For the benefit of our wonderful readers, we have an interview with Cleopatra Gooden-Simms, a candidate for Brampton's wards 3–4 who is young, intelligent, and aware of the requirements of the current generation as well as the challenges facing our city and council. editor
Is our downtown and Main Street thriving in your opinion? And if not, how would you propose we fix that?
I do not believe that Brampton’s downtown core is presently thriving. The businesses that operate in that area were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and they are still on the road to full recovery. I would encourage residents to buy from our local businesses as much as possible. In addition, the downtown core needs quite a bit of revitalization. The infrastructure both above and below the ground is aging and starting to crumble in some areas. As such there would need to upgrade some properties and replace sewers and water mains.
More than 700,000 people reside in Brampton, one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, together with 75,000 enterprises. The skills that Brampton residents bring with them makes the City poised to becoming top innovators in the technology and environmental fields. As such, one of the areas that I would emphasize is the creation of hubs that can house this innovation. Funding is available for this and other revitalization projects but due to the inaction of past councils this was not yet accomplished. If I am elected then I will be the Councillor who would champion revitalization and innovation in the downtown core
What’s more important for our city right now: building new homes and commercial space or renovating/expanding/better using our existing homes and storefronts?
I believe that a combination of both building new homes and commercial spaces and renovation is possible. Those two activities do not need to be separated and both of those types of projects are needed. The revitalization initiatives would require that we improve/renovate our existing structures but the fast growth of our city would demand that we also build new and affordable homes and commercial spaces so that people will have more opportunities for improving their quality of life. I have access to investors and funding sources in the public, private and not for profit sectors that can assist us in having both of those options for the betterment of Brampton residents.
How do you feel about our city’s transportation options? DO ALL OUR RESIDENTS HAVE AFFORDABLE TRANSPORTATION? If not, what will you do to improve city transportation?
It would be good for Brampton if the frequency of buses is increased in a number of areas across the city, especially during peak hours. Brampton residents have also requested better connectivity with other cities such as Mississauga and Toronto through buses and even rail. One resident, for instance, told me that it takes him almost two hours to get to his job in Mississauga between the long waits for buses. He said that he’s not in a position to purchase a car or afford taxis but if he was able to drive himself to work the same journey would have taken him less than 25 minutes.
There are some options that are being evaluated that I would support such as the Queen Street BRT. It is important that people are able to get moving when they need to get to work, school and other activities in order that our City will thrive.
As it relates to the cost of transportation, I do not believe that it is affordable for all of our residents. There are initiatives such as “low-income Brampton passes” that reduces the cost for travel by 50% for those who apply and qualify. But even that still leaves some residents unable to afford transportation costs. One of my platform areas is poverty alleviation and qualifying families can benefit from income and transportation supplements from funding that is already in place for such initiatives that were not being utilized. There is also funding available for re-training so that our residents can obtain better jobs that can assist them with affordability in the future.
CERTAIN MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY HAVE OBSERVED THAT WE CONSTANTLY SUFFER FROM TRAFFIC ISSUES. WHAT OPINIONS DO YOU HAVE ON THE MATTER? HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE THE SITUATION OR RESOLVE THOSE CONCERNS? / WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO ADDRESS THEM?
I agree that we do have traffic issues in our community. These traffic issues include high traffic volume, speeding and lack of attention to neighbourhood safety by some drivers on the road.
These issues can be addressed by speed bumps, speed display boards that can display the approaching speed of motorists, roundabouts which slows traffic while allowing for a free flow of traffic and vehicle activated traffic calming signs which are solar powered and display the words “slow down” when a driver exceeds the speed limit. Importantly, we’ll need more “Watch for Children” signs and crosswalks. There is also the need for more automated enforcement in some areas. In the longer term we can continue the expansion of roadways to further address traffic issues.
What three steps would you take if you were elected to put our city’s finances on a better footing?
One of the first steps that I would take would be replace the financial oversight that had been removed by a previous Council. The City’s finances needs checks and balances and should show accountability. It is reported that after financial oversight was removed that the City moved from a Triple A (AAA) credit rating to being hundreds of millions in debt and so that would need to change.
Secondly, there are funds that are earmarked for various projects such as the revitalizing the downtown core and for income supplements that have not been utilized because of the divisiveness and lack of action that existed in the previous City Councils.
Thirdly, I will work with whoever else is elected by voters in Brampton to ensure that my mandate that is given to me by the residents in accomplished.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU PLAN TO INCLUDE LOCALS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR OUR TOWN?
I support an open and accessible government. This provides accountability and shows everyone that their opinion is valid. I would encourage our residents to apply to join committees that make recommendations to Council. The Council will make final decisions on issues that are presented to them. If you want to have your suggestions reviewed by Council then you would complete a delegation request form from the City Clerk’s Office so that you can be added to the schedule for a committee meeting. Our residents are also invited to attend Council meetings; the Agendas are usually shared on the Fridays before each meeting.
On Election Day please come out to vote for Cleopatra Gooden-Simms as the next Brampton City Councillor for Wards 3 and 4. My platform areas are crime reduction, planning and housing development (including low-income housing options), transportation improvements, poverty alleviation/job creation, improved healthcare services and facilities, improved by-law enforcement and property standards, tax affordability and fiscal restraint, environmental improvements etc. The next opportunity to vote will be on October 14-15 and October 24, 2022, will be the last chance to vote. Come out in your numbers to support Cleopatra as your next Brampton City Councillor so that we can make some positive changes in Brampton and work towards improving our city for our benefit and the benefit of future generations.
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