I started out as a reluctant politician. I began my entry into this race by simply listening and I believe that it is listening and inclusion that will create a city hall that truly reflects the people that live here. This is something I want to be a part of. The more town halls and community events I attend, I encounter Vancouverites who share my concerns, and one by one they tell me their stories: seniors on fixed incomes being renovicted from their homes, young families trying to stay in Vancouver but struggling with increasing rental costs, men and women struggling with housing issues in the Downtown Eastside and lacking a voice in their own solutions, single parents balancing work demands and childcare costs, small business owners who run up against zoning and bylaw restrictions, teachers who must make-do with deficiencies in resources, and neighbourhood advocates straining to be heard at a civic level. These citizens need to be acknowledged. These citizens need to be the influencers.
As a father, I am increasingly concerned about the reality that my two sons may not want to, or be able to, afford to stay in our beautiful city if things continue the way they are going. That is a reality I am not willing to accept as a spectator. It is time to change the way we do things and the only way we can guarantee that the city gets back to listening to neighborhoods is to get some folks into city hall who are actually willing to listen and to advocate for Vancouver’s vibrant communities. After all, it is communities, not city officials, who should be the policymakers. Our elected officials should act as the facilitators to take the citizens’ recommendations to the city departments who then craft and implement those ideas into a reality.
It is time to address housing affordability in Vancouver. There may be a shortage of rental units but the real issue lies in defining what “affordable” is. There is no point in giving developers breaks for including “affordable” rental units in their towers when that means a 600-square-foot one-bedroom unit for $1700 a month. It is time for clarity in the calculation and assessment of levies and fees paid by the development industry for their impact on neighbourhood infrastructure and amenities if they wish to build in our desirable city. We need to strengthen our neighbourhoods and utilize as much potential rental stock as possible by encouraging investors to either put down roots and live in their homes or place renters in them, therefore reducing the negative effect empty homes have on communities. The time has come for a property tax/rebate or levy on vacant properties as done in other jurisdictions around the world.
By imposing limits on political donations we can prevent an inappropriate influence by any heavily financed special interest groups on individuals who hold positions of power—political or administrative.
I have tremendous respect for many of my political colleagues in other parties across the city. I support the idea of a non-majority council. This outcome would achieve a state of true democracy, where individuals do not work solely for a party but for all of Vancouver. There will be areas that we agree on and ones that we do not. However, I am committed to work across party lines to find the best solutions for Vancouver from a community perspective, not a party perspective.
I hope I can count on your vote so we can start to create and preserve a Vancouver we love; a place where we can all have a say; a place we can all afford, be proud to be a part of, and enjoy.