Margaret Johnston, Kitchener City Councillor Candidate

Margaret Johnston, Kitchener City Councillor Candidate, is a community builder, business developer, passionate volunteer and mom. Margaret served as WRDSB Kitchener Trustee where she supported and worked with students, families, fellow trustees and staff.


MargaretJohnston-womensmarchcanada-socialmedia.pngWhy did you decide to run?

I have been a community builder and connector for many years. I was a Public School Board Trustee, am an active neighbourhood association executive member, and was encouraged by other women in leadership to take my business skills, community connections and elected experience to Kitchener City Council which is currently made up of only 27% women. That needs to change, we need to elect people that better reflect the diversity of our community. Ultimately, I am running because I have not seen my ward's diverse, and positive community spirit reflected in its leadership; my skills and experience will allow me to build partnerships and work around the table to find positive results for Ward 8 and Kitchener.

What is your favourite thing to do in your community?

There are so many! I live in an amazing community. I love doing things that involve me getting out and meeting people and participating. There are many opportunities to get involved and to do good here in Kitchener and I am involved in many community-building activities, such as volunteering with the Victoria Hills Neighbourhood Association. I enjoy discovering the local businesses that Ward 8 has to offer, such as those found in Belmont Village. Finally, I love taking walks to explore the community, especially with my one-year-old golden retriever, Angus, in lovely areas such as Lakeside Park.

Tell us about the greatest challenges your community faces?

Affordable housing is a big challenge in Kitchener. Many neighbourhoods that were previously affordable in the downtown core have become increasingly unaffordable with the building of our Light Rail Transit (LRT). As development takes place, we need to ensure that affordable housing is part of the plan from the beginning. As a member of the City of Kitchener Economic Development Council, I know that this is not only an issue for people on ODSP, but also for minimum wage earners and it is on the radar of business owners who know their staff are finding it harder to find affordable rental accommodation. We also need to address the opioid crisis safe injection sites and accommodate these spaces in our community. We are losing community members from every background and neighbourhood, and it must be acknowledged as a crisis by our leaders. I will support my colleagues on Regional Council in funding harm reduction solutions for Kitchener.

What would you do to improve women's health in your community?

I will continue to support organizations like the SHORE Centre (Sexual Health Options, Resource & Education Centre). The Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), the YWCA, Anselma House, and Women's Crisis Services. I am a strong and vocal supporter of these organizations in the community which supports women in a variety of ways and as a Councillor, I will continue to voice my support for them, which includes supporting adequate funding.

When it comes to women's health, we must also take the social determinants of health into consideration. That's why we must support organizations that assist women and their children by finding safe and stable housing free from violence in our community in addition to traditional clinic-based health centres.

What would you do to improve women's economic security in your community?

When I was a Waterloo Region Public School Board Trustee, I supported the implementation of before and after school daycare in each of our schools. This provided safe, reliable, quality access to childcare throughout the day, allowing parents the ability to work and know their children were safely looked after. This was an initiative which was hard fought in our community and I was proud to help lead this initiative along with a small group of Trustees. Furthermore, I am a strong proponent of education as one of the best ways to improve economic security and will continue to champion community initiatives which will provide opportunities for women to enter the workforce and to help them progress in the workforce as well.

What would you do to improve women's safety in your community?

As mentioned in an earlier answer, I believe in a holistic approach that combines support for safe and affordable housing with women's health and the VAW sector. Safe and affordable housing is a factor for too many women in abusive relationships in our community. There are many changes our city could make to support women's safety, from better lighting on public trails, to supporting stable funding for organizations in the VAW sector, to supporting youth education programs. It has been positive to see so many leaders from the VAW sector work with WR Police Services to re-examine how officers have handled unfounded sexual assault cases, and I believe that collaborative work should be supported in an ongoing manner.

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