My name is Shannon Dyke and I am a candidate for city council in the upcoming October Municipal Election. I am a 28-year-old male and I have called Stratford my home for the better part of 24 years, with most of that time residing in the Romeo ward. Originally from Newfoundland, my family decided to move to Stratford specifically in search of better employment within the booming manufacturing sector. Ever since then, this community has been my home.
After going through elementary and high school here in Stratford, I continued my education down the road at the University of Western Ontario. At Western, I completed a 4-year double major and finished with a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science and Criminology. Immediately following this, I enrolled at the Faculty of Education at Western and completed my Bachelor of Education in the subsequent year. Even before I left for university, I knew that I wanted to return to Stratford to fulfill my career and as fate may have it, the Avon Maitland District School Board hired me just a few mere months later. Since then, it’s been definitive that Stratford would continue to be my home.
Besides work, I find much enjoyment in taking advantage of the city’s green space and recreational facilities, along with the organizations that are organized within each. I’m an avid lover of sports and take part in several organized sports leagues here in town and play another handful regularly as recreation. This has led me to become involved in volunteering with the Stratford athletics. For several years, I coached travel and rotary hockey and enjoyed giving back to the hockey community that gave me so many memories and valuable lessons. In addition to this, I have consistently volunteered with the schools that I’ve worked at to coach a multitude of sporting teams. Prior to this, I was also involved in a number of clubs and organization but most extensively in areas such as: Western Young Tutors, Boys and Girls Club of London, and Seniors Learning IT.
In having grown up here in Stratford during my youth, and now residing and working here in my adulthood, I feel that I bring forth a unique perspective on what this community does for people and what it sometimes lacks. In being a teacher here at one of the city’s high schools, I am fortunate enough to still gain youthful perspectives on everything Stratford and it helps to keep me critical. This questioning or critical mentality is something that I see as a strength because it inherently challenges why things are or aren’t being done. In saying this, I feel as though my constant reflection and willingness to seek regular input from people is what would make me an effective and respected city councilor. My role as an educator has taught me that listening is more valuable than talking and it is this mindset that would continuously get me back to the public to answer questions.
Lastly, in the next four years I would I strongly believe that the yearlong resident of Stratford needs to be at the forefront of city hall decision making. There are 3 things that I stand for as I keep the yearlong resident in mind for the upcoming election. First is fiscal responsibility, which means seeing hard earned tax dollars from residents going back into infrastructure and public services that yearlong residences benefit from. Second is preserving our sense of community through things like open communication, community services, recreation and green space that the residents of Stratford have said increases our quality of life. And lastly business, as a means of ensuring that Stratford is an attractive place for business, development and investment to help retain current jobs, our youth and our skilled workers.
Moving forward in this endeavor, I hope that the residents of Stratford understand that I’ll always have your best interests at heart in every decision. I’m here to listen to you and I will carry your voices forward. Let me bring you back to city hall.
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.)?
Volunteered with Stratford Minor Hockey for two years and also with Stratford Rotary Hockey for another year. In addition, I also worked with the City of Stratford Parks and Forestry Division upon finishing university.
2. What do you believe your unique contribution will be to council (strengths)?
I think that being a millennial gives me a unique perspective on local policy and the way that I see issues and potential solutions to those issues in our community. On top of this, I think that I will contribute to the public in a way unlike many others by lending an ear, rather than a voice. Politicians have forgotten how to listen.
3. What would you like to see achieved over the next four years (be specific)?
Not taking on too much debt and being stricter on where the taxpayers dollars are going. Instead of looking at the next biggest development, that money should be going back into infrastructure and being spent to make services more effective for people who live here year round. In addition, ensuring that people of all ages, whether 8 or 80, have access to recreation and community services. An overwhelming number of Stratford residents see these two...
4. What committees do you see yourself sitting on and what experience qualifies you for that committee?
If elected, I could envision myself sitting on the Community Services Sub-committee and/or also the Social Services Sub-committee. For the former committee, I believe that my experience in previously working for the Community of Services Division gives me unique insight into how our assets are managed. In addition, given my experience in personally accessing recreation in Stratford, along with the value that I see in the Stratford Public Library from an education standpoint, I....
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 typically drive my car to and from work, as well as when I’m out doing errands or what not. When I have the time or if it serves as a convenience, I will also use my bicycle to get around. I definitely think the residents of Stratford have voiced their opinions on both of the modes of transportation that I have mentioned. Definitely a need for more accessible bike routes and pedestrian lanes here...
6. Describe what you believe the Cooper Site should look like in 10 years?
In consultation with the public, residents of Stratford are advocating for 1) a recreational community center / YMCA 2) Public Parking 3) Entertainment and 4) Arts and Culture. Seeing as the public has given their input, I think that a democratically elected body should help honour these wants.
Personally, I believe that the Community Hub should honour the significance of this downtown heritage landmark and maintain some integrity of the structure. In addition, I think it’s...
7. What are your objectives with respect to housing and how do you expect to accomplish them?
The province of Ontario has called on municipalities in Ontario to create more affordable housing for it’s residents and this objective is even written in the 2014-2018 Strategic Report. I think that local government has an obligation to help accommodate some of the more vulnerable residents, as our community is only as strong as it’s weakest members. I think that the city has to keep affordable housing in mind when it grants access to certain...
8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city on a firmer financial footing?
- Make sure we have better information to support strategic decision-making. This premise is built upon increasing civic engagement in the process.
- Improve the value of money. Re-examine staff and services costs as well as invest in modernizing government. Also look at funding costs and how we can effectively decrease our debt load without burdening taxpayers.
- Secure adequate and fair revenue. The city depends on revenue, that’s just a matter of the fact. Look to broaden...
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?
Quite simply, it won’t be an issue. Integrity is everything so if I say that, you can trust me that it won’t be an issue.
10. How will you encourage youth engagement, retention, re-attraction and skills development?
I think that we need to recognize the diversity of all youth. Young people are rich and poor, educated and not, and come from rural and urban backgrounds. A single person cannot speak on the experiences of all youth so I think that youth engagement needs to be centered on understanding everyone. I also think because youth (18-24) are a marginalized group in comparison to the percentage of other ages, then they feel like politicians...