Q&A – Joanna Baxter

Joanna Baxter

What community involvement have you had?

I was born and raised in Ambleside.  I was part of the first graduating class of French Immersion.  I delivered Real Estate Weekly, played in the WVYouth Band, volunteered for many years at the Harmony Arts Festival, and also served as a juror for exhibitors.  I ski patrolled and worked with the Ambulance service, both as a volunteer.  I have been a performance works teacher for the last 5 years at Dramaworks (Klee Wyck and Lawson Creek House).  I am currently Executive co-chair of the PAC at Ecole Cedardale.  My children and I have spent time with the Stream keepers Assoc, and I helped coordinate their involvement at our school.  I am an avid runner, mountain biker, and hiker.

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?

a) The current OCP is restrictive to builders.  There needs to be more incentive for developers to invest in a sustainable way along Marine Drive.  I support the idea of mixed-use building plans along and close to  Marine Dr.  This design would increase housing options for seniors, as well as for new families.  These 2 demographics will benefit hugely from smart design with wider sidewalks and a designated bike lane and public transit, close to schools and services.
b) Smart, Sustainable Growth
Sustainability is a key motivating initiative for progress.  Our residents, current and future, deserve thoughtful, well-consulted developments that take our natural beauty, and our neighbourhood character into serious consideration. West Vancouver was and is a village by design.  We must sustain our long-established respect for residential spaces ie landscape, natural forms, while being respectful to neighbours.  This is especially impactful in 1st generation neighbourhoods where low-profile housing is prevalent.  Again, this is a delicate and complex OCP matter for revision.  I do not believe there is a ‘one size fits all’ solution for our varied hamlets.  I believe that we can achieve satisfactory guidelines and defining elements with proper and thorough dialogue with residents.  I believe that together, we can decide on bylaws that will allow for respectful residential development.
c) Community Engagement.
A community that is openly consulted, actively engaged, and informed in a timely manner about process will help guide and unify council and staff.  There are 3 levels at play: community, council and staff- and in order to move forward on any municipal initiative, all three tiers must be communicating together.   I believe in a council that works closely with the community to best shape the vision for the future. I am a curious, rational and open-minded thinker and I am eager to put my energies into listening, recapitulating, and making decisions that best serve the whole.
Over the past few years, there has been much talk about rejuvenating Ambleside. What are your thoughts on that?

The health of our individual villages is varied, Ambleside being the one in most obvious need of revitalization.    What used to be our ‘town centre’ has now been termed ‘Shambleside’ by some.   Grosvenor is slated to be built in the next 3 years and will inject 1300 block with  life.  It’s design encapsulates a formula that is needed further along our commercial district: density, services, shops, and access to the water.  I  hope that the completion of Grosvenor will serve as an anchor, a hub, to draw people past Park Royal and into Ambleside and beyond.  I support progress in this area that incorporates smart, sustainable design for walkers and cyclists.

Incumbents:  What has been your accomplishment in the last 3 years?

Real Estate is the only true industry in WVD.  With no real alternative means of earning tax dollars, we must be open to other potential sources of revenue. A reassessment of developer fees should be considered. We should review the performance of our essential services.  If we can maintain our residents’ service expectations while cutting costs, then we must make this happen.  Lobbying different levels of government for proportionate taxation, and for more funding should be a priority.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 4 years?

A revision of the OCP to encourage investment in our commercial areas  is needed.  We have a wealth of experienced, long-operating business owners throughout the district and we should consult openly with them.  The various Business Associations are excellent resources, and this consultation will ensure neighbourhood values and standards, while incorporating a continuum of smart design for cyclist and pedestrians.

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