Ben Benedict

Profile Image

Political Orientation

LeftRight

Position: Ward 13 Councillor

Incumbent: No.

Previous council experience: None.

Other political experience: Western Student Council (1990-93). Un-elected: Lambton County Culture and Communications Committee (Library Board – 1994-99); London Race Relations Advisory Committee (2002); London Creative City Committee (2007-13).

Political affiliation: Former member of various parties: NDP, Liberal, Progressive Conservative, Rhino [provided by candidate].

Political donations: None found.

Occupation / Profession: Artist, writer, public relations professional; former army medic.

Languages: English

Declared positions: Transit, Social Housing, Business Climate, Fiscal Responsibility, Safe Injection Sites, Other

Transit: “Transit is key to building a sustainable future, while ensuring citizens can move around a community effectively and in a cost efficient manner… While I think the current BRT program is incomplete – it doesn’t integrate the London International Airport, VIA Rail, or Greyhound Bus into its mix efficiently, and fails to address connecting residents to employment areas – it is a necessary upgrade that I strongly support in principle.” [Excerpt from survey response]

Social Housing:” Needed but increasingly problematic with NIMBY-ism and the current provincial government attacks on the vulnerable. This will mean these burdens are passed on to municipalities where ratepayers often do not often support these initiative. Canada is changing, but we must remain that thoughtful, compassionate community ruled by the law or good government. This includes ensuring no one is left behind.” [Excerpt from survey response]

Business Climate: “I am pro-development but development that conforms to smart growth, placemaking, and urban design principles… [Small] and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) remain a strong catalyst to grown, especially in the growing technology sector… As an entrepreneur, we can support small business growth through the development of micro-business zoning that maintain our heritage streetscapes while allowing homeowners to capitalize on growth.” [Except from survey response]

Fiscal Responsibility: “I strongly believe in living within one’s means. This includes fiscal responsibility for municipalities, balancing income (tax dollars) with expenditures like programing, road maintenance, and appropriate staffing levels to ensure the municipality remains viable. If you don’t maintain your car, it breaks down, cities are no different. This includes, as previously mentioned, taking a longer view to infrastructure – 20 year plans rather than simply the election cycle where politicians ensure their own viability at the municipality’s expense.” [Excerpt from survey response]

Safe Injection Sites: “I support them [safe injection sites] for two reasons: first they save lives and give those wanting to get clean the opportunity to do so; second, they ensure other community resources, like ambulances are available for medical, rather than social emergencies… [This] is a hand up to those whose lives have been wrecked by addiction, job loss, family breakdowns, poverty, lack of education, and number of other issues.” [Excerpt from survey response]

Other: “Planning – London has a great planning division but there simply are not enough planners to work with developers to ensure London gets the quality developments it deserves. Heritage preservation of our streetscapes in Ward 13 is critical but has been ignored by consecutive councils. Combined there is a better way and I am proposing an Area Plan for Ward 13 that includes heritage designating as well as identification of areas for intensification so residents, and investors, know what is (and isn’t) feasible in the oldest neighborhoods in London. London can and needs to do better as a community that lags behind every other Ontario municipality in terms of growth, and unless London gains the confidence to invest in itself (BRT, Social Housing, green spaces, etc.) it will continue to fail to attract new investments.” [Excerpt from survey response]

Electipedia Survey Response

This candidate responded to Electipedia's survey. Read the candidate's reponses below:

NameBen Benedict
How would you describe your political outlook?Choose not to answer
Do you currently belong to a political party at the federal or provincial level?No
Have you previously been a member of a political party at the federal or provincial level?Yes
If yes, which one(s)NDP, Liberal, Progressive Conservative, Rhino
Instructions

For the following, please select one option that best indicates how each statement reflects your position or philosophy:

Social assistance payments should never be tied to mandated work or education requirements.Somewhat Disagree
Fiscal prudence is the hallmark of sound governance.Somewhat Agree
All public servants should be prohibited from going on strike.Somewhat Disagree
Fees for using vehicles at certain times in high traffic zones is a reasonable way to subsidize and encourage the use of public transit.Choose not to answer
Climate change represents an imminent threat that should be addressed by governments at every level.Somewhat Agree
Oil pipelines are an effective way to boost Canada’s economy and energy self-sufficiency.Somewhat Agree
While environmental concerns are important, government’s first priority is to build infrastructure that is safe and cost effective.Somewhat Disagree
Spending on social programs is more effective than spending on law enforcement and jails.Strongly Agree
Borrowing by governments, if done responsibly, is necessary to meet the needs of citizens.Somewhat Agree
Mandatory minimum sentences for criminal convictions are needed to ensure equality before the law, and to act as a deterrent.Strongly Disagree
Safe injection sites are necessary to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.Somewhat Agree
Instructions

Please provide a one-paragraph response outlining your position on each of the issues indicated. Keeping mind that a) your answers will be publicly available, b) answers may be lightly edited for spelling, grammar, clarity, or length and c) while subsequent amendments to answers may be considered, the original response will remain visible to the public:

Transit

Transit is key to building a sustainable future, while ensuring citizens can move around a community effectively and in a cost efficient manner. London is currently considering a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, and while not fully thought out, in reality these types of programs are both social and economic drivers returning multiples of value in terms of return on investment. Kitchener is a great example where 20 years of planning is paying off in terms of a centralized transit plan. Hamilton is another example where long term planning is transforming their waterfront into a new community, integrated by transit. While I think the current BRT program is incomplete - it doesn't integrate the London International Airport, VIA Rail, or Greyhound Bus into its mix efficiently, and fails to address connecting residents to employment areas - it is a necessary upgrade that I strongly support in principle, having seen the success of these infrastructure programs in Kitchener and Hamilton where increasingly corporations are choosing to invest. London needs this type of long term investment to attract new industries and jobs.

Environment

This is an essential component to be considered now and into the future. For municipalities, it revolves around garbage, green waste, and recycling pick up as well as disposal. It includes every form of road maintenance, and local utility planning and infrastructure. City's are responsible for park maintenance, and the development of new green spaces in new developments - as well as maintaining environmentally sensitive areas while protecting them from development and over intensification in naturalized areas. This must and should be a priority. Environmental areas make for a better quality of life and that in itself should be reason enough to act.

Social Housing

Needed but increasingly problematic with NIMBY-ism and the current provincial government attacks on the vulnerable. This will mean these burdens are passed on to municipalities where ratepayers often do not often support these initiative. Canada is changing, but we must remain that thoughtful, compassionate community ruled by the law or good government. This includes ensuring no one is left behind. At a vulnerable time in my life, after being discriminated against after 'coming out' and losing my job I was forced to live on social assistance for several years (2002-2005) but at that time there were support programs that allowed me to go back to school, take a job creation project, and get my life back on track to where today I am running for City Council. That support allowed me to also create a nonprofit organization (Pride London Festival), start a business (Benedict Creative Communications), and eventually through my work, earn a Master of Arts in Communication degree. A hand up can produce remarkable change in a person and I stand as living proof that once down, you don't need to stay down.

Business Climate

I am pro-development but development that conforms to smart growth, placemaking, and urban design principles. Ontario's business climate is strong but changing. Large multi-national companies are slowing growth in North America but small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) remain a strong catalyst to grown, especially in the growing technology sector. In that we also need an education and development sector to understand these changes and work with municipalities to build sustainable infrastructure and compatible education programs (including for municipal staff to remain current with those seeking support of the municipality). As an entrepreneur, we can support small business growth through the development of micro-business zoning that maintain our heritage streetscapes while allowing homeowners to capitalize on growth (I run my business from my home office). Today, 15 August 2018, Blackfriars Bridge was put back in place. It will eventually mean an increased in traffic for the Blackfriars community. On Blackfriars Street, there is already a café so micro-business designation would allow the area to develop organically, think Wortley Village. This is the type of creative and lateral thinking our community needs, to build on strengths and local creativity.

Fiscal Responsibility

As a debt free entrepreneur with savings I strongly believe in living within one's means. This includes fiscal responsibility for municipalities, balancing income (tax dollars) with expenditures like programing, road maintenance, and appropriate staffing levels to ensure the municipality remains viable. If you don't maintain your car, it breaks down, cities are no different. This includes, as previously mentioned, taking a longer view to infrastructure - 20 year plans rather than simply the election cycle where politicians ensure their own viability at the municipality's expense.

Law and Order

This needs to be address and has many moving parts. In London, ON this includes the need for more by-law enforcement to protect vulnerable tenants (i.e. students ad the working poor) as well as residents who live near irresponsible and absentee landlords. For policing, it may mean various levels of enforcement (and pay) including traffic/security details, as well as full investigative teams. We need to think smarter about policing and by-law enforcement and these two organizations must learn to work together (presently at odds with each other and definitely not collaborating). In terms of social justice, we need restorative justice and youth diversion programs to help our youth from entering a life of crime, meaning better social programs for youth in vulnerable areas - again a hand up because not everyone is born into wealth or a working class family. These are also often provincial or federal issues so municipalities must be vigilant in calling for programs that meet community needs against the cookie cutter approach where one program addresses every issue and in the end simply fails the vulnerable.

Safe Injection Sites

I support them for two reasons: first they save lives and give those wanting to get clean the opportunity to do so; second, they ensure other community resources, like ambulances are available for medical, rather than social emergencies. In 2017 London (according to a local police officer I spoke with in June 2018) 2 million needles were handed out, but only 1 million were returned. These needles are ending up on our streets and in our parks making simply living a hazard. Again, this is a hand up to those whose lives have been wrecked by addiction, job loss, family breakdowns, poverty, lack of education, and number of other issues. No one ever sees themselves as a child being an addict but every addict is someone's child and that alone should be reason enough to want to help.

Other Issues

Planning - London has a great planning division but there simply are not enough planners to work with developers to ensure London gets the quality developments it deserves. Heritage preservation of our streetscapes in Ward 13 is critical but has been ignored by consecutive councils. Combined there is a better way and I am proposing an Area Plan for Ward 13 that includes heritage designating as well as identification of areas for intensification so residents, and investors, know what is (and isn't) feasible in the oldest neighborhoods in London. London can and needs to do better as a community that lags behind every other Ontario municipality in terms of growth, and unless London gains the confidence to invest in itself (BRT, Social Housing, green spaces, etc.) it will continue to fail to attract new investments. I believe we can do better because I care and have lived in the Ward for over 19 years. Thank you.

Edit Candidate

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.