Peter Stroud says he was inspired to run for City Council after the November OMB decision that ensured that his district —Sydenham — would continue to exist.
Stroud said he made the decision to run the day after the OMB appeal because it made him think about what would happen if his home district ceased to exist.
“I was motivated to the appeal for self-defence or self-preservation and now I feel like what’s happening is a movement has begun,” Stroud said, “A movement where permanent residents and students are working together for the first time in my lifetime.”
Stroud said his connection with Sydenham District runs deep.
He was born in the district — his mother walked to the hospital, which he says is foreshadowing of his activism for walkable and bike-able neighbourhoods — and he attended Queen’s during his undergraduate years.
Stroud said that he started considering the future of the community where he was raising his children after his son was born in 2008.
“I went from the big picture to the smaller and smaller and now I can’t imagine doing anything but very local things,” Stroud said. “That’s what I love about this campaign, I can have an effect on my very own neighbourhood.”
Stroud said he sees improved student-resident relations as the “holy grail in the history of downtown Kingston.”
He also appreciates the movement within the AMS, especially the Municipal Affairs Commission (MAC), to move towards a more positive attitude in the community.
“They’ve basically got a great culture of activism there at the AMS … I’m not the only on the permanent resident side of the fence that’s noticing,” he said.
Stroud said that there have always been students acting out when they go to university, but that the negative discourse coming from the politicians and residents has grown in recent years.
He said he believes that the change in attitude and relationship between students and residents needs to happen at a grassroots level, he said.
“I don’t see the generational divisions as being important,” Stroud said. “What I see is a common cause and that is harmony in the district, harmony in the neighbourhood and an end to the name calling and the fighting and the disrespect coming from both sides.”
Many of the issues that students feel the city isn’t addressing, including snow ploughing in the university district, the one bag limit on garbage and safe ways to access the Isabel Bader
Centre for the Performing Arts area affect permanent residents as well, he said.
Stroud said he keeps up with student issues by reading online media and speaking with student groups. According to him, he has a list of clubs and student groups that he is planning to contact to speak with students about their issues and his campaign.
He added that whatever candidate is elected as the Sydenham councillor, he hopes that he or she has a student mandate to bring to the table.
The “student bashing rhetoric” at City Council would be harder if there was a councillor with a student mandate in the room, he said.
“Civic responsibility is one of the most important things [students] can possibly learn,” he said. “Engage students, you have the chance to fix the city. If you don’t engage students we keep going down this circular path bashing each other.”
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