In conversation with Peter Stroud

The Journal sits down with municipal candidates for the Sydenham District

Credit: 
Journal staff

Why are you running?

I’m from this area. I was born in this area, grew up here, lived on Albert Street. My father was a professor. I went to Queen’s and I stayed. I went away briefly, and I came back. I’m raising my family here. Basically, it coincided with the birth of my first child, that I thought I should do something to help the community, and that’s how I started. I was pushed into it. I was a father of three children and I also have a job as a critical care nurse —so I obviously had a lot on my plate—but I also thought, ‘greater good, make time for this, go part time at the hospital, maybe I can help my city.’

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

Most students spend three to five years in this spot. [Y]ou don’t really get to the point where you’re engaged with municipal politics. That’s actually the underlying issue with civic engagement. On top of all the studies, it’s really difficult to get student engagement. So student engagement in civil politics is the number one issue. 

How would you effectively manage town-gown relations?

The public good is actually best served by two groups: the AMS student government—which does change over every year, but is always absolutely well intentioned; and the residents’ association, [who’re] the people in the neighbourhood that also want to be engaged. The town-gown relations are shepherded by the administration of Queen’s. The administration doesn’t have the best interests of their own students or the people of Kingston. They don’t. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the truth. The way you achieve town-gown relations is through those two organizations and you remove control from the administration. 

What is your position on the University District Safety Initiative?

I’m only [going to] give you facts. The principal and the mayor got together— ostensibly because of the result of the past St. Patrick’s Day—and they came up with this solution. It was unilateral. There was no public consultation. The AMS was not consulted. The students were not consulted. The residents were not consulted. It was just imposed from above. I didn’t have any tools at my disposal to stop it, I was unable to stop it, but it’s been bothering me ever since it was implemented. 

How will you bring out the student vote?

You have to appeal to something that matters to them. Students vote in municipal elections when they have a reason to vote and it’s really difficult. Positive messaging isn’t very compelling. 

What is your long-term vision for Sydenham?

I want the common ground between permanent residents and students to be the focus of all residents in Sydenham. I want that to be the talking point. We’re kind of half-way there. Permanent residents are very supportive of the student presence. Why the Safety Initiative is a bad idea because the people it affects actually don’t like it. It’s collaboration. You go out you meet your neighbours. You introduce yourself. You’re different demographics, You’re at different stages of life. Community starts at the very bottom.

What do you do in your spare time?

I play soccer, and my son plays with me. I have a community pickup soccer game, two days a week. It’s free to participate and everyone is invited. Students and permanent residents play soccer together with me and my son, all ages, all welcome.

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

We’re on the verge of a decision that the world will have to make collectively, if you look at the world leaders today, sitting on the sidelines will no longer be an option within this generation. It’s been 80 years since the last world war, and another will happen if it is not prevented. 

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