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Municipal candidates address student concerns

by Paula Monroy October 22, 2013
Municipal candidates address student concerns

Montreal’s city councillor candidates for the Peter-McGill and Loyola districts spoke with The Concordian about how students’ concerns of employment and affordable housing would work into their plans if elected.

Jimmy Zoubris, Projet Montreal’s candidate for the Peter-McGill District, in which Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus is located, spoke about the possibility of increasing the job market for students.

“The main role of a municipal government is to create a competitive environment and establish certain conditions that will promote economic development and job creation,” said Zoubris.

He ensured that Projet Montreal’s municipal administration would include youth representatives. “It is important for us that youth is represented and that their voice is heard. Decision-making bodies of the city must reflect the character of the city.”

Zoubris stated the use of new technologies and social media will be implemented to promote career opportunities in the city. To develop employability, he explained the city must continue to foster its links with training centres and stay involved with Hooked on Montreal. This organization, as it states on its website consists of a group of 30 partners “dedicated to work together and to keep youth and families at the center of their efforts to increase school retention.”

Zoubris said that internship programs between the city and Concordia would be beneficial for both partners.

Like Zoubris, Margaret Ford, Coalition Montreal’s candidate for the Loyola District, told The Concordian that establishing partnerships between the Côte-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, as well as Concordia would have a positive impact for both students and the community.

According to Ford, hundreds of students are already being hired by the city of Montreal and its local partner organizations.

She noted it can be difficult to recruit enough students for summer jobs, where local job recruiting is often limited to posting a notice on electronic or physical bulletin boards, where they hope an interested student will stumble upon the notice.

“Regular contact and established relationships would provide students with timely information about job opportunities in their field and organizations with direct contact with potential employees,” said Ford.

Discussing what initiatives can be implemented to help students financially, Ford explained Coalition Montreal is committed to keeping taxes to the level of inflation, which will have a direct impact on lowering rent increases.

“Restructuring municipal services and re-investing budget surpluses into stabilizing infrastructure and transportation would also help keep the cost of monthly bus passes down,” said Ford.

Steve Shanahan, Montreal’s Vrai Changement candidate for the Peter-McGill District, discussed making more affordable housing possible.

“The city of Montreal has plans to make affordable housing for 30,000 families,” said Shanahan. “Every borough in Montreal should have a policy where 15 per cent of all development is for affordable housing. Students who don’t have any money could qualify for it.”

In addition to affordable housing, Shanahan emphasized the importance of quality living conditions. Bedbugs are a current problem in the Peter-McGill district, which he described as unacceptable and is looking to involve landlords in addressing this issue.

His opponent, Damien Silès from Équipe Denis Coderre, addressed the need to determine how to build more spaces for students to live in.

“In Montreal we have 200,000 students, and right now there are around 5,000 bedrooms,” said Silès.

Silès told The Concordian Equipe Denis Coderre has spoken with student associations and wants to work with them to acknowledge student issues and determine exactly what is required to build more spaces.

“It’s possible to do anything,” he added. “But before we build something, [we need] to see if it’s possible to work with the students, to know what [the students] want […] The idea is to be able to mix the people who live here with the students, to see a better way to exchange ideas.”

Shanahan, however, said labeling groups in Montreal is not productive. “We are all people who live in Peter-Mcgill and we all have to work together.”


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