"My work gives me the opportunity to interact with so many people who are committed to making Waterloo an exceptional place to be. I am energized by their enthusiasm and passion - and am dedicated to helping to turn their collective visions for an even strong Waterloo to meaningful reality."
My journey of discovery that has taken me to a seat as a Waterloo Councillor has been exciting and rewarding, and that journey continues to excite me as envision our collective achievements over the next four years.
It is the story of a lifetime resident of this city whose boyhood lessons, adult family life and career here have been interspersed with some amazing life experiences of national and even international opportunity (and intrigue) that have shaped me into a person who can confidently represent our citizens in our neighbourhoods, in our region and indeed the world.
It was my privilege to work as a social worker for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo for 30 years before retiring in the year 2000. That experience afforded me the dignity of raising my wonderful children, along with my wife Charlotte, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Waterloo. Throughout their school years until they completed university, our kids were able to walk to every learning institution they attended, all of them of the highest world calibre. That’s Waterloo for you.
My career was punctuated by several rewarding experiences including being chosen as a member of the Governor General’s Study Conference, of which I remain an alumnus, and as a goodwill ambassador for Rotary International as a member of an international group study exchange. Along with my Arctic adventures as a member of the Trans Global Expeditionary team, of which I was the Canadian member on the first modern day attempt at crossing the Bering Strait in winter, these activities have helped to inform my global understanding and appreciation of Waterloo’s place in the world, how fortunate we are as a society, and why we must always work towards fostering a better tomorrow.
As a citizen raising a family here, I realized early on the need for those of us who can, to give back to the community in order to give it stability. My work as a social and environmental activist resulted in me receiving the first ever Waterloo Award that recognizes outstanding citizenship, and recently I was honoured with the Canadian Urban Leadership Award as the founder of the 10,000 Trees Project. In 2009, I was honoured with the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism in Ontario and was asked to be the spokesperson at the gala event for all volunteers across the province, a truly humbling experience indeed.
As the volunteer chairman of Waterloo’s bid in the International Liveable Communities competition, I had the opportunity to represent this community for three consecutive years on the world stage. With the reward of two silver and one gold standard, I became convinced of Waterloo’s leadership capacity and what it might mean not only to our own citizen’s but in attracting economic interest from other areas. I began to realize too of the importance of leadership right here at home and successfully ran for the office of Councillor in the 2003 municipal elections and two subsequent elections in 2006 and 2010.
"Mark combines the rare traits of having unbridled faith in his community's future, an ability to solve daily problems and the vision to understand what is required to build a community that is able to adapt to the 21st century and its possibilities."
My terms as Councillor has been a culmination of many years of interest and experience in community life in Waterloo. My neighbourhood activism has allowed me to fight for more bylaw officers, and to toughen student housing laws. An east side fire station and a west side library are now on the books. I have spoken out on environmental issues, pushing for a large environmental reserve in our North West corner and have stood opposed to rampant development of our moraine lands.
On the economic development front I was the originator of Waterloo's bid to become one of the world's top 7 Intelligent Communities and was a pioneer in working for WIFI coverage for the city, being one of the first municipalities anywhere to do so. Both projects, I believed would bring more economic prosperity to Waterloo which has proven to be the case. After several years as a leader in this movement, in 2007 we won our bid to be the most Intelligent Community in the world. Engaging with other cities around the globe in my role as ambassador for Waterloo, I began to understand our importance and impact as a globally significant player.
And, in an effort to beautify our wonderful city I was a leading advocate in the development of the Veteran's Green Park and sat on the committee to erect a national monument on the site. I was on the team to put a green roof on city hall and have been involved in the push to see urban design guidelines instituted in Waterloo.
Together, we have all created a city that the entire planet is taking notice of. And, while we achieve the status as a world class community we still possess the attributes of a place that is clean and safe and liveable.
I'm proud to be citizen of Waterloo and deeply honoured to be a City Councillor at this dynamic time in our history.
Councillor - Ward 5
City of Waterloo