Glover in the hot seat

What does councillor Bill Glover have to say to and about his student constituents? Charlotte Yun talks politics, housing standards and Homecoming with Bill Glover

Bill Glover
Bill Glover
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Bill Glover was elected city councillor of Sydenham ward, which contains most of the Ghetto, on November 13, 2006. Born in Winnipeg, he attended Queen’s as an undergraduate student in history and moved to Kingston permanently after his retirement as a naval officer from the Canadian navy in 2000. The Sydenham ward is bordered in the north by Johnson and William Streets, in the south by Lake Ontario, in the west by Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard and in the east by the midpoint of Kingston Harbour.

The Journal: What did you most enjoy about Queen’s during the time you were a student?

The professors I had—people like Fred Gibson and Peter Leslie from the politics department—were the best part about my time there.

I still keep in touch regularly with my friend, Mike Palmer, from my time. He graduated in the same year from engineering, and he loved sailing. I remember one time, Mike and I were by the waterfront, and he said there’s one thing about Queen’s he didn’t like. That was because they had built the campus so damn close to the waterfront that made it distracting for us to focus on studying. … The location of the campus is wonderful. I have had a great time here.

What do you think are the top 3 things students should know about their local government?

First, Kingston [politics] is not different from their hometowns’.

Second, like anything, the city councillors in their districts here are their councillors.

Third, they practice civic democracy by getting involved and participating in municipal issues. Municipal politics is very much grassroots. Queen’s is a significant voice within the district and the city.

What recent issues or events are affecting Sydenham ward?

Not just with Sydenham, but with the whole city is the issue of housing standards. In one way or another, these issues in Sydenham are going to have an impact outside the district. I thought the Golden Cockroach [awarded by the AMS to the worst student landlord] was a great idea.

With property standards, they should know the city is reactive in bylaw enforcement, but it takes a complaint for something to be started. If students can bring in the bylaw enforcers, you can achieve enormous change. There’s nothing I can do if bylaw enforcers aren’t called in. If people never act, you can’t address anything by yourself.

As the representative of the Sydenham ward—where the majority of residents are students—what are some ways you could help eliminate the conflict between town and gown?

We are caught in a slice of time. Ten years ago, Aberdeen was an enormous flashpoint. ... We are seeing younger people adopt this lewd form of behaviour. People have to be told this isn’t the way you do things. It’s a dialogue with young people of any period who have to be told, “Don’t drink too much.” And many [residents] need to be told to call their bylaw officers if noisy conditions are interfering with their peace.

Certainly, officer assistance is within the means of city council. If a person is worried, then I must try and do what I can. … The police are heavily dependent on people obeying laws.

It’s a question of what you identify with and where. Where does a student at Queen’s think “home” is? I know when I was at Queen’s, I came from home that was in Ottawa. … If people don’t identify with where they’re living, are they going to go and call it home? Are they going to get involved? No—there are other things going on, and you can’t get a hold of it all.

Queen’s is in many respects a self-contained community. Students “work,” like going to their classes. Their friends are heavily drawn within the Queen’s community. Their recreation activities are met through the university. … It’s very difficult to move into a larger community and get out of your own circle.

Last year, you made statements that expressed your dissatisfaction with Queen’s students, for example, on your 2006 campaign website stating that students are “self-indulgent.” Have your thoughts changed at all since the last election? If not, why?

Probably not. My thoughts have not changed. Society doesn’t change overnight. … On Aberdeen, yeah; some were self-indulgent, but is that the fault of the student or society’s? Our society has always appropriated a “me-first” ideology. There are lots of people who are self-indulgent … it comes back to my expectations of students. What are the students’ expectations? I’m prepared to meet and talk with people, and bring groups together for civic discussions. I am their councillor, give me a call.

What do you hope and expect from students and long-term Kingston residents for this year’s Homecoming celebrations?

There are no constructive ideas with the city council being constructed now I don’t think. Last year, however, Homecoming was two separate events. It’s important we separate the one event that is legitimate from the other event that for whatever reason is party central for the large part of the country. We really don’t want Kingston to become party central for the entire country. If Queen’s is organized, and able to create space for that to control and take care of itself, it can keep the two things separate.

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To learn more about upcoming council meetings and Kingston’s councillors, visit cityofkingston.ca/cityhall/council.

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