VISION & VIEWS
I believe that Nanaimo is at a crucial cross-roads in its history. Our city’s reputation has suffered greatly over the past four years, and we cannot allow this to continue. Now we need to choose wisely, and select the right people to provide positive leadership, restore confidence, and move Nanaimo forward.
I anticipate a big change in Council following the October election. We need some new faces, mature and thoughtful team players who can work together to get Nanaimo back on track.
I believe I am well qualified to take a leadership role, and I want to bring my experience and knowledge back to the table to lead positive changes. During the past term I tried hard to avoid being drawn into the personal conflicts, and to remain neutral and professional. I will bring a voice of reason and experience to an incoming Council.
During my career I have worked in unions and in management, and have been able to relate well with all sides of the political spectrum. I have worked in all areas of the city and come to know people from all walks of life. I have sat on or chaired numerous executive boards. I have enjoyed leadership roles which required me to be a good listener and a reasoned thinker. My experiences have taught me how to be decisive, and to make evidence-based decisions in a fair and impartial manner – recognizing that for every decision some people are going to be unhappy!
There are many issues facing our city, such as affordable housing, the opioid crisis, and development of the downtown waterfront.
However, I see the first and main priority as re-establishing proper principles of governance, where Councillors and City staff know their respective roles and duties, and interact appropriately. Back in 2013, the City commissioned the Watson Report on Governance Framework. The recommendations from this report have been largely ignored, and I believe we need to revisit those recommendations and implement them.
We need to re-establish our Council’s credibility – with our citizens, with our business community, and with potential investors.
A crucial first step will be the October election, where I hope that voters will think carefully and choose candidates who are credible and professional. Following that we will need to launch a comprehensive search for a qualified and experienced city manager who can provide stability and expertise. The next step will be to recruit to replace the dozens of quality staff who have left our city during the past three years.
To maintain a safe, clean, and healthy community, we will need to build staff capacity in areas such as bylaw and RCMP enforcement, and park maintenance. To facilitate growth and investment we need to increase staffing to allow for faster processing of permits and development applications. This will help us maintain sustainable growth and a strong economic base.
We need to re-focus on the five broad community values as identified in the 2016-19 Strategic Plan: economic health, environmental responsibility, social equity, cultural vitality, and active lifestyle.
Working with our community partners, we need to enhance our downtown and waterfront, promoting and utilizing without spoiling the natural beauty of our surroundings. I would like to see the work of the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative revisited as a starting point. Nanaimo needs to be promoted as a tourism and transportation hub for Vancouver Island.
In all of the above there must be open, honest, and respectful communication and consultation with the community – and of course responsible use of taxpayers’ money.