In the Township of Esquimalt, Sonya Gracey is challenging Barb Desjardins in the mayoral race with seven candidates running for six councillor positions. We asked each candidate to outline the most important thing council can do to improve the lives of residents. Here are their responses listed alphabetically.
The most important thing council can do to improve lives of residents is take an integrated approach to community wellness, where we balance fiscal, social, and environmental needs. This includes housing, health, safety, culture, climate change, and more. The social needs of a community should be our guiding lens. Esquimalt’s warm “sense of community” reflects this holistic approach and must be maintained to achieve our vision of a vibrant, distinct, and diverse community for people to discover and belong.
Strong environmental wellness provides for the physical health of residents, and community adaptation and mitigation against climate change. Fiscal health provides affordability, equity, and inclusion through opportunity. It’s all connected.
The answers to some of our most complex challenges can be found in engaged, thriving, and connected communities. Our built environment plays a central role. As mayor, I will prioritize fair, human-centered climate conscious development. This includes the creation of an Esquimalt housing strategy, recruiting and retaining local businesses, maintaining and enhancing community health and safety programs, and leveraging amenity fund contributions to ensure services grow with the population. My experience as a nurse, facilitator, and former Victoria city councillor (2005, 2008) gives me the skills, experience and courage to lead Esquimalt into its next chapter.
The most important thing that council can do to improve the lives of its residents is to take a holistic approach to community well-being by supporting increased housing density (including affordable housing) consistent with our Official Community Plan, supporting climate action through implementation of our Climate Mitigation and Adaption Plans and our Active Transportation Network Plan and supporting business growth through implementation of our Business Investment Roadmap and Economic Development Strategy.
The most important thing that council can do for residents is to be active and present in our community, to listen and represent all residents equally, and to advocate fiercely for positive change. We must be fiscally and socially accountable to the citizens of our communities and create opportunities for transformation and betterment of our township, municipality or city.
Esquimalt needs to ensure that there is consistent and concrete action on those issues affecting residents’ lives: housing affordability, climate change, and safe streets for all. It’s important that council move beyond declarations, studies and plans. We need to see real physical improvements in terms of affordable housing units built, GHG emissions reduced, and more sidewalks and safe bike routes for our children to get to school. Esquimalt has seen tremendous growth in market housing in the past few years: we need to ensure that our other priorities and facilities are keeping up and receiving similar levels of attention.
The most important thing council can do is be responsive to the needs of its residents. To support the needs of Esquimalt, I am committed to long-term planning that pursues community growth through diverse housing options for everyone, fostering our strong, engaged community, and investing in accessible, connected neighbourhoods.
Many residents are struggling with affordability and the high cost of living. Helping with more affordable home ownership by providing property tax relief through careful budgeting, long-term financial planning and respecting taxpayers in all decision-making is crucial. Every decision must focus on both the overall benefit to our community, as well as the cost to our community’s taxpayers and our ability to pay. It also means ensuring affordable services and amenities including our parks and recreation being accessible to all at the lowest possible prices with the highest possible quality. Read more at timmorrison.ca.
The most important thing that council can do to improve the lives of residents is to be people focused, fiscally responsible and considerate of the impacts decisions made have on communities. There are a lot of issues in Esquimalt centred on people.
Affordability and the cost of living being foremost, difficulty retaining health professionals, growth and changes to our neighbourhoods and loss of our last major bank are issues of concern. The one thing in common, they impact on people in our community.
I will help with recruitment of doctors and aligned health care workers for the residents of Esquimalt. It is essential future housing densification projects be approved with dedicated office space for physicians coupled with tax packages to attract family doctors to open or move their practices to Esquimalt.
While the specific details will be a discussion for the community and the next council, the essence of my idea is to leverage mechanisms available for the council to ensure family doctors are attracted to set up shop in Esquimalt now and into the future.
It is critical residents have proper access to health care to have a strong sense of security within their community.
Advance voting starts on Oct. 5 with general election day on Oct. 15. For more information on how or where to vote, check out your municipality’s website. You can find election night results, and more coverage in the lead-up, under the election tab at vicnews.com.
READ MORE: 2022 Election Coverage
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