The room was filled with the sounds of any Bomber Wednesday. The candidates struggled to be heard over the drone without the use of a microphone. Nevertheless their view points were absorbed by a patient and intent audience of students. The issue of amalgamation, appearing as a referendum on the upcoming ballet, received resounding disfavour from all but Ed Korschewitz. He chose instead to offer a very conservative and executive opinion, in favour of talks provided the budget be kept to an absolute minimum.
The issue of the Northdale neighbourhood, which directly affects many of our readers, was the topic of some discussion. Jeff Henry offered empathy for the poor living conditions and high expense to students. Stating that ''safe, affordable, well maintained housing managed by landlords you can actually find'' is something that needs to be put in place in the very near future. He also spoke very highly of the idea of a more integrated community, neighbourhoods of families as well as students. Dr. Anne Crowe also offered a very student oriented solution, while at the same time looking more to the long term. The idea of rezoning and allowing midrise complexes of 2–3 bedroom apartments to be built alongside small shopping centres to provide more student jobs received many smiling nods from the crowd. She echoed Henry's comments of a blended community being beneficial for all. Mike Connolly stated that very little could be done because the property is already owned and the taxpayers of Waterloo—making it clear that this excluded students—would not want their money going to buying up houses to rebuild. He also drove the point home that the infrastructure was not in place to accommodate these types of buildings, and the expense would be too high to do this. Korschewitz said that any attempt to improve the living conditions in the Northdale area would increase property taxes. Then reminded the audience, repeatedly, that this would result in an increase in our (the students) rent. The general lack of applause offered to the latter two candidates showed immediately that their views were not well received.
On this issue no one reasonable expects an immediate solution. However, working towards an eventual solution, even one a decade away, would benefit the future students greatly. At this juncture this is what we as students should be working towards, a better life for our successors. Saying that nothing can be done, or that the taxpaying residents of the area would not approve reinforces the fact that much of the community has a high level of animosity towards students.
This divide in viewpoints was found again in the discussions concerning public transportation. Henry openly admitting that he uses GRT services to travel to and from work daily, and that he knows that it is congested, slow, and in need of change. He advocated the possibly of beginning planning on a light rail system, which could transport large amounts of people along the main arteries of the city. He also addressed the issue that the price of fossil fuels could hold a large bearing on the availability and cost of busses in the future. The proposed light rail system could be entirely electric and eliminate this potential problem. Crowe echoed his remarks, also acknowledging the fact that this plan would require a high initial investment, but once underway would be quite affordable, even cheap. Both of the above also stated that more work needs to be done to expand the trail and bike path networks throughout the cities, allowing studets—not many of us can afford a car—to get around by more direct routes which not interfere with traffic. Connolly protested the plan of a light rail system. He brought up the points that this would involve the construction of train depots and service stations in an already crowded urban centre. Also the point of the lack of initial capital was brought up. Korschewitz brought up an interesting case study. He conducted a study in a professional environment of 100 people. He found that not one of the 100 professionals took public transit to work and that therefore there was little if any need to change the current system. This cannot be viewed as an accurate depiction of the needs of the general populace, or even the professional populace. Many co-op students work in highly professional environments and take have to take the bus to and from work.
After this debate, this writer will be casting a vote for Jeff Henry on October 25. I urge everyone who has just read the above to look into the issues addressed and cast an educated vote on the 25th. If the community refuses to accept us, maybe we just have to make them hear us. We have our chance to do this at the polls. In the words of Che Guevara ''I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.''
by Claudius Ptolemy