ward 6

An Offer Of A Warm Cup Of Tea

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Tonight while canvassing, I was tired and cold; no biggie – it happens, but I was hoping the universe would show me a little love to cheer me up … in some way – because it usually does. (Stay tuned – it certainly did). My volunteers had carried on with their evenings, but I was determined to deliver some more literature. So I walked, like I have been for many months, around my ward, handing out mini resumes that hang on doors sharing why I should be your next Barrie City Councillor for Ward 6. Tired or not, I was pushing on. It’s what I have done in the scorching heat, in the pouring rain and in the confusing month of October that likes to be hot one second and freezing the next – don’t get me wrong October, I normally love you, but on this night we weren’t best pals. I digress…

Regardless of my comfort level on my walks around the ward, I always push on, and I always find some joy in it and I am never ceased to be amazed by the kindness and generosity of my neighbours – ones whom I haven’t even met yet, but who seem respectful of the task in my hands and the running shoes on my feet, and on this day I was not disappointed.

I had made it up a hefty hill, and I was met by a young lady who was taking the groceries to of her trunk – she was clearly busy, but took a moment to say hello and to allow me to introduce myself. And then as I walked away she called my name again and said, “why don’t I put a tea on for you? You seem cold.” And just like that, all was right in the world again. I graciously declined, as I had a deadline to meet, but I will meet up with her when the election is over to enjoy a lovely tea together. I made sure to tell her that she made my day. I told her that in all of a moment she once again reminded me why I am doing what I am doing – I’m running for the people. The amazing people. You all give me hope, and I endeavour to return that to you.

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Thank You Zach Makes Tracks!

Thank you so much Shelley Roberts-Hofer (mom of Zach, from Zach Makes Tracks) for this beautiful endorsement:

Councillors provide a bridge between the council and the community. They have tenacity and the desire to represent their constituents as fairly and completely as possible. I believe this takes incredible strength – and that Natalie Harris HAS that strength. Her commitment to follow through, even in the face of adversity, climbing up mountains, is what will make her an dedicated Ward 6 Councillor. Her experience with one of the most important current issues – Mental Health – and her dedication to local, provincial and federal initiatives (including her unwavering support for Zach Makes Tracks) clearly shows she has her hand on the pulse of what’s truly important to all community members. Her grace and patience will be the power to see EVERYTHING through. I may not live in Natalie’s ward, but I’d absolutely want her representing at my city council.

ward 6

All Candidates Accountability Assembly

Great night at the All Candidates Accountability Assembly. Thank you to Colin Nelthorpe for attending so that I wasn’t the only ward 6 candidate there – you are a shining light for our future my friend.

The format of the evening revolved around five statements put forth by various agencies and organizations. These statements are as follows:

From the Simcoe Alliance to End Homelessness – Barrie Chapter:
1. If elected, I commit to championing a Housing First approach to ending homelessness in our community and upholding housing as a fundamental human right as outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. I will do this by supporting municipal bylaws, policies, and procedures that protect those rights, including creative planning and investments in affordable housing that include options and choice for marginalized populations.

2. If elected, I commit to ensuring that affordable housing is defined as “housing for low- to moderate-income households which does not exceed 30% of the gross household income,” and enforcing this definition in all relevant policy documents, strategic planning, and affordable housing targets as outlined in the Simcoe County Affordable Housing Strategy 2014-2024.

From the Simcoe County Poverty Reduction Task Group:
3. If elected, I commit to support the City of Barrie in becoming a certified living wage employer and promoting living wage.

From Grace United Church and KAIROS:
4. If elected, I commit to ensuring that affordable, accessible transportation is made available to all residential, business and industrial sectors in Barrie as this is essential to a healthy, sustainable and robust community. Public transportation is a vital service required by all levels of society, particularly those residents affected by isolation or by distance from employment, food sources, social services, housing and medical assistance.

From the Gilbert Centre:
5. If elected, I commit to reviewing the evidence presented to Barrie City Council in June of 2018 by the Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services, which clearly demonstrates that the City of Barrie has an Overdose Crisis. I commit to support an OPS (Overdose Prevention Site) as an immediate response to our Overdose Crisis within the City of Barrie. If it is shown that an OPS is contributing to the prevention of overdose deaths, then I will support the implementation of a permanent SIS (Safe Injection Site) for the ongoing prevention of overdose deaths within the City of Barrie.

Here are my responses to these important statements:

  1. According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, “Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance”. In my opinion, public miseducation and negative views attached to affordable housing is one of the largest barriers to creating it. We must always keep the Ontario Human Rights Code in mind when planning processes are made. According to the Human Rights Commission, one way to overcome public controversy barriers is to clearly and consistently make the connection between human rights and the bylaws and procedures that govern housing. For example, the Residential Tenancies Act, Housing Services Act, Building Code Act and Planning act. In general, a human rights lens on all housing matters needs to be in place.
  2. The 10-year Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention Strategy outlines steps for the development and implementation of creative solutions for increasing affordable housing for all residents in Simcoe County. I agree to a minimum commitment of two, 685 new affordable housing units by 2024. I personally would like to see this number increased and the time to completion lessened.
  3. Living wage reflects what earners in a family need to be paid based on actual costs of living in a given community. Living wage in Simcoe County is $17.74/hr. Benefits of such a wage include, reduced absenteeism, decreased turnover – which equals lower recruitment and training costs, improved morale and greater corporate recognition. I would love to see companies in the City of Barrie adopt the living wage. I am wary at this time to say that I believe all of Barrie should do so as I am still educating myself on the effects this would have on contract workers. Of course having Barrie a living wage city would be ideal.
  4. I used public transit for years and know how essential this service is to daily life for the residents of Barrie. It needs to be safe and accessible to all. However, I have not used the city transit in quite some time and I pledge to use it for one full week if I am elected in order to begin to understand any issues with routes and services.
  5. According to the Royal Victoria Hospital, between April 2017 and February 2018, the hospital treated 330 overdoses. As a retired paramedic, I have played a first-hand role in combatting the opioid crisis – but much more needs to be done. Overdose prevention sites ensure greater public safety by reducing the amount of drug-related litter and decreasing the number of people using on the streets. Contrary to some beliefs, these sites do not encourage more people to use drugs. The people who do so are often long time drug users. Overdose prevention sites save lives and have been successfully in place in cites such as Vancouver for many years. Sites offer various levels of service including prevention education, naloxone training and distribution, offer safe disposal options and facilitate referrals to mental health and addiction services. Based on thousands of successful reversals of opioid overdoses documented by overdose prevention sites across the country, it is prudent to continue to support overdose site initiatives in Barrie.

 

ward 6

Meeting Molly

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Not an actual picture of Molly…but pretty close.

When I’m out and about in the neighbourhood canvassing, one of my favourite things to do is to meet the furry-friends so many of us call family. I have met hundreds of pets along my journey through ward 6. And today, I met Molly – a golden doodle who was pure love.

It was a rainy and cold evening tonight, but that didn’t stop me from journeying out to meet you, my neighbours, and share with you my ideas, and more importantly, to learn your ideas. I have pages and pages of them! – Thank you. And while we chat at the door, on a regular basis, this conversation often occurs:

Me: Hi, my name is Natalie Harris, and I’m a retired paramedic running for city council.

You: (While holding back a dog or two…or three) Oh, hi! (Inquisitively).

Me: Don’t worry, I love pets. I have a few of my own.

You: (Letting the dogs out…sorry, that song will be in your head all night now…lol) Oh good. Don’t worry. They are nice. 

Then, I am lovingly trampled by furry animals of all shape and sizes.

Then we chat about life in our city of Barrie, and plans for the future. It’s truly an honour to meet all of you and to share your time if even for a few minutes.

Back to Molly – A large golden doodle who didn’t bark, not once. She simply came out onto the porch and… leaned on me. Yes, that’s right she lovingly leaned on me…the whole time as I chatted with her dog-mama. Suddenly the evening wasn’t so chilly anymore. It was warm with Molly’s unconditional love. Her dog-mama even said Molly IS love; I couldn’t agree more.

To me, pets are love. Thank you for sharing yours with me. I’m truly grateful.

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My dog Walter and my son Adam