjoy those benefits in the present.
Any link to an election website or social media account: LinkedIn Professional profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rickschroeder/
Facebook Ward 6 page: https://www.facebook.com/RickSchroeder.CW.Ward6