1. What community involvement have you had?
I have been on Council for the past three years. While on Council I have also been a member of the:
Memorial Library Board
Design Review Committee
North Shore Emergency Management Office
Upper Lands Working Group
Field Sports Working Group
Community Engagement Committee (as chair)
Before being elected, I was a Director of the West Vancouver Community Centres Society and was a member of West Vancouver’s Community Engagement Committee.
2. What are the top 3 issues facing West Van that need to be addressed in the next 4 years? What action would you take in these areas?
1. Addressing municipal spending and revenues
While the recent Fraser Institute report has its limitations, there is no doubt that District spending continues to grow at an unsustainable rate and is too high. At the same time, the District’s revenues are tied too closely to residential property taxes and building fees.
Many of the cost drivers for the District are largely beyond the control of City Hall. At the same time, we must do what we can to address cost increases. We must resist the consistent push to add more employees to the District payroll by scrutinizing closely each new hire. We must find more efficient ways of delivering the same or similar services. We must continue to explore sharing services with neighbouring municipalities and perhaps corporate partners.
2. Planning for the long term needs of the community
Development is inevitable and necessary but it must go forward on a measured, coherent and thoughtful basis if it we want to preserve what we cherish about West Vancouver. Ad hoc development is divisive and undesirable.
In practice, this means that we need to revisit and update the Official Community Plan over the next four years. It has been 10 years since the previous OCP and much about West Vancouver and the world around us has changed in that time. We should also be articulating more closely, through mechanisms such as Local Area Plans, the specific forms of development we want in certain, crucial areas of West Vancouver. Proper planning will provide stability and predictability for developers and community members.
In the next four years, we must also determine the future of various pieces of land in the District. The newly acquired Vancouver Coastal Health Lands, Klee Wyck and the Youth Centre are all examples of District assets that need a future plan. The largest development projects are happening on private lands at Park Royal and in the Upper Lands. We need to work with corporate partners such as British Pacific Properties and Laarco to ensure that these developments meet the community’s needs. Finally, Squamish Nation have lands near Park Royal and now along Marine Drive near the Fisheries Research Station that they will want to develop and it is West Vancouver’s interests to work with the Nation to do so.
3. Revitalizing our commercial areas
For many reasons, we need to ensure our commercial areas are successful. We need to increase commercial tax revenues. We need to create employment in the District. We need to make it easier for residents to work, shop and play closer to home so that we ease traffic on the roads. We need to have “third spaces” (not home and not work) for community members to meet and enjoy themselves together.
See below in the answer to question 6 for some ways in which we can achieve this objective.
3. Over the past few years, there has been much talk about rejuvenating Ambleside. What are your thoughts on that?
I consider this one of my main priorities. This objective is important for reasons already stated. I believe there is much we can do to rejuvenate Ambleside, such as improving the parking situation, making redevelopment more attractive, improving the streetscapes. Also, the District should support the creation of a Business Improvement Association so that the merchants can work together on common initiatives such as marketing, signage, events, etc. Finally, we need to continue to animate and program the waterfront and to link the waterfront to the Ambleside commercial area. Ambleside must and can, in this manner, differentiate itself from Park Royal.
See above answer to question 2 and below answer to question 6 for more details.
4. Incumbents: What has been your accomplishment in the last 3 years? What do you hope to accomplish in the next 4 years?
I am proud of the accomplishments of this Council.
During this term, we have held property taxes increases to 0% (municipal portion) for two years and a minimal increase in the third year. This has led to the District receiving the NAIOP Award for the Most Fiscally Responsible Municipality. While much remains to be done, this is a significant accomplishment given rising costs.
I believe this Council has struck a reasonable balance in approving development projects. We have approved much needed seniors memory care. We have approved a careful coach house policy that provides options for homeowners. And we have approved projects in Ambleside that will create vitality and may spur further renewal.
We have made significant progress on environmental issues by creating Whyte Lake Park (the largest park in West Vancouver), by dedicating the waterfront between Ambleside and John Lawson as park, by remediating and improving the foreshore and by forming the Upper Lands working group to make recommendations about the future of the Upper Lands.
Finally, we have brought more fun to the community through the Ambleside concerts, expansion of the Harmony Arts Festival and support of the Farmers Market.
In the next four years, I hope to make progress on the top three issues facing West Vancouver. I have set out, briefly, my goals in the answer above.
5. WVD’s tax base is heavily tilted to residential property taxes. What would you do to broaden the tax base?
We need to encourage the construction of more office space in West Vancouver so that people can work closer to home, we can increase non-residential property tax revenue and relieve some of the pressure from the Taylor Way and Marine Drive intersection (or at least reduce the need for people to commute through that intersection).
We need to revitalize our existing commercial areas and expand the businesses operating there, while retaining their basic character. We can do this by encouraging landowners and developers to invest in building newer, reasonably larger and more attractive buildings.
Finally, we must proceed to plan the anticipated new “village” at the bottom of Cypress Mountain. We can create a successful shopping centre, a place for people to work and services to draw the surrounding neighbourhood. I would also like to see an educational institution like Capilano College expand to this location, bringing people and innovation.
6. Tell us about your ideas to support commercial development in West Van.
District building bylaws need to be revisited for the commercial areas in West Vancouver. It is quite evident that our existing bylaws are not encouraging (and may be discouraging) commercial development. For example, the parking requirements may need to be relaxed. To compensate for this, the District may need to encourage creative solutions to increase parking supply (such as accessing unused parking in nearby apartment buildings) and may need to consider building dedicated parking facilities, such as under the tennis courts at Ambleside Park.
The District needs to create a smoother, faster and more predictable process for considering and approving development applications. The present process takes far too long and is not predictable or efficient. Updating the OCP will help provide needed stability and predictability. Changing the culture at City Hall to be more client-centred is also essential.
In addition to these measures, the District must also continue with initiatives such as the Streetscapes Strategy to beautify the area and make it more appealing for shoppers (and by extension, increase the value and desirability of the surrounding commercial properties).