Derek Winsor (Ward 2 candidate) responds to Three Happy City Questions

1) What neighbourhood associations and tenants’ associations exist in your ward? How will you work with them to improve the sense of community and the quality of life in your ward? How will you work to strengthen existing associations and nurture new ones?

There are a number of neighbourhood associations in Ward 2. Over the years I have work with all of them in different capacities and will continue to do as so when elected. They all have their own unique needs and ensuring a good quality of life for all citizens will be my priority

2) From the St. John’s Food Policy Council and NL Eats: From the St. John’s Food Assessment people of all incomes and ages across all city wards recognized that increased income is the most needed change to improve food access, where a living wage in St. John’s is calculated at $18.85 an hour. Would you support the city of St. John’s in adopting a “living wage policy” to ensure firms contracted directly or subcontracted by the city to provide services pay their employees a living wage?

Having spent 8 1/2 years as a Program Director of Bridges to Hope I fully understand the need to improve access to good quality food to residents. I am not sure where $18.85 per hour was developed but I do know that many of the Ward 2 residents are live very close to the poverty line. If a motion to support a basic living wage was brought to council I would support it however I think it has to be much more than just a motion. There has to be some community understanding on the issue so all sectors support the motion. That would include the Provincial and Federal Governments.

3)  Consultants hired to study our transit pre COVID found St. John’s had worse transit coverage than 10 other comparable Canadian cities, and called for improvements like free transit for school students, and frequency improvements that would eventually have cost an extra $2 million a year. In addition, the city is currently drafting plans to switch to electric buses – the federal government won’t pay for more diesel buses much longer. While this will save money long term, it costs more to buy each bus, and there will be training and other costs. The city has currently chosen to cut $500,000 dollars from Metrobus’s budget, however, which seems certain to make the service worse than it already is. Do you feel this is necessary? Or would you find the money needed to implement the improvements that have been suggested?

I would agree the St. John’s Transit system is not adequate to meet the requirements of an efficient transit. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to other cities both in and outside Canada and there is no doubt we can do so much more. Will there be a cost? Yes but then you have to ask what is the cost of doing nothing or cutting back? In the big picture, we are a small city and we know we can’t have all the bells and whistles the large cities can put in place based on their large population base. However, that is not to say we can’t become a model for smaller cities and develop a transit system that is usable and efficient. We need open-minded people on council who are willing to look at all ideas no matter how outside the box they may seem.