By Kassia Skorzewska, Special to the Barrhaven Independent
As the upcoming municipal elections are coming up in the fall, Barrhaven resident Taayo Simmonds will be running for Ottawa City Council in Barrhaven West.
“I think we need change at City Hall. I think there’s too much infighting and there’s been a lot of political battles, and I feel like it’s getting more expensive to live in the city,” said Simmonds.
“I feel it’s harder to get around, our property taxes keep going up, the LRT isn’t working properly, so I think we need to elect a councillor with professional experience and background to confront these problems and get results on day one,” he added.
Simmonds runs a law firm downtown, called Simmonds Law, and believes with his experience in law, he is uniquely positioned to turn things around at City Hall.
“We do litigation, so I represent individuals and businesses on a number of legal disputes. So, I’m very familiar with bylaw enforcement, municipal bylaws, it’s something I deal with regularly in my legal practice,” said Simmonds.
“We have rapid population growth, and our services and infrastructure need to keep pace with that, and that requires to read legal agreements, policies, to get into the detail, and while there are city staff that assist councillors, I think it’s helpful to already have that background,” he added.
Simmonds is living in the Stonebridge area of Barrhaven with his wife and two children, and as well as working in law, is very involved in the community side of things.
Nationally, following his mother’s death, Simmonds set up the Gwen Simmonds Foundation, a charity which gives out bursaries to single mothers going through post-secondary education.
“I know since 2018 it’s given out over 20 bursaries. It’s a nationally recognized charity, so we’ve given out bursaries from British Columbia, to the Territories, to the East Coast, some in Ottawa, as well, so that’s something I’m very proud of,” said Simmonds.
“I grew up in a single mother household. My mother valued education and ended up going to university when I got older so this was the inspiration behind the idea,” he added.
Locally, Simmonds will be involved in a park cleanup on May 7.
“There’s a cleanup coming up in Old Barrhaven. There are two residents that are helping organize it. Essentially, we have park leaders at all the major parks in Old Barrhaven, and the park leaders recruit volunteers, and we go to the park and we pick up litter and ensure that the park is clean,” said Simmonds.
Simmonds has also been going door-to-door and hearing residents of Barrhaven talking about issues they’re concerned about.
“Some people find the door knocking to be intimidating, but it isn’t at all. People are happy to talk about issues, and talk about their hopes as well. One thing I found, is people in Barrhaven really care about the community, so that’s what makes it really easy and very invigorating going door-to-door,” said Simmonds.
One issue Simmonds has heard from residents, is the issue on traffic.
“A priority is there’s a speeding issue in Barrhaven, there’s cut through traffic, there’s stunt driving, some local roads are essentially being turned into raceways,” said Simmonds.
“Part of the role of a councillor is fighting for and representing the residents, and that’s what I do every day for my clients, so, it’s being an advocate to make sure we have traffic safety in Barrhaven, and that families, and children, and parents, and everybody feels safe to use the roads,” he added.
Simmonds also enjoys interacting with the residents of Barrhaven in his going door-to-door, as well as around his neighbourhood of the ward.
“I think Barrhaven, truly, is the most generous community, certainly in Ottawa. The amount of generosity and kindness. I love that about Barrhaven. People really care about each other, they care about the community, and I love that,” said Simmonds.