Port Elgin Ward Candidate stands for responsible government and affordable housing

My name is Katie Rice (Caldecott), and I was raised on a beef cow / calf operation outside of Walkerton. I went to the University of Guelph for a Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management with a focus on Water Conservation and Environmental Economics.

I was married in 2017 to my high school sweetheart, James Rice from Tiverton and I followed him to Windsor, ON for Law School and we then lived in Yellowknife, NWT. Throughout this time, I simultaneously worked 2-3 jobs in various fields including agricultural research, security, home restoration and tourism. Although we loved living in both Windsor and Yellowknife, it was not home. I dedicated myself to finding a job within my field of study and was extremely fortunate to be offered a position with Ontario Clean Water Agency in Port Elgin at the wastewater facility. My husband, shortly after, was offered a position as an Assistant Crown Attorney in the local area.

We have an almost three-year-old and are expecting our second child in December. I enjoy volunteer work and have been involved with various organizations including Church, Rotary, The Agricultural Society, The Reading and Running Club (after-school programming for low-income families), and The Enabling Garden (gardening programs for elderly and disabled). Currently, I attend Southport Church and am a member of the Port Elgin Rotary Club.

I am running because I see firsthand the needs of the infrastructure in this town and because like most working-class families, I feel the financial pressures of living in this community. We are one of the fastest growing communities in Canada and I am worried about development out-pacing infrastructure upgrades. I am also concerned that the working class (retail workers, restaurant staff, labourers) who are the backbone of our community, are being priced out their hometown.

If I were elected to council, I would ensure the town is prioritizing spending and being fiscally responsible. Specifically, I will act on reports and studies and listen to town staff recommendations. This includes not only listening to professional experts in the field, but also to our town staff, who have boots on the ground. I have a broad based knowledge in infrastructure, economics, environmental conservation and tourism from work experience and education. I am excellent at research and understand reports to develop opinions for voting.

What would make me an excellent councillor is that I am not afraid to seek clarification from the source or find a second opinion. I place a very high value on making in-person, on-site contact with key stakeholders on any project. An open-door policy is the best policy. I do not accept excuses for delays that cause inefficiencies and am committed to keeping project to deadlines. A report or study is only good for a set amount of time and acting on it 10-15 years later is ridiculous. At said time, one would need an updated report or study and either the project must restart, or the project would be inefficient or worse, ineffective. This creates a waste of human resources and taxpayers’ money. The need to push projects forward needs to be balanced with protecting financial reserves and this process of prioritization is what I am most concerned about: responsible development.

Another factor that would make me an excellent councillor is that I understand the pressures and factors affecting many people, from the housing developer to the environmental preserver, from the successful businessperson to the unemployed. My household is striving to enter the business class; however, we are the working class and we recently lived with the pressures of a lower income. Port Elgin has an approximately equal number of households living below $60,000, between $60,000 – $150,000 and above $150,000. We are ALL equally as important to maintain our society and I feel that the working- and lower-class lens is under-represented in council.

For example, adding levies to tax bills disproportionally affects the lower income family. Having to pay over 50% of your income for rent causes an exodus of the workers staffing our local businesses. I see that it is increasingly harder for families to just be families. It is harder to find a good paying job, harder to buy a home, harder to afford to have children. It is harder to plan for retirement and it is harder to downsize for post-retirement independent living. Port Elgin is disproportionally harder. What can we do to fix these major issues that are so complex? We can start by listening to the town’s residents, the stakeholders and following recommendations without delay that are laid out in the various reports prepared by experts and town staff. We can start by understanding and keeping perspective.

As your elected representative on Council, this is what I stand for, responsible development and affordable living.

Please follow my campaign site – https://www.facebook.com/KRiceCampaign or email krice4council@gmail.com for a lawn sign or to make a donation to the campaign.

Katie Rice