Responses to the Chamber’s Oct 2nd 2018 All Candidates Forum

Here are my responses to the questions posed to council candidates at the Chamber’s All Candidates Forum. The Yes/No questions follow the 12 general answer ones below.

  1. What are your 2 primary goals during your 4 year term? How will you achieve this?
  2. What do you see as the greatest economic challenges facing Salmon Arm? How will you address them?
  3. What specific measures will you take to help local business thrive?
  4. If elected, what transportation issues will be your priority?
  5. How will you move forward to increase housing density and affordable housing stock?
  6. What measures will you take to preserve heritage in our city – the buildings, historical sites and stories to pass down to the next generation(s)?
  7. In your opinion, what is the greatest strength of Salmon Arm? How do you plan to put this strength to use as the City develops its growth plans?
  8. What will you do to support labour attraction and retention in Salmon Arm?
  9. What is your vision and overall plan for the Industrial Park? What will you do to achieve that vision?
  10. What plans do you have to combat the growing homeless population in Salmon Arm?
  11. What is your plan to deal with the increase in street solicitation (panhandling) that is taking place within the downtown and outer areas?
  12. What is your plan to deal with increased usage, and dwindling supply, of parking in the downtown core and waterfront?
  • What are your 2 primary goals during your 4 year term? How will you achieve this?

It’s pretty well a tie! While there are lots of ongoing important issues in front of council, “Housing Affordability” and “WildFire Prevention” stand out on my radar as TCH issues proceed. I’m actively engaged with both files! Both are significant issues, both have been decades in the making and both require immediate action as well as complex long-term planning to get to where we need to be. We’ve started and there’s more to do. See https://timlavery.ca/2018/09/27/platform-an-affordable-housing-strategy/ and https://timlavery.ca/2018/09/27/platform-becoming-a-firesmart-community/ for timelines and more.

  • What do you see as the greatest economic challenges facing Salmon Arm? How will you address them?

It’s clearly Affordable Housing and a consistent Economic Development strategy. We’re well underway on both.

Affordable Housing is a complex situation that has been 30 plus years in the making and the solutions are going to be complex as well.

(1) Right Now: we’re legalizing Secondary suites in all areas, incentivizing some rental development, financially supporting affordable housing applications, we’ve set up a reserve account to do even more, we’ve convened a productive cross sectoral Housing TaskForce and we are working towards a Housing Strategy.

(2) It’s absolutely essential for all levels of govt to be working together. We’re doing that with direct talks with housing officials and the minister. We are on the provincial radar due to these combined efforts!

(3) We’re a small city & the reality is that we can’t afford to sole-build or operate affordable housing.

  • Here’s a metric $160,000 = 1% tax increase Building even 6 moderately affordable units would roughly equate to a 10% tax increase – for everyone!

The best solution lies in supporting our local housing providers in applying for the funding that we’re just now starting to see. We’re doing that. Applications and Expressions of Interest have been submitted recently. Council is on top of the Affordable Housing file!

A sound EcDev strategy is imperative and we have an excellent one in place! Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (EDS), the non-profit board the city contracts with for EcDev strategies, has a modern forward-looking economic growth strategy that I fully support.

  • EDS is recognized for it’s as modern EcDev strategies and best practices by the province (under both the current and previous provincial govts!)
  • It’s based on attracting talent, of opportunities to work with mature and Innovative clusters, of leveraging our SA lifestyle and focusing on Business retention and expansion – another recognized modern best practice

We need to attract ‘talent’ rather than use outdated ‘attraction’ strategies that appear to be advocated by some.

It’s about leveraging our mature Hi Tech sector and more. It’s about robust plans to retain, expand and attract businesses of all kinds – including agriculture – and work together regionally

It’s a great EcDev direction, it’s appropriate modern thinking and it’s indeed happening here!

  • What specific measures will you take to help local business thrive?

I’ll continue to ensure that the city is fiscally sound. Here’s what’s happened these past 4 years:

  • Tax increases for everyone have been less than the cost of living these past two years.
  • We’ve maintained healthy savings reserves to minimize the need to borrow and we’re the envy of many local govts.
  • Rationalized tax brackets through blending to support Light Manufacturing industry that is primarily on industrial land.
  • Approved the MRDT (Hotel Tax) to support shoulder-season tourism and businesses
  • Continued with significant Revitalization Incentives for businesses in the downtown core as well as the Industrial Park

It’s important to recognize that Salmon Arm is in the middle of the range for overall business taxation – as well as building development costs – not only in our region but throughout the province.

We are at a sweet spot that works and I’d reject any implications that we are tax and spend council or an impediment to business. We’ve been open and responsive to business viability.

We have been fiscally responsible & reasonable and I’ll continue to be so if I’m re-elected.

  • How will you move forward to increase housing density and affordable housing stock?

Housing density is controlled though zoning bylaws and the OCP and for now these bylaws are appropriate. We need to ensure infill and minimize sprawl plus we need to increase transit options.

An Affordable Housing Strategy highlights differing housing needs on the housing spectrum from Homeless, to supported housing, to subsidized rent geared to income, to market rental and entry home ownership. There are significant needs across the housing spectrum that have built up over the past three decades. We need an overall plan to best meet the most critical needs first.  In the interim, we need to be targeting any and all funding opportunities. We’re in a competition will every other local government in the province and it’s our politicians’ jobs to be advocating with higher levels of govt. Our efforts have placed us on the provincial radar! I’ll continue on with convening the cross-sectoral approach of housing providers, the development and finance sector, First Nations and citizens at large that we have put in place.

  • What measures will you take to preserve heritage in our city – the buildings, historical sites and stories to pass down to the next generation(s)?

I feel that it’s time to look at having a bylaw that supports the preservation of historical buildings. I’d like to see our Community Heritage Commission be the place to receive public input and to report back to council on policy options including funding recommendations. Of note, the city already offers considerable support to Haney Heritage .

  • In your opinion, what is the greatest strength of Salmon Arm? How do you plan to put this strength to use as the City develops its growth plans?

Most of us are living here because of the incredible lifestyle and location of SA

We all know that SA has been discovered and the challenge I would argue is the need to maintain these wonderful aspects of community, of neighbourhoods, of safety, of affordability, of the environmental health of the lake and our eco-systems amidst that growth

Putting it bluntly, I don’t think too many of us want to become another ‘Kelowna’

So, the challenge is in shaping what growth looks like, where it occurs and ensuring there is sustainability to it.

We have a sound EcDev strategy in place! Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (EDS), the non-profit board the city contracts with for EcDev strategies, has a modern forward-looking economic growth strategy that I fully support.

  • EDS is recognized for it’s as modern EcDev strategies and best practices by the province (under both the current and previous provincial govts!)
  • It’s based on attracting talent, of opportunities to work with mature and Innovative clusters, of leveraging our SA lifestyle and focusing on Business retention and expansion – another recognized modern best practice

We need to attract ‘talent’ rather than use outdated ‘attraction’ strategies that appear to be advocated by some.

It’s about leveraging our mature Hi Tech sector and more. It’s about robust plans to retain, expand and attract businesses of all kinds – including agriculture – and work together regionally

It’s a great direction, it’s appropriate modern thinking and it’s indeed happening here!

  • What will you do to support labour attraction and retention in Salmon Arm?

At this stage, it’s all about policies that promote affordable housing for those who want to work here and for businesses looking to hire employees who need accommodation. The opportunities afforded by our mature Tech and HiTech manufacturing businesses, the new Innovation Centre and education partners are intrinsically attractive to the very cohort we want to locate in Salmon Arm.

  • What is your vision and overall plan for the Industrial Park? What will you do to achieve that vision?

I see an incremental extension of services to the Industrial Park but I also see the need for businesses there to convene and to articulate specific widely-held consensus proposals and their willingness to help pay for them through increased taxes. There is a good faith conversation by all parties that can happen. Note: edited to update answer due to a faulty cut & paste.

  • What plans do you have to combat the growing homeless population in Salmon Arm? (11) What is your plan to deal with the increase in street solicitation (panhandling) that is taking place within the downtown and outer areas?

These questions are intricately related. We all know that this is a complex issue of homelessness, poverty, mental health and addictions.

There are currently service requests for a OutReach worker, opportunities for the shelter to be open year-round, advocating for additional mental health supports and we’re working hard  – as we speak – on getting funding for the housing vulnerable.

We can come up with a Salmon-Arm solution as long as we don’t polarize ourselves in the discussion.

We can’t be fitting all panhandlers into the same narrative. Similarly, we can’t reflexively dismiss those who have legitimate concerns as “wanting to ignore poverty” – We need to have these hard but respectful conversations and I believe that we can.

To be clear,  I am in favour of a municipal Bylaw about Panhandling so that there are criteria  in place to regulate socially appropriate behaviours and to protect businesses who are suffering the collateral damage of having no bylaw. The proposed Fines system needs to be looked at and radically adjusted.

Having a panhandling bylaw is an approach that many local governments in the region are implementing in order to gain some control of the activities on their streets. I support this.

I’m confident that we can come up with a good Salmon Arm solution that bridges these divides – by early in the new year.

  • What is your plan to deal with increased usage, and dwindling supply, of parking in the downtown core and waterfront?

I’m not trying to be flippant when I say welcome to the geographical incompatibilities of two road systems, the TCH and Downtown SA – with little real estate to make changes to either!

Building up with a downtown parkade, one that’s on the planning books, is likely an option in a few years. Increasing public transit to downtown needs to be considered.

Questions Yes or No – All Candidates

  1. Do you support the procurement of funding for the Ross Street Underpass? (Yes)
  2. Cultural Planning, at its base level, is a process for identifying and leveraging a community’s cultural resources and integrating those resources across all facets of local planningand decision making. Do you support the creation and implementation of a Cultural Masterplan for Salmon Arm? (Yes – and it’s underway!)
  3. Do you support the development of a Performing Arts Centre? (Yes but for me, it’s dependent on a clear consensus among arts & culture groups plus a clear professional Business Plan highlighting capital, operational costs and a market analysis is mandatory to proceed)
  4. As we witness throughout our province, natural and man-made disasters can be devastating, in particular to smaller communities and cities. We could experience forest fires, large scale flooding, water contamination (due to rail or transport spillage), landslides, etc. Do you support the creation of a Salmon Arm emergency preparedness and disaster recovery program? Salmon Arm is already a key member of the regional Shuswap Emergency Program. This function is best served regionally where it is now.

Comments are closed.