Q: Why are you running and why should I vote for you?
A: While I feel that I’ve successfully represented progressive voices on City Council and the CRD over the last three years, I’m running for re-election because there remain serious social, economic and environmental issues that still need to be addressed in our city and region.
The Environment and Local Food Security: I continue to be on the forefront of regional sustainability and food security, spearheading a ban on the land application of biosolids (sewage waste) on farmland in the CRD through my role on the Environmental Sustainability Committee, Core Area Liquid Waste Committee, Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and CRD Board, and promoting increased opportunities for urban agriculture and support for local food production on council as Chair of the Environment and Infrastructure Standing Committee and in the community as co-founder of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society and Coordinator of the Eat Here Now Harvest Festival (www.victoriapublicmarket.com). I successfully introduced a motion calling for a moratorium on the installation of Smart Meters until an opt-out is available, and was instrumental in getting a similar motion passed at UBCM (http://youtu.be/UMq6nNCYOhM). Additionally, I’m working with local company Synergy Enterprises to make my re-election effort the first carbon-neutral municipal election campaign in Canada.
Economic Sustainability, Lower Taxes and Keeping Resources Public: I have promoted strategies for our city’s long-term success and to address the economic challenges of our residents. I was the only councillor to vote to lower the residential tax rate (which at 7% in 2010 is far too high), and to keep a rail crossing as part of the new Johnson St. Bridge project. At the CRD, I was the only Director to vote to keep our upcoming sewage treatment project 100% public.
Downtown Vibrancy and A Family-Friendly Victoria: As co-owner of a safe, sustainable kids store in the downtown core (Hip Baby on Johnson St.), I’ve voted to create a better business climate by lowering tow away fees charged by private companies, and promoting the re-establishment of a downtown local food market. Additionally, I successfully passed a motion to create family-friendly and car co-op parking spaces in the city’s parkades to reward environmentally sustainable choices and make it easier for families to shop downtown. Over the next three years, I’d like to ensure that all of our city’s parks have a children’s play area, and that all of our bus stops have a bench or shelter.
Homlessness, Harm Reduction and Poverty Reduction: In terms of the poverty-related issues that so significantly impact too many of our residents, I’ve championed a huge increase in affordable housing on Council (including support for secondary and garden suites) and as Vice Chair of the CRD Housing Corporation. I have also put tremendous energy into increasing acceptance of and access to harm reduction supplies and information in our region, passing motions in support of fixed site needle exchange, the distribution of crack kits and supervised consumption sites. I am on the Advisory Board of the Center for Addictions Research of BC, and will ensure that this remains a council priority until our region finally has a substance use strategy that’s based on science, reason and compassion, rather than fear, prejudice and misinformation.
While it’s been an incredible honor to represent the people of Victoria over the last few years, and to bring new ideas and energy to Victoria City Council and the CRD, there’s still much left to do to. By working together, we can keep our amazing city and region moving forward.
Q: What issue is most important to you and why?
A: I have focused much of the last term on social justice issues that affect each and everyone one of us, such as homelessness, environmental sustainability, harm reduction and food security, and plan to continue working on these important issues, but will also spend the next three years promoting strategies for community economic development and poverty reduction (particularly childhood poverty) through City Council and the CRD.
Q: What’s something people don’t know about you?
A: Due to a strong philosophical belief in transparency and accountability, there are very few parts of my life that aren’t on the public record in some form or another, but many residents may not know that every year I dress up as the Easter Bunny to host a huge Easter Egg Hunt at Market Square for local families.