Saturday, September 13, 2014

If I were running in 2014, this is what my core platform would be

I had for a long time intended to run in the 2014 local elections but in December I moved from Victoria to Saanich and I am in way ready to seriously run for council this time.   That said, here is what my core campaign platform would be:

Amalgamation 
If I were elected to council I would pushing amalgamation.  As long as we are not amalgamated will continue to be governed badly locally.   One only needs to look to Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina or even Kamloops to see how much better we could be govern ourselves.

In the run up to amalgamation I would make some changes in Saanich.  First, I would look to exactly copy the wording for various by-laws as our neighbours.  As an exmple, there is no reason the animal control bylaw in Saanich should be different than the one in Central Saanich.

I would change the planning process for any place that is within one kilometer of the municipal boundary.   In these areas all planning would seek to be fully in-sync with the neighbours.  Victoria and Saanich have all the same departments.  I would go to Victoria and offer to take over 100% of one of their departments and in return have Victoria take over one from Saanich.   I would also go with Victoria and Langford to the CRD and have it contract out almost all of the CRD functions.  As an example, have Saanich manage all the CRD parks.

When it comes to shared services, I would seek out new partnerships with the neighbours.

Housing cost
 It costs to much to live in this city and there are things local government can do.  The best method to reduce the cost is increase the supply, a high rental vacancy will drive rents down.  The goal should be an average of $800 a month for two bedroom suites and $1000 for three bedroom ones     How do we do this?

  • First, allow secondary suites and even a third suite everywhere without restriction
  • Second, not only make subdivision easier, make it cheaper.   For a typical residential property I would require no fees to go through the subdivision process.  I would also grant a 10 year property tax holiday for one of the two properties.  It might be worth going further and setting annual subdivision targets for the municipality and if it is not reached seeing what could be done to encourage more subdivision
  • Third, offer density bonus for new rental buildings and grant them a ten year property tax holiday.  In return for being allowed to up an extra floor or two the municipality would get a covenant on the property restricting it to being a rental building.
  • Fourth, reduce the street right of ways and given the extra land to the current owners.  Doing this will add enough area to many properties to allow them to be subdivided or make a small granny suite building possible
  • Fifth, change the street front setbacks of houses to 3 meters.   Front yards are normally wasted unused space on a property.  Allowing the house to sited closer to the front allows for more flexibility for houses that could be built
  • Sixth, make the setback for all condos. apartment buildings, and townhouses zero meters.   Once again the space in front of the buildings is a wasted green space.   Allowing this to built on will allow more units to be built

We would be best served by a 20 year flat residential market and increasing housing supply will help ensure that.  

Sidewalks
I would like to see Saanich set a goal of 10 years by which time every residential street in the municipality would have at least one good sidewalk running along it.  You pay for it by adding an extra levy on all properties not currently fronting on a sidewalk

Urbanizing
Saanich is not longer just a residential suburb, it is now a core of the city.   The municipality is not acting as if this is the case.    As a start I would look at everything within two kilometers of Uptown and see what needs to be done to make it a business and commercial hub.   Saanich should a goal of adding most of the regions new Class A office space within this area.  This is a good area to allow for 10 to 15 story buildings.

I would then look at rezoing everything on Mackenzie between Shelbourne and UVic to be high density residential and office space.   UVic is one of the largest concentrations of workers in this city but it is isolated form the private sector infrastructure needed to compliment the university  There are many businesses that are spawned by someone at the university but there is no close place for that business to be located.

We should also look at all the major roads and change the zoning along all of them to commercial and high density residential

Parks and Recreation
Saanich needs to have good park to gather large crowds of people, somewhere you could hold a festival with 25,000 people attending.

On the Gorge I would improve the swimming access.  I would also seek a ban power boats north of the Selkirk Trestle.

I would place invasive species eradication as primary goal of the parks staff.  To many Saanich parks are being lost to invasive species at the moment,  Knockan Hill and Cuthbert Holmes are two examples.

In Mount Doug and Mount Tolmie parks I would seek to reduce the area covered by roads.   In Mount Doug I would remove the road to the top and leave it as a wide gravel walking trail.  In Mount Tolmie I would remove all of to the road descending from the north side of the summit.

I would build a new ice rink at Royal Oak and a new pool at Tillicum.  As it stands, there is not enough ice time at Pearkes to meet the demand from the public.  In general Greater Victoria should have at least 20 ice sheets based on the norm in Canada but we only have 12 of which one is not really available to the public.  Saanich alone should be home to seven ice sheets but only has three.  Burnaby with twice the populations has at least 14.

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I know I am suggesting spending a bunch more money, but in the long term the new property development will bring enough money to cover all the costs.   I have done the math in rough and if I were actually running I would lay out an exact plan over 20 years how it all would be paid for even if Saanich did not amalgamate.   I have run budget numbers for a single amalgamated Victoria and however I jig the numbers it comes back with a 10% to 25% savings over what we have now.  I can not make a single amalgamated Victoria cost as much as the status quo.

So there are my core ideas if I were running.
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