Editor's note: BarrieToday has been profiling federal candidates in the Barrie-Innisfil and Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte ridings. Today we feature Sarah Lochhead, the NDP's candidate in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. For more coverage of the upcoming federal election, visit our Canada Votes 2021 page.
Sarah Lochhead is no stranger to being in front of a crowd and hopes her lifetime of experience will serve her well if elected to Parliament next month.
An active member of the local arts community and the founder of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, which is a local not-for-profit dance company, Lochhead is running as the NDP's federal candidate in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding.
She previously worked for the City of Barrie in its parks and recreation department, developing their dance curriculum, as well as in the National Arts not-for-profit sector and served as a board member with Dance Umbrella of Ontario.
The 39-year-old lives in the city’s west end with her family, including a 19-month-old son.
Lochhead tells BarrieToday she has been a supporter of the NDP since the 2015 federal election.
“I was disenfranchised by the first time I voted for (Justin) Trudeau, because he promised electoral reform and it didn't happen," she said. "When the next election came around, I was all for Jagmeet (Singh). I was so on board with a politician who is hopeful, who puts forward promises and ideas that break the mould. Instead of saying 'no we can’t,' he says 'why not?' I think that’s so exciting."
As a new mother, Lochhead says it is extremely important to her to ensure a better future for her son.
“For the last year and a half, I have been sitting on the sidelines keeping him safe and not being able to be active in the community in the way I wanted to… so when the email popped in my inbox as I was about to open something else, I thought why not me?”
Lochhead says she wants to represent her community by helping make a better future as well as helping people feel hopeful about politics again.
“(I want them) to see what is possible when we really put people first," she said.
With the third highest rental rates in the country, Lochhead noted affordable housing is the number one concern for her riding.
“When you think about that with Toronto, Vancouver, Barrie… that is a major issue,” she said.
Prior to moving to Barrie, her family was living in a basement apartment in York Region, she said. And while they returned to Barrie to be close to family, they were unable to afford a place of their own.
“I live in a multi-generational home. We are lucky to have the generosity of my in-laws to be able to have a suitable place to live," Lochhead said.
“We couldn’t afford a rental in Barrie, not to mention a down payment for a home. That is something we want to work toward, but also we were thinking maybe that can’t be a goal for us,” she added. ‘Then I thought, 'why adjust our goals? Let’s adjust the policies.' There are a lot of other people in my generation who really wanted that dream to have a family home, and I think that’s a key issue in this riding for a lot of people — to be able to afford to live here and to not be putting in more than 60 per cent of your income to place to live.”
Lochhead believes she will serve as an option on the ballot to prove that things can be different.
“We can’t keep making the same choices and expect a different result,” she said. “I will be passionate about this community and fight hard for the issues. I am excited to get in touch with constituents and hear more about what their concerns are and bring those forward on a national level.”
The federal election is set for Sept. 20.