Thank you Woodstock

Bernia Wheaton

I’ve spent a balanced career in both the private and public sector, spending 15 years working in Economic Development for rural municipalities and more than 20 years as an entrepreneur.

This gives me a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing Woodstock and Oxford County.

City-County Council

Thank you, Woodstock!

Thank you for putting your vote towards positive change in this municipal election. With 23 candidates in total, YOU had work to do to research qualified individuals and decide where to allocate your vote.

I have so many people to thank: My teenagers first and foremost. My oldest turned 18 just days ago and got to participate in her very first election. That’s huge as a parent and as a candidate. My youngest celebrates a 15th birthday today, so the party will continue a little longer in this household.

My dad was a trooper in this campaign. At the age of 81, he knocked on hundreds of doors with me, proudly introducing the candidate before revealing that I’m also his daughter. That’s humbling.

Donations: A successful campaign cannot run for free. From signs to radio ads to printed material, I can proudly say that all content was sources locally. Campaign contributions from Lindsay, Tara, Courtney, Christine, Dan, Sarah, Sue, Ken, Robert, and Brandon…your support matters beyond what you can imagine.

Volunteers: Max, Shelby, Maverick, Addy, Christel, and countless others who put in time and effort, I am truly thankful. Some may not consider themselves volunteers, but they taught me so much about our city and its needs. Thank you Jenilee, Shawn, and Justin who taught me about the reality of our homelessness situation and the gaps in our services. Your collective insight fuels my desire to serve Woodstock.

For everyone who requested a sign for their lawn as an outward show of support during this election, I thank you. I hope to connect personally when I come around to collect them.

Finally, I want to thank every candidate who bravely put their name forward. Running a campaign is not easy. This really is a 3-month job interview where you have to show up each and every day to earn a seat at the table.

So what now? I am ready. Meetings being next week to learn about our new roles. Council meetings begin by mid-November and then we have the task of passing the City and the County budget. The responsibilities of office get real…quickly.

While I have a responsibility to serve every resident of Woodstock, for the 4,509 who cast (and many plunked) their vote in my direction, I appreciate your attention to the issues.

Thank you, Woodstock.

~Bernia Wheaton, City-County Councillor for Woodstock.

I’ve invested 15 years of my career working in Economic Development with the rural municipalities of Perth and Oxford County, where I had opportunities to work with staff and members of council who demonstrated how a municipality can thrive with the support of strong leadership. That influence fuelled my decision to step up to run for the role of City-County Councillor in this 2022 election.

More recently, I have been a co-owner and corporate manager at Your Farm Market (YFM) here in Woodstock, which is a business with unique rural and urban connections. ‘Gathering Farm Fresh for You’ means working with rural farmers and producers to bring the freshest, local goods to Woodstock consumers.

It is my desire to represent your needs at both Woodstock and Oxford County Council tables where knowledge and understanding of not only municipal governance but the unique issues of a community with both rural and urban opportunities is a strength. My desire is to bring people together to make Woodstock resilient. To put your interests before my own and to be courageous in making the tough decisions.

Key Priorities to Address

1. Downtown Woodstock (a multi-phase initiative)

Provide Human Services (a County Responsibility) to the level needed to effectively address issues of homelessness, addition, mental health, and affordable housing.

Initiate Revitalization and Improvements to the Downtown core including, but not limited to:

~Market Square Improvements

~Return Park Benches to Downtown

~Streetscape Enhancements

~Increased Parking to accommodate current needs and future growth

~Marketing of existing Community Improvement Plan (CIP) and Facade Improvement Programs to encourage landlords to renovate structures

2. Increase Housing Density to Improve Employment Opportunities

Identify parcels of land ideal for higher density apartment construction. Set Zoning in place to make lands ‘shovel ready’ for development

Attract and Entice Residential Developers to build a mix of affordable and attainable housing. Increasing the supply of housing to meet the current and future demands

Discussions with County Planning to enhance the Additional Residential Units (ARUs) initiative for a broader use in Woodstock

Bring back Inclusionary Zoning to require an affordable housing component in all new medium and high density construction

3. Be a part of Constructive Discussion and Decision Making at Oxford County Council

Participate in County Council discussions in a way that is constructive

Support and encourage services that meet the needs for all residents of Oxford County

Support Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Function as a Relationship Builder amongst Council and Staff

Utilize Critical Thinking to analyze reports and motions to ensure decision making is best for today’s residents and for future generations

Work with Public Works and Waste Management at Oxford County to bring weekly recycling and green bin organics collection to our community BEFORE 2025 when the province will force us to collect organics. Let’s act now to reduce the number of black garbage bags ending up in our County landfill