By Doug Hallett
Former councillor Cathy Downer will be running against current city councillor Lise Burcher in Ward 5.
Burcher, a Ward 5 councillor since 2003, was the first candidate from any ward to file papers for a seat on council when nominations opened Thursday.
On Friday, former Ward 5 councillor Cathy Downer filed her papers to run for a seat in the same ward in the Oct. 27 election after an eight-year absence.
Downer served four consecutive terms on council before deciding not to seek re-election in 2006. The Ward 5 seat that she vacated was won by Coun. Leanne Piper, a former public school trustee who hasn’t yet announced if she’ll seek re-election this year.
Downer, who chaired Mayor Karen Farbridge’s successful re-election campaign in 2010, said in a news release Friday that she is running for council again to “play a leadership role in the community and to engage with constituents for the betterment of the city.”
As well as being a councillor, Burcher has been a director on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities since 2007. Last month, council authorized her to stand for re-election to the FCM board in June.
Burcher said Friday that she likes to be involved in the “higher level policy end” of civic affairs. A landscape architecture professor at the U of G, she said her background is in grassroots advocacy and organizing.
She said part of her reason for wanting another term on council is her excitement about what is happening in terms of downtown redevelopment.
“It is all coming together now and we are no longer just planning for it, but seeing it on the ground,” she said in an interview. “For me, that’s where the joy comes in, when that hits the ground.”
Among other things, Burcher said, she provided “key leadership” in getting Market Square built in front of city hall, and she is heavily involved in planning for redevelopment of St. George’s Square.
As for her federation work, Burcher said she was among the board members who pushed for a 10-year, $47-billion federal infrastructure program for Canadian municipalities that is set to start rolling on April 1.
Downer, who was first elected in 1994, said she served on many committees and boards during her 12 years on council.
Since leaving council, she has served on the boards of the Guelph Community Health Centre and the Guelph Youth Music Centre. For the past year, she has been a member of the city’s Committee of Adjustment. She works part-time in private practice as a mediator, and she is also a volunteer mediator with Community Justice Initiatives and the John Howard Society, her news release said.
As she demonstrated while on council before, she “has the experience and dedication to be an effective voice on council while being accessible and connected to those she was elected to serve,” the release said.
“I am looking forward to meeting with residents and groups in the months leading up to the October election to hear what they have to say about living in Guelph, their views of city hall and their thoughts on local issues,” Downer said in the release.
By Doug Hallett