Get to know your new city councillors

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ALL PHOTOS FROM LONDON.CA
From Left to right: Elizabeth Peloza, Shawn Lewis, Steve Hillier and Steve Lehman.

London’s 2018 municipal election introduced several newly appointed city councillors, who answered the following questions via email:

1: What key community issues are most important to you as a city councillor?

2: How do you hope to impact London throughout your term?

3: Do you have any goals that will affect London’s post-secondary students?

*Some answers have been edited for length.

Elizabeth Peloza, Ward 12

1: I have: Ward 12 specific concerns – such as bringing more community-based recreational, cultural and entertainment offerings to our neighbourhoods.

City wide concerns – such as traffic calming, affordable housing and homelessness reduction, reliable transit corridors, crime prevention and addiction services.

I also serve on six boards of management - Dearness Home, Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System, Kettle Creek Conservation Area, London Public Library, Middlesex- London Health Unit, and Museum London. Each of these boards deal with specific issues that may or may not have a citywide impact.

Amongst all of these is the commonality of resident safety, liveability and civic pride.

2: Groundwork is already underway to see enhancements in several Ward 12 parks. I hope to work with my fellow councillors to address the citywide concerns mentioned above. London needs and deserves progress and it’s going to take cooperation and collaboration to deliver it.

3: Ideally council will find ways to move towards long term affordable housing solutions, reliable public transit options, diverse employment opportunities and vibrant culture and entertainment offerings.

Shawn Lewis, Ward 2

1: The most important issues for me to focus on first are the neighbourhood issues. The traffic controls around elementary schools, the poor condition of our roads, those kinds of basic municipal responsibilities. Communication with my constituents will be absolutely vital and something I am committed to ongoing, on both neighbourhood issues and with regard to bigger picture city issues. I feel we need to pull back on the “big vision” items for London and get back to the basics in delivering good municipal services as our top focus; snowplowing, garbage collection, water and waste water management, good roads, parks, libraries, arenas, etc., that meet the expectations of our citizens.

2: I hope my biggest impact will be to make a difference in the east London area I represent and make people feel their city councillor is working for and listening to them. My ward has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the whole city because people have felt neglected for so long and think their vote doesn’t matter. I want to show them it can matter when you make the right choice. In addition to that, I feel that the past council wandered into federal and provincial jurisdiction too much and spend a lot of time and energy on things that had minimal or no impact (i.e., Sanctuary Cities), I want to work on getting London refocused on the role of municipal government.

3: Two items that I will be working on that affect post-secondary students are transit and affordable housing. Better transit does NOT hinge on the BRT, I don’t support the BRT plan, but I do support better transit. That includes later/earlier hours of service, smarter route decisions, even simple things like bus shelters where they are needed. London also has a huge issue with housing stock right now. With a vacancy rate under two per cent it is hard for anyone to find an apartment to rent that is both a decent place to live and at a decent price. Encouraging the building of more affordable housing through apartment and townhouse development is something I’m already working on.

Steve Hillier, Ward 14

1: The BRT is the big issue everyone is taking about but I feel homelessness, poverty and the drug problem are larger issues that need to be dealt with ASAP.

2: I hope to impact London by helping people in real time by being a councillor you can talk with and get results. Far too many people have occupied these positions and did not get in touch with people personally and actually help them or get them answers one way or another, I will change that. Sometimes people just need to speak with the person representing them and be heard.

3: If we can get the bus transit going to the industrial areas I feel that will help London retain post-secondary graduates and get them meaningful employment. We lose many people because they cannot get to work. We need transit that gets people where they need to go when they need it. Skate to where the puck will be not to where it is.

Steve Lehman, Ward 8

1: I ran for election this year as I had some deep concerns about two major issues. The BRT transit plans and the mental health – drug addiction – homelessness crisis I feel we have downtown. I represent Ward 8. When I was campaigning I found that the majority of residents also shared my concern. I want to be their voice at city hall.

2: At the end of my four-year term I hope to see in place a plan that provides a long term solution for those suffering from mental health and drug addiction. A major component of that is providing short-term shelter that leads to long term housing solutions. This is not an easy task but I believe with this as a focus of city hall we can make progress.

I also hope to see true improvement in transportation for all modes of travel – transit, auto, bike, pedestrian. As technology is exploding in this area, I hope to see London be a leader in adopting 21st century methods in moving all of us around quickly, cheaply and conveniently.

I also want to see a downtown that is vibrant and alive not just during the day but in the evening. The addition of Fanshawe campus on Dundas street plus the residential towers currently being built and being planned will definitely launch us in that direction. I am excited on how our downtown will look in four years.

3: In my campaign platform I spoke to finding ways to keep our bright young minds from having to travel away from London to find jobs. London right now is isolated in southwestern Ontario. We have to change that isolation if we want to see companies setup here. We need to see our airport reconnect with US cities on a daily basis. We also need to connect with Toronto better than the 401 or slow train. I intend to push for advancements on both accounts.