Ward 4 Candidate: Jake Rondot

Jake Rondot Jake Rondot

Jake Rondot

653 Windermere Road, Windsor, Ontario, N8Y 3E2
Phone: 519-995-6578
Email: votejakerondot@gmail.com
Website: www.jakerondot.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/votejakerondot
Instagram: www.instagram.com/votejakerondot

2022 Windsor Election Rose City Politics Candidate Questionnaire answers:

1. What is your prior political experience?

I have been working with politicians on city council as well as city administration over the past 15 years as volunteer chair and member of the Walkerville Business Improvement Association board of directors and the past 4 years as a member of the City of Windsor’s Development and Heritage Standing Committee. I was also an appointee to the City of Windsor Development Charges Task Force alongside council and administration.

From a council governance perspective, I am also a registered parliamentarian, so I have a deep understanding of the rules of order both Robert’s and Bourinot’s.

2. Why are you running?

I’m running as an extension of my community volunteerism – a sense of civic obligation. I know I have the experience, knowhow and community stakeholder relationships that will allow me to have an immediate positive impact as a councillor. Building a great place to live, work, and play is the foundation of why I have volunteered for so many organizations over the past 30+ years, from grassroots to leadership roles. I am running to represent Ward 4 because I know the opportunities available to build an incredible community.

My priorities are:

  • Neighbourhoods: Building great neighbourhoods with safe streets, low crime, accessible transit, good property standards, and housing that is affordable now and for the next generation.
  • Local Business: Supporting local business as the heartbeat of the community, from start-up entrepreneurs to helping scale up our future big business success stories.
  • Healthy Living: Promoting healthy lifestyles, from active transportation and environmental stewardship, to integrated and inviting parks and trails, and rebuilding post-covid youth programming.
  • Local experiences: Expanding arts, culture and a dynamic tourism industry, both as an economic driver and also to increase our own enjoyment of the region.
  • Economic stability: Diversifying our economy and welcoming long term, stable, and fulfilling careers now and for future generations.
  • Building smart: Ensuring the protection and celebration of our heritage buildings, balanced with the need for modernizing infrastructure to serve our future needs.
  • Youth success: Developing integrated learning opportunities for youth across our community with an eye to training and encouraging our future community leaders.

These are the pillars of an amazing city in my opinion, and I intend to work hard for Ward 4 and all city residents to deliver on these priorities.

3. What do you do currently for a living?

I have been Managing Director of Human Kinetics Canada since 2007, the Canadian arm of the leading global publisher of fitness, nutrition, sport, and physical activity. We proudly serve the Canadian market from right here in Walkerville. Our team works in strategic planning, sales and marketing, finance and budgeting, operations, HR, retail, and shipping/logistics. I work with partners across Canada; everything from big business such as Indigo, Amazon, and Costco, to national and provincial organizations such as Coaching Association of Canada and canfitpro, to independent locally-owned bookstores, fitness and yoga studios, sport clubs, and direct to customers. I have extensive business experience and acumen that prov ides a backdrop to making sound financial decision and planning strategically for our short and long-term future.

I have also been a sessional lecturer in the University of Windsor Faculty of Human Kinetics since 2007.

4. What is the biggest issue affecting the ward you are running for?

Ward 4 is a large ward and I’ve taken time to listen to resident’s concerns from all corners of it – in doing so its clear that what is a priority concern for some groups in some areas is different than what other residents in other parts of the ward would consider their biggest issue. For some people it’s the little things like a skunk trapping program, the condition of a park, or boulevard planting, while others may be focused on a more complex issue like basement flooding, a nearby blighted property, transit access, bike infrastructure, or a new development on an adjacent property. Being a councillor means finding time to address these individual needs as best as possible.

To look more broadly at a single most common concern and priority across the entire ward I would say it’s a tie between traffic issues (speeding, running stop signs, accidents, etc) and the public impacts of drug use/addiction and property crime. To clarify the second issue, I specifically did not mention homelessness because we need to be sure not to apply the same brush here to people who are legitimately dealing with economic hardship or mental health conditions and wanting for secure affordable housing and regular employment vs. the small percent of the population who are public drug users and/or commit property crime.

I would also say these two issues are applicable to the following question.

5. What is the biggest issue affecting the city of Windsor?

As above, traffic calming and public criminal behaviour are most regularly referred to as the priority city-wide issues from residents. In both cases, I believe we are just starting on a path toward solutions.

Traffic calming is a complex issue that will be costly to resolve, however the adoption by council of the Vision Zero strategy is the appropriate first step. This design philosophy accepts that there will always be bad drivers and that we need to consider road design and usage in a way that will reduce to zero the number of casualties due to traffic collisions. Yes, we can consider creative police enforcement solutions but those are a matter of policing strategy, whereas a municipal traffic and public works department can have an impact on safe driving by designing roadways to reduce speeding and dangerous driving and increase driver awareness and sightlines. Windsor’s traffic department has already begun working on the next step here which is the action plan that will provide specific recommendations for road redesign and updates. Step three will be having council prioritize this issue in a way that will allot capital budget funding towards the many projects which will be identified, and this will likely take many years. I am committed to steering funding toward this priority to enhance the safety of our streets and neighbourhoods.

Criminal behaviour such as public drug use and property crime is an equally complex issue and one that requires both policing and council support. Windsor Police Service are currently conducting public consultations to inform and update their strategic plan, and they are hearing this issue from the public loud and clear. There are many gaps to fill in which the public can play a role such as registering the location of home/business security cameras with the Windsor Police, reporting all criminal behaviour and providing police with any video evidence (not simply posting it on social media), ensuring your property is well kept and lighted to reduce hiding areas and dark spaces, and championing neighbourhood watch programs and citizen groups. I have a certificate in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and have conducted multiple CPTED walks and audits locally – I want to help educate property and business owners on these strategies. Council’s role here could be to commit funding that will support both enhanced enforcement and other acute policing strategies, as well as drug addiction treatment supports including facilities and programming.

A third and equally important concern we see across the city is affordable housing. As a volunteer citizen on the planning committee the past 4 years (Development and Heritage Standing Committee), I have personally and regularly voted in favour of rezoning and by-law variance applications which support accelerated new residential development and are appropriately situated on the property. These new housing units have been a variety of density types, especially medium and high density, and in locations across the city, with the single common goal of helping to meet the housing needs of our current and future city (1 million new housing units are needed in Ontario) with enough supply that will help ease demand and reduce pricing while also creating more vibrant neighbourhoods.

6. Are you seeking any endorsements?

I am not currently seeking any formal endorsements.

7. Have you received any endorsements?

Not from any organization, however Chris Holt has provided an endorsement of my campaign for the Ward 4 council seat.

8. Will you continue the “hold the line on taxes” policy?

I believe strongly in the fiscal importance of reducing inefficient and unneeded spending to capture additional funding from the existing budget for priority capital projects and programs. I also believe currently and in the coming 3 years due to interest rate and cost of living inflations many Windsor residents and local small businesses will struggle to pay bills and can not bear significant tax increases. My position would be to only consider small increases to local tax policy, well below the rate of inflation, and only where it is needed to help position Windsor for a successful future. We must be sure not to allow our foundational assets and services to erode, such as roads, storm water management, transit, social supports, policing and emergency services, and of course supporting health care and education (though those are provincially legislated services), while also playing catch-up in modern city amenities and infrastructure.

9. Do you support the mega-hospital location?

First, I absolutely support Windsor’s 10% contribution to the funding for the mega hospital project and of course will advocate ensuring the hospital is funded and built on time.

Do I like the new site, no, but I didn’t like the GM or Walmart sites either because of limited local road access. I’ve seen the size and complexity of these buildings across Canada and they are islands not community-integrated facilities. In my opinion the ideal location would have been the Zalev property in a land swap that moves the metal recycling facility out of the core and into an industrial area closer to the 401. For a hospital, that Zalev site is a perfect location triangulated by 3 arterial roadways (EC Row, Dougall, and Howard) that all easily access the county, and it is abutted by existing commercial properties which transition across those arterial roads to residential neighbourhoods in all directions. It would have replaced maybe our biggest eyesore in the core, while also forcing the hospital itself to be more energy and operationally efficient (tower build instead of the lower sprawled wings needed adjacent to an airport). Finally, and because the land would need to be remediated very deeply anyway, it would have allowed for underground parking instead of more paved green space at any other proposed site. That said however, I would advocate strongly in favour of building the hospital without any delay in the process.

As a process I feel there are some key deliverables we can advocate for going forward.

  • I would like to ensure our local and regional consultation process for significant investments such as this are fulsome, inclusive, open to suggestion, and consider Community Benefits Agreements. Citizens play the role of future funders and users of our hospitals, libraries, schools, recreation centres, and other government-funded facilities.
  • As a municipality we must lobby to take ownership of abandoned government sites such as Met hospital, the Grace site, the former jail, etc. Allowing large institutional facilities like these – which are extremely difficult to repurpose – to sell immediately to private owners can result in the property being undeveloped for long periods or not optimally developed. Taking ownership would allow the city to service, parcel, and rezone it according to a site development plan, and then sell the parcels to private developers who already know the building/usage type planned for each individual parcel. Working with the Ministry of Health to create a Community Benefits Agreement for the new regional acute care hospital is a way to ensure this happens.
  • Total health care service and beds: Our population is increasing and slated to continue to increase so we should not replace our existing hospital care system in 10 years with less or even the same number of beds and level of service available today – the build should accommodate immediate and future growth projections in the regional population. I would ask council to lobby the province to ensure projected future growth needs are met when planning and building the new hospital.
  • Maintaining urgent care in the core: With the distance to the new location and the limited access to transportation available to residents in the core and west end, especially overnight, I would advocate for maintaining urgent (or emergency) care in the core, potentially at the existing Ouellette campus site which is still owner by Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital.

10. Do you support strong mayor legislation?

I would not be in favour of strong mayor powers in Windsor – I believe the size, scope and needs of our community, council, and administration make the legislation unnecessary. I would need to study the issue in greater depth specific to Toronto and Ottawa – which were the original intended users of that legislation – to determine an opinion on the policy in those much more complex municipalities.

11. Should the city use taxpayers dollars to bring jobs to the area?

This of course depends on the scope and scale of the potential economic impact. Every decision I make is in isolation and dependant on its own unique variables. I would not tow a line one way or another simply because of a philosophical bias. I believe my role in all elected or volunteer committee work is to be completely objective and make the best decision for the greatest number of people I am serving.

I do not generally support the idea of significant incentive payments to lure any and every job to the region. However, for companies, economies, or opportunities that could reshape our region and help catapult us to multi-generational success, I would support deferred taxation and other administrative supports to capture the opportunity. The property tax tool defers the value of the increased property taxes after a company invests in building a new or expanded facility on the site and commits to specific job growth criteria. This allows the city to draw new jobs into our economy without costing city taxpayers additional new spending as the property would have remained at the previous value if not for the investment.

12. If you are running in a ward with an incumbent who is also running, why is change necessary, and why are you the person to deliver it?

There is no incumbent running in Ward 4 as Chris Holt is running for mayor.

13. How many hours per week do you plan to allocate towards council business if elected?

As much time as is needed to accomplish my goals for the city and ward. I have worked with councillors for many years, having seen the workload firsthand, and am very prepared for it. The work of council is very fluid, some weeks and months being much heavier than others, and of course dependant on current events and needs in the community. My work allows me the flexibility to work day or night, remotely and on site. I have volunteered over 25 hours per week for many years between the Walkerville BIA, the University of Windsor Alumni Association, the city of Windsor Development and Heritage Standing Committee, and other boards and committees both locally and nationally – this time will be also allotted to council work instead, allowing me the equivalent of a full-time workload to support my council responsibilities.

14. Do you live in the ward you are running for?

Yes, I have lived in Walkerville since 1979, other than 3 years between Massachusetts and Toronto and 7 years living in Olde Riverside. I attended King Edward Elementary School, Walkerville Collegiate Institute and Catholic Central High School, and my parents and grand parents attended Walkerville as well. In fact my family has been in this core neighbourhood for many generations dating to the turn of the 20th century when Hiram Walker and Ford drew them as employees.

15. What agencies, boards, or committees do/have you served on, and in what capacity?

Walkerville Business Improvement Association Board of Directors, 2007-Present

  • I have been on the WBIA board of directors since 2007 and have been in the chair role for 10 years total. In that time I’ve worked to build consensus and collaboration with the board and members in developing strategic plans, updating governance documents, undertaking 3 major streetscape projects, the redevelopment of Jubilee Park, expanding and introducing new events, and launching websites and social media accounts. We’ve very proud of the role the board has played in helping make Walkerville one of Canada’s coolest neighbourhoods!
  • -For my work leading this revitalization I was honoured to receive the United Way Centraide Windsor Star Civic Beautification Award in 2018.

City of Windsor Development & Heritage Standing Committee, Planning Act Matters, 2019-Present

  • -With three citizen members and five city councillors, the mandate of this Standing Committee is to report to Council on all matters relating to the following: Development, maintenance and enforcement of the City of Windsor’s Official Plan; Planning and infrastructure approvals; Development, maintenance and enforcement of the City of Windsor’s Zoning By-law; Policy related to planning, environmental and infrastructure matters where applicable; Building inspection services; Community development initiatives (downtown neighbourhoods); International exchanges with Sister Cities; Policy matters relating to economic development; Business Improvement Areas; and Heritage matters.

City of Windsor Development Charges Task Force, 2019-2020

  • An ad hoc committee mandated to undertake a review of the City’s current Development Charges By-law to identify issues affecting all stakeholders and meet and provide input to the representatives from Hemson Consulting. General Community Advisory members will provide input into the process. The recommendations to City Council will be made by City Council voting members of the Committee and City Administration.

University of Windsor Alumni Association Board of Directors, 2014-Present

  • I have been honoured to volunteer on the board of directors for my alma mater since 2014, most recently as the Alumni representative on University Senate. I have also served on the following committees, with a personal goal of strengthening both the university and our region: Strategic Planning; Communications and Community Engagement; Sport Hall of Fame; and the Finance Committee.

16. What person, animal or fictional character should be Windsor’s unofficial mascot?

Does it need to be a living being? How about a pizza lol!?

The history of this land has such a broad spectrum of influential events and people to honour that it would be misrepresentative to pick one. From the pre-colonial indigenous inhabitants to the underground railroad to the War of 1812 to a whiskey empire and rum-running, the birth of the Canadian auto industry, and more – it’s impossible to encapsulate our history in a single mascot of course…other than our world-champion pizza!!

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com