Jo-Dee Burbach

BIO

Born and raised in Toronto, I subsequently lived in Brampton, the LA area, East Texas and Bangkok, Thailand. After earning a BA in Liberal Arts, I began a graphic design and computer training business and settled into Toronto life. After several years, I was ready to begin a family and looked for a place that would be ideal and affordable for raising children. This is how I chose Stratford as my home in 1999. I currently live in Stratford with my three school-aged children, who all attend public school and are involved in various local sports and music programs.

After years of commuting to Toronto for work, I decided to transition my design business to the Stratford area. I currently have three local businesses and I work with many other Stratford small businesses and local arts groups. I am also the co-founder and editor of Start Stratford Arts and Culture Magazine. In 2016, I was honoured to be a nominee for Optimism Place's Women of the Year award in the Arts category.

Since moving to Stratford, I have volunteered for many local organizations and groups, including Bedford School Council, Anne Hathaway reading buddy program, Community Meals, Stratford BIA (formerly City Centre Committee), Doors Open Stratford (board member & chair), Heart and Stroke Foundation (neighbourhood canvasser), Soup's On Green Team, Foundation for Education Perth Huron (board member), Cycle Stratford (founding board member) and the School Travel Plan committee (ATAC).

In 2014, I went back to university to enrich my skills by completing a Masters program in Communication Studies. My research focus was political communication and my thesis looked specifically at women in politics in Canada. I completed my MA in 2016, then crossed the stage and had my research published in an academic journal in 2017.

Some of the many things that I love about Stratford are its vibrant local arts community, a wonderful library, great dining, beautiful gardens, world class theatre, and the fact that pretty much everything is within walking or biking distance. I like to walk and cycle as much as is possible and enjoy the natural beauty of our city.

I am passionate about a variety of issues, including the environment, safe & active transportation and supporting the local arts scene. I have been involved in delegating to Council twice, presenting petitions. In 2009, working with Dr. Trish VanBoekel, I presented a petition to Council requesting that the City discontinue spraying pesticides on sports fields and in public parks. We were successful in having pesticide use eliminated from the City's parks and playgrounds.

In 2011, I presented a petition to Council to install a crosswalk across Mornington Avenue at (or near) Princess Street. Although Council decided against the crosswalk, they did proceed with one of my alternate ideas by completing a portion of sidewalk along the east side of Mornington between Delamere Avenue and the existing sidewalk further along. This has enhanced pedestrian safety in that area, especially for children traveling to and from Bedford Public School.

CONTACT INFO

jodeeburbach.com

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.

RESPONSES

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

I have volunteered for many local organizations and groups over the last five years, including Cycle Stratford (founding board member), School Travel Plan Committee (a working group under ATAC), Foundation for Education Perth Huron (board member), Community Meals (hosted by Avon Mennonite), Doors Open Stratford (chair), Heart and Stroke Foundation (neighbourhood canvasser), Soup's On Green Team volunteer, Amnesty International volunteer, and Anne Hathaway Public School volunteer (reading buddy).

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

I believe that my strengths include problem solving abilities, creative thinking, strong communication skills and persistence. It is my habit to approach an issue with an eye to finding an achievable solution by doing research and asking questions. I strongly believe in thinking creatively, because approaching the solution from a new angle or bringing together people who provide different perspectives to an issue can uncover a workable answer. My communication skills enable me to identify...[]

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

I would like to see Stratford Council become more effective and efficient in both defining and completing it's goals. While economically Stratford seems to be on a solid path, I would like to see continued improvement in the areas of transit, affordable housing and active transportation. The City did identify these as goals at the beginning of the last term, and I think we've seen various level of success in these areas Forming a citizen's...[]

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

I see myself serving on the Infrastructure, Transportation and Safety Sub-committee, the Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC), the Energy and Environment Committee and The Social Services Sub-committee. I am certainly willing to serve on other committees as well, depending on where the need might be. I feel that I would qualify for these committees because I have has a strong interest and research background in these areas, and I have an understanding of what each...[]

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 cycle, walk and use my car to get myself and my family around within the city. When traveling outside of Stratford, we mainly use a car and occasionally use Via Rail. I strongly recommend that we improve our active transportation infrastructure, focusing on creating safer networks for pedestrians and cyclists. Sidewalks that suddenly end or are non-existent on major arterial roads and collector roads are a safety hazard and discourage people from walking in...[]

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

I would like the Cooper Site to be a vibrant, community space in 10 years that is accessible to all community members. A new YMCA, public outdoor sports facilities, a community center that includes the Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association, a performance space for local arts groups and a Grand Truck museum highlighting the property's history are on my list of preferred community uses for the site. I would be very disappointed to see the...[]

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

My objectives with regard to housing are for the City to implement programs that would increase affordable housing units in Stratford. I feel that the Britannia Street development is one good approach that should be supported and repeated, but other approaches also need to be used. Not all affordable housing has to be formally subsidized housing developments. Two ideas for Stratford to consider (already in progress in other communities) are giving property tax rebates to...[]

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

I would encourage the City to continue with the current debt reduction program and to avoid incurring any further debt. Another one of my financial priorities is to see better infrastructure project planning, with an emphasis on being aware of and pursuing provincial and federal funding opportunities. I would also like to see a reduction in the number of consultants hired to create plans that the City doesn't follow.

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 do not believe that their are any significant conflicts of interest that would hinder my effectiveness on council. The only conflict that I can foresee is in the area of Community Grants. I have several business clients who do apply to the City for a Community Grant and I would declare indirect pecuniary interest in that case. My understanding is that Community Grants are awarded annually, so I anticipate having to declare a conflict...[]

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

I have a number of ideas that would encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development.

a) Encouraging a more robust and vibrant arts community. This could include creating an arts center at the Cooper site that includes performance and practice space, as well as increasing the number of Community Grants and widening the scope of those Grants to encourage new and innovative arts projects.

b) Affordable housing is key to retaining and re-attracting young...[]