Volume 94, Issue 39

Wednesday, November 8, 2000


Students grill Ward 2 candidates

City hopefuls address housing

Ontario put 60,00 students to work

Ryerson getting Star on campus

US elections affect Canada

Board of Control candidates square off on student issues

Planet Me

Students grill Ward 2 candidates

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Five candidates vying for two Ward 2 City Council seats courted the student vote yesterday, by participating in a campus forum that featured questions on everything from downtown violence to student garbage.

One hot topic of discussion was the relationship between Western students and the London community at-large.

"A lot of the problems aren't with the students themselves but with absentee landlords," said candidate Paul Mitchell, citing overcrowding, noise and poor building upkeep, as negative consequences of irresponsible landlordism.

Candidate Suzanne McDonald-Aziz, said she wants neighbourhoods to formally welcome in-coming students and let them know what the rules of the community are. "I'd like to see us get into an almost welcome wagon mode," she said. "Let's make them really feel like we want them. After all, they're huge contributors to this economy."

Brandon Kirsch, a Ward 2 candidate and third-year Western political science student, said stray garbage and excessive noise are common problems.

He said he would support new weekly garbage pick-ups to make it easier for students to get their trash to the curb. He also said noise bylaws should define excessive noise scientifically, by decibel level.

"I think there needs to be some sort of objective standard," he said.

According to candidate Linda Freeman, City Council must maintain a strong working relationship with Western's housing mediation services to minimize tensions in Ward 2 neighbourhoods.

"I would say we need to have an ongoing relationship with [housing mediation officer] Glenn Matthews and housing mediation here at Western," she said.

Incumbent Rob Alder, said a big part of the responsibility for keeping neighbourhoods beautiful falls on landlords. "Landlords must be held to maintaining high property standards," he said. He added education and enforcement are necessary to ensure noise and trash bylaws are upheld.

Downtown safety was another prominent issue.

Alder said he thought surveillance cameras, better lighting and a stronger police presence were the answer. He added as an education trustee he had seen cameras used effectively to curb vandalism and graffiti in high schools.

Freeman said she supported video surveillance and more police. "I agree with increased police presence, whether bike patrol or foot patrol."

Kirsch said he would push for greater police powers. "We have to untie their hands."

McDonald-Aziz suggested a foot patrol security program modelled after Western's would reduce downtown crime.

Finally, Mitchell said although he thought a few tragic incidents have given a false impression about downtown danger, he would push police to work more closely with bar owners and would champion education programs that teach people to walk away from violent confrontations.

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