It seems like Squamish is developing so fast it feels like too much sometimes. What are the checks and balances to ensure growth happens sustainably?
The changes have been coming at us fast the last few years, and I feel it too. Municipalities have very few tools to control the timing of development and are held to certain procedural standards by the provincial government. The most powerful tool we have to ensure development occurs in a manner that results in a net benefit to the community is the Growth Management Boundary. There has been pressure from landowners outside the boundary to have it moved and subsequently develop their land while we have much to do to optimize development within the boundary. To give up what is a very effective tool to pace development the Mayor, council and the community at large will need to assess the potential impact of such a move and both the positive and negative consequences of doing so.
- Why did you decide to run for councillor initially?
- I have always been interested in public service and especially service in municipal government as it makes the decisions that most directly affect the community we live in. In the run-up to the 2018 election, I didn't see many candidates that I felt would represent my interests and after some discussion with my friends and family, I entered the race. I am very glad I did.
- I see you are not accepting campaign donations from developers, why is this?
- Managing development is an important part of the job for the Mayor and council. While development can be beneficial and provide such things as affordable housing, daycare space and improved amenities, it also has potential negative impacts such as decreased green space, habitat destruction, and additional pressure on already stressed facilities. I feel it's important for the community to know that the decision-makers are working in an impartial, unbiased manner in the public interest and not for one interest or another as they weigh these types of issues. Furthermore, I will not be taking meetings with developers during the election, however, all members of the community are welcome to join in the public discussion at one of my "Neighborhood Chats".
- Are you part of a slate or a political party?
- No, I am not. Further, I feel that slates or parties have no place in local politics in a community of our size. Having a Mayor and council made up of people with a wide range of lived experience and political views leads to policy outcomes that incorporate a wide range of opinions. Conversely, if there are four or more members of the council acting as one, there is no opportunity for diverging views to be incorporated into decisions. You could even argue that this is a serious threat to the democratic process.
- Are you supportive of the Garibaldi at Squamish (G.A.S) proposal?
- At this point, I have not seen a version of this project that I feel I can support. The list of concerns is lengthy and well-documented. Managing development within our boundaries is my focus.
- What are your thoughts on densification?
- Densification isn’t inherently good or bad. Issues around changing the density of an area take robust planning to ensure positive outcomes for the community as a whole regardless of the density level. I feel this is best done through detailed neighbourhood planning processes so the most in-depth investigation, public involvement and planning can take place and, once complete, give the neighbourhood, residents, and landowners a clear picture of the area's future that reflects their aspirations.
- It seems like Squamish is developing so fast it feels like too much sometimes. What are the checks and balances to ensure growth happens sustainably?
- The changes have been coming at us fast the last few years, and I feel it too. Municipalities have very few tools to control the timing of development and are held to certain procedural standards by the provincial government. The most powerful tool we have to ensure development occurs in a manner that results in a net benefit to the community is the Growth Management Boundary. There has been pressure from landowners outside the boundary to have it moved and subsequently develop their land while we have much to do to optimize development within the boundary. To give up what is a very effective tool to pace development the Mayor, council and the community at large will need to assess the potential impact of such a move and both the positive and negative consequences of doing so.
- What is your stance on dog parks? And can we incorporate a dog park into the Oceanfront development?
- I think it’s very important to have official off-leash areas so our dogs can live their best Squamish life and on-leash regulations can be enforced to protect our environmentally sensitive areas and ensure public safety. There is a pilot project underway way now with one off-leash area up and running now in the Highlands and others (Brackendale, Brennan Park and Valleycliffe) set to follow. Learning from these will be an important part of finding a way to have a functioning facility amongst the complexities of our downtown. The need for an off-leash area downtown was discussed at length when the off-leash program was before the council. I can dig up the video of that discussion if you are interested.
- What Squamish neighbourhood do you live in? What one issue would you act on that is of importance to your neighbourhood?
- I currently live downtown. However, over my life I’ve lived in 7 different places in Brackendale, 3 in the Garibaldi Estates, one in The North Yards, one in Valleycliffe and now I call downtown home. With this context in mind, I’ll say improvements to our transit system are needed across the municipality to ensure the service is frequent and reliable enough to be an easier choice for folks to make as they set out to move around our community.
- How long have you lived in Squamish? What brought you here?
- I humbly acknowledge the people of the Squamish Nation have been the stewards of these lands since time immemorial. I was born and raised in Squamish as were both my parents. My grandparents on both sides of my family spent the majority of their lives here and my Great Grandfather on my father's side was the first of my descendants to arrive in perhaps the early 40s. This is my home and I intend to do everything I can to make it the best place it can be so I can spend the rest of my days here. People who are newer to our community deserve to be heard too. It’s not an easy place to be in a lot of ways and I have tremendous respect for those who choose to make a life for themselves here as they have truly chosen Squamish to call home.
- You were quoted as saying, "street parking is paid for by the taxpayers and we are currently giving it away effectively subsidizing those using it". Is it not taxpayers who are using it?
- Yes, taxpayers use the available parking downtown. There are lots of folks that are in town for the day or a longer stay that are not taxpayers that are using the parking as well. Are people parking downtown doing so to access businesses; businesses that also are taxpayers? This is true. We are hearing from these tax-paying businesses that their customers (tax-paying or not) are having a hard time accessing their businesses due to the availability of parking. To effect this, pay parking COULD be used to manage demand and create more turnover in the spots we do have. There will be a report on this coming to the Mayor and council before the end of this year that will lay out what would be involved in implementing a paid parking regime, at that point a discussion on this will be much better informed. So, parking is a community asset that is being given away and we are hearing that this is not working well. Pay parking COULD not only manage demand through pricing and time limits but many cities use parking revenues to fund important parts of their budget. This deserves investigation and future discussion as we have both parking challenges and budget constraints.