Campaign Briefing: Trustee candidates pledge to make schools service dog friendly

A McMaster University student is getting school board trustee candidates to pledge to make Hamilton schools more service dog friendly.

Deanna Allain, 18, has been training service dogs for people with autism since she was 10. She's sent out a pledge to every public and Catholic school board trustee candidate that asks them to sign it and commit to improving policies around service dogs.

Allain wants to see service dogs-in-training added to the boards' policies, which will be reviewed next year.

"I will act in the best interests of the students attending our schools, and will keep open the dialogue on accessibility for service dogs working for both students and staff in our facilities, and for service dogs in training to have access to board facilities," the pledge reads. 

"While recognizing that service dog accessibility is a very intricate and complex item for discussion, I will engage with interested parties to investigate possible improvements to our current policies and procedures."

Allain emailed the pledge as a PDF to all the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board candidates, as well as candidates for the French school boards.

So far, Livia Jones from Ward 3 and Damin Starr from Wards 8 and 14 have signed it. Erica Villabroza (Wards 8 and 14), Chris Parkinson (Ward 3), Maria Felix Miller (Ward 3), and Jocelynn Vieira (Ward 3) will sign it later today.

Allain voted in her first municipal election last week. She lives in the Birdland neighbourhood of Ward 7. She's studying social science at McMaster and plans to major in political science with a specialization in community engagement.

She also plans to run for council in four years.

Allain says her main issues are governance and transparency, as well as affordable housing, transit and poverty reduction.

Here's a list of trustee candidates. They'll be at an event tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre.

One Ward 14 candidate endorses another

Robert Iszkula and Bryan Wilson are both running against incumbent Terry Whitehead in Ward 14 on the west Mountain. Now Iszkula says he doesn't want Whitehead to win so much that he's throwing his support behind Wilson.

Iszkula issued a media release saying he's backing Wilson "in an effort to reduce the chances of an incumbent victory."

Iszkula, who owns a downtown business, says he ran to bring "a desperately needed change of representation to the neighbourhood." Now he likes Wilson, a union rep and Air Canada baggage handler, for that job.

"His experience as chair of his union's political action committee and knowledge of the local political landscape make him the perfect candidate," he said in a media release, "and I put my full support behind him."

Roslyn French-Sanges is also running. 

Advance polls

Here's a list of remaining advance poll dates from the City of Hamilton website:​

  • Thursday, Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All-candidates meetings

Trustee candidates

When: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St.
Who: Hamilton-Wentworth Council of Home and School Associations. More info.

Ward 12

When: Monday, Oct. 15, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Where: Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, 211 Stonehenge Dr., Ancaster
Who: Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. Event listing here.

Ward 1

When: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2 p.m.
Where: MUSC atrium.
Who: McMaster University Students Union

Recent election stories

Social media

Cameron Kroetsch, Ward 2 candidate, posted a map showing the source of his campaign donations. This is noteworthy because election expense records show some candidates — particularly incumbents — get donations from across the city. Nicole Smith​, Jason Farr (incumbent), Suresh Venodh Daljeet, Mark Tennant, James Unsworth, John Vail and Diane Chiarelli are also running in Ward 2. 

Environment Hamilton is using this election as a chance to have people push to end area rating. Area rating is a system where in some cases, wards pay only for the level of service they receive — most notably, in the area of transit. Suburban wards like area rating because it prevents them from paying for services they don't use. Opponents say eliminating area rating would result in a stronger and more robust transit system. Many candidates have positions on area rating listed on their websites.

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