Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Stan Sipos Platform

He got as far as getting his website ready for the campaign. I am not sure how long this will be up, so I will post the text of the platform of Stand With Stan.
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Thank you for visiting my website.

I am running for Mayor because I love Victoria and am concerned about the direction our beautiful city is going. My goal is to make Victoria the best city in the world to live, work and raise a family. My vision is a Victoria where citizens feel safe in their homes, parks and streets.

As the father of two wonderful children, I want to ensure that they, and all children, can walk the streets free of fear. I want the same for our seniors and families. I want to put sustainability at the forefront of city policy and make Victoria known as a green capital. I want our city to capitalize on the coming green technology and business boom and build on our vibrant technology sector.

In short, I want Victoria to be what we all know it can. I can’t do this alone. I am building a coalition of concerned citizens from all political backgrounds who share my vision and values. We must avoid old style partisan politics and backroom bickering. I have never been a member of any political party and my first loyalty is, and always will be to the citizens of Victoria.

If you can spend a few hours over the next four months to lend my campaign a hand click here. If you are interested in participating in a volunteer workshop, please click here. If you have ideas on making Victoria all that we know it can be please drop me a note.

I look forward to listening to your views in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you again for visiting my web site and please visit often as we will be updating it on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Stan

Victoria is a wonderful city surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and unparalleled human spirit and talent. Throughout our history, Victoria has attracted visitors from around the world seeking to experience all our city has to offer. It has been among the best cities in the world to raise a family and build a life.

Victoria is now experiencing many of the challenges faced by other larger cities. Increased homelessness and crime, drug addiction and lack of housing. Our young people are finding it increasingly difficult to afford the rising cost of living. And our local economy, while stronger than many, is competing for increasingly scarce tourist dollars in an increasingly competitive market.

Dealing with these issues will require bold and focused action. We cannot afford to ignore these problems and hope that things get better. The next three years will be critical for our city. Without bold action, Victoria will fall further behind in dealing with our shared challenges. The time for action is now. Together, we can build the Victoria of the future. A city that we can all be proud of once again.

AFFORDABILITY

Affordability is another critical concern. We want our children to be able to grow and raise their families in Victoria. We want our police, firefighters and city workers to be able to live in the city that they work. Other cities have taken innovative approached to increasing affordability by leveraging the opportunities that come from vibrant growth.

Whistler has set up a housing corporation and built a model where a certain percentage of every development is committed to affordable units that are placed within the housing pool. Langford has created a system of putting ten per cent of every development into a land bank that is then distributed to qualified citizens through a lottery system. Even the high end Coal Harbour development in Vancouver has a significant affordable housing component. Whatever model Victoria adopts, it is time that the city uses the tools at it’s disposal (i.e. density bonusing) in a consistent and focused manner.

As Mayor, I will:

  • Make affordable housing a key component of new developments,
  • Develop a clear process so that developers understand expectations but are also rewarded with a more streamlined and transparent process,
  • End the “one off” nature of City Council’s interaction with new projects,
  • Set a clear and coherent set of priorities for the city as it relates to affordability.
ARTS AND CULTURE

Victoria has a vibrant arts community that must be nurtured and supported. We have waited far too long for a new art gallery and I will make it a priority to ensure that ground is broken on a new art gallery in the first two years of my term. Art is much more than just formal galleries. It is also important to harness Victoria’s creative talent at the community level and provide our young people opportunities to become engaged.

As Mayor, I will:

  • Break ground on a new art gallery within the first two years of my mandate,
  • Seek opportunities to support community level art,
  • Investigate the opportunity for special zoning to provide work space for local artists,
  • Seek out opportunities for youth participation in the arts including a graffiti wall where local youth can compete and create.
GREENING VICTORIA

Sewage treatment has been a flashpoint for our neighbours for far too long. While citizens and science are divided over the merits and costs of action on sewage treatment, two things are clear – the issue is not going away and the costs will only go up. We need to send a clear message to senior levels of government that Victoria is going to be at the table as a fully engaged and committed partner and willing to explore partnership opportunities with the private sector.

Victorians have a strong green ethic. We need to ensure that this ethic is respected and that Victoria takes a leadership role in the emerging green economy. We need to explore innovative ideas such as special green technology zones where environmentally innovative business has a place to grow.

As well, we need to make sure that composting, recycling and community gardens are accessible to all citizens.

As Mayor, I would:

  • Send a clear message to partners that Victoria is ready to participate in finding a solution for sewage treatment,
  • Develop special zoning and zones for green business development,
  • Commit to best practices on composting, re-cycling and community gardens.
GOVERNANCE

As the provincial capital, Victoria must set the standard for transparent, competent and ethical government. As the closest level of government to the citizens, we must consult and listen to citizens before acting.

City Council should seek to work cooperatively and set old style partisan politics aside. When dealing with senior levels of government, we should seek to speak with a single, consistent voice to maximize our impact.

With a fresh approach and solid provincial-federal relations we can accomplish a great deal for our gateway and develop an appropriate long-term transportation plan.
Vancouver Island Railway and the Belleville Terminal are examples of projects which have been hanging out there with no decision for far too long.


MAKING OUR STREETS AND NEIGHBOURHOODS SAFE

Citizens deserve to feel safe where they live, work and play. This is a basic right and one that must be urgently addressed. According to the latest StatsCan study, Victoria has the second highest crime rate in British Columbia. As well, our police officers are concerned by the growth in gang activity and organized crime. Parents share stories of rampant and open drug use in our parks and on our streets and we have all stepped over syringes on our streets. It is time to get serious about public safety.

As Mayor, I would develop a plan of action which will include:

  • A Blue Ribbon Panel of prominant citizens with a mandate to assist City Government in lobbying senior levels of government to get the addiction services Victoria needs.
  • An immediate initiative to restore morale in our police force including the proclamation of Police Day to honour our men and women working in law enforcement.
  • An increased focus on community policing and officers on foot (Beat Cops) to increase the public visibility of law enforcement.
  • A zero tolerance policy for public drug and alcohol use.
  • Reaching out to local youth friendly celebrities (athletes, musicians etc…) to develop a youth action team to deliver positive messages to school age youth.
  • Increased support for community based youth programs to provide positive alternatives for our young people.
  • Ensuring that policing across the region is focused on gang violence and working with our provincial partners to gain the necessary funding to take on organized crime.
ENDING HOMELESSNESS

Victoria, like most major cities, is dealing with challenges of increasing homelessness and affordability. There is both a moral and business case for a focus on homelessness.

The business case is straight forward - provincial studies have shown that it is a cheaper to build a permanent housing unit than it is to pay the social, health care and law enforcement costs of a homeless person. As well, the presence of a growing and visible homeless population takes away from the perception of our city as a destination. Morally, I believe that we should be judged on how we treat the most vulnerable members of society.

While some cities have seen homelessness worsen, other cities have made spectacular progress.

Cities like Calgary, Portland, Oregon and London, England have risen to the challenge and made real progress on ending homelessness. Their approaches have been similar – each city has set clear targets, involved the entire community in addressing the challenge and retained a laser focus on making homelessness a priority. They also have shared another common characteristic. In every city where homelessness has declined, they have had the benefit of leadership that has brought political will to the table. Political will and leadership are critical ingredients in making real progress and I intend to learn from these success stories.

As Mayor, I would:

  • Set clear benchmarks on homelessness that will be evaluated by an independent body on a yearly basis,
  • Make the business case to senior levels of government about the need to urgently fund homelessness,
  • Make public lands available for joint venture opportunities to build housing,
  • Work with the business and non profit communities on innovative projects to build housing,
  • Make tenant responsibility a key value and expectation,
  • Create a citizens group on mental health with a mandate to look at creative ways to deliver mental health services.
  • Ensure that skills and workplace training opportunities are maximized.
THE SIPOS CHALLENGE

Citizens should expect real action from their elected officials. For far too long, electoral politics has been based on “who I know” and “who knows me” instead of “what have I accomplished”. I have never been a member of a political party. My only concern is making a difference for the city that we all love.

If elected, I have three clear goals that I am willing to be judged on. I pledge to make Victoria:

A safer city
A greener city
A more prosperous city

I am not interested in running again if I do not make significant progress on these issues. During the campaign, I will be signing a pledge to work flat out on accomplishing these goals.

If you agree with me, I ask you to join my campaign for change in Victoria by pledging your support (link) or volunteering (link)

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