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

City hopefuls address housing

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

Three of the candidates for London's Ward 1 Councillor had a chance to appeal to student interests and address the issue of housing yesterday during Western's municipal election forums.

Incumbent Ab Chahbar, along with Gavin Morham and Lynda Smithers, were first asked to discuss how they would deal with student residence as Ward 1 contains the majority of student housing in London.

Chahbar said he and the entire City Council have been accommodating to the university's needs. "When [Western] came to [council] a few months ago looking for money, we gave them the $10 million. When I as elected in 1997 I was talking about a bus pass and now you have one."

He added the City and the university must work together and be proactive in dealing with the situation.

According to Morham, the city must work to make it safer for students to live farther away from campus. "We need to find ways for students to live farther from campus and still get to university safely," he said, adding bike lanes on major roads would enable students to easily make their way to campus.

Smithers said the City offers many potential sites for high density housing but City Council must be careful to consider all the long run ramifications of building new infrastructure. "If you're going to have student housing, you have to make sure it's sustainable development," she said.

Candidates were also asked how they would best deal with the problems of the poor and homeless in London.

Smithers explained London must not forget about the citizens of London, while City Council builds new infrastructure like the downtown arena and Convent Garden Market. "One of the most important parts of downtown revitalization is a people component," she said. "Homelessness is a problem. Abuse is a problem. I've worked downtown and seen a lot."

Purchasing already existing homes and selling them at affordable prices to low income families was a good first step, Morham explained. "I think we're going to have to find someplace where these people are welcome."

Chahbar defended council's plans to build the arena, but added residences downtown must also be established to ensure proper downtown revitalization. "The arena is not going to revitalize downtown, it's part of the puzzle to revitalize downtown."

Sandy Levin, the other incumbent seeking re-election and fellow candidate Blaine Channer, were not present at the forum.

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