A number of community groups sent in questionaires. We are now loading Fred's responses. More to come shortly.
Q. What would be your highest priorities in the next four years to reduce the total energy use and emissions from transportation?
- A. Transit, roads and traffic need integrated planning to achieve reduced emissions. I would lobby for changing the Regional Transit Commission to a Transportation Commission. This would address road planning, reduce commute times, increase transit ridership, promote active transport and cut emissions. Transportation needs to be integrated with housing development. My priorities would be to encourage the shift of vehicles from gasoline to electrical and hybrids. This reduces carbon based energy and emissions. In tandem, I would encourage a shift to e-buses. Energy use and emissions can be reduced by shifting from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles. Saanich is already embracing more e-vehicles for staff and placing charging stations. In new multi-family development applications we are encouraging pre-ducting for e-vehicle charging, use of car share programs with e-vehicles and hybrids. Modal shifts in transportation from cars to transit, bikes and pedestrian need to be a priority. Reduced commute times can be facilitated by having more homes along our transit corridors such that people can live, work and play in their local area, rather than travel in from Westshore or further. Smart City design for transportation integration helps achieve reduced emissions, increased ridership and improved commute experience. I'm delighted to have worked on the South Island Prosperity Project Smart City Transport Initiative, which is in the running for a $10 million federal grant to achieve a Smart City approach to integrating options for multi-modal transportation.
Q. Over the next 4 years, would you support increasing the space for walking, biking, and public transit and reducing that for private motor vehicles in your community? How would you do that?
- A. I believe this will be the natural evolution of integrating our transport and housing planning. By densifying along our corridors and centres we reduce the need for private vehicles. By improving our bicycle and walking routes we encourage leaving the car at home. Car share programs should be encouraged in all multi-family developments to make ownership less necessary. Walking is encouraged by refocusing on a livability of our roads so that all users feel safe. This can be done by adding physical road changes such as cross walks and traffic circles. These enable traffic flow while preventing speeding. I believe the budget is available inside annual surpluses and infrastructure funding. I am committed to accelerating safety actions on priority roads, safe walking routes to school and taking action on cut-through traffic. Taken together, these will increase the space for walking, biking and public transit, and enable the reduction in the need for private vehicle ownership.
Q. Would you actively encourage the provincial government to prioritize public transit, walking and biking infrastructure over roadway expansion projects such as the proposed interchanges on the Pat Bay Highway?
- A. The interchange at McKenzie is already being built. Yes, I would actively encourage the Province to prioritize public transit, walking and biking over additional roadway expansions. LA is our proof that building more roads does not reduce traffic congestion. I believe we need to use our existing roads better. Smart City programs of integrating traffic lights, traffic circles, transit timing can be better utilized. I'd like to see more Park and Rides to encourage high occupancy car travel. There are too many single use vehicles. We need improved bus service and that is one thing we must lobby strongly for.
Q. Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in Saanich?
- A. Absolutely. I believe we need to refocus our attention on road safety and livable streets. We cannot wait the 5-10-15 year periods for road safety improvements to our priority roads. The residents have told us how they feel. We've had recent tragedies. I believe we can reassign our annual budget surpluses and contributions to our long term infrastructure reserves to address walkability now. Adding traffic circles and cross walks to 20 of our high priority areas can be achieved without increasing our taxes. This goes hand in hand with accelerating our side walk programs.
Q. What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in Saanich?
- A. I believe we can reassign our annual budget surpluses and contributions to our long term infrastructure reserves to address walkability now. Adding traffic circles and cross walks to 20 of our high priority areas can be achieved without increasing our taxes. This goes hand in hand with accelerating our side walk programs. We need to treat road safety with more urgency.
Q. Do you support building a community-wide network of all ages and abilities (“AAA”) bike routes in the next four years?
- A. Yes. As our budgets permit. We are already underway with this with the recently adopted Active Transportation Plan. As we see more development in our corridors, so we will receive additional funding to improve our bike route networks.
Q. Do you support building a protected bike lane on Gorge Rd?
- A. Yes. Protected bike lanes help increase alternate transportation choices. I would work with Victoria and Saanich in design and timing.
Q. Would you support completing the 24/7 bus lanes along the Douglas Street/Highway 1 corridor, as well as along other routes such as the Pat Bay Highway as a high priority for municipalities and the BC government in the next four years?
- A. Yes. This is a key element to improving transportation. We need to complete the Douglas Hwy 1 corridor. We then need to look at funding and strategies for other routes including the Pat Bay Hwy. These can be integrated with Park 'n Ride spaces. We really need the essential help of the Provincial government.
Q. Would you support keeping the E&N railway as a railway and actively campaign for electrified passenger and freight services?
- A. I am a big fan of rail, but see this as something for our future, when our population is better able to support it. Right now, our focus should be on the transit we have, which is buses. Making these as low emission as possible and increasing their convenience so that they become the first choice for commuters.
Q. Would you support and actively campaign for street-level electrified rapid transit in the greater Victoria region? If so, along what routes
- A. As with rail, I believe that we should keep this as an option for the future. I would need to see the business plan based on ridership capacity, costs and return on investment. All options can be on the table. These SLER systems are used in other cities. Do we have the ingredients to do this successfully will depend on the business case and support from higher levels of government.
Q. In the next four years, would you support removing the requirements for off-street vehicle parking from new and infill developments?
- A. Until there is significantly reduced uses of private vehicles, off-street parking will be required. Over the next four years there will be a trend in this direction. Meanwhile I believe all developments need adequate off street parking spaces. In cases of rental on transit corridors there is a case for a reduced parking ratio. I hope this trend continues.
Q. In the next four years, how, would you activate and bring more people into public spaces within your municipality, including sidewalks, public squares, streets and parks?
- A. Encouraging vital villages where people use the common space is key. This involves a combination of safety on sidewalks, and the attractiveness of public spaces, streets and parks. Local cafes and pocket parks on streets, the use of food trucks in parks and engaging public activities such as music, street theatre and street parties are all place making techniques known to work. Let's encourage more.
Victoria Tenant Action Group Questionnaire
Q. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being very poor, and 10 being extremely good), please rate the available quantity of livable, affordable rental housing stock in your municipality.
- A. 1 It is very poor and needs to be addressed
Q. Do you believe that housing is a right that should be extended to all people living in your municipality?
- A. Strongly agree. The question is, how to provide it. How do we work together as individuals, a municipality, and a country to address housing.
Q. Do you believe that a tenant’s right to housing is a higher priority than a landlord’s right to profit from housing as a commodity?
- A. Neutral. This requires a nuanced response. There needs to a be a balance of the revenue needed to create and maintain housing, with the ability of individuals to pay. Landlords and tenants are in an economic partnership. We need to avoid an "us against them" divisiveness and work on approaches to delivering affordable rental housing.
Q. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being very much so) to what extent do you believe the solution to the housing crisis is clearing the path for developers to allow the filtering of housing into affordable stock?
- A. 5. My reading of this question is how municipalities and developers can work together to create more rental. I have proposed pre-zoning for multi-family rental along our corridors & villages. Locating rental near amenities and transit reduces living costs, reduces commute times and improves affordability. In Saanich we need to better facilitate the supply of rentals to reach a healthy vacancy rate of 4%-5%. The answer is supply. In Saanich we have moved to asking for inclusionary housing, where a percentage of multi-family units are affordable at below market rates. We can facilitate this by allowing increased density, eg extra floors where our Official Community Plan identifies density is appropriate.
Q. Is a Standards of Housing Maintenance Bylaw desirable for your community? If yes, what do you see as the necessary elements of such a bylaw?
- A. This is something that can be looked at. At present Provincial standards and building codes apply. Like any important policy, we should be reviewing these to see if there is room for improvement. Our municipality can look at ways to stimulate new rental construction by accelerated application processing time, pre-zoning, density bonuses linked to affordability and working together with all stakeholders. This includes non-profits and for profits. My platform includes creating a Mayor's Standing Committee to address exactly these issues. For example, our existing rental stock from the 1960s is old, has large surface parking, and is energy inefficient. Can we allow new rental construction to go forward on the parking lots, while keeping existing rentals in place as the new housing is built? This helps guard against "renovictions" and makes better use of existing land assets.
Q. What roles could other stakeholders play in addressing these housing issues?
- A. We need to work with co-ops, non-profits, rental companies, land owners and other levels of government, plus improve our own land use processes to stimulate rental supply.
Q. Do you support the addition of new high-end housing stock?
- A. Yes but with some affordable units included. What percentage? 10-15-20%, depending on site specific criteria, opportunities for bonus densities, inclusionary housing and the options for height. These approaches are being used successfully in other cities. Let's use all the tools in the kit. We need all stakeholders around the table to address stimulating a diversity of housing stock. If elected I would create a Mayor's Standing Advisory Committee of experts to do exactly that, and report actionable items to council so we can start to solve this problem within the first six months.
Q. Do you support restricting short term vacation rentals? If yes, how?
- A. Yes. Short term rentals are now a part of the community and housing matrix. We need to guard against the loss of long term rental to vacation rental. Well managed, they can co-exist. The question is how. Sidney just brought in a policy that allows a restricted short term rental. In Saanich we see some student rental suites switching to short term rental for the summer. It comes down to stimulating an adequate supply of all types of rental. The yard stick to measure success is achieving a vacancy rate of 4%-5% for long term rentals. Meanwhile we must prevent neighbourhoods becoming vacation centres. We must also guard against profiteers buying multiple units for short term vacation rentals. One way to do this is to restrict short term rentals to the personal residence of home owners. This housing issue needs a fulsome community engagement and would be part of the conversation on housing supply addressed by the Mayor's Standing Committee.
Q. Do you support using the new rental-zoning provisions to address the housing crisis in your community? If so, how?
- A. Yes. I have already brought forward a recommendation to council to move forward on pre-zoning for rental. This was unanimously approved. It will be coming to the new council shortly after the election.
Q. What is your position on the implementation of a speculation tax in your municipality?
- A. Nobody wants rich overseas buyers coming in and scooping up our housing for their investment portfolio. Leaving housing empty is not acceptable. We need to understand what it's real impacts are within Saanich. I have asked for more information on this from the Province. The Province replied that it is currently reviewing the tax and I look forward to more information.
Q. Do you believe tenants in your municipality are sufficiently protected from displacement? If not, please explain what actions you would like to take.
- A. In the main our by-laws and building permit applications are intended to prevent renovictions or unfair displacement. That said, I have personally worked with several individuals who have been unfairly displaced. We can do more. We desperately need more available supply. This gives tenants choice and empowers them. Our target needs to be a vacancy rate of 4%-5%. In 2016, with council, students and our MLAs, I championed the Provincial funding of $450 million province wide for on-campus student housing. In Saanich, I'd like to see 2,000 new units on Uvic and Camosun. This would free up housing in the community.
Q. Are the rights of people experiencing homelessness sufficiently addressed by your municipality? If not, what needs to be done?
- A. As a director on the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and past Vice Chair of the Regional Housing Trust Fund, I have educated myself on the issues of homelessness. Saanich is a leader in providing supported and assisted housing. The Nigel Valley, Cottage Grove, Rosalie's Village indicate the attention Saanich gives to this critical issue. We can do more. Saanich has recently provided land for modular housing supplied by the Province. A national issue, we need to work harder to engage the Federal and Provincial governments. We see they are willing. Let's make a clear call to action to address our region's needs. I am personally delighted at the $90 million raised for Housing First program and look forward to the 1200 units of housing for our homeless that is coming up. If elected as Mayor, this would be a high priority for me.
1) Child Care: Affordable and high quality child care encourages children’s healthy development and supports caregivers to enter and remain in the workforce. Currently, Saanich does not have enough child care spaces to support the need in our community.
Q. If elected, what will you do to help increase the number of child care spaces in our community?
A. I recognize this problem. Saanich does not have enough childcare spaces to support the families in our community. This needs to change and if elected I would like to lead the municipality to address this. I am already working on this and will amplify this work as Mayor. Having raised 3 boys with my wife Cathy, with no extended family near us, we depended on daycare. The families of today, with two incomes or more needed to afford a house, struggle even more. Current daycare can cost $850 - $1,200/month, if it’s available. Costs are exaccerbated by high demand and lack of supply.
We need more: infant and early childhood daycare, after school care, drop in daycare, drop-in for older children & teens. Specifically, we need to bring together school boards, the province, parents, licensed daycare, non-profits, Faith groups, advocacy groups and the municipality, Parks & Rec to find the solutions.
Saanich Neighborhood Place provides an example of the municipality supporting parents. In addition to onsite daycare there are programs ranging from parenting classes to cooking classes, drop in support sessions, prenatal discussion groups, postpartum groups, drop-in playgroups and kindergym.
Working with the province we need to improve supply of qualified staff and resources. The solution is to work with all stakeholders.
Some examples of action areas:
- Outdated regulations
- Increase funding support
- Improve wages to keep quality staff
- Subsidies for high needs children and low income families
- Venue availability and licensing
- Resources for home daycare – education and support
- Locating near easy access locations – transit corridors and centres
- A. I recognize this problem. Saanich does not have enough childcare spaces to support the families in our community. This needs to change and if elected I would like to lead the municipality to address this. I am already working on this and will amplify this work as Mayor. Having raised 3 boys with my wife Cathy, with no extended family near us, we depended on daycare. The families of today, with two incomes or more needed to afford a house, struggle even more. Current daycare can cost $850 - $1,200/month, if it’s available. Costs are exaccerbated by high demand and lack of supply.
2) Affordability: As a community resource serving Saanich for over 25 years, Saanich Neighbourhood Place sees the growing impact of income inequality and lack of affordability for families on a daily basis. Families are increasingly feeling the squeeze to meet the daily needs of their households. Research has long demonstrated that income inequality is detrimental to children’s health and development. Growing income inequality in BC is recognized as a threat to the health of both individual children, youth and families, as well as to communities as a whole.
Q. If elected, what specific actions will you take to make Saanich more affordable for families?
A. Affordability is impacted by cost of living and income. We need to think how to reduce costs of living, such as housing and transportation, and at the same time, improve the availability of well paying jobs.
Saanich can do a better job to improve cost of living by having more attainable housing in locations where people can live, work and play. Attainable housing means diversity of options.
We need more rental housing, co-op housing, subsidized housing plus market housing that starts at the $300,000 - $4,00,000 range. We are already seeing developers bring forward more rental and housing in this range. Saanich is already working on inclusionary housing, where new multi-family developments will have a certain percentage of housing that is affordable. This is both for rental and market housing. This is a start.
Saanich just approved the Nigel Valley project which brings forward a wide array of housing. For example, 440 rental units, up from 128. This is in addition to supported and assisted living. Meanwhile the municipality only receives 8 cents of every tax dollar. Clearly we need the Provice and Federal governments to step up – and for Saanich to get its fair share.
For co-op housing, we need more attention from the Federal government. This could be an extension of the 2015 You Hold the Key campaign I worked on with the BC Co-op Housing Federation. I brought forward a successful recommendation to council to use Pre-zoning for rental to help accelarate its arrival. This would be in areas where our corridors and centres have amenitities for transit, local shops and services. Being able to live work and play locally has potential to reduce travel costs from an average 19% of income to below 9%. Reducing commute times gives families more time together.
To reduce land costs, Saanich has moved forward on small lot single family homes and detached suites. I was pleased to bring these forward to council. We are also seeing more townhomes, duplexes and fourplexes in single family areas. For the future, we need to embrace the need for higher density along our corridors and village centres. This means increasing height to reduce unit costs. As we do this, it’s imperative we retain and grow green spaces, for the planet and for our personal enjoyment.
Improving Incomes: The sad truth is that home ownership for working families now often requires two incomes plus a suite. In Saanich we are seeing new homes come forward where suites are included. This helps more young people get into the market.
Affordability relates to income. I was pleased to help create the South Island Prosperity Project. This is a collaborative economic development effort. Within two years it is already bringing positive impacts to local companies that collectively employ 5,000 residents. Improved job security and income has been a result.
Saanich has just approved a more extensive economic development plan. I am hoping this will enable us to increase the economic vitality of our business cores. Moving forward, having jobs here in Saanich and housing in Saanich increases the affordability. Plus it gives more family time by cutting commutes.
Recreational and community services are a part of family expenses. Saanich already provides family discounts when requested. This needs to be continued and expanded as needs indicate.
- A. Affordability is impacted by cost of living and income. We need to think how to reduce costs of living, such as housing and transportation, and at the same time, improve the availability of well paying jobs.
3) Belonging & Connection: Research shows that a sense of connection to the people and places where we live is central to building happy and healthy lives, and is associated with better physical and mental health. Families with young children often report feeling socially isolated, while also reporting a strong desire to connect to other families and their broader communities.
Q. If elected, what would you do to make our community more family and child-friendly beyond what is currently in place? What strategies do you envision to increase connections between families, children, and other community members in neighbourhoods?
A. We know from our own child rearing that loneliness and isolation can be part of the child rearing experience for young parents. One solution is to ensure neighbourhoods have drop-in centres where parents can connect with other adults who are in similar stage of life. Children and parents make friends at these places, sometimes creating lifelong friendships. Ideally these are walking distance or on easy access routes.
Drop in centres for connections are also places to provide education on early child rearing best practices. We know that the first three to six years of childhood are critical for development. This could include guest speakers, group activities and projects. Getting connected doesn’t have to be elaborate. Things like meet-up groups for young parents can informally connect people and address the need for connectedness and belonging.
Once connected networks are established parents can lean on each-other for support. They can share child minding, spell each-other off, get friends’ advice – and explore the joys of parenting
- A. We know from our own child rearing that loneliness and isolation can be part of the child rearing experience for young parents. One solution is to ensure neighbourhoods have drop-in centres where parents can connect with other adults who are in similar stage of life. Children and parents make friends at these places, sometimes creating lifelong friendships. Ideally these are walking distance or on easy access routes.
Q. What benefits do the arts bring to our communities?
- A. I believe that the arts talk to the soul of the community and are an essential ingredient to a vibrant and sustainable community / region. In Saanich our arts are enriched by our cultural diversity and depth of passion and talent within the region. They are an essential part of any civilization, can bring us together, and quite simply make life more worth living.
Q. What role do you believe municipal governments should have in supporting the arts?
- A. Municipal governments have the role to provide: funding, venues (including parks, boulevards, sidewalks), staff resources as appropriate, partnerships, lobby for senior government’s support and encourage a love of arts and develop people’s skills through educational programs. Parks and Recreation in particular provides classes and galleries. I would like to see Saanich work with artists to display more art in our parks and public spaces. This is already being done to good effect at our municipal hall, but could grow.
Q. Given that your municipality is either ‘committed to’ or ‘currently not’ investing in the CRD Arts Development Service, do you support your municipality’s decision to contribute to the service? Why?
- A. Yes. Because of the immediate and long-term cultural values to our community.
Q. Is there anything else regarding the arts that you would like to communicate to voters?
- A. A vibrant arts and cultural community is evidence of a thriving, open society. Supporting the arts is a part of supporting self expression and the free exchange of ideas. It is also a part of what connects us, and a connected community is what people need.
Livable Roads for Rural Saanich Questionaire
Q. The 2007 Rural Saanich LAP attributes many values to Rural Saanich. Which of those are most important to you and how would you as mayor or councillor support and protect those values? Please also comment on the Urban Containment Boundary.
A. I live in rural Saanich and I love it. We chose this location to raise our family. It is protected primarily by the urban containment boundary (UCB). The values of rural lifestyle, forests, agriculture, wildlife and meandering country roads are a treasure. These values are also protected by the descriptions expressed in the rural Saanich local area plan, official community plan, the sewage enterprise area as well as the UCB itself. I do not support re-zoning outside of the UCB.
Q. Would you support a pilot program to introduce traffic calming* on some roads in Rural Saanich? If so, how would you support this initiative? (* We know speeds are set by the province, and we know they can be changed. We believe that effective traffic calming will/must include speed reduction.)
A. Yes, I would certainly support a pilot program on traffic calming. Traffic and the impacts on our roads has become a growing issue that needs to be urgently addressed. We know first hand that some of our roads are dangerous when cars travel at 50km/hr. I would also like to see more signage indicating hidden side streets and blind corners. I support the update of our motor vehicle act to allow Saanich to set default and specific location speeds. Solutions also require working with Central Saanich, View Royal and private companies on an effective joint strategy to reduce cut through trucking.
A refocusing of our priorities to include the "lived experience of our rural residents" on rural roads needs to happen. I believe we need to move now to take action on using proven physical traffic calming measures. These include traffic circles, safe crossings and others. Enforcement is not 24/7 but these structures things are. In my platform, in the immediate term, I propose assigning funds from the annual budget surpluses and from the annual addition infrastructure reserves to cover the costs.
Q. Assuming you believe that the citizen concerns are credible and reasonable, how would you as mayor or councillor continue to support those citizen issues in the face of Staff positions which could be different?
A. I believe we need to re-focus our priorities. Mayor and council need to lead on this. Road safety evaluation needs to include the lived experience of residents - not just engineering analysis. Through this we get a more complete picture of what's actually happening.
Q. How would you characterize the importance of visionary documents such as LAPs, OCPs and the Active Transportation Plan? How should they influence policy?
A. They are the guiding documents for our municipality. Several are under review to bring them up to date. Taken as a collective whole, they help guide our policy.
Q. What would you do as mayor or councillor to promote collegiality and dialogue between elected officials outside of council meetings?
A. As a councillor I believe in the value of congeniality and dialogue with all my colleagues both inside and outside council meetings. We often meet at friendly community events such as festivals, music in the park, and others. I also meet regularly for coffee with colleagues. In addition, we meet at more formal events such as UBCM, FCM and AVIC conferences. For the new council I would recommend more social gatherings - keeping in mind that there is a restriction on 5 or more councillors meeting together. I am social by nature and I work at promoting congeniality and dialogue all the time.
In addition, we should always keep in mind what unites us; which is wanting to contribute to a better future for our region; even if we differ on the path to get there. Policy debate is not personal, so in public life one needs to keep our debate to the issues, and to assume the best of eachother.