Q&A – Mary-Ann Booth

Mary-Ann Booth

What community involvement have you had?

I’ve been a long-time resident of this community who has devoted almost a decade of service to local government, first as a trustee and Chair of the Board of Education, and most recently as a member of council.

While on Council, I have served on the Finance Committee, Youth Services Review Implementation Group, School Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, and Metro Aboriginal Relations Committee.

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?
An issue of which there is some urgency is protecting the character of our neighbourhoods and our community.  I’ve learned from residents that they are very concerned about vacant homes and properties that aren’t maintained; and about new, particularly large homes that don’t respect their privacy, their views and the established vegetation and boulevards that give character to their neighbourhoods. The status quo isn’t working so we must move forward with a collaborative, thoughtful and practical process.  It’s not going to be easy, but I am convinced there is a “sweet spot” of solutions that will satisfy most.
Another issue is how to deliver services at a level expected by our residents in a fiscally responsible manner.  As a member of the Finance Committee, I will ensure that Council’s two priority initiatives are implemented.  First to undertake a Fiscal Sustainability Review to determine what services should be delivered, at what level, and how they should be delivered in order to be efficient, effective and sustainable.  We also need a long-term funding strategy for an estimated $80 million in system maintenance and replacement of buildings and roads over the next 20 years.
Housing:  The current, increasingly unaffordable housing mix isn’t meeting the needs of our changing community of seniors, downsizers and younger households who want modest-sized, ground-oriented dwellings of between 1000 and 1500 square feet.  Following the recommendation of the Community Dialogue on Neighbourhood Character and Housing, we introduced coach houses to the community.  We want this program to succeed so we will be implementing it over the next term, and monitoring it carefully to ensure minimum impact on neighbouring properties.
3.     Over the past few years, there has been much talk about rejuvenating Ambleside. What are your thoughts on that?
The revitalization of Ambleside must continue.  Every community needs a vibrant High Street, and I’m convinced that with careful planning we can create a village that is both charming and liveable.  Council must show leadership on this, beginning with the implementation of a number of recommendations outlined in our two consultant’s reports:
a)     Review the requirement for second floor office space on Marine from 14th to 18th;
b)    Review our bylaws;
c)     Partner with the Ambleside Business Association to:
(i)        Create a Business Improvement Area (BIA) comprising the 400 businesses in the town centre;
(ii)      Recruit major and minor catalyst projects and merchants to create an appealing mix of businesses;
(iii)           Improve and update signage and store facades; and
(iv)           Improve parking by finding alternatives for business employees, and planning for a central parkade

4.    Incumbents:  What has been your accomplishment in the last 3 years?
Over the past three years, I have come to see this community from a new and different perspective, and I’ve learned a great deal.  From the processes that help council function effectively, to the many complex and diverse projects with which we are involved. But most of what I have learned, I have learned from the fascinating and knowledgeable people who live here.  I’ve made myself available to hundreds of residents to hear their concerns and ideas which helped me to make thoughtful and careful decisions on behalf of the community.  But what I didn’t need to learn over the past three years, because it’s one of my core values, is the importance of keeping our promises, and if you look at my voting record, you will see that to me “a promise is a promise”.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 4 years?
In addition to the revitalization of Ambleside, and a program to ensure the retention of neighbourhood character, I will also work hard to:
Complete a Public Safety Building that supports greater building efficiencies and shared services by the municipal agencies co-located there.
A selective review of our Official Community Plan to better guide us around development decisions such as the Masonic Hall site and the former White Spot site; and location of supporting housing across the District.
Improve youth mental health services and renew the Ambleside Youth Centre. Through my work on the Youth Services Review Implementation Group, I’ve come to understand the significant mental health challenges that so many of our young people face in this increasing complex and stressful world.  Among middle class families, 25% of our youth between the ages of 12 and 25 suffer from some form of depression, anxiety or eating disorders.  And only 1 in 4 of those seek out or access help because they don’t know where to go or who to talk to.  In West Vancouver, I envision a welcoming, safe place where each youth is supported, empowered and appreciated.  And we are actively working with government and non-profit agencies across the North Shore towards this goal.

 WVD’s tax base is heavily tilted to residential property taxes.  What would you do to broaden the tax base?

Revitalize of our town centre, and support of our other business districts so that new businesses want to come here and are successful.

 Tell us about your ideas to support commercial development in West Van.

Currently commercial developers tell me that they find our development and rezoning processes cumbersome and time consuming.  In this regard, Council must review and streamline these processes, including our Community Amenity Contribution policy to make them more predictable and clear.

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