1. What community involvement have you had?
For 20 years I had a very stimulating and successful professional life, serving as a business lawyer, a crown prosecutor, and a lecturer at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. As much as I enjoyed my career, I made a decision several years ago to redirect my energies to my family and my community. This began with an active role in the Parent Advisory Council at my children’s elementary school, Ecole Pauline Johnson, where I eventually became PAC Chair. My interest in public education led me to seek election as a school trustee in 2005, and re-election in 2008. I have served as Board Chair for the past three years, and am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in making District 45 BC’s finest school district.
As Board Chair I have taken a great interest in municipal governance, working closely with Mayor and Council to achieve efficiencies that are of benefit to all citizens, and to improve broader community services. Specifically, I was an active member of the Municipal Field Sport Forum Working Group and Municipal School Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.
As a long time resident of West Vancouver, I am immensely proud of our community, and participate fully in all of its activities. You will see me on the soccer field watching my children, playing golf at Gleneagles as a member of the Ladies League, serving salmon at the Coho Festival, and enjoying the best that any community could hope to offer – a patron of our cherished library, a regular at the Meek, and on summer nights you’ll be sure to find me at the Harmony Arts Festival.
2. What are the key issues facing West Vancouver, and what action would you take in these areas of concern?
Few would disagree that West Vancouver is wonderful place to live, but I believe we can make it even better. I envision a more livable, more vibrant, and more engaged community, and if elected I will work tirelessly to move us in that direction.
What is a more livable community? In my mind, it’s one that delivers vital services such as police, fire, water, garbage pick-up, recreation facilities, and transportation effectively, efficiently, and sustainably. Our community wants high value for tax dollars, so we must streamline costs, expand revenues, encourage internal and external collaboration, and foster a positive corporate culture. It all starts with an effective Strategic Plan, because that’s your road map for the future. I’ve studied the Municipality’s “Balanced Scorecard” which currently contains over 200 strategic initiatives. While it certainly captured all the input from the public process, it is a bit overwhelming. We are a relatively small municipality and we just can’t do it all. We need to focus on what matters most.
What is a more vibrant community? One that provides more activities for children and youth; more support and diversity of local business; and more entertainment and cultural attractions. Let’s talk first about the town centre – that’s Ambleside. We need to revive our downtown. I’ve heard that the Ambleside Merchants’ Association hasn’t met in two years; and some absentee landlords offer only short term leases to tenants. City Hall can help: by facilitating more regular collaboration among the merchants; incentivizing investment by the landlords; and by reviewing bylaws that restrict business opportunities.
And for youth? I’ve sat on the Field Sport Forum Working Group for the past two years. It recently released a Sport Field Master Plan with a number of recommendations to improve the current shortage of usable sports fields in West Vancouver. I’m committed to keeping that document alive, because as it states so succinctly “sports contribute to healthy individuals, strong families, and vibrant communities.”
What is a more engaged community? One that listens to its greatest resource – its citizens. I hear from many people who tell me that the key issues for them are the lack of housing options and their concern regarding traffic congestion. According to the report of the Neighbourhood Character and Housing Working Group, housing stock in West Vancouver consists of 58 % single detached, 29 % apartments, and 13% townhomes and duplexes. Empty nesters want to downsize, seniors would like apartments with small gardens, and young adults are looking to return to this community in order to raise a family like their parents did. But there are limited housing options for all three groups. And this is not good for the community.
Regardless of the issue, experience has taught me that acceptable solutions to challenging problems are best found by actively engaging the public. I’m convinced that the collaborative culture that we developed at the School Board was central to our recent success, and my participation in the municipal working groups has only reinforced my commitment to this model. We can do more, however, particularly through the better use of new technologies. I would advocate using social media to solicit feedback on key agenda items before council meetings, so that a broader group can be brought into the conversation. As well, an updated municipal website that is easy to navigate and more interactive will only encourage diversity of opinion and transparency.
3. How do you achieve a balance of competing interests within the community?
Providing good governance in a community with high expectations and strong voices requires the development of a culture that combines excellent listening skills with the ability to make decisions that are ultimately in the best interest of the entire community. Certainly this was true on the School Board. Parents, unions, and others were frequently very effective advocates for a special interest, so it was particularly important to build a structure that engaged them in a meaningful way, without compromising our determination to do “the right thing”.
I have no doubt that there will always be many competing interests at the municipal level, so finding compromise and seeking solutions that each party can live with should be an essential part of our governance model. We need to work hard to ensure that the community does not become divided over controversial issues, and council should be willing to suggest compromises if the competing parties cannot. When making difficult decisions, council needs to take into account the desires of specific groups, but ultimately must act only for the common good and broader public interest.
4. Do you have expectations of change in the relationship between West Vancouver and the GVRD, and between West Vancouver and the provincial government?
West Vancouver is somewhat unique among BC’s communities, with several local services (police, bus transportation, schools) to which our citizens are very loyal, but we do have a responsibility to work within a larger context. While I am convinced we can achieve greater efficiencies by focusing our resources on what matters most, I do not support amalgamation of such services. I hear from many people that they value the higher level of service they receive from these bodies, governed locally by West Vancouver citizens. We do, however, need to deliver such services within a regional and sometimes provincial context, and therefore I support the greater involvement of mayor and council in Metro and provincial issues – indeed, West Vancouver has demonstrated a leadership role in this regard in both municipal and education matters.
Again, my approach has always been cooperative and solution-oriented. Building strong relationships with elected officials from across the GVRD and in Victoria will always serve us well.
Finally, I support the proposed establishment of a municipal auditor who I hope will be able to assist us in finding efficiencies that will facilitate better service delivery to our community.
5. What management and organizational skills do you bring to this position?
If you were to ask colleagues who know me both professionally and personally, I believe that they would tell you that I am highly organized, always well-prepared, and very hard working. As well, I hope they would say that I am an optimistic and thoughtful person, who has brought a positive approach to school board governance. I have extensive business experience in the corporate sector, and have gained a solid understanding of what it takes to be successful in the public arena.
I would be honoured to serve our community as a member of council.