VISION & VIEWS
I believe that Nanaimo is at an exciting time in its history. Our recent rapid population growth has made us one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. We are transitioning from a small town to a large city, and with that change comes new challenges.
The past four years has brought much new development to our city. We have also done much to rebuild Nanaimoís reputation and credibility in civic affairs. We have hired a new city manager, filled vacant staff positions, and re-established such entities as Nanaimo Prosperity Group, Tourism Nanaimo, and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association. We have also re-established a positive working relationship with such partners as the Nanaimo Port Authority, senior levels of government, and Snuneymuxw First Nation.
Despite the challenges of Covid 19, much has been accomplished. However, there are still many issues facing our city, such as the need for affordable housing, safety and security of our citizens, the effects of a mental health/addiction crisis, and potential development of the waterfront area.
I believe I am well qualified to take a leadership role, and I want to bring my experience and knowledge back to the Council table to lead positive changes. I have always tried hard to bring a moderate, thoughtful voice of reason and experience to Council discussions. I hope that my track record shows a pattern of thoughtful, reasoned, and sensible decision-making.
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 in recognizing that for every decision not everybody will be happy!
For me, the first priority is always ensuring that proper principles of good governance are followed. This involves more than simply being polite to each other at meetings. Councillors and City staff must understand their respective roles and duties, and interact appropriately. Council needs to stay in its proper lane, and focus on issues within our mandate of civic responsibility in issues that we have control over. We need to build Council's credibility with our citizens, with our business community, and with potential investors.
There will inevitably be some change in Council following the October election. We need mature and thoughtful team players who can work together to provide the governance Nanaimo needs. We need candidates who are credible and professional.
Beyond good governance, public safety and security is of paramount importance to our citizens. To maintain a safe, clean, and healthy community we will need to continue to build staff capacity in areas such as bylaw and RCMP enforcement, and park maintenance. Nanaimo needs to feel safe and welcoming to citizens and visitors ñ not just in downtown, but in all areas of the city. For the mental health/addiction issues that we cannot control, we must do all we can to lobby senior levels of government to take action and build secure treatment centres.
We need to foster sustainable growth and a strong economic base by giving more support to local business. In this current time of inflation and high cost of living, we need to pay closer attention to financial health and responsible spending of taxpayersí money. Expensive new projects may need to be put on hold. We must limit tax increases for the coming year as much as possible. Financial accountability must be stressed.
Our cityís rapid growth has brought more buildings and vehicles to our streets. We must ensure that our infrastructure is keeping pace. I support a review of our transportation policy to acknowledge the need for roadways and traffic design to enhance traffic flow and parking availability. We need to stop narrowing roads and eliminating right-turn lanes.
We must be prepared to work with partners and to lobby senior levels of government to take action in areas they have responsibility for, such as building secure treatment centres for those on the street with mental health/addiction issues, for bringing changes to a legal system that allows repeat offenders back on the street, and for approving improvements to our over-crowded Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
But more immediately, we need to re-focus on our civic mandate to oversee the responsible operation of our city through provision of basic core services. We need to remember five broad community values as identified in previous strategic plans: economic health, environmental responsibility, social equity, cultural vitality, and active lifestyle. Each of those lenses is important in decision-making.
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.
In the coming weeks I will be pleased to elaborate on the above and other topics through posts on the Blog section of this website.