Since moving to Ward 8 / Allandale area from the GTA in 2012, I quickly fell in love with the connectivity and lifestyle Barrie has to offer. It’s the perfect city to raise a family and my two children, Jade and Lucius, and our dog Jersey couldn’t agree more. I’ve immersed myself in the community and the culture – truly living Barrie’s slogan “well connected.” I’ve taken on the responsibility to be a voice for and support those who are marginalized.
Community involvement has been a key focus for me, both on a professional level and as a dedicated volunteer. Through event planning and fundraising, I have helped to raise over $100,000 for community organizations such as the Women and Children’s Shelter of Barrie, Redwood Park Communities, and Barrie Pride.
As a 2018 recipient of the Leading Women, Leading Girls Building Communities Award, I’ve dedicated myself to improving my community and the lives of women, children and marginalized groups. This year, The Ontario Trillium Foundation chose me to speak on diversity inclusion; I was a keynote/rally speaker and MC for International Women’s Day events organized by Barrie Women and Children’s Shelter and Georgian College; I was MC for various City events including the Barrie Arts Awards and the Black History Month Women of Colour Panel; and, I was a panelist for the EGALE - Canada Human Rights Trust conference in Toronto.
I love my city, but I know it needs work to become one of the greatest cities in Canada. I feel strongly that Diversity and Inclusion, Accessibility, Affordable Housing, Growth in Arts and Culture and Community Togetherness are the key issues that need more focus from local government. I can no longer sit on the sidelines. As a City Councillor and community changemaker, I will be a strong voice for the community and many residents who are just not being heard.
Let’s elect a Council that represents the growing diversity of our community and that allows people to experience Barrie in new, refreshed and encouraging ways.
With Barrie’s population becoming increasingly more diverse as we continue to grow as a city, it’s important everyone can relate to City Council and our municipal programs. By developing Barrie’s programs, services and environment to reflect different cultures and ethnicities, we can make Barrie a great place to live. Adding a diversity lens to the services we already provide will make them more culturally relevant for us all.
An inclusive approach is key to welcoming Barrie’s new residents - whether they’ve migrated from the GTA or, like so many Georgian College students, from far away international destinations. For so many people of diverse cultures and backgrounds who already call Barrie home, experiencing city-wide focus on diversity and inclusion will be a welcome change.
Together, let’s foster a conversation that sparks broad community interest in supporting inclusion and diversity initiatives and approaches across the municipality.
Let’s become a community where everyone can afford to live, together, without feeling separated as a group or singled out.
No matter what neighbourhood Barrie residents live in, affordable housing units also need to be available to those who need it. Barrie has an ongoing affordable housing shortage affecting so many people: single mothers; young families – even those with dual incomes; people migrating from other cities; students; refugees and other people who need homes.
We need City Council to focus on this issue, on finding solutions Together, as a community, and on improving the lives of our residents. Whether it’s through increasing the number of second suites – a city-wide initiative that encourages home owners to create a second dwelling in their home; mandating co-operative buildings; or ensuring that each development includes mixed residential communities, we need to create lasting change. Giving all residents the opportunity to be part of the larger community gives everyone a hand up.
By talking about affordable housing, brainstorming solutions and putting them into action, together, we can be the change.
Let’s encourage more conversations, collaborations and support to keep Barrie’s diverse arts and culture communities strong and thriving.
Everyone benefits when the City supports and encourages the creative community. We have such a strong arts and culture community that it’s time to start thinking bigger and make arts and culture a priority.
To strengthen what we already have to offer, we need to invest in arts and culture and focus on more cultural events that reflect our different cultures and ethnicities. We can begin by partnering with community organizations who are taking the lead, hosting events geared towards arts or cultural benefit, and making community spaces affordable. Collaboration of services and information will allow more people to know what’s happening in Barrie’s arts and culture community, so they can participate, attend, and engage.
From an economic standpoint, a strong arts and culture community attracts people to Barrie. Once they’re here people want to stay, to shop, to eat, and perhaps consider making a move to live here. Incredible festivals and cultural attractions, reflecting diversity and inclusion in our community, would present Barrie in a different light.
Let’s help everyone to be able to enjoy our beautiful city to the fullest, regardless of their means and abilities.
Transit and accessibility are big issues for Barrie, and while we have made progress and some definite improvements, we still have a lot of work to do. For those with mobility challenges, travelling around Barrie during all four seasons, is difficult at best, and sometimes impossible. Winter street clearing, for example, can make getting around impossible for people using a walker, wheelchair or other supportive devices. And supporting local business is a challenge when there’s a step (or two) up to enter. Let’s all be accountable for putting some simple solutions in place to make our community better for us all.
Accessible transportation needs to be more available at different times during the day. It’s simply not fair to expect residents to head home at intermission because their last transit ride is leaving. For our large population of college students, transportation is essential for them to be engaged in our community, contribute to it and perhaps even fall in love with it.
With the right Council focus, we need to creatively overcome these and other accessibility obstacle. Then, we can all enjoy a similar quality of life, accessing the places and spaces we wish to, when we want to, and with ease.
Let’s embrace inclusive community values that connect us as people, bring us closer together, and encourage us to support each other.
With Barrie’s growing population and diversity, staying connected becomes even more important. Community togetherness begins with shared values, encouraging local involvement and working to include everyone. By connecting with your neighbourhood, getting to know your neighbours, supporting local businesses and welcoming new community members, we become strong and resilient - together.
Supporting local businesses and bringing events and activities to our neighbourhood are important parts of community building. Not everyone can attend community events when they are held in downtown Barrie. Building up community spaces in our neighbourhood and making it more affordable for community organizations to use those spaces improves our quality of life.
Local community events encourage neighbourhood businesses to meet the community and make meaningful connections, in their own backyard. We can bridge the community’s generation gaps through neighbourly inclusion, creating opportunities for us to learn from each other and grow.
Building our community together can start simply. Fostering shared community values will help us keep Barrie beautiful, bring us together more often, and make Barrie feel more like home for everyone.