Some Woolwich candidates have a diverse view of the township’s future
Woolwich Township Council failed to submit a notice of motion supporting diversity and inclusion in the community last week.
The motion came in response to a councilor’s controversial comments about a rainbow crosswalk.
The council says the subject will be discussed again at a meeting next month, before the municipal elections.
With a new council due to be elected on October 24, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo has reached out to all current incumbents and candidates to ask for their vision for diversity and inclusion in the township.
Ward 1 Candidates
« My vision for Elmira and the community of Woolwich Township for diversity and inclusion is that everyone is someone and every voice should be heard, no matter who you are, » the ward candidate said. 1, Cheryle Baker.
Nathan Cadeau of Ward 1 also has an inclusive outlook, explaining that he is a 2SLGBTQ+ ally and teaches a course on diversity at Conestoga College as part of their community and criminal justice curriculum.
« I have some ideas of what we need to do, » Cadeau said. « I know there are already tools in the community that we could access in order to develop a comprehensive anti-discrimination strategy. »
Candidate Dan Holt said his township is « a more diverse community than some realize. »
« We want to be seen as inclusive and welcoming to all, not in spite of differences but because of the diversity of experiences, identities and backgrounds, which leads to learning about the world and discovering new ideas and ways of doing things, enriching experience for all of us, » Holt said in an emailed statement.
The final candidate for that ward, Evan Burgess, did not respond to requests for comment.
Ward 2 Candidates
« As an advisor, I defer to the point of view of the board as it is articulated [Mayor Sandy Shantz]“Ward 2 incumbent Fred Redekop said in an emailed statement. “We are committed to diversity and inclusion.”
Eric Schwindt is against Redekop as the only other candidate for the district. He has spent his entire life in the township and said he values inclusivity.
« I think everyone in Woolwich appreciates that this township is a great place to live, » Schwindt said. « Let’s focus on maintaining that. »
Ward 3 Candidates
Regarding diversity and inclusion, Ward 3’s Paul Bolger said in an emailed statement that his « duties and responsibilities…are to present [the people’s] opinions and concerns and ensure that any decision is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. »
Another ward seat candidate, Bonnie Bryant, sees the township as a place for everyone.
« Creating a culture of inclusivity is critical, » Bryant said in an emailed statement. « Woolwich is a growing community and is becoming more and more diverse. People need to feel they have a place, a sense of purpose and are valued. »
Kayla Grant, who is also a runner, has lived in Woolwich all her life and is part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
“For me, representation is really important and … there are a lot of intersecting factors,” Grant said. « It’s not just necessarily having people of color or people from traditionally underrepresented groups like LGBT, but it also includes women and different age demographics. »
“What I would like to see in a future board is a board that is more reflective of the community,” Grant added.
The titular county of Ward 3. Murray Martin did not respond to requests for comment.
Patrick Merlihan, who is a councilor in Ward 1 and now a candidate for mayor, had presented a notice of motion at a September 12 committee meeting that aimed to do diversity, equity and inclusion a must for its employees, among other things.
There was then an opportunity to adopt the notice of motion, but it received no support as such.
In an emailed statement, Merlihan told CBC News he would like to see a board committee formed to create a program with participants from marginalized groups, community-led and focused on equity, inclusion and diversity.
He said he would also like to see an additional committee that reviews equity, inclusion and diversity programs and processes for township employees.
Merlihan is against current mayor Sandy Shantz, who said his « goal is to bring the community together, not to create ‘us and them’ with a marginalized community. »
« My ideal vision is a community where everyone is accepted for who they are, and we can’t even figure out why we have to discuss it, » she said in an emailed statement. « We have a lot of work to do to get there. »