City Council Candidates survey

Survey Questions sent to each candidate:

1) How often do you ride a bicycle? For what purpose? Recreation? Commuting to work? Other? How often do you/your family use the city’s multi-use trails?


 2) From your reading of the Stratford 2014 Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, would you support:

    a)  accelerating the implementation (and any needed changes) to that plan?

    b) implementing the plan as it is written?

    c) doing nothing on active transportation in the immediate future?

    Please briefly explain your position.


3) At what level do you support the dedication of sustainable funding to building the cycling /active transportation network needed for safe cycling in our community?

   a) at $250 K per year (less than $8 per resident per year)?

   b) Less than $250K per year?

   c) More than $250K per year (e.g. over the next 15 years)? 

      Please briefly explain your position.

 4) Do you support the city dedicating a full time staff person to support the implementation (and adaptation as necessary) of the city’s active transportation plan and programs? Please briefly explain your position.

 5) Is there anything else you’d like add about your position on active transportation in our city?

Candidate Responses:

Ken Wood

1 )These days? Never. I am a senior with physical mobility issues.

2 )a) accelerating the implementation (and any needed changes) to that plan?  YES.

   b) implementing the plan as it is written? It hasn’t been by previous councils.

   c) doing nothing on active transportation in the immediate future? Not an option.

Citizens deserve access to all available transportation options. Cycling will reduce traffic congestion, parking issues, is environmentally friendly

3) It would be foolish and imprudent to state any figure at this point. Council has an obligation to be financially responsible when setting budgets and spending taxpayer monies. That said, I believe there are many grants that could be applied for, and our city must provide for all   transportation options, and cycling is an important mode to getting around the city, not only for locals but also for tourists.


4) NO. We must be careful not to build a bureaucracy greater than we can afford. I would rather favour having citizen community groups advising city council on an ongoing basis.


5) The amount of spending or resources to improve this can be small, but with great impact on improvement and citizen health. Worth doing.

Bonnie Henderson

1) I don’t use a bicycle anymore unfortunately.   I see many others riding their bicycles around our city all year round. 

2) a)  The new council will have to determine where the budget is going but I certainly support the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.

    b) Yes continue to implement it and if there are funding pots we can access then we could do more.

    c) No its important that we continue to work on this for the health and safety of everyone that could use this.

   We need to do everything we can to encourage a healthier lifestyle. If people feel more safe they will use the new bike paths and sidewalks.  They are important on every street so people can get around our city.  When we put the Multi-use trail on O’Loane from Cody Drive to Huron St. parents have said they feel their children are safe to say ride or walk to the show.  You see people using this all the time.

3) We currently have a budget line for this and in 2020 there will be more money opening up as the debt is paid down.  I think the new council needs to continue to work towards getting more done with the Bike & Pedestrian ideas and I’m not sure what that amount should be at this time.  We have a new Director of Corporate Services and he is coming forth with different recommendations and I look forward if elected to see what is coming forth in the 2019 budget.  I would support for the 2019 budget what we can afford to do without putting more burden on the taxpayer.

4) I’m not sure this is needed since we have a committee that is making recommendations to council about what we need to do next.   If staff comes forward with a recommendation that more help is needed I would certainly look at their report and support what is needed.


5) I feel staff is actively in new road construction adding space for bike or multi-use trails i.e. Lorne Ave from Wright Blvd to Erie St., O’Loane from Huron to Britannia St are a couple of examples. 

Marcus Niebler

1) I ride a bicycle about 3 times a year for recreational purposes.  When I was a kid, I would ride daily as a means of transportation.  I walk the multi-use trails often.


2) Having read that filler heavy document, I support  a)  accelerating the implementation (and any needed changes) to that plan?

 I see so many summer tourists with bike carriers on their cars. Our university population is growing and bikes become an affordable means of transportation. We need this plan completed! 


3) At what level do you support the dedication of sustainable funding to building the cycling /active transportation network  needed for safe cycling in our community?

   c) More than $250K per year (e.g. over the next 15 years)?  As our population ages we will be seeing an increased number of scooters and wheelchairs used.  We can expect an increase use of this active transportation network by this portion of the population.  So lets work hard today for the future.

4) I do not support a full time staff to support the implementation (and adaptation as necessary) of  the city’s active transportation plan and programs?  I believe we can save the salary cost to help expediate the plan.  Honestly the Mayor makes over $100K a year as a part time mayor.  This should be part of that portfolio.  

5) Nothing else to add, until after the plan is completed.  Once it is, we should be working on a plan to get every child under 10 a bicycle.  I value cycling.

Jo-Dee Burbach

1) I regularly ride my bike for three seasons of the year - I don't have a proper winter bike, so I find winter riding difficult and dangerous. I average 3-4 trips per week for doing personal errands, going to meetings and shopping. My children  bike to work, music lessons, visit friends and occasionally to bike to school (they normally walk). We rarely use the City's multi-use trails because there aren't any close to where we live or shop, or near the kids' work or school.

2) I strongly support a) accelerating the implementation (and improvement) of the 2014 Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. Unfortunately the City has fallen behind in their commitment to adding cycling infrastructure, only achieving approximately 10% of what was recommended to be completed up to this point. The plan is extremely conservative and not costly to tax payers - it really is the absolute minimum that the City should do to improve cycling infrastructure here. I would also recommend adding particular projects that would be aimed at increasing the connectivity of lanes and paths so that we have safe and logical routes around the City. Adding a patchwork to the existing VERY small infrastructure unfortunately does not do much to improve the safety and the ease of cyclists in Stratford.

3) I support proposing a), with the thought that this amount could increase, if needed, when we better understand what the future requirements are for properly connected cycling infrastructure. $250K per year is a very reasonable amount to ask of taxpayers, although it may not be enough when we consider the work that yet needs to be done. I feel that this would be money well spent. We know that improving cycling infrastructure will help all citizens in Stratford (pedestrians, drivers and cyclists), who will all benefit from the increased safety of creating a specific place for cyclists to be on the road. The more that people feel safe to ride their bikes in the City,  the more often they will choose this option, and that in turn will help to decrease pressure on our roads and parking lots.

4)I absolutely support the City dedicating a full-time staff person to support the implementation and modification of the 2014 Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan. I believe that the recommendations in the Plan are currently overlooked because it isn't any one individual's responsibility to make themselves familiar with the Plan and to make sure that it's implemented whenever possible. I also feel confident that we have the skills and interest within the existing engineering department to fulfill that staffing position, without having to hire a new staff member.

5) I see active transportation as one of the key elements that will help the City to attract and retain young people. It is important to young people that they have more transportation options than just owning a vehicle, and safe active transportation networks are a critical piece of that puzzle. How do I know this? Many surveys have been conducted, and they highlight three very important elements young people look for when searching for a place to live: affordable housing, public transportation options, and good active transportation options.

Kathy Vassilakos

1) Depending on the year and season it can be daily or weekly. Both recreation and work.

I do not use the trails as we live close to the core and the multi-use trails tend to be on the periphery. I ride on bike lanes where available (McCarthy for example) and on the street the rest of the time. My partner regularly uses the McCarthy, Lorne Ave, and O’Loane paths to connect to county roads for longer recreational rides. As a family, we tend to go mountain biking and although we have used the Old Grove trails, we tend to go to nearby trails out of town.

2) Having been involved with the Active Transportation Advisory Committee (ATAC), I support their recommendations to accelerate the parts of the plan that create continuous connected cycling facilities. The plan has fallen behind, and we need to make-up some time by prioritizing the gaps and safety bottlenecks.

Taking into account the parts of the plan that are to be done with other infrastructure projects, we need to then prioritize sections that provide cross city connections and also address safety gaps. A good example is McCarthy and Romeo – McCarthy already provides long stretches of bike lanes along the north end of the city. There is only one gap between Mornington and Romeo. Romeo is to be reconstructed in the near future and will have bike lanes running along a long stretch of the East end of the city, so filling-in the gap on McCarthy makes sense.

The creation of a ring of cycling facilities around the city with spokes through the city that are well connected and continuous should be a priority. This requires a modification of the bike plan – not in the overall plan – but in the sequencing of the implementation.

3)  More than $250K per year (e.g. over the next 15 years)? 

The budget for active transportation has been increased over the last couple years but more is needed. I think a reasonable target for spending on creating active transportation infrastructure is 2% of capital budget. For Stratford that would be between $450,000 – $500,000. Dan Mathieson is committing to $400,000 each year for the next term and I do not see any reason why we cannot do this and even a bit more. Cycling is growing in Stratford – both recreationally and for commuting to work. The demand for better cycling facilities is there and $400,000 per year would certainly create the kind of connected routes that are described above.

4)  I support dedicating staff to the active transportation file but rather than one full-time staff  person I would rather one FTE (full-time equivalent) split between Community Services and Engineering. Building active transportation requires both cultural and infrastructure components and staff from both departments need to be involved. Of course, this would require that the staff involved work closely with each other and with ATAC.

5)​ Over the last 3.5 years I have worked with ATAC on a number of projects including workshops to prioritize infrastructure, increase funding for active transportation, way finding and route creation, creation of a cycling cooperation group, and the School Travel Plan Project. I would like the opportunity to continue to build-on these projects and to see every school in Stratford have the opportunity to work with us to create a culture of active transportation to and from school.

I have enjoyed being on the board of Stratford Tourism and advocating for more cycle tourism. Stratford and Perth County are ideal hosts for a cycle tour weekend, and I have been talking with Cycle Stratford about an idea I have for the first annual Perth County Cycle Tour – Coffee, Carbon, and Culture – Fall 2019!

  • We need to continue to prioritize projects that increase safety and improve linkages throughout the city.

  • We need to increase the cycling and sidewalk budgets in order to move the plan forward faster.

  • Cycle Stratford has asked candidates if they support $250,000+/year for cycling: my answer is yes, absolutely. I also support an increase to the sidewalk budget. Dan Mathieson’s commitment of $400K for the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan is a good start. It approaches 2% of capital levy and should make a significant dent in achieving the goals of the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.

  • I also support dedicated staff from both Infrastructure and Development and Community Services to help move projects forward.

  • Finally, I would like to have every elementary school in Stratford participate in the School Travel Plan at least once over the next term.

Katia Maxwell

1)   This year, I have not been as active as I would hope to be. Prior to that, I cycled primarily in the warmer months, for leisure.  A few times I have cycled to work.  I have been known to try roller blades as well.  Our family's use of our city's multi-use trails goes in fits and starts. We may use them a few weekends in a row one year, then maybe just once the next year.  As the children grow and became busier, those outtings become more sparse however, they are still included in what we do as a family to share time together.  My children do use bikes, long boards, roller blades and walking to get to work, go out with friends and get to school on a regular basis. One of them talks about making to Goderich and back some summer!

 2)   From reading the Stratford 2014 Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, I would support accelerating the implementation.  When we look at the documentation around healthy active lifestyles and the impact on personal health, community health, health costs and mental health, it makes sense to commit and to move forward in a meaningful way.  Cycling in Stratford should be a valid alternative mode of transportation in this community.  We are the perfect size and have the routes for that to happen.  Looking at Affordable Living and Improving Community, I see cycling and multi-use paths as part of the foundation to support those two areas. 

3)   I would support what was supported in 2014 - $350K per year understanding that is for truly re-shaping the city. At the low end, at least that figure of $250k you offer as an option. However,  we should continue to explore funding, research new ways to reach our goal earlier. Twenty years is a long time to wait for a truly, bikeable city when we are facing high levels of health issues from senditary lifestyles, not to mention rising poverty levels. We need committed action now.

 4)  I would support the City of Stratford making active transportation part of someone's job responsibilities.  I do not feel that position, for our needs, warrants a full time position. I do believe it needs to be assigned and that staff person is fully engaged, meeting targets, reporting up and to Council and the community.  If someone is not dedicated to active transportation at the staff level, there is no real credibility to what the city says it will do, nor is there accountability to follow up as I would suggest we have seen with the plan from 2014. The ATAC report card from 2016 shows less than 10 per cent of the 110 km of the routes planned were in place. The total investment to date as fallen short by hundreds of thousands of dollars. To me that indicates, active transportation is not being taken seriously. 


 5)  I feel active transportation options are key to Affordable Living options and Improving Community - 2/3 of my platform points.  We need safe, well marked, well lit, accessible routes.  Mutli-use paths, and being able to bike or to work can make a difference as individuals and families grapple with the expense of living here. Improving Community - all the research points to health benefits, environmental benefits and economic benefits - cycling makes good sense.   


Thanks for this opportunity -


Danielle Ingram

1) I cycle mainly for pleasure, or when I have a few extra minutes to get where I need to go, without having to drop a child off, or pick a child up.  I have cycled to get groceries, using the bike trailer to place groceries in. I use the City’s multi-use trails often, as I live in the O’Loane and Huron St area of the City.  My son also bikes to school each day when the weather is cooperative. 

2) I support a variant of option A.  I believe that when road re-surfacing projects or re-construction projects are being completed, a complete street should be created.  This would include either a bike lane, or a multi-use path, boulevards, pedestrian sidewalks (if not a multi-use path), and the travelled vehicular portion.  It seems like a missed opportunity to have the contractor, equipment, and materials available for one project and not complete another piece in the exact same area.  The variant piece to the Master Plan is that this may require some priorities to be shifted, or re-aligned to coincide with these projects.  It would not mean that the Master Plan would not get completed, only in a different order.  Depending on budget capacity, this may keep the completion of the plan on track, or may accelerate it.  Until it occurs, we won’t be able to say. 


3) I would support option A with the caveat that each year, the amount would be dependent upon the project to be completed within the budget year.  At budget, if the projects for the year, were less than $250K, and the amount remaining would not completed anything of value, I would support that.  If the projects for the year were slightly more than $250K, and brought value, I would support that.  I think that keeping in mind the reality of no singular combination of projects coming in right at $250K, it is hard to hold a strong line on that number

4)  I would not support a full time staff person for the implementation and adaption of the plan.  I’m not confident that there would be enough work to support the need for this position, and with other City departments struggling to keep their heads above water, staffing is a sensitive issue.  I would support a part-time position that also works on other priorities within the team where this position would be placed.  It would provide some support for the Master Plan, as well as relief help for other departments.  I would not be concerned that the role of providing staff support for the Master Plan would become buried, as involved with the Active Transportation Advisory Committee would keep this person on task and moving forward

5)  I’d like to see Active Transportation referred to as more than walking and cycling.  These may be the two main modes of active transportation thought of, but they are not the only ones.  I feel that the others are rarely referred to.  In-line skating, skiing, skateboarding, wheel chairing, and even canoeing or kayaking, are all considered Active Transportation

Cody Sebben

1) I cycle for recreation with my family and also as a commute to work from time to time. Though I'm sure this is the case in many cities, I do feel that cycling feels quite dangerous and that certainly affects how often we cycle. We don't often use the city's multi-use trails because we find they are located far from where we are going, so cycling much out the way to use them makes little sense (we live fairly central in the city). This is definitely one of my criticisms of the Bike & Pedestrian Master Plan, in that it sees people cycling further to use the trails, which for people commuting is not likely to be practical.


 2)  Absolutely. I am quite critical of the plan for a couple of reasons, one being the fact over half of the kilometers in the plan consist of simply putting up a sign on the side of the road, with no change to the road or sidewalk -for me this is not good enough. Improvement and acceleration, definitely. I know that many people are craving and hoping for a way to cycle through Stratford in a safe and effective way. To me, Stratford has always had all the perks of a big city except an effective cycling network. My goal is to change that by supporting improvements.


3)  This is a tough question to answer directly as I would need to know what is being received for the expense. However, this is something that I feel could be budgeted for and implemented accordingly. I do support change and understand it costs money, but am unable to commit to an amount until I have a deeper understanding of what would be proposed.

4)  Again, I would support this position full time if I knew more about the need for a full time staff member. I do support the hiring of someone to implement this plan, and it would most likely happen on a contract basis. We need to have someone committed to this because I feel for too long it has been on the sidelines, so having a dedicated staff member would help to ensure the project moved along as it should.


 5)  I know Stratford can do better to implement a cycling network, what we need is a plan that offers more. For me, I look at cities like London and St Mary's with envy and admiration. We need more initiative and creative thinking within city council. We also need more regular input from citizens, which is why if elected I plan to host monthly forums with the public to come ask questions and provide feedback in an informal setting. I believe this will help bridge the gap of accessibility to council and allow for much constructive conversation around all issues, including cycling in Stratford.

Thank you again,


Dan Mathieson

1) I would/do recreationally, as well as for exercise ride my bike 4-5 times a week.   My family and I have used the trails in the past, but are not regular/frequent users.


2) I would support continuing the implementation of the Master Plan as is and feel at year 8-10 of the Plan’s implementation it should be reviewed thru a public process and to calibrate the next phase of implementation.  However, I would advocate/vote for Council to include an annual contribution for the next term of Council to be at least $400,000 per year towards the implementation of the plan.  This amount is above our current five year average annual contribution towards the implementation and would begin a foundation for which to build on, and when feasible to begin indexing it at the rate of inflation to keep pace with the city’s budget.


3) As the per my statement above the annual funding level should be $400,000 for the next 4 years and my thoughts are that a planned review take place at the 8-10 year mark  and that time indexing of the annual amount should be considered, as well as the progress to date.   


4) I do not feel a staff person should be added to specifically manage the plan, it should fall to staff in the recreation and infrastructure departments to advance the project collectively.  Using monies to hire staff will not get the of number projects completed any faster and will divert needed funded from project funding.


5) Stratford needs to continue implementing the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan and dedicate annual established funding for the Plan.  This will allow existing staff within the recreation and infrastructure departments to plan multi year projects with dedicated and known funding amounts.


Sincerely, Dan

Don Robinson

1)  I ride a bike at work to get around as I’m all over the plant and occasionally around town. My family does not use the multi use trails.

2) I would (A) accelerate the implementation to the plan because, I believe that all roads should have bike lanes.


3) I believe that (C) more than 250K per year over 15 years because,  you cannot put all the bike lanes in in one year. You have to do it when you restructure the road so that it is wide enough to handle the added lane.


4) I do believe that we should have a full time staff member in charge of all areas of transportation in Stratford. As we stand today our transportation does not work for the people living here.


5)  We need the transportation to work for everyone that lives here, because not everyone can afford a vehicle with how high the cost of living is in Stratford.

Thank you

Kevin Silver

 1) I ride periodically for recreation.

     We would use them when we have young company.


 2)  I would support implementation of an active transportation plan, but would suggest that the new Council receive input as       to  updates required, now that it is 4 years after the Master Plan was completed.


3)  Sustainable funding may be appropriate in order to build the cycling/active transportation network, but this would have to     be addressed during  the budget process, in order to determine what level may be feasible.



 4)  An update to the original plan may help to determine the staffing needs, which would then have to be addressed in terms   of  funding.


 5)  There is no question that this is an important issue in order to meet the needs of Stratford residents in the future, as well as   a potential way to expand tourism into recreational areas.  Developing a premier active transportation system would be  in  keeping with Stratford’s tradition of being a leader in City Life and the Environment.   

Rebecca Reeve

1) I am not a cyclist. The majority of the time I walk and use the trails in town for running. I will be honest, that I don't feel confident riding a bike in this community as I almost get hit on (at least) a weekly basis when crossing the street( always at designated crosswalks). The safety of my child is my priority and I feel it would be jeopardized if I chose to bike instead of walk. 


2) A)I am a person who is passionate about health and fitness so I am in favour of our citizens increasing their health in any way. A concern that I feel would need not be addressed with the 2014 Masterplan is making sure that it is current and suits the needs the city currently has. Because it has already been delayed, some changes may need to be made. 


3) c) as far as I know, the city is behind in paying the active transportation initiatives and has also missed grant money. I think if the city is trying to work with a charity, it needs to be consistent and on top of their committments. 


4) I feel as though that position would be an asset to our community. Somebody who could go into schools and advocate for bike and pedestrian safety. Somebody who could work alongside parents and the community, as well as encourage active transportation and pedestrian safety for our visitors. They could also work alongside other committees and subcommittees with related issues like transportation, local Social Services and schools promoting healthy living. 


5) I would also like to see bike racks added to all of the buses. Many people are able to bike part of the way to their destination and must leave their bike unattended. I believe allowing people to bring their bikes with them would also reduce bike theft in Stratrord.

Dave Gaffney

Leisure and Active Living – Stratford has a variety of facilities to support active living. As the community evolves, these facilities and programs will need to develop. I will be responsive to the evolving needs of the community.

The following candidates did not respond to our questionnaire:

           Tom Drake

           Andrew Fraser

           Brad Beatty

           Graham Bunting

           Tom Clifford

           Carla Coles

           Shannon Dyke

           Greg Evans

           Dan Graver

           Frank Mark

           Martin Ritsma

           Dan Wettlaufer

           Gezahgn Wordofa

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