My Key Priorities for City Council:
- Limit tax increases. Exercise prudent management of all spending.
- Manage development density to protect and improve the livability of our City, based on the Official Community Plan.
- Improve our cultural, recreation, sports facilities and parks and public spaces (Art Gallery, Museum, Harry Jerome Rec Centre, Parks and Waterfront areas).
- Promote a climate where businesses can prosper and create jobs.
- Improve transit and SeaBus service. Pursue a new bus depot.
- Plan for a variety of housing options to meet the changing needs of young people, families and seniors.
Key Priorities in Detail
1. Limit tax increases. Exercise prudent management of all spending.
National economic downturns in past decades often have resulted in downloading of responsibilities by senior governments to municipal government, usually resulting in higher tax burdens on local residents. The current world economic climate has the potential to create serious financial and market setbacks that will again challenge local governments.
City Council’s goal must always be to limit tax increases, exercise prudent management of all spending and continue to find ways to reduce costs through increased efficiencies and modernization. The City already cost-shares several services and programs with the District of North Vancouver. Additional opportunities for sharing and reducing costs should be investigated. As new services are added, or expanded, existing and older services must be reviewed as to their continued relevancy.
Council should seek ways for greater public awareness and input in annual budget discussions, so the community’s priorities are adequately reflected in expenditure decisions. Technological advancements in electronic communications will in the future make it possible for the public to use municipal budget-simulation on their home computers to better understand the trade-offs and “what-ifs” Council is faced with at budget time.
2. Manage development density to protect and improve the livability of our City, based on the Official Community Plan.
The City of North Vancouver has been growing and evolving for over a hundred years and it will continue to do so in the future. Growth and renewal, properly managed, is essential to maintaining a healthy and vibrant residential and business community.
The City has very little undeveloped land. New residents in North Vancouver City, and existing single family home residents who wish to stay in the City but want to downsize to a more compact form of housing, must therefore be primarily accommodated through redevelopment or densification of existing properties. At the same time, existing well-established single-family home residential areas need to be preserved as part of a balanced housing stock.
Growth that does come must be properly planned and managed to protect our quality of life and livability in the City. Maintaining a sustainable community requires consideration of current and future needs for municipal infrastructure, and cultural, recreational and sports facilities as well as transit services, automobile and commercial traffic, and retail and office space. Planning for growth must also address provision of a range of housing options to meet the changing needs of our residents.
The Official Community Plan is the tool that lays out the vision for the future of our City, and provides direction and a framework for changes that may occur. Our present OCP is nine years old. Stage 1 Forum and Survey of the “City Shaping” OCP public update consultation process is now completed. Residents are invited to participate in further stages of this update of the OCP during the next year, with the hope that at least 2,500 people will participate.
City Council should review applications for new development projects that occur during this OCP review period, taking into account the existing OCP together with the evolving needs of our community. The process of moving from a previous OCP to a new one that focuses on possible changing priorities for the City takes time. This transitional period can create tension among residents, developers, and Council who may have differing viewpoints on the issues of new development, density growth and change. During this period it is critical that Council actively engage the public to ensure there is a clear understanding of any proposed development and how it is beneficial to our community.
3. Improve our cultural, recreation, sports facilities and parks and public spaces (Art Gallery, Museum, Harry Jerome Recreation Centre, Parks and Waterfront areas).
We need to find new homes for our Art Gallery and Museum presently located at Presentation House. The former shipyard site would be an ideal location for a vibrant waterfront arts and culture precinct that would attract residents and tourists. Possible changes to the location of the popular Presentation House Theatre must also be addressed.
The Harry Jerome Recreation Complex is limited by its age and size in its ability to meet the modern recreational needs of a growing and aging population. The existing buildings are at least 45 years old, do not meet current seismic standards, and continue to deteriorate with rising maintenance costs. A comment I hear frequently from users is the buildings are “old and tired looking” and “poorly laid out”.
City Council needs to get on with making a decision about replacing the Harry Jerome Complex. It is important first to complete the consultation process that was begun with users to determine their current and future needs, and fully discuss with adjoining residential neighbours their concerns. We also need detailed cost projections and possible funding methods for several options. Information I have seen so far indicates a new facility would be better able to meet future recreation needs and be more cost effective over the long term rather than “patching-up” the existing buildings.
Silver Harbour Seniors Centre, adjacent to the Harry Jerome Complex, is 38 years old. With a growing seniors population and growth of programs for seniors, a new and improved Silver Harbour Seniors Centre must be a critical component in the planning of the Harry Jerome Complex.
Established in 1923, the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club is one of the most active in Greater Vancouver and will likely grow in membership as the population ages. It should not be relocated unless a new site and facility acceptable to the Club and its purposes can be agreed upon.
4. Promote a climate where businesses can prosper and create jobs.
Healthy, prosperous businesses provide employment stability, creation of new jobs and assist a balanced tax base. The City still has a large number of residents that commute daily to jobs in other municipalities, adding to traffic congestion. We should do a study on the types of jobs our residents want in order to plan for smart job growth in our City. Focus should also be on attracting businesses and jobs of the future, for example in the technology, health care, environmental, motion picture and shipbuilding sectors.
The Chamber of Commerce and the business community should be actively consulted when planning new residential density areas and transit services in order to plan for convenient access for employees and the public.
Improved transit could reduce the need for costly employee parking, reduce traffic congestion and free up our roads for the more efficient movement of goods and services.
We should continue to reduce costly red tape for businesses by further simplifying and streamlining applications and permit processes.
Property taxes and various fees for businesses and industry should be competitive with similar areas in the Lower mainland, allowing North Van City to retain and attract businesses and jobs, and strengthen an important portion of our municipal tax base.
5. Improve transit and SeaBus service. Pursue a new bus depot.
The primary purpose of public transit is to move people in a timely and a cost effective manner to their workplace, favourite shopping areas, banking and medical offices, and recreational facilities both within our City and into neighbouring municipalities. Another key goal of public transit is to reduce time spent in our cars, to reduce congestion on our streets and to reduce harmful gas emissions.
We can help reduce automobile congestion on our roads and bridges by increasing the hours of operation and frequency of bus service and sailings of the SeaBus. This would also address ongoing problems with overcrowding of buses and resulting pass-ups (full buses), long waits between buses and more night bus service. Improved transit and SeaBus service goes hand in hand with attracting jobs and servicing increased residential growth in the vibrant Lower Lonsdale core of our City. Accommodation of cyclists on transit and SeaBus service should be improved.
I will work to find a location for a new, expanded bus depot in North Vancouver to replace our present overcrowded facility at 3rd Street and St. Andrews. Our North Shore bus fleet should not be based out of Burnaby and have to cross a bridge over the inlet to begin service every day.
6. Plan for a variety of housing options to meet the changing needs of young people, families and seniors.
Housing for City residents currently consists of a variety of home-owner and rental types: single family detached homes, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, secondary suites, townhouses and apartments.
As Council proceeds to update the Official Community Plan through a public involvement process, careful attention must be paid to the changing needs in our community. Diversity in housing types can offer a response to the growing demand for more affordable housing for young and older residents. Care must be taken to provide an appropriate balance of housing types without destroying the character of established neighbourhoods and the investment owners have in their homes. New development and new types of residential units will add to the vibrancy of our community and to the overall quality of life we enjoy in the City of North Vancouver.