Charity a focus for district candidate

Local woman plans to run as Sydenham District Councillor in upcoming municipal election

Bonnie Ferguson.
Bonnie Ferguson.
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Bonnie Ferguson, the first registered candidate for the 2014 Kingston municipal elections, says she was inspired by God to live with the homeless.

Ferguson spent several months in 2009 living in her car to experience homelessness firsthand. She said religious inspiration brought about the change.

“I was called to do that by God,” she said.

Ferguson is running for city councillor in Sydenham District, the district which contains Queen’s University and the majority of student housing.

It’s bordered by Johnson St. to the north, Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard to the west and Lake Ontario to the east and south. Ferguson registered as a candidate last Friday, just a day and a half after registration opened. The Kingston municipal election will take place later this year on Oct. 27.

Ferguson said she has been thinking about running for City Council since 2010, but felt she wasn’t ready until now. Her involvement in charity and social issues led her to her decision, she added.

“I’m passionate about our city. We live in an awesome city and I’ve been involved in the community for a long, long time,” she said. However, she declined to name any particular issues facing the city or areas for improvement.

“I will definitely have highlights. There are a few things I want to champion.

“I don’t want to give those out yet,” she said.

She also told the Journal that she has no specific policy ideas that will appeal to students, but she will support anything her constituents feel strongly about. “I’m like a voice for them before council. Whatever they’re interested in, I’m interested in.” she said.

While living in the streets from spring to fall 2009, Ferguson said she spent one night in the shelter and ate at Martha’s Table along with its regular customers.

Martha’s Table is a non-profit restaurant that serves meals to those in need.

By speaking with the homeless, Ferguson said, she realized their need for dental care.

She joined the Kingston Dental Coalition afterwards, of which she’s still a member.

In addition to the Dental Coalition, Ferguson said she has worked with Martha’s Table, the Breakfast Club and other charity organizations, and the Kingston Social Audit run by the Sisters of Providence in 2010. She said that her religion is unimportant to her charity work and unrelated to the role she would play as a city councillor.

“Whether I’m a Christian or a Muslim or whatever, I just appreciate everybody,” she said.

Although Ferguson lives in King’s Town District, she said she felt that Sydenham District was the right place for her.

“When I think of that district, it has the hospital, it has Queen’s, I’m excited to work with you guys,” she said.

Ferguson is the author of the book “The Streets of Kingston”. The book was published by City Wide Ministries, a Christian charity organization that she founded. She said she’s currently the only member.

Examples of its work, she said, include feeding the homeless and handing out socks.

In one instance, she said, she helped rescue a homeless man who had stopped in the middle of traffic.

“Me and a police officer took him and got him back into the side of the road,” she said. “City Wide Ministries is really just doing good works and looking after city issues.”

Her experiences with students, she said, include one occasion when she sat in on a radio show at CFRC with radio host Rick Jackson.

Ferguson recently graduated from Limestone Education Centre at the Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Belleville, where she took computer classes as a full-time student. Limestone Education Centre offers workplace training and essential skills programs. Registration to run for city council or mayor is open until Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. It costs $100 to run for city council and $200 to run for mayor.

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