Carla Coles


Was born in St. John’s Newfoundland. Her family moved to Toronto where her dad found work. About grade seven her father was transferred to Kitchener this brought them to Haysville and then New Hamburg where her parents still live. She went to St. Davids C.S.S. in Waterloo but fell in with theater kids from the nearby Stratford.

She moved around after graduating, spending time in Waterloo, St. John’s and London where she went to Fanshawe for fine art. About that time she started her own business. Some of you may remember her as Stratfords rose girl, carrying her basket of flowers around your favourite bars.

Pregnant with their first child she moved back to Stratford and in with her now husband Scott. Where both her belly and her business continued to grow. The birth of their daughter Jessica also brought with it the revelation that this is where they really wanted to be. This is where they wanted to set down roots and raise their baby. Jessica was soon joined by her sister Alison and a few years later a brother Kevin.

Shorty after the birth of their son Carla was diagnosed with Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss. She is completely deaf in her right ear. This was a game changer. It was scary. It required a whole life adjustment. Normally this kind of statement it followed by “these were dark days” . But they weren’t terrible. Carla had a fantastic and supportive tribe to help her through. They were understanding and compassionate. And she had her art.

When life throws a big upheaval at you you have an opportunity to figure out what really matters. Her art and her writing became a focus. In the bits of her everyday not filled with her job as day clerk at Mornington Variety and time with her family she started to carve out time for these things. Between customers at the store, after kids were in bed, then at the cafe…. She wrote, she sketched, she painted and as the kids got older there was wiggle room and little by little there was progress. Sometimes, success isn’t a big break but banging your head against something so often that cracks form and something gives. On those small successes she build a foundation for something bigger. This year she got accepted into art in the Park for her painting as well as showing in town. She has three books out with more on the way. She is an active member of the local arts community and co-founder of O.W.L. Events & Happenings who packed the house last year bringing you the 481/2 film challenge.

It’s this get it done attitude that will serve her and Stratford well.



Each Candidate was asked to send a bio, photo and to respond to the ten questions below with a limit of 75 words per answer. We have identified any truncated content with “...[]” Please feel free to reach out to each candidate for more information.


1. Over the last five years, how have you contributed to the City of Stratford (volunteering, boards, etc.)?

The last five years were hectic, a growing family and working at the Variety Store. My best contribution to the city of Stratford has been raising reasonable kids. Seriously, a couple of years ago. I had little time or energy for anything outside of that. As those kids grew I had wiggle room. I volunteered at the library, I also could focus on my art. I had the honour of being part of several downtown...[].

2. What do you believe your unique contribution will be to council (strengths)?

I believe having someone with such strong ties to the art community would give me a unique perspective. I am a non-linear thinker with a proven track record of getting things done. I am always up for a great conversation and an interest in exploring creative solutions.

3. What would you like to see achieved over the next four years (be specific)?

Communication. I want people to feel they have a voice. That their concerns are being heard and recognized. Lets live up to our smart status. Specifically, Don’t you think it’s about time the Cooper lot ceased being a lot? We have got some great ideas, initiative and plans. Lets see them develop. The Cooper Center has real potential to be an example of what can be done. (Eventually) Connectability, let’s pursue some of the transportation...[]

4. What committees do you see yourself sitting on and what experience qualifies you for those committees?

Community services and Planning & Heritage are both committees I am interested in. Parks, Library, Recreation facilities and programs, transit and city planning are all things I connect with and want to give my energy and voice to.

5. What means of transportation are you using in the city, and/or in and out of town and what improvements do you recommend?

I walk as much as possible and if I have the gang or it’s a grocery trip I take the car. Heading out of town I almost always drive. If I can I treat myself and take the train. I do have children who bus, bike, and bug to get around town. My oldest goes to school in Sault Ste Marie and that has involved drop off and pick ups at the Go station in...[]

6. Describe what you believe the Cooper Site should look like in 10 years?

In 10 Years I plan on attending events at the Cooper Center, as an artist and as a audience member. I will walk through the doors with a bit of pride, knowing its historical importance as a anchor of the city has been reclaimed. With its active campus featuring an arts and community center, a new YMCA building, bringing out and engaging the young people, with events almost every night. The University of Waterloo building...[].

7. What are your objectives with respect to housing and how do you expect to accomplish them?

We are in dire need of housing now. We need housing to fit a large mix of situations. From aging population, retirees, students, families to name a few. We need versatile, affordable housing. We need to look at and consider what other communities have done. What works and what we can improve on. We live in a very unique city so we have to factor in what best suits our needs. We need to discus...[]

8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?

I wasn’t as confident on my ability to answer this question. I don’t have a lot of money. The people who seem to be able to best handle fiscal responsibility have advice like “Buy low sell high. “ Not my usual “Do we have a coupon for that?” But, I have managed to feed my family and run businesses and sometimes have money for art supplies so I tried to find the commonality between. What have...[]

9. How will the new provincial legislation with respect to conflict of interest on municipal councils, coming into effect January 2019, hinder your effectiveness on council?

I thought on this alot. As an artist and a writer everything gets fed into the art machine in one way or another and then I go to the part about where it’s conflict only if you profit…. And I thought “Oh, no worries there then.”

10. How will you encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development?

This is a multifaceted question; the obvious answers are create the jobs and housing to keep them here. But I think it goes deeper. You return to Stratford because it’s your home. This is the place you want to raise your children. This is your community. Sometimes, to really appreciate what you have here you have to leave. Have adventures. Get an education. Travel. A person will return to their home because there is a...[]