1. I Will Protect Our Aquifer
As we see how vulnerable many cities and towns have become to climate change, we can appreciate how lucky we are to have the aquifer and its abundance of pristine water. But we can never be complacent and take it for granted!
- We must ensure development does not exceed the aquifer’s capacity, especially now that Zone 3 will be coming off SCRD water and joining Zones 1 and 2 in tapping it.
- We must ensure its recharging sites, primarily on Mount Elphinstone, Gibsons Creek and Chaster Creek are kept healthy and protected. Climate change is altering weather patterns. For Gibsons it means longer summer droughts and heavier rainfall during the rainy season. Maintaining forest cover in the aquifer recharging areas will help moderate water flow and mitigate the pressure in the aquifer. To date we have not ensured legal protection of these areas.
We must safeguard the aquifer from potential catastrophic puncturing resulting from development, such as construction or toxic site clean-up.
In short—SAFETY FIRST! It is Council’s duty to employ—and I will always advocate for—the precautionary principle when it comes to our aquifer.
Any breach of the Aquifer = No Water for Gibsons!
No Water = No Beer!
2. I Will Actively Work to Address the Affordable Housing Crisis
The Canadian Rental Housing Index currently rates Gibsons’ rental market as severely unaffordable. Families, working couples and singles, seniors, single parents, marginally employed workers, vulnerable youth, and homeless people are all victims of this skewed housing market.
The federal and provincial governments have recently announced substantial funding over the next 10 years to tackle the affordable housing crisis in BC. This is great news for Gibsons! Nevertheless, in order to access these funds, the new Council will have to work diligently and collaboratively with other government levels, non-profits, private developers, property owners, and other groups, to secure land and construction for affordable housing.
Council can lead discussions and explore alternatives with the community including tiny houses, coach or laneway housing and other secondary dwellings, cluster housing, multi-family residential developments, seniors housing, live/work spaces. All are within the power of Council to bring about through municipal bylaws and policies, including development permit stipulations.
I will use my expertise in participatory decision-making and partnership development to create win-win solutions to the affordability crisis.
3. I Will Preserve Our Seaside Village Character
In 2005, the people of Gibsons crafted an award-winning Smart Growth policy document—our Official Community Plan (OCP)—to guide development. The 2015 revision states:
“Gibsons will continue to be a welcoming, sustainable community that offers residents and visitors an outstanding quality of life in a spectacular natural environment. We will ensure this town retains its seaside village character for the enjoyment of all and we will nurture our unique cultural heritage and natural assets while supporting opportunities for our local economy.”
I believe Council’s job is to put this vision into practice. That job will entail approving development that respects OCP guidelines rather than altering the OCP to suit developers’ aspirations. Residents felt ignored when they expressed concerns about developments that impacted their lives, and didn’t respect the OCP. There have also been different interpretations of, ‘our seaside village character.’ I propose that we create a more detailed description of what it means to our community. This may include storyboards and catalogues, photographs of historical buildings that can be adapted to today’s needs and wants. Green spaces, lot sizes, view-scapes, such as our harbour, mountains, ocean and islands are all part of our seaside character. Our Town’s character depends on maintaining these features and not obstructing them.
As councillor, I will ensure that development follows OCP guidelines, and conforms to our seaside village character. Moreover, I will promote Gibsons’ seaside village character as a differentiation marketing strategy, giving Gibsons a competitive advantage over other destinations.
To paraphrase CBC’s Stewart MacLean,
Gibsons may not be big, but it’s small!
4. I Will Encourage Participation in Decision-Making
Residents want to participate in the planning process of any development and include their concerns in decision-making. I will propose that we institute more opportunities for inquiries during Council meetings and loosen the restrictions on Delegations to Council. I will advocate for transparency and decrease the number of instances where taxpayers are obliged to access information through overly formal, costly and untimely Freedom of Information requests. I will model respectful communication with all. You will be heard, your concerns, aspirations, needs, and values respected and incorporated into decision-making.
I will be guided by the principles of good governance. Good governance will help ensure Council achieves our vision in collaboration with community members, and that our values are not compromised as we balance competing interests.
It takes a village to manage a village, and I will always listen to the people.
5. I Will Foster an Inclusive, Diverse, and Resilient Economy
“Small Businesses are truly the backbone of our province” states the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce website business page. We know that Gibsons’ economy is sustained by small and medium-sized businesses and that they are instrumental in driving our economy. But they are not without their problems. They rely on employees to carry out their operations and services, and many are having difficulty filling available positions because of the housing crisis. For businesses to retain employees, grow, and succeed, affordable housing is crucial.
Not only is housing a key element in maintaining a resilient economy; so are the core elements of the Town’s infrastructure—water, sewer, roads, fire protection, parks and other recreation amenities. These are vital to the health and well-being of the people and central to economic prosperity. As councillor I will support continued upgrading of our aging infrastructure and efficient asset management, including Gibsons’ natural asset management approach, an important initiative undertaken by the Town that leads to ecosystems conservation, while saving us money.
As councillor, I will endorse the work of organizations such as SCREDO (Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development) to identify, retain, and expand business opportunities that ensure a sustainable economy. I will also strongly advocate for Gibsons’ existing business sectors, such as the arts, eco/tourism, hospitality, home-based, info-tech, professional services, senior care services, small retail, and others that support our local economy. These businesses not only fit our small village profile, they define who we are.
Moving forward, we are well positioned to keep working towards greening our local economy. I will work to attract businesses related to energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as social enterprises and co-ops. Council can explore existing funding sources to support these enterprises through government grants, credit unions, community-banking initiatives, green/sustainable investors, and foundations such as Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Social Enterprise Fund.
With Seniors in Mind
Seniors play a vital role in our society and economy. Addressing their housing & transportation needs, and accessibility to places and services makes sense to all of us. There is much to do and I look forward to it!
In Gibsons, there is a shortage of child care facilities. For parents who work outside the home, childcare should be affordable and accessible within the Town. As councilor, I will continue to support initiatives like the Huckleberry Coast Child Care Society and look at ways to bring more daycare into the community.
Two continuing concerns for Coast residents are our one highway and our ferry system. Regional growth up and down the Coast has put pressure on both. Traffic through Gibsons is often congested and safety is compromised. People have concerns about what will happen to ferry fares when Langdale becomes a tolled port of departure.
A solution to these problems will not be crafted solely in Gibson: Transportation solutions require ongoing discussion with regional and provincial governments and other stakeholders. Public concern will help to support action by local and regional governments, so we can speak with a unified voice. My experience with multi-level government agencies will be valuable in addressing these issues.
Opportunities in our backyard
New breweries and a distillery have added colour and venues to meet and make friends in our community. Now with federal legalization of cannabis imminent, we will also have an opportunity to discuss how this industry fits into our municipality. As councilor, I will enable a healthy dialogue on how best to establish this sector in our community.
Bottom line in fostering an inclusive, diverse, and resilient economy is the fact that Gibsons is an attractive place to invest, and I will support businesses that add value to our economy while addressing community issues and concerns. For developers and entrepreneurs who share our values.