le Dimanche 27 novembre 2022
le Mercredi 28 septembre 2022 19:11 Vision (Clarence-Rockland)

Ward 5: Merdian wants to add diversity to council

Sarma Merdian is hearing a lot from residents in Ward 5 about election issues. They range from affordability and high-speed internet access to the proliferation of wild parsnip in the area and the lack of female representation on council.  — supplied photo
Sarma Merdian is hearing a lot from residents in Ward 5 about election issues. They range from affordability and high-speed internet access to the proliferation of wild parsnip in the area and the lack of female representation on council.
supplied photo
Over the better part of two decades, Sarma Merdian and her family have lived in both urban and rural Clarence-Rockland, an experience she is looking to draw upon as she vies for the Ward 5 council seat.

Merdian is hoping to bring the community back into the political fold. She believes a large portion of the municipality’s population is apathetic about politics.

“People either think it’s something horribly corrupt or something that works,” said Merdian. “We should be working together and not be creating division.”

One focus of her campaign is to ensure gender parity on city council. With just one woman of the nine people on council, more than 50 per cent of Clarence-Rockland’s population is not adequately represented she thinks. Diane Choinière is the only woman on council, and of the 19 candidates running for council and mayor just three other women are running.

“Everybody has something to bring to the table, and I think there should be more voices that represent other points of view at the table,” said Merdian. “A strong female voice is important. And I really believe in building the community so it works for all of us and we can go forward in a sustainable, healthy fashion.”

As she campaigns, Merdian is hearing a broad set of concerns from residents. With many residents still working from home, access to high-speed internet is top of their lists. Though services like Starlink are available to some, the cost can be prohibitive.

“It’s the 21st century and we live in Canada,” said Merdian. “Theoretically we should all have access to the internet.”

On top of poor internet availability, some areas in rural Clarence-Rockland have no cellular phone service. Merdian hopes to push the city to get more towers to cover dead zones.

Merdian says residents are also concerned about the spread of wild parsnip, a highly invasive and toxic plant that can cause severe dermatitis, but also reduce the quality of certain crops and impact the health of livestock. Merdian hopes to implement a plan to help eradicate the plant.

Municipal elections will be held on October 24. All candidates and their contact information can be found on the Clarence-Rockland website. Voters are encouraged to visit VoterLookup.ca to confirm their registration status and update their information.