City Council Candidate: Liz Wismer Van Meer


1) What do you think our City has successfully done the past 5 years?  I appreciate some of the green initiatives our city has taken; some of these may fall outside of the past 5 years – COVID has erased my ability to accurately track time – but putting focus on details like LED lighting, implementing bike lanes (one area I feel needs more attention), working on expanding transit services, and putting more focus on our local trails within City limits to get folks outside and enjoying what our community has to offer! When it comes to the bike lanes and transit services, I believe there are opportunities to improve, but we’re at least heading in the right direction.

2) What do you think is our biggest challenge in the next 5?  Addressing the need for affordable and transitional housing; these are challenges a number of other communities are facing and I feel there is opportunity to open conversations and learn from their successes/non-successes to bring these forward to our community. We have spaces in our downtown that would be ideal for affordable housing – we need to build up and not out. We have incredible organizations that with the proper support from both county & city, could work collaboratively to build proper transitional housing.  We also need to focus on educating our community on what affordable housing and transitional housing are; there are far too many misconceptions and misunderstandings on what these housing options are, who benefits from them and why they are crucial for a safe, healthy and prosperous community!

3) What are your biggest strengths as a candidate? My deep roots in the community – as a lifelong resident, committed and dedicated community volunteer and community advocate, former local radio personality, and frontline experience in my not for profit roles. I have a solid network and strong knowledge and understanding of the folks in our community. I’ve had the privilege to work with a variety of groups, organizations, businesses and folks; I’ve had many conversations about the good and the bad in our community – having the chance to listen to folks has strengthened my ability to be empathetic, and understanding, and has inspired and motivated me to put my name on the ballot for 2022 Municipal Election!

4) What will make you more successful than others at addressing the issues our downtown faces? I am not sure there is one thing that would make me more successful; I truly believe that this is a team and community effort, to successfully address and work towards advancements in our downtown.  I do believe that I have a deep understanding of our downtown; being a lifelong resident, growing up in the city, knowing the businesses and people, seeing the changes we have lived through in the past 40 years.  I’ve always loved our downtown; it’s where I spent my teen years and met my husband when we were in high school, but a spark was lit in me when I watched The Capitol Theatre come down over 10 years ago. Watching a historic building fall in on itself, and eventually demolished because of an absentee landlord cannot happen again. Encouraging businesses to open in our downtown to occupy empty storefronts, addressing absentee landlords and working to make our downtown inclusive, welcoming and inviting are aspects that council, as a team, need to work on – I hope that my understanding, knowledge and experience in our downtown can be utilized as part of this team!

5) What would your 3 biggest priorities be as a councillor? If I have to pick 3 it would be:YOUTH ENGAGEMENT, INITIATIVES & RESOURCES: We need to be proactive! Youth facing societal barriers and adversities are at a higher risk to engage in risky behaviour, crime, and develop mental health issues. We need to develop programs that will continue to support the healthy development of our youth and encourage them to grow and prosper in a safe and inclusive community. Let’s talk about how we can support local, youth-focused organizations to provide these valuable programs to our next generation. 
TAKING ACTION: We need to advance our conversations on how we can support homelessness, mental health and addiction through education, awareness and advocacy; decrease our environmental impact through updated waste management and diversion; and acknowledge the potential for increased emergency services and community facilities to accommodate our growing population and expanding borders. 
SUPPORTING LOCAL: We are fortunate to have unique and extraordinary local businesses and organizations in our city!  We need to continue to support local entrepreneurs and encourage others to be local business owners. Let’s talk about how we can reduce empty storefronts in our downtown core, and how we can support not-for-profit organizations with improved community grant policies. 

6) How important is affordable housing to you as a candidate and what do you believe the role of a City Councillor is at addressing it? Any concrete ideas? As mentioned earlier, I feel that Affordable and Transitional Housing is very important; however I see this being a collaborative effort on all levels of government – from city to county, to provincial and federal. A strong relationship between the city and county is crucial in being successful in creating affordable and transitional housing. City Councillor’s should advocate for the betterment of their community; our city has space in the downtown that would allow for great affordable housing opportunities.  Our city has strong and successful organizations that could be consulted in creating ideas, building plans and moving these conversations forward beyond just conversations and turning them into action!  And as I mentioned earlier, educating our community on who benefits from affordable housing, transitional housing, and why they are crucial to obtain a prosperous, healthy, safe and inclusive community for all!

7) Do you see a role for collaboration between municipal council and school board trustees? If yes, in what capacity?If no, why not?  As I mentioned before, City Councillors are advocating for the betterment of their community and our public school system is a very large piece of our community. City Councillors should be supporting our School Board Trustees in their efforts to represent our community and advocate for what is best for our local schools. Whether this be meeting regularly with our school board trustees, letters of support for our trustees to the school board, or attending school board meetings, showing interest and giving attention to the actions that are taking place with our local schools is important to achieving the best for our community.

8) Anything else you would like to tell me/my followers about you? I am passionate about community involvement; in 2019 I was selected as the recipient of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce Community Involvement Award. I have never done the work I do for recognition; I do it because I love the community I call home and have called home for 43 years; I do it because I want to see our community flourish, I want to build a stable and successful environment for our next generation, and I want our community to feel welcoming, inclusive and engaging for all.  I love being a small piece of a big puzzle; I am ready to take my passion to a new level and new challenge – I am ready to be your next City Councillor!