Sydenham district candidates debate student issues at Queen’s

Candidates share solutions to community issues

Clockwise from top left: Peter Stroud, Conny Glenn, Paul Charbonneau, Rami Maasarani.

Candidates in Kingston’s municipal election were given a chance to share their platform and goals with students on Wednesday.

A virtual Q&A forum was held on Oct. 19 by the AMS and SGPS via Microsoft Teams that showcased candidates running for Mayor, as well as for Williamsville and Sydenham District Councilors.

The forum aimed to help the community hear from candidates to inform them prior to the municipal election on Oct. 24.

Williamsville district candidates Annette Burfoot, Vincent Cinanni, and Ian Clark discussed their initiatives and answered questions in one session, and Orel Nimelman spoke briefly as a candidate for the Portsmouth district.

The Sydenham candidates Conny Glenn, Rami Maassarani, and Peter Stroud answered various questions, from affordable housing to environmental initiatives and providing support for students. Paul Charbonneau was absent.

Conny Glenn is a registered kinesiologist by practice, who has owned her own business for 25 years. She sees Queen’s students as an “integral” part of the community after living in Kingston for seven years.

“Kingston is a wonderful place to be,” she said. “My pledge to the students that are here is that I will represent you fairly.”

Glenn said she’s dedicated to providing opportunities for student gatherings and licensing landlords for housing.

“The housing situation for students is abysmal,” she said.

According to Glenn, safe and affordable housing is the way to ensure students live in clean and healthy environments.

Her response to improving and advancing the City’s environmental goals includes the vision of a 15-minute city and 100-kilometer diet: where everything necessary is walkable in 15 minutes, and food is sourced within a 100-km radius.

She recognized the challenges university students face regarding mental health, saying it’s been overlooked. She said she’ll advocate for greater support.

Rami Maassarani completed his undergraduate and master's at Queen’s in civil engineering and has since worked in neighboring municipalities as an environmental engineer. He’s currently involved with Queen’s as a varsity rowing coach, and in sponsoring design projects and engineering projects.

“I’m running in this election because Kingston is my home and I want to give back to the community,” he said.

Students aren’t “immune” to the issues in Kingston, according to Maassarani—whether that be increasing cost of groceries, rent, or tuition. He said it’s important for students to have a voice to represent them in City Hall.

In terms of housing, Maassarani is campaigning to increase the density of student housing near campus. He said it’s important for students to understand their rights as tenants.

“[I want to] make sure students have the resources they need to understand what their rights are as tenants,” he said.

His environmental goals combine social, economic, and environmental benefits by trying to use the research Queen’s has conducted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and push the city to go carbon neutral.

“[I want to] help you fall in love with Kingston just like I did [...] I will do everything to work to make Kingston better for everyone,” Maassarani said.

Peter Stroud was also a Queen’s student. His father was a professor, and he still rents an apartment in an area with many students.

Stroud has been part of the Sydenham District Association (SDA) for many years and was a part of the double tree canopy project to attempt to double the number of trees in 10 years. Since he was elected, he said he’s been advocating for student rights and representation.

For those at the lower end of the housing market, Stroud aims to work on creating balance.

“I not only represent students; I also represent tenants,” he said.

Stroud said he models a sustainable lifestyle by walking or biking places. He’s previously taken on sustainability projects within the SDA.

“I don’t like to make promises; I like to show people what I’ve already done,” he said.

Stroud wants to change the “student-bashing rhetoric” he said is currently in place at City Hall.

“Some of the draconian changes and bylaws happened under the Mayor [Bryan Paterson’s] guidance. District representatives [...] were not consulted. I don’t think threatening students with gigantic fines is productive,” he said.

The Sydenham candidates discussed issues around voting in polls on campus, food bank initiatives, and daycare provided for students with children.

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