"For Effective Leadership and Transparent Government"
The Housing Crisis
Coquitlam is facing a housing crisis and bold action is desperately needed. The unnaffordability of our city is displacing youth, seniors, and low/middle income people. Our population is climbing rapidly, but we need to make sure that we accommodate people in a responsible manner. We don't need a repeat of the Burke Mountain Expansion debacle. Density, particularly around transit hubs, is key to a responsible plan. While much of the onus lies on the provincial government to solve this crisis, Coquitlam's City Council has the power to create meaningful change. Changing zoning, incentivizing below-market rentals, facilitating partnerships between developers and non-profits, thoughtful city planning, opening opportunities for variances, mandating percentages of affordable units, and rezoning for rental use, among other tools, are all within the cities purview. To this point, very little has been done by the city to offer affordable housing, despite the severity of this crisis. It's up to our future council to ensure that residents of Coquitlam are supported and allowed to thrive in our city. I support bringing more affordable housing to Coquitlam, and doing so expeditiously.
Creating a Vibrant Community
Ask youth in Coquitlam where they go to have fun, and they will usually say "downtown." Unfortunately, they don't mean downtown Coquitlam, they mean downtown Vancouver, and I think that's a shame. Coquitlam has seen incredible growth in recent years, but unless we provide opportunities to work and play in Coquitlam, we're just a city to sleep in. I want to see a Coquitlam that embraces entertainment, and that is an environment for employers to invest in growing their businesses and creating jobs. The City of Vancouver is a hub for the tech industry and for people looking to enjoy a night out. Not only does Coquitlam have the ability to do the same, but doing so is far more convenient and cost effective for our residents. I support changes that will allow people to live work and play in their city.
While the goal is to provide the opportunity for resident to live work and play in Coquitlam, the reality is that people will always have a need to commute. Cities can support this by building near transit hubs, lobbying the provincial government for better infrastructure and ride-sharing, expanding car-sharing programs, and implementing bike-sharing. Coquitlam Council must also be open to new ideas that will no doubt be brought forward as we move toward a greener future. I support innovative solutions that will improve our transit infrastructure.
Infrastructure of the Future
Our world is changing quickly and our city is facing the challenge of how to keep up. One example of changes that we need to be prepared for is the shift from gas powered vehicles to electric vehicles (EV's). The biggest issue people face when considering an EV is the lack of infrastructure. The city of Coquitlam is currently unwilling to consider putting that infrastructure in place in advance of EV's gaining wide appeal, yet they won't gain wide appeal without the infrastructure being in place. 52% of Norway's new car sales in 2017 were EV's, which shows that this technology is not far off. It is not unrealistic to think that new developments in Coquitlam will house 100% electric vehicles within their lifespan. I support requiring the wiring of new developments to accommodate the installation of level 2 chargers. I also support using the existing electrical infrastructure to add smart plugs at street lights.
Mental Health and Addictions Awareness
While Vancouver is often at the forefront of discussions around mental health and addictions, these are not issues that are specific to any one city. Not only are we doing a disservice by ignoring the issue, but we are also not doing enough to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It's imperative that the city provide supports for people who are struggling and who are falling between the cracks in provincial and federal care. In addition, it's incredibly important that police be better trained in how to interact with people who are struggling with mental health and addictions. With 1782 calls to the police in 2017 relating to mental health alone, it's also worth exploring the option of officer positions that specifically deal with mental health and addictions.
One of my proudest achievements is successfully advocating for a rainbow crosswalk in Coquitlam. Along with fellow advocates, I convinced council to install this symbol, which shows how welcoming and accepting Coquitlam is of diversity. Coquitlam is diverse in many ways, but being a member of a diverse community can also mean being marginalized and feeling isolated. Symbols and actions that encourage diversity are important in making sure that every resident of Coquitlam feels supported by their municipal government.
With bike sharing coming to Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, it's time for Coquitlam to get on board. Bike sharing provides a clean alternative to cars, buses, and transit, and will be increasingly in demand with the added density coming to Coquitlam. I support bringing bike-sharing to Coquitlam. In conjunction with bike sharing, we must improve our cycling infrastructure, to provide dedicated bike lanes that shield bikers from traffic, as well as more bike racks throughout the city.
Public Private Partnerships (P3's) & Private Contracts
In too many instances, taxpayer dollars are used to pay mark-ups to private companies for work that can be completed by an in-house workforce. When it comes to maintenance and smaller projects, that provide steady work, I support hiring employees over contracting out. When it comes to larger projects, I support the public sector maintaining ownership of projects whenever possible.
Living wage in the Lower Mainland is currently $20.91/hr, while minimum wage in BC is just $12.65. Living wage is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children must earn to meet their basic expenses. I support paying all city staff a living wage.
Revitalization Tax Exemption
Council has been rezoning areas of Coquitlam for increased density, however nothing is being done to alleviate the strain this added density has on small businesses in the area. While work must be done at a provincial level to address inequitable taxation of properties, the city has the ability to offer tax reductions for businesses that are being unfairly affected by development around them. Section 226 of the Community Charter allows Coquitlam to enact bylaws, and specify the terms of a tax reduction, to ensure that businesses, in any area of Coquitlam that is affected by rezoning, do not unfairly suffer due to massive increases in property taxes. These taxes are often passed along from the owner to the renter, meaning a huge additional overhead cost with little to no return on investment, at least until the added density is in place. I support utilizing the revitalization tax exemption to ensure that local business survives as our city grows.
Support for Sports
Sports are incredibly important for both kids and adults. I grew up cross-country skiing, biking, running, skateboarding, skating, and playing soccer, field hockey, tennis, golf, basketball, volleyball, and squash. I've condensed my sports now, but I still participate in sports such as soccer, biking, longboarding, tennis, and almost every snow sport imaginable. I would like to see our city be leaders in providing assistance to sports groups and complexes in Coquitlam, as well as encouraging diversity in sports and empowering girls to get active. It saddens me to see that we have lost our curling rink, and that squash players need to travel outside of the city to play. We are a large city and we should not be so reliant on the amenities of Port Moody and Port Coquitlam.
Coquitlam's Fire Department is struggling to keep up with the added density our city has seen, and their dispatcher has recently been outsourced, meaning a loss in workers that can provide local insights. Areas like Burquitlam are seeing massive growth, but the closest firehall is in Austin Heights. If a tower fire occurs, our fire department will be reliant on support from Burnaby and New West. I support increasing funding for firefighters to match the increase in density, and I support the creation of a firehall in the Burquitlam area.
Coquitlam is growing at a rapid rate. If we continue to approve developments with little to no affordable units, no childcare space, and without the necessary amenities to keep up with growth, then we are making our city unappealing for families. There is limited access to, and cooperation over, outdoor play spaces, and there is too little in the way of childcare spaces that keep parks and childcare buildings close together, to reduce risks for children. The province is handing out grant money for childcare, but it costs roughly $500,000 to have a portable installed, which makes it expensive to open up new spaces. We need our city to have a healthy relationship with the provincial government, regardless of which party is in power. As a city, we can encourage developers to provide purpose-built child-care space near parks, provide grants, work with the provincial government to get funding, and consult childcare providers to determine their needs.
As our population ages our society is struggling to keep up. I want to make sure that our local seniors homes are being utilized and expanded to meet the needs of our residents. I do not want Coquitlam residents to be displaced, and I want to make sure that everyone receives the care that they require. In addition to care, I regularly hear that transportation for seniors is sorely lacking. I would like to see the city follow Delta's lead, in the creation of a seniors bus program, in partnership with a non-profit, to allow seniors the chance to move around, so that they can fully enjoy the community that they are living in.
Protecting our environment is no easy feat, and doing so requires collaboration from all levels of government as well as global commitments. As a city, we need to support sustainable development of buildings and infrastructure. We need to protect our streams and the salmon contained in them. We need to work with First Nations people to maintain the integrity of their traditional unceeded territory. We need to reduce our GHG emissions, with a 40% reduction by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050. We can support local farms by protecting fertile land and buying local goods, as well as supporting our local farmers market. We must also look at ways of incentivizing residents to switch to cleaner modes of transportation, moving away from single use plastics, reducing waste, preserving water, and installing renewable energy technologies.
Mandating Employment Opportunities?
Coquitlam is one of the few municipalities that still requires that gas stations be 100% full-serve. The intent is to create jobs, which is fantastic, however the same concern doesn't seem to be applied to supermarkets, which have been allowed to implement self-checkouts. The sad reality is that jobs are being lost to automation and we need to figure out how to support those people as a society. I support basic income for that exact reason. While I support the creation of jobs and government supports, I don't believe that our city should be interfering with the operation of businesses, to artificially create low-income jobs. From an accessibility standpoint, it's also important that we not ignore people who deal with disabilities, such as anxiety. I've heard from residents who drive out of the city to fuel their vehicles because they don't wish to have that added interaction in their day. Gas stations in municipalities that don't mandate 100% full-serve stations still have some full-serve pumps, which will allow people with other forms of disability, or folks who don't wish to fuel their own vehicle, to receive the service they require as well.
Positive politics does not mean pretending that everything is sunshine and rainbows. It means amplifying the voices of those you hope to represent, being open, transparent and honest, having the character to criticize people's decisions to their face and not behind their back, being willing to interact and work with people that you disagree with, recognizing good work done by elected officials in addition to the bad, promoting diversity and inclusion, and offering a clear vision for your community. These are are values that I take to heart, and I commit to running a positive campaign based on these values.
I acknowledge that this election is taking place on the traditional unceeded territory of the Kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nations, and thank them for the opportunity to live, work, and play on this land.