Ophelia Ravencroft for Ward 2

Equitable Living

Platform Overview

At the forefront of all the work I do—whether as an activist, academic, or community member—is a genuine commitment to equity.

I truly want every citizen of St. John’s to find incredible opportunities in our city, but I recognise that social, cultural, and economic inequalities sometimes make that very difficult. Dedicating ourselves to supporting vulnerable people means listening to their voices, hearing their needs, and responding with genuine, compassionate solutions that advance causes of equity for all. That means supporting things like harm-reduction initiatives, educational campaigns, and infrastructural upgrades that provide disproportionate benefit to our most vulnerable citizens. It means prioritising the needs of our most vulnerable when they need help the most—whether they be racialised people, sex workers, new Canadians, people with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, people with addictions, people of marginalised genders, or people living in poverty. It means grounding our governance in a vision of genuine compassion, and it means pushing for policies that will make that compassion a reality.

Here’s how I’ll make it happen:

  1. Collaborate with the private sector to encourage the development of affordable housing units.

    Improving access to affordable housing is a key priority for me.

    In my work over the last few years, I’ve watched many people struggle to find accessible, affordable housing within their limitations, whether they be of size, location, or cost. In fact, I’ve struggled to find housing like that myself. Yet I’ve equally seen development after development offer only “executive” condos, high-end apartments, or expensive townhouses. While I will always evaluate individual developments on their own merits, I will equally try to collaborate with the private sector in encouraging the building of affordable units, especially in intensification areas, so that every citizen has a fair chance at finding a good home.

  2. Expand the construction, and availability, of non-market housing.

    In the municipal context, “non-market housing” refers to those homes made available through organisations like City of St. John’s Housing. Social housing projects are an essential part of our City’s fabric, and their availability will become more critical as our economy continues to slide. Building new non-market housing units is a great start to this process. We need as many supportive, affordable homes made available as possible so that the families who need them can have dignified, pleasant places to live. I’ll press for the building of as many non-market housing units as can be managed in my term.

  3. Empower CSJ Housing to move forward with a “roommate” model for vacancies.

    As essential as non-market housing is, it’s also true that our management of existing units has sometimes led to needless vacancies. Single people sometimes see a wait time of up to 18 months for housing while three- and four-bedroom homes sit vacant. I’m proposing a model in which larger homes could be filled by several single applicants who are willing to live together in the longer term; with this might come a commensurate reduction in individual rent. This would ensure our housing developments are vibrant, our applicants are housed as quickly and pleasantly as possible, and our City maximises its revenues.

  4. Promote Ward 2 infill development that provides either affordable housing or essential services, but work equally to preserve greenspace.

    When it’s done sensibly, infill development is a great idea. Infill development allows for closer-knit communities that more easily connect local residents with services and resources. It also prevents urban sprawl, which allows for cheaper delivery of municipal services and a reduction in our carbon footprint—it’s solid fiscal and environmental policy. I will advocate for infill development that lifts up our citizens where it’s needed most. That means things like affordable housing units, services like supermarkets, and community centers. However, I equally recognise the importance of preserving what greenspace we have, and will work to protect it whenever possible.

  5. Expand public Wi-Fi access. Make all City parks Internet hotspots and charging points.

    Especially in the age of COVID-19, Internet use is virtually essential for our society. But it’s a huge expense, and our most vulnerable citizens may not have reliable Internet access when they need it most, especially as existing sites are often time-limited (like libraries) or require a purchase (like coffee shops). A recent initiative has installed public Internet hotspots in two City parks, and I think it’s an excellent idea—but I’d like to see it extended to all City parks altogether. Providing mobile charging stations in parks, and at other comparable locations, would allow an equally essential level of access for citizens who may not have other locations to charge their phones or tablets. In this way, the City can provide improved access for those who need it most—and at comparatively low cost.

  6. Amplify community voices seeking reductions in motorcycle noise. Use the Council platform to form connections with relevant government ministers to aid in reaching their goals.

    As a downtown resident who lives with anxiety, I recognise how significant the noise from certain aftermarket exhaust systems can be. Aside from being a sonic nuisance, especially in neighbourhoods like Signal Hill, excessive motorcycle noise causes very serious problems for many of those with conditions like anxiety or PTSD, hampers accessibility for blind or partially sighted people who rely on sonic cues, and can render areas of the city completely inaccessible to people on the autism spectrum. While I’d like to introduce legislation directly, motorcycle noise is regulated provincially, not municipally. But as a concerned citizen, I promise to use my platform on Council to aid in making connections at the provincial level, and stand together with these activists to help them make the changes we’re all asking for.

  7. Press the province for an amended City of St. John’s Act that will require single-use bathrooms to become gender-inclusive.

    I’m transgender, so I know firsthand how important inclusive bathroom access is. Gendered single-use bathrooms present unnecessary impediments to many trans and nonbinary people accessing public facilities. But right now, the City of St. John’s Act actually requires gender-exclusive bathrooms, and does it with woefully outdated language about “people of both sexes”—a literal example of institutionalised transphobia. Converting all single-use facilities to officially gender-neutral, complete with signage, would be a simple and virtually cost-free solution that would immeasurably improve the lives of our trans and nonbinary citizens. This would equally provide considerable benefit to people living with GI conditions like Crohn’s and colitis, as they would be able to use whichever bathroom is the most readily available. As the province has long had the CSJ Act under review, I will lead the charge in advocating for this change during this review, and I will spearhead the transition to gender-inclusive facilities across our City once it is done.

Platform Overview