Interview with Vicky Dhillon, City Council candidate for Wards 9 & 10 in Brampton, Canada
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The upcoming 2006 Brampton municipal election, to be held November 13, features an array of candidates looking to represent their wards in city council or the council of the Peel Region.
Wikinews contributor Nick Moreau contacted many of the candidates, including Vicky Dhillon, asking them to answer common questions sent in an email. This ward's incumbent is Garnett Manning; also challenging Manning is Stella Ambler, Mandeep Dhaliwal, Daljit Gill, and Nalem Malik.
Q: List the three most important issues in your campaign.
- Property Tax Increases Too High.
- Infrastructure Deficiencies.
- Green Space needing protection.
Q: What one election issue do you feel is most relevant to your ward in this election?
- A: There are many important issues facing Wards 9 & 10 Constituents and other people living and working in Brampton. Taxes have increased significantly, over ten percent in the last two years yet we see the infrastructure progressing too slowly. Schools aren't being built in new areas, highways (410/427) remained virtually unchanged and the list grows daily. We have an ‘Official Draft Plan' for the City of Brampton. The City Council and Region should start delivering on the promises.
Q: What qualities or experiences do you possess, that make you more desirable than the incumbent?
- A: I believe Mr. Manning has been insensitive to the needs of the Constituents in Wards 9 & 10. As an example, I have seen where he has been quoted as saying City Council has done a good job keeping tax increases to the 5 – 6% range. If this was the case in Toronto, he would be unemployed as Toronto voters wouldn't be so accepting. The average wage has only increased by 3 % in the same time period. We need to make sure families can afford to live in Brampton and that they get purposeful infrastructure in place.
Q: Why do you want to represent your ward on council?
- A: I have a strong and committed desire to contribute to my community to make it the best place it can be to live and work. I make sensible decisions with the best interests of my Constituents in mind.
Q: How are you currently involved in the community?
- Current President of the Brampton-Springdale Federal Liberal Riding Association.
- Member of the Peel Multi Cultural Council.
- Recipient of a Volunteer Appreciation Award from the Peel Multi Cultural Council.
- President of the Pearson Airport Limousine Driver's Association.
- Member of the National Association of Indo-Canadians.
- Former member of the Great Lakes Public School Parent Council.
- Former member of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
- Founding member of the Bathinda Sports and Culture Club.
- Recipient of President Scouts Award.
Q: Much of Brampton's existing council is seasoned in the civic political process. What could you bring to the table as a "rookie", above and beyond the current roster of councillors?
- A: I don't feel like I am a "rookie" since I have been very involved with Federal politics for many years.
- The South Asian community now represents about thirty percent of Brampton's population yet there is no representation from the community on City Council. My goal is to be a strong voice for all of my constituents and to bring diversity to City Council.
Q: Of the decisions made by (region/city) council since the last election, which do you take the most pride in, and why?
- A: I was pleased Council put a development freeze in place. We need infrastructure to catch up and will need the revenue from increased development charges in the future to help finance projects.
Q: The Rose Theatre recently launched. What are your thoughts on this facility? Have you had a chance to tour it yet?
- A: The facility itself is spectacular but came with a heavy priced tag for tax payers. Although, I haven't been able to verify, I have heard local residents complain that local Brampton amateur theatre groups have not been able to use the facilities. I hope this facility is available for the people of Brampton, not just the elite since it belongs to all of the people of Brampton.
Q: The province has strongly encouraged the development of high-density residences near the downtown. Do these buildings fit in with your vision of the downtown? How much say should other levels of government have in urban planning?
- A: I believe that Brampton has not encouraged enough high-density housing. For a City to remain prosperous it needs affordable housing for young people, the less fortunate and for seniors. Not everyone can afford to live in a 3000 square foot house. The people who want to remain in the City need alternatives. We don't want young people to move away from the community because they can't afford their own place. I believe all levels of government have a role to play in urban planning since they all contribute in varying degrees to infrastructure and social programs.
Q: How do you feel about Brampton's rate of expansion? Council recently capped the annual amount of new development; do you agree completely with this decision, would you have slowed development even further, or not have imposed a cap at all?
- A: I have already commented on this but let me expand a little. The City lost significant revenue from development charges when they approved many more building lots than usual before implementing higher development charges. Millions could have been added to the City's revenue if we had spread out the development over a longer period of time.
Q: What are your opinions on Brampton's congestion and the level of public transit funding?
- A: Brampton seems to have been forgotten by government while other large communities like Mississauga and Markham got major expansion to transit and road systems. Brampton's transit system is one of the largest expenditures for the City but has not been efficient in serving the people. We need to improve this immediately.
Q: Why should businesses be attracted to locating in Brampton?
- A: We have a large well trained local labour force, affordable housing costs compared to other GTA communities for employees to live and Brampton is located near major highways, rail and airports.
Q: How could Brampton further itself in attracting corporate investment?
- A: Improve infrastructure (highways and transit) and keep property taxes low! We should make sure affordable housing is available so our local workforce can expand. Businesses need affordable workforce and low overhead to operate successfully.
Q: Why have you chosen to involve yourself in the political process?
- A: Since an early age I have shown an interest in the political process. I feel so fortunate to live in a country like Canada. We have to protect it. This is why I want to be a leader in my community.
Q: What does Brampton mean to you?
- A: Brampton is my family's home. My children go to school here, I work in the Brampton area and we shop here. We worship in Brampton and many of our friends live in Brampton. This is why I am so passionate about making Brampton a great community to live and work.
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