As the incumbent Ward 6 councillor Natalie Harris is not seeking reelection, on October 24, voters will elect a new councillor. Two of the Ward 6 candidates Allan Bray and Sharon Doran participated in a debate organized by Engage Barrie.
Sharon Doran worked for Honda of Canada for 30 years in different positions before retiring last year. She volunteers her time with Business and Professional Women of Barrie, Feline Fix, Ryan’s Hope and Ripple of Kindness. Her top three priorities are growth and sustainable development, affordable housing, and people including seniors.
Allan Bray, who is also recently retired, worked as an engineer in the automotive industry for 31 years. Bray has been working as a scout leader for the past 15 years. His top three priorities are to limit tax increases, to improve speeding and safety and to attract industry.
Candidates answered various questions related to homelessness, affordable housing, making Barrie a more inclusive society, among others during the debate moderated by Rob Romanek, director and interim chair of Engage Barrie.
Housing Affordability –
Bray said he would prioritize building tiny homes and converting hotels and motels into housing. “I support building primarily medium to high density housing to accommodate the planned population growth within the available land,” he said.
Doran praised the recommendations of the final report of Barrie’s Housing Affordability Task Force, which was chaired by the outgoing mayor, Jeff Lehman. Doran said she “would work with council city staff and local experts such as Redwood Communities” on three points – “collaborating with commercial property owners to plan residential intensification sites,” “work with federal, provincial, and county governments to map all publicly owned lands,” and “pursue potential hotel and motel conversions to create supportive housing community.”
Attracting Youth, Jobs and Creating Inclusive and Vibrant Community-
Doran pointed out that due to falling birth rates in Canada, young immigrants will constitute a large percentage of new Barrie youth. “We must therefore ensure that Berrie is a warm and welcoming place for them.”
To attract young people, Bray wants to increase employment opportunities in Barrie and increase housing stock. Bray said the city also needs more family doctors and he “would propose mandating the inclusion of office space for newly graduated family doctors in every new commercial or mixed use building to be provided for free until that need is met.”
Needs of Growing City –
Bray wants to accomodate the needs of growing Barrie by “making it practical and safe to walk or ride a bicycle for everyday errands.” He said the “growth can only be supported by more affordable housing” and proposed “construction of more medium and high density residential units instead of detached single family homes.”
Doran said she “will champion this official plan” that proposed “moving away from the car centric urban sprawl to greener and more livable city that offers shops and restaurants within a 15 minute walk.”