In the City of Colwood, incumbent Carol Hamilton faces off against Rob Martin for the mayor’s seat while 11 candidates vie for six spots on council. We asked each candidate how they would make the municipality a better place and to outline their top three key initiatives. Here are their responses.
1. Create a strategic plan for this term.
2. Ensure supporting OCP policies are updated.
3. Continue working on solutions to transportation and housing.
Development is key to the future of Colwood. We need to work with developers to create carefully planned development that opens up opportunity for community to connect. Trails, paths and roads must be built to standards suitable for pedestrians, cyclists, cars and transit to connect. Green space is vital but there needs to be more useable public space created – multi purpose fields are in high demand as well as pickle ball and tennis courts. Some of which could be placed within developments adding value to the area.
Complete the West Shore Parks and Recreation review, strategic plan and owners agreement to ensure that this facility remains a focal point of the West Shore.
Continue working with Provincial Government to expand post-secondary education facilities.
Continue building on the success of our public free family events such as Eats & Beats at the Lagoon, Seaside Festival at Fort Rodd Hill and Block Parties.
My plan for a thriving Colwood includes opportunities for employment and education for Colwood citizens and thoughtfully-planned commercial zones that alleviate tax pressure on residents. Presently, 93 per cent of Colwood’s net taxable assessed value comes from Colwood homeowners. To lower the tax burden on residents, we must grow our business community. The long-term financial health of Colwood depends on it.
2. Environmental assets
My plan is to negotiate with developers for prime parkland to make our natural areas accessible for all ages. Colwood has over 50 parks that have been underserviced for far too long.
Colwood needs to work with other municipalities to clear the congested transportation corridors that lead to and from our municipality. I seek creative solutions like reversing the flow of traffic by creating job and education opportunities in Colwood. Other options would include the use of our waterways (seabus from Colwood to Victoria).
1. Sound planning well into the future for our capital assets, natural assets and operational finances; be as efficient as we can be. This is the foundation on which everything else must be built.
2. Work to keep our existing businesses and bring in new businesses by making Colwood more business-friendly and proactively going out to attract them. This adds to the foundation.
3. Make it safer to walk, bike and use mobility scooters. This improves community physical and social health. Health and safety are everyone’s top concern.
All of the above, plus:
• Working with the development community, provide homes to suit all ages, incomes and needs as part of a region-wide effort. Health and safety is compromised without reasonable accommodation.
• Develop thoughtfully and beautifully; keeping Colwood a great place to live.
• Protect our special places.
1. Continued Community Engagement
2. Affordable/Liveable Community
3. Better Transit
Webcasting council meetings was a priority I championed to allow the community to see council in action. Currently, development variance permits are delegated to staff which doesn’t allow for public input. I would like more details shared – showing what developments are actually going to look like. I respect the views of residents and commit to making City Hall accessible and welcoming. Our strategic investments in affordable housing are putting affordable homes in the right locations to support active transportation and better transit. Our community must be inclusive for people of all ages and abilities, and must have more options for childcare and seniors services. Natural parks are important sources of wellbeing and provide cost effective natural systems for water control and carbon sequestering. Local knowledge is going to be the key to getting the most affordable (and beautiful) solutions. Colwood is engaged and naturally beautiful, let’s continue this together.
1. Public safety: with my background and expertise, I will work hard to ensure Colwood remains a safe place to raise our families.
2. Parks and green spaces: I will strive to expand our parks and green-spaces and to care for those that we have.
3. Sustainable and attainable development: we need to manage our overall growth and work to increase our commercial development, thereby expanding our tax base.
As a police officer, I live a life committed to service and integrity. As a member of your council, I will listen and work hard to engage with our residents and community groups. As we grow, I will ensure that we sustainably manage our future development, and see that projects are completed. I will work to expand our tax base and encourage commercial development in our community to mitigate future tax increases for residents.
1. Secure the future: To achieve the infrastructure, recreational, arts and cultural amenities, and services desired by the people we must grow our tax base. Raising residential taxes is not the solution. We must pursue responsible economic development. In the short term, we must significantly improve the turn times of our development permit approval process and change our entire culture to “we are open for business and how can we help you.” Find out which communities are doing the best and copy them.
2. Colwood proud: New revenue will not happen overnight. In the meantime, we must examine all our services and prioritize spending accordingly. Whatever we choose let’s do it well rather than arbitrarily doing general cuts all around and doing everything haphazardly. Zero-based budgeting is my proposed methodology.
3. Accountability: Must be totally accountable and transparent on how we spend taxpayer dollars. To improve our services and accountability, I would propose performance metrics at every level and above all, I committed to improve how we communicate to the community. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
I would start off by listening. I am smart enough to know that I do not have all the answers, but there are a lot of good ideas in the community. I would gather community input, prioritize, research and present the options and take the necessary actions to implement them. I will listen to emotions but act on facts.
1. Infrastructure improvements
2. Economic development
Creating a sense of belonging is important to me. We can create that sense by investing in park improvements to make them inviting and by investing in sidewalks and neighbourhood connections to make it easier for people to get out and enjoy their community. We should celebrate where we live.
Making Colwood a better place also means that we need to bring services closer to people. We do that by being business friendly. Colwood needs to be creative and inviting, both in appearance, but also by having processes that are easy to navigate. The spinoff effect is the additional tax base that is created thereby reducing the burden on all taxpayers.
Imagine the possibilities.
1. To have an integrated transportation and way finding solution in place and in concert with our neighbouring municipalities; showing measure measurable success by the end of the four year term.
2. To have a GIS inventory system of every single tree larger than 10 cm in diameter to enhance our urban forest bylaw #1710.
3. To have the residential tax base reduced to 87 per cent from its current rate of 93 per cent — that means more integrated, planned business development.
Science tells us that people are most happy when they have the maximum number of choices in their daily lives. For transportation issues, if we use some out of the box thinking and provide commuters with choices and option, through way finding, altered directions on main routes, a ferry to downtown, and try to keep and develop jobs in Colwood, commuters will notice alleviation due to increased choice.
Similarly, on housing affordability, municipalities are limited in what they can do, but here is a list of tools that we can tweak and modify to favour housing: bylaws, transportation, inclusionary zoning, fee waivers and relief, property taxes, advocacy, land contributions, replacement policies, housing agreements, community land trusts, zoning for rental housing.
Steering through mixed use residential and business development will bring more revenue and jobs to the city. Residents’ tax bills won’t have to go up as much. Have more money in their pockets also gives people more choices, ergo happiness increased.
1. Diversify the tax base by creating opportunities for clean industry, local business and post-secondary education to locate within our boundaries.
2. Support a plan for a dedicated rapid transit busway using the existing E&N corridor to improve the current traffic gridlock on our highways.
3. Develop our Royal Bay waterfront with a view to accessibility both physically and culturally while supporting and growing a local economic base.
We need leadership on council with a vision to create a socially responsible and economically viable community in order to pay for the services that our growing community requires.
Jason Nault – Did not respond
1. Responsible expansion of the arts and culture sector of our community.
2. Building a safe and healthy community for our children.
3. To further explore opportunities for affordable/attainable housing with a fresh perspective.
I would begin by working collaboratively with mayor and council to rebuild the foundations essential to a healthy community. This would be achieved by working diligently to ensure that Colwood is a place where all ages can interact in a vibrant, safe and inclusive community. I will listen with an open mind and be proactive in finding new and creative ways to respectfully address the ideas and concerns of the community.
I would critically examine expenditures such as the proposal to spend $2 million to replace Ocean Boulevard Sewage lift station prematurely. This decision does not seem to be supported by the recent studies undertaken for the City and disposing of an asset many years before the end of its useful life is just plain wrong. I would encourage more sidewalks and bike lane/path construction that would make walking and cycling throughout Colwood safer and more enjoyable whether for commuting, getting to school or just exercise. I would monitor finances to prevent large tax increases such as occurred last year.
1. Encourage responsible development, particularly commercial.
2. Find solutions to connect existing neighborhoods to sewage.
3. Improve transportation routes for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
I am looking to represent the citizens of Colwood as we improve and grow our vibrant community. With the experience and knowledge from a term on View Royal Council, I will endeavor to improve community input, enhance access to services and information, and streamline our meetings for the benefit of the public.
Our region is growing at an accelerated rate, Colwood is no exception, however we need to keep our community values as we grow. I am a new resident of Colwood, however have lived in the western communities my entire life. As a new resident, I value the quiet neighbourhoods and numerous parks our community is made of, and want to ensure we protect and enhance these as we grow. We have several development sites that need some encouragement from council to get off the ground, such as the “Wale Road Pit.” I will work towards developments that our existing residents can embrace.