In conversation with Matt Gaiser

The Journal sits down with municipal candidates for the Sydenham District

Credit: 
Journal staff

Why are you running?

Last spring, I was looking for an apartment to rent and [had] a very difficult time either getting landlords to call me back or getting to the apartment before someone else already rented it. I found Kingston has the lowest vacancy rate in all of Ontario at 0.5 per cent. One of the reasons is council isn’t bothering to approve new developments. It’s not that they’re accepting or rejecting it. They’re literally sitting on the application and waiting for it to expire. That’s unacceptable to me, because that’s causing rent prices to increase rapidly—3.1 per cent last year.. 

What do you see as the most pressing municipal issue facing students?

It’s probably the University District Safety Initiative since that’s going to affect a lot of students through their time at Queen’s and maybe even over the course of their lives, depending on how it’s implemented. As it stands, students are going to have to go to court, and in court there’s a public record. While they’re not formally given a criminal record, if employers decide to Google them, they could easily find a summons to court. They claim it’s about safety, but rules that are for safety are [first] applied consistently and [second] applied to everyone. This is neither.

How will you effectively manage town-gown relations?

It’s about finding a balance. There are a lot of issues [where], frankly, there’s going to be conflict. You consider development. Many residents in Sydenham are very against development because it changes the character of the neighbourhood. I think one way to balance that is to focus the development in the Queen’s area instead of expanding the development farther out into the areas where native residents of Kingston live.

What is your position on the University District Safety Initiative?

Rules need to apply to everyone. This one does not, and it’s also arbitrary. Where is the University District? It’s not written in law anywhere. I think that’s unfair to students, and I also think it will do nothing to increase safety because it only applies on certain weekends. If council believes and the city believes this punishment of having people go before a judge is appropriate, they should apply it consistently. 

How will you bring out the student vote?

We’re trying to make voting as easy as possible. Students [can’t] really register to vote online and get their ballots in the mail, but they can go vote in the ARC. However, that does mean they need to bring their tenant agreement, which, in my case, I’ve already lost. I think that’s true of many students as well.

What is your long-term vision for the Sydenham District?

A place that’s great for students and native Kingstonians to live.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

I do this innovation website called Mindsumo. It’s basically this website of corporate challenges that companies post, and you can submit a solution and the top ten percent of solutions win a portion of a prize pool of a thousand dollars. It’s one of the most interesting ways, I’ve found, to spend my time, and I’ve found it very profitable.

 

If you had one final thing to say to students, what would it be? 

City issues affect you—everything from rent, to bus schedules and garbage collection. These issues are going to impact your time at Queen’s. Make sure you have your say.

 

 

 

 

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