Repair Community Transportation
We need to expand our transportation infrastructure so that we can once again move about our community.
I have a plan to repair much of this traffic mess. To make repair I will:
- Propose and support a series of one way street conversions,
- Push for left and right turning lanes at all major arterial intersections,
- Expand road capacity on East Third Street and Keith Road hill to two lanes in each direction
- Convert Grand Blvd to 2 lanes northbound on the east side, 2 lanes southbound on the west side,
- Separate Lynn Valley access from Hwy 1 entry north bound on Grand Boulevard,
- Increase southbound capacity on Boulevard Crescent between Lynn Valley and Grand Boulevard,
- Revisit bus stop modifications that result in curb lane blockage,
- Lobby for a third crossing1,
- Lobby for an at-grade rail link between the Seabus and Horseshoe Bay, and beyond to Squamish and Whistler using existing rail lines2
- Lobby for an improved public transit system for the North Shore3,
- Call for introduction of time sensitive HOV/Transit lanes on all major East/West arterial routes; eg. 3rd Street, Keith Road/15th Street Hill, Marine Drive, 1st Street,
- I will propose peak period HOV/Transit Lanes throughout the North Shore to stimulate better on time public transit performance in the hope of attracting commuters,
- Oppose road pricing taxation.
Lower and Slower Development
In 2014 we completed a hellish City planning process. The outcome was a draft OCP. At what should have been the final passage vote for the new OCP one council member went rogue, because he wanted a commitment to City and District amalgamation included in the plan. That draft OCP was defeated.
After the 2014 election, the Mussatto slate added huge density back to the OCP, against the wishes of most City residents.
That Slate has gone on to reward each developer that donated to their re-election campaigns, by granting their projects huge density well above the enhanced OCP limits. Today, developers get whatever they want. The sky’s the limit.
I will seek to return to City council from staff, the approval process for matters which have been automated away from council leaving neighbours affect by development immediately around them, or other issues such as group daycares, to recover input into what is to be, or not to be, approved in their neighbourhoods.
It’s time to bring order back to City Hall. When elected, I will reign in the City’s exuberant densification program and ensure local residents have a voice that’s heard and that their wishes are reflected in my decisions.
Open and Honest Government
I can remember a time when every member of the community could come before council and speak on any issue they believed required council attention. Not so today. Today our City council routinely denies residents the right to speak about City issues of concern to them. I pledge that when elected, we will rewrite the bylaws ensuring that every City resident that wishes to do so can:
- Come before council, each week, and speak on any topic of their choosing,
- Increase the time allowed for public input,
- Provide greater and easier access to public records when requested by streamlining access to information requests, and,
- Move inappropriate in-camera council dialogue back to open council chambers.
Its high time we showed respect for our democratic principles and returned to open and honest governance.
Improve Financial Stewardship
The City has consistently raised taxes every year, year after year. My property tax expenditure alone have increased by 50% over the last 4 years. Utilities have also doubled since Mussatto came to office. Have we received good value for our money? I am of the opinion, no.
Massive community redevelopment was supposed to deliver a windfall in tax and density bonus income, but the City’s cash on hand has actually declined. It’s time we did a ground up budget of City operations and look for savings. It’s time for City residents to get that dividend they’ve been promised through lower taxation. I will find and plug the holes in our public expenditures and get for you that long overdue tax savings!
As a further example, LEC (Lonsdale Energy Corp.) now owes debt to the City in excess of $20 Million Dollars for infrastructure, much of which has yet to find a demand. Current consumers are being required to carry this financial burden as part of their energy costs while the City is spending more and more of its capital reserves on this district energy project.
I will pursue common sense solutions to real life challenges while working hard to reduce taxes and the size of our local government.
City and District Amalgamation
I would call for a study on amalgamation. I don’t know if it’s a good idea or a bad idea to amalgamate. The concept is good, in theory, but we would have to determine if the outcome would actually be of benefit to city residents. If it was determined to be beneficial, then I would put the matter forward for a vote by the city’s population. But I would compel the question include a discussion on what the residents wanted done with the efficiency proceeds (savings). Amalgamation for the purpose of growing government is not the right move in my opinion. I would want any dividend to go to residents as a tax savings.
Homeless and “At Risk” Peoples
I will push council to develop a support structure for those who have become homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless, as a result of the City’s rampant redevelopment, and for a program to deal with homelessness in general in an effort to find solutions to these difficult but resolvable issues.
There are 295 individuals who have accessed homelessness services in 2016 that were considered “at risk” due to imminent risk of housing loss. “At risk” refers to those who are not homeless, but whose current economic and/or housing situation is precarious or does not meet public health and safety standards (would become homeless without support). These are the people who first couch surf with friends and family and later find themselves, through not fault of their own, joining our street population because of redevelopment which took away from them their affordable housing.
The fastest growing segment of the “at risk”/homeless population are seniors over the age of 55, with the highest percentage of this group being single elderly women.
The most recent North Shore Homelessness data report records 736 individuals who are absolutely homeless. 64% (330) of the recorded homeless were men and 37% (190) were women. 24% of the “at risk” individuals were accompanied by children with the majority (94%) of those being female led families.
The data used was provided by the Hollyburn Family Services Society who operate on the front line on this war on poverty, and claim that 2016 data is the most recent reliable data in existence. We must assume that the homelessness and “at risk” problem has become far worse given the aggressive push for even greater redevelopment and density in the last several years. For more information on this topic go to North Shore Homelessness Data Report.
OCP and Density Bonus Development Moratorium / Insuring Affordability
I would call for a moratorium on development proposals seeking an OCP amendment until we have reached a firm consensus on the issue of Renoviction and redevelopment displacement of affected persons, and implemented the solutions which flow from that process.
The INSTPP study spearheaded by local MLA Bowinn Ma has produced analysis which confirms one of the driving forces behind our traffic congestion problems is the fact that we’re driving our low income workforce off the North Shore.
With the destruction of each affordable housing unit ($900 – $1,400 per month), we are gaining replacement condos that sell beginning at $800K or higher, or rental units going for $2,400 – $3,200 month or more. These units are well beyond the upper affordability limits of those displaced by redevelopment. Many elderly, single mothers, and our local workforce that currently reside in these rental units, are being driven off the North Shore. There is simply no affordably priced rental options available in today’s market place for the redevelopment evicted renter.
We need to compel each and every developer to deal with the displaced renters by leveraging any density bonus grants to protection of those being displaced. Each developer that makes a fortune from the uplift in FSR (Floor Space Ratio) should only gain that additional density because they have harmed no one in the process.
We have options within the control of the City planning process to make certain these goals are met. If we fail to implement these protections then, not only will renters continue to suffer, but traffic will worsen as more and more people are compelled to commute to work on the North Shore from far-flung regions. These longer transits will also affect the cost of services as employers are required to pay more to access their work force and patrons will thus pay higher costs to cover those increased wages, all of which will result in even greater commuter traffic and ever worsening gridlock.
We can repair this. We just need to focus on protecting our renters who are City residents, and they need and deserve that protection. By spurring on this development frenzy, the City and now the District have actually created most of this disaster. This disaster has been self induced because our municipal councils did not think about the consequences of a race towards densification, and the impact that will fall on the community and residents shoulders.
No North Shore Casino
One of the greatest risks to the mental health of many north shore residents is the fight against gambling addiction. It is as equally dangerous as drugs and alcohol addiction and leads to heightened risk of suicide in those afflicted with the disease.
I would seek to implement a fresh moratorium on Casino operations within City Limits and I would seek to strike a grand bargain throughout the North Shore with our neighbours, blocking casino development entirely. We don’t need a North Shore money laundering operation.
Developer Relations with City Staff
I will call for a separation of developer relations and staff so that public concerns of proximity and bias in favour of the development community can be expelled. I will also call for an employment standards bylaw that forbids former public employees of the City like department heads and politicians from representing developers before council or with staff in negotiations on development proposals. Where former staff and/or politician fail or refuse compliance with this new employment standard term, we reject those development proposals that request any OCP alteration, exemption or density bonus whether available within the OCP or otherwise.
I will work with council, staff, the province and legal counsel to craft new conflict of interest bylaws and regulations that prohibit any member of city council or staff, with an interest or beneficial relationship, pertaining to any person or organization coming before council on a specific issue, from sitting in judgement of that parties issue, on the basis of conflict of interest.
Darwin’s Proposal for Harry Jerome
I oppose the Darwin proposal as approved by council. I oppose the City backstopping $237 million dollars worth of capital cost. This could be the North Vancouver City’s version of Vancouver’s Olympic Village. The risks that the City is undertaking on behalf of this proposal and Darwin are massive and beyond the City’s ability to pay as a municipality of only 54,000 people. The new Harry Jerome as it is contemplated would be the largest Rec Centre in all of the Lower Mainland for a community that is one of the smallest in all of the Lower Mainland. There are more realistic and cost effective solutions to achieve everyone’s objectives that won’t result in the city incurring such a massive potential liability.
Further, I am adamantly opposed to the level of densification being granted to Darwin Construction in exchange for this deal. This will add to our already disastrous traffic problems and will set the stage for every subsequent development proposal to seek 30 stories in recognition of the height granted Darwin at the Harry Jerome site. This proposal is opposed by many residents for a variety of reasons.
If elected to Mayor, I will undertake to stop this project and resize it to match the needs and financial capabilities of the City of North Vancouver.
While there are may aspects of staff compensation that I do not agree with, there is one aspect in particular that riles me. City staff enjoy a benefit package that provides them with long term disability insurance, with the exception of the fire department for which that benefit is not available. Consider for a moment the firemen standing on the fully extended ladder contemplating a jump six stories up to a building on fire where your loved one needs his/her help to survive. Do you really want the fireman wondering if he should take that risk because in doing so his only safety net is WorkSafeBC, who I can tell you from first hand experience will provide compensation at less than 50% of that fireman’s take home wage. We should provide the fire department personnel with the same long term disability benefits that are available to every other member of City staff. They should know we have their backs, after all, do we not expect that they have ours?
I will advocate that the fire department be covered on long term disability like every other member of City staff. if there is to be a shortage on recovery from that paid out by WorkSafeBC then let it not be the staff that suffer the loss on an inadequate compensation system.
I would initiate discussions with West Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver to explore development of a North Shore wide police force to replace the troubled and overly costly RCMP. The RCMP contract with the city is the single largest expense in the city’s operating budget. We pay this bill yet we have no control over how the RCMP are tasked or what we get for our investment. It’s time we consider a municipal police force option that will provide the city with greater influence over community policing issues and priorities, more efficient operations and a way of insuring we don’t become the dumping ground for officers with regulatory or human rights compliance challenges.
Pedal Bikes, Electric (E) Bikes
The City has, for 4 years, worked on expanding on the Safe-Biking initiative. The budget for full implementation of this policy was estimated at a little over $20M. And let me be clear, I like biking. I support biking. But I believe biking and bikers must know and follow the rules, and we can not grow bike lanes by reducing existing roadways already tasked in automobile service. Bike lanes must be created where exiting automotive arteries will not be compromised.
Have you ever seen a bike run a stop sign or a red light, as if the rules of the road don’t apply to bikers. I have. In fact I see it every day. We need a bike operator’s licensing program for people over the age of 16. If it takes a license to operate a car on our public roads, should it not also be true for bikers, especially e-bikes which can easily achieve speeds of 50km!.
We need each biker to have and to hold a valid license so that those that flaunt the rules can be fined or charged when they break those rules.
We need bikers, especially e-bikers to have valid policies of insurance. We have had a number of people in the lower mainland struck and killed by bikers. Shouldn’t injured persons have a right of recourse against a biker in the same way that bikers have a policy of insurance to call upon when struck by a motor vehicle? I think so. And I will pursue an agenda that sees these initiatives become law.
We need more public parking for automobiles, and we need more parking stalls in rental units and condos for owners and renters.
We’ve been granting development approvals for new construction where there is .75 or less parking stalls for each rental suite or new condo. Those policies are impractical. The vast majority of renters and condo owners have cars. Many family units have two cars. By allowing construction of units with insufficient parking capacity we are pitting our residents against businesses who rely on street parking stalls for their patrons so their businesses may survive. I will vote to reverse our existing parking policies and look to create more public parking options.
I will vote to halt the City’s attack on street parking caused by traffic calming bumps and push outs that typically result in the loss of 3-4 parking stalls per affected block.
A Ban on Smoking In All Public Places
I will support a ban on smoking in all public places. Yes smokers have rights. We need to ensure they have designated places at which they can smoke. But smoking is harmful to public health. Without a smoking ban in public places, second hand smoke creates a health risk. The pending lawful use of marijuana, and the potential for children and others who don’t use the drug to become exposed poses a real threat the health and safety of the general public. Smoking has a place, but it cannot be every place. We need strong regulations and active enforcement of those regulations to ensure the rights and safety for all.
- I would apply pressure at the GVRD and Transit levels to explore a third crossing via a floating bridge between Deep Cove and Belcarra, with connection via Lougheed Hwy to Golden Ears Bridge and beyond to the #1. The long sought 3rd crossing.
- I would strike a committee to examine the potential for an at-grade commuter rail link, using the existing BCR come CN rail line between the Seabus terminal and Whistler with the first leg running back and forth at high frequency between the Seabus and Horseshoe Bay. The second leg running back and forth from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish at lessor frequency, and the third leg running back and forth between Squamish and Whistler at even lessor frequency.
- I would also seek to examine the viability of an at-grade rail system for the City similar in nature to that found in the City of Portland, Oregon. I think such a system would go a long way in helping us cure our traffic problems.