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My platform for our city

As the campaign goes along there will be lots of questions for the candidates.  I plan on publishing my answers to those questions here in a Q&A type format.  The answers will make up my platform.

We will be talking about many issues in this election including but not limited to Economic Development, Downtown Waterfront,  Food Security, Transportation and Reconciliation.

My platform

Economic development should be a main priority of the next council.  My platform is geared towards that economic development.

More high paying high-tech jobs so our children can stay here and don’t have to move to Victoria or Calgary.  That means high-tech solutions like a shared digital infrastructure – from street lighting to IOT based technologies yet to come.  Walk-able neighbourhoods for families to group up in and a high-tech connected city will draw high-tech industry to our city.

We have the building blocks for being the next high-tech hub.  We have a great climate, extensive natural amenities, and average housing prices.  However we lack a thriving arts and cultural industry and a strong digital infrastructure which people who work in this industry want.  People who run this industry want to move to a place where they can attract and retain employees and if we don’t have the amenities that employees like, the business will not come.

Improving our Digital Infrastructure, developing a thriving Arts and Culture infrastructure will be what we need to develop so that we can attract and retain the next wave of business development to our city.

A well-functioning city needs both an effective, collaborative council and professional, efficient city staff who work together in the city’s best interests, aspire to the highest standards of governance and public service and uphold the law.

This is how I believe we can repair these relationships.

  • Support staff in rebuilding the City of Nanaimo’s organizational capacity with best practice policies and programs addressing the obvious gaps exposed in recent years, including:
  • Strengthening the Freedom Of Information process to protect the department from outside interference and training for both council and all staff as to their role, responsibilities including proper records management, systems and practices.
  • A whistle blower policy setup by council that is independent of staff and council, created through consultation with union and management.
  • Create a separate Audit Committee, and review travel, hospitality and financial policies and practices for both council and staff. Support council and staff with appropriate training.
  • Having Council agree to a Code of Values and Ethics.

Adoption and recognition of the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Change the way Council does in-camera meetings, including the reason for the meeting to be in-camera is specifically listed in advance with the agenda.

Meeting minutes must be released within 3 months of holding any meeting.

Change the way we do public engagement so that engagement happens before decisions are made, and before formal plans are completed.  More public engagement at the beginning of the process means less public criticism at the end of the project.  While generally the final decision is for council to make, we need to find a way to encourage and provide the ability for the citizens to have more say in the decision making process.

I am in favour of returning to the committee structure we had in place in 2014, prior to it being abolished – without reasonable explanation – by this Council.  We have a rich resource of experience, knowledge and wisdom in our community. We should be tapping into that resource as much as possible.  I would particularly like to see the Advisory Committee on Environment Sustainability reestablished with its original mandate, and I will be working with my fellow Councillors to see a return to that system as soon as possible.

No matter what anyone says, affordable housing and homelessness are a local issue.  The federal government may have funds for homelessness and the provincial government may have funds for housing, but the problem is here in our backyards.

An effective City Council will implement programs and reports that have already been done by previous councils – we already have a strategy for housing and homelessness that was created in 2008, but then filed and forgotten.  We just need to continue that work and develop new strategies.

We need to look at ways to encourage the building of affordable housing by working with developers and builders.  We need to provide more choices for consumers and developers, and to create less expensive housing opportunities through bylaws and zoning.  We also need a partnership between the City and developers, where each side is providing what the other side needs.  The City needs to start acquiring more land and rezoning it, following public engagement, to allow for more affordable housing. The City also needs to be ready on short notice to provide land for affordable, low-barrier, and/or supportive housing, when money is offered from senior levels of government.

We already have a plan to address homelessness, which we need to update.  This plan includes working with federal and provincial governments for funding; and working in partnership with service agencies to provide services for those who are ready.

We need to work towards receiving increased funding under the Federal Homeless Partnership Strategy, which I am proud to say I was involved in originally setting up through my work with the United Way.  That money is earmarked for Housing First.  This is a proven way of ending homelessness, and all that is required is a reallocation of resources from the City and more rental stock in our City.  Council needs to start working with all agencies and senior levels of government who can help.  I fully endorse and would strongly recommend to council to implement the Nanaimo’s Action Plan to End Homelessness 2018-2023. It is a fundamental document for our city to help deal with homelessness, but it will take hard work and collaboration to succeed.

Discontent City

Tent City is a result of the inaction of and bad decisions by this council. It is also a symptom of serious, complex problems in our society – not just here in Nanaimo, but across Canada and beyond. There are no simple solutions.

What our homeless population needs – are services, not lawsuits.  These are people who were once active members of our society and have now found themselves in this bad situation for a number of unfortunate reasons.

So what do we do now?

  • The City needs to work with the homeless – not fight them – they are not going to go away without our support. Dispersing them to our city parks is not a solution, and will be damaging to the City, our parks, taxpayers, and the homeless themselves.
  • The City should provide services to TC for their basic necessities and provide ways to mitigate the effects of TC on the surrounding neighbourhoods.
  • The City needs to sit down with the organizers and come up with a plan to address the issues raised in the fire department order, any issues raised by VIHA, and issues around crime.
  • The City needs to start providing outreach workers to individuals in TC to see if there are other ways to house them.
  • Over the longer term, the City has a plan for providing social housing that was completed a decade ago – in 2008 – but which has sat gathering dust for four years.  City Council needs to update that plan and continue on with that work.
  • Finally, Council needs to start working with all agencies and senior levels of government who can help.  Nanaimo’s Action Plan to End Homelessness 2018-2023 is a fundamental document for this, but it will take hard work and collaboration to succeed.

Expensive lawsuits, confrontation, and dispersal to our parks is not a solution.  Working together is.

  1. As a member of the Algonquin Nation this is very important to me. The City needs to become recognized as a “City of Reconciliation”. To do this Council needs to adopt the findings of the report and implement all calls to action that relate to the City.   Our community needs to build local First Nations and Urban Indigenous relationships, including; recognizing the equal role our nations have with the City of Nanaimo and Snuneymuwx and Snaw-Naw-As First Nation; and, agreeing to view all relations with Snunemuwx, Snaw-Naw-As and the Urban Aboriginal population in the context of the Canadian Charter and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. We need to promote Indigenous peoples’ arts, culture, awareness, and understanding, including looking at incorporating the Halkomelem language onto our entrance signs to the City, and looking at renaming some streets and landmarks to include their traditional names, as we replace signage.
  3. Incorporate First Nations and Urban Indigenous perspectives for effective City services and for all policy and work that the City does.

The City Council and the City of Nanaimo need to become active partners in the sports & culture of our City.  People learn about diversity, equality and inclusiveness through getting to know one another, and the best way to do that is through a vibrant city culture, with festivals and events throughout the year and show off our diversity, our heritage and our commonality.