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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NALT 2008 Civic All-Candidates Forums

Tonight is Nanaimo and Area Land Trust's forum for candidates running in the City of Nanaimo’s 2008 Municipal Election. It will be taking place in the Ballroom of the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo at 7:00 PM

My answers to the questions being asked:

Over-riding Question About Environmental Sustainability

1) Preamble: There seem to be many views on what is meant by “sustainability”.

QUESTION: Define your understanding of the phrase “living more sustainably”. As a decision-maker, what will you do to make Nanaimo, other RDN communities and rural areas of the RDN more environmentally sustainable to live in?

To do everything possible in your power to reduce your impact on the environment. Confine use and purchases to needs not wants. Recycle everything you can, grow your own food, purchase locally produced products, use your vehicle when necessary not out of convenience, conserve water and electricity, and look at alternative energy forms. I would encourage and support any means available to move sustainability forward in the RDN as well as lobby the provincial and federal governments to do so as well.

Questions about Environmental Quality

2) Preamble: In view of air quality concerns and global climate change, some cities have taken steps to ban drive-in windows for fast food restaurants and reduce the length of time that cars can “idle” their engines. Other cities have enacted bans or heavy user-fees on the use of plastic bags, disposable plastic utensils and dishes to reduce landfills and reduce the production of petroleum-based plastics.

QUESTION: If elected, will you work to initiate bans and/ or user-fees that would promote better air and water quality, and reduce landfills? If not, why not?

Yes. We must reduce our perceived dependence on the use of plastics and Styrofoam and encourage greater use of recycling. Any means of reducing the idling of engines, of all internal combustion vehicles, should be implemented.

3) Preamble: A bylaw to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides currently proposed for the City of Nanaimo applies to residential property owners only, while government-owned and Municipal and Regional properties would be exempt from such a bylaw.

QUESTION: Will you, as an elected representative, commit to implementing a universal ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) in the Municipalities and the rural areas of the RDN? If not, why not?

Yes. Natural forms of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides exist and should be used. Fines for non compliance could be implemented and if these fines prove not to be a deterent increased incrementally.

Questions about Planning/Development/Growth Policies

4) Nanaimo City Council Candidates Only PREAMBLE: The first goal of Nanaimo’s new Official Community Plan is to manage urban growth and reduce urban sprawl by guiding development to areas that already have urban services. Plan Nanaimo states that under existing zoning for single family and multi-family residential uses, there are sufficient lands already available to accommodate future growth in Nanaimo for the next 20 to 25 years without using lands designated as “urban reserves”.

QUESTION: What steps will you take to ensure that lands available under existing development zoning are utilized first before allowing any “urban reserve” lands to be rezoned for development?

When elected to council I will not support the development of lands designated urban reserve. I will push to make the development process, for existing urban service areas, less onerous and time consuming; re visit the carriage house concept to allow for their use in lots with existing secondary suites; continue the push to increase density in the downtown and work to create a bylaw that will make development of urban reserve areas contingent upon the unavailability of other available lands for growth.

5) PREAMBLE: The Regional Growth Strategy is a good document, yet we are failing to meet most of its goals.

QUESTION : If elected, what specific steps will you take to ensure that the targeted goals of the RGS are met?

Despite Nanaimo’s extension of its Urban Containment Boundary I would promote the focus of development on existing developed areas before considering moving into the more rural lands, thus preserving their integrity, and I would push to have other communities strengthen their UCB’s. The eight goals of the RDN, Strong Urban Containment, Nodal Structure, Rural Integrity, Environmental Protection, Vibrant & Sustainable Economy, Efficient Services and Cooperation Among Jurisdictions, are indeed good. When elected I will push towards at a minimum meeting or when possible the improvemnet of these Goals.

6) PREAMBLE: The City of Nanaimo and many areas of the RDN are known for extraordinary views of the Strait of Georgia and offshore islands. An objective in Nanaimo’s 2008 OCP is to protect the character and extent of existing views of the inner harbour and Newcastle Channel; yet the bylaw limiting the height of buildings along the waterfront has been eliminated.

QUESTION: (Nanaimo) If elected to Nanaimo City Council, will you introduce and support a bylaw that would restrict the height of future residential and commercial buildings to 3 to 4 stories in areas where existing views of seascapes would be affected, and also limit building heights in other areas of the according to neighbourhood plans? If not, why not?
(All Other RDN Areas and Municipalities) If elected, will you introduce and support a bylaw that would restrict the height of future residential and commercial buildings in your area or community according to OCP guidelines and neighbourhood plans? If not, why not?

Heights of buildings are subject to existing zoning currently in place for the property, properties can be rezoned through process. Current zoning of the Chapel/Front St. area, Downtown, allows a maximum height of 6 stories. I believe that not only should heights along the waterfront be no greater than 3 or 4 stories but view corridors must be incorporated so as not to wall off the waterfront. I would support a bylaw restricting heights to those outlined in Neighbourhood and OCP plans as well as one that would put neighbourhood wishes above those of the OCP. City of Nanaimo: Zoning

Question about Transportation

7) PREAMBLE: Chief Judith Sayers, Co-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation, has stated that “By working together to support development of the Corridor to its full potential, Islanders have the power to: preserve our environment; develop our economy; create safe, efficient transportation for our families; and to build a gateway to the world for our businesses for the next 100 years.”

QUESTION: Now that the Municipalities and the RDN each own a portion of the Island Rail Corridor, what steps will you, as an elected official, take to actively support the re-development and funding of our Island rail system?

I fully support the goals of the Island Corridor Foundation and when elected to council would take whatever actions within my means to promote, fund and support this valuable asset of Vancouver Island.

Questions about Food Security

8) PREAMBLE: Historically, Vancouver Island provided 80% of the food consumed on the island; we now produce only 6% of what we consume.

QUESTION: Considering the growing threats to food supply, such as climate changes and increased transportation costs, if elected, in what ways will you work to increase local food security and encourage innovative sustainable food production within the Regional District of Nanaimo (both urban and rural)?

Having worked as a board member on both FoodLink Nanaimo and Foodshare as well as with other food provision services I would maintain and expand on those relationships to develop a Food Policy and Charter for Nanaimo. The recent introduction of Food Security as a section within the OCP is good but it doesn't go far enough. I will support all of the policies outlined within the OCP as well as work towards making them stronger.
Plan Nanaimo: Official Community Plan

9) PREAMBLE: In the mid 1970’s, the BC Government established the BC Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to protect agricultural lands from being chopped up into small parcels and developed; yet lands continue to be removed from the ALR and/or misused as small acreage holdings that have absolutely nothing to do with agricultural use – while our agricultural land base erodes steadily. Local government bylaws and the ALC Act regulate the use of ALR lands.

QUESTION: If elected, what will you do to ensure that remaining ALR lands are preserved?

I would work to maintain and strengthen the bylaws around use of ALR lands and lobby the province to do so as well. As a means of promoting Food Security we need to be looking at means of supporting local food production and the means for those providers to make a living wage.

Questions About Stewardship of Natural Land, Parks and Green Spaces

10) PREAMBLE: Even if a park is designated as such, under current zoning it may still be re-designated or sold by a Municipality or the Regional District for development or other purposes in the future. Conservation Covenants are strong and binding legal instruments which protect the natural state of the subject property even if the property is sold or changes ownership. In recent years, the use of Conservation Covenants, set up and monitored by an independent third party stewardship organization such as a land trust, has become a more common land protection tool in BC.

QUESTION: If elected, will you commit to having Conservation Covenants placed on all Municipal and Regional District natural parks in order to prevent the possibility of future compromises to their integrity as designated natural parkland? If not, why not?

My question would be are Conservation Covenants the best means to protect natural parks? If yes then I would support their implementation, if not then I would support stronger means of protecting our natural parks. I would also encourage many of the policies around parks outlined in the OCP, working to increase where feasible the contribution by subdivision applicants of more than the 5% currently recommended. I would also work towards protection for all of our parks, from natural to so-called tot lots, from rezoning.

11) PREAMBLE: Some years ago, a previous City Council ordered a joint Planning and Parks, Recreation & Culture project to re-zone all existing city parks. Neck Point Park and similar natural parks would become zone one parks. This project has been progressing very slowly and the proposed bylaw has not yet been passed.

QUESTION: (Nanaimo Candidates) If elected, will you support the park re-zoning bylaw and insist that city staff complete this project in short order? If not, why not? 

If elected, will you pursue the enactment of similar zoning to protect natural parklands in other parts of the RDN? If not, why not?
Yes I would support completing the project as quickly as possible. I would only support the bylaw if it meant that all parks would stay parks in perpetuity.


ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY - to be answered by candidates in writing only, and submitted to NALT along with replies to the first 11 (above).

A) PREAMBLE: City of Nanaimo and RDN parks staffs have been working for some years to
develop continuous natural greenways along the Millstone River, Nanaimo River, and other significant waterways within the City and Nanaimo Region.

QUESTION: As an elected representative, what role will you take to encourage further expansion and stronger protection of natural green corridors for use by humans and wildlife?

When elected to council I will use whatever means are within my pervue to encourage further expansion and stronger protection of natural green corridors and speed this process along.

B) (Nanaimo Council Candidates only) PREAMBLE: After more than two years of review and debate, a newly revised OCP has finally been adopted for the City of Nanaimo.

QUESTION: In what way(s) do you feel that the revised OCP (including significant extensions of the Urban Containment Boundary) will or will not contribute to environmental, economic or social sustainability for the City?

This question requires a much more lengthy response, on a local level, than others. As a participant in the OCP review process I was greatly disappointed in the outcome. I will be posting comments regarding my disappointment with the OCP on my blog.

C) PREAMBLE: Local food security is threatened by the implementation of greater regulations for meat producers that are not affordable for small local operations - forcing them to send animals off the island for slaughter.

QUESTION: Knowing full well that this issue falls under provincial jurisdiction, what would you do to advocate for the rights of local farmers to slaughter their own livestock so that customers can purchase local meat?

Without knowing a great deal about these regulations, it seems to me this is but another means to promote only those larger facilities at the expence of smaller more local producers and distributors. This has the potential to see many existing producers and distributers lose their livelihood. While I have no doubt the rational is to promote food safety and decrease the number of inspectors and hence the budget for their provision, one must look at the ultimate cost to people through the loss of jobs, increased food costs, loss of potential taxes to the government and a move totally away from local food production. I would work with local producers, processers, food security organizations and other stakeholders to increase the viability of all local food production.

D) PREAMBLE: There is a sign on Rutherford Road, at the top of the hill, bearing a fish symbol and saying "Please protect McGregor Creek” - implying fish habitat. Yet within 20 feet of that sign, a beaver pond has very recently had some kind of excavating equipment knocking down trees, and fresh survey stakes are now planted not more than 5 feet from the disturbed and sediment-filled waters' edge.

QUESTION: How do the restrictions about riparian set-backs allow this kind of occurrence to happen – again and again?

I am of the opinion that restrictions on riparian setbacks, and other restrictions, must be adhered to. Fines for non-compliance should and must be levied and those fines must be sufficient to deter breaching of policies set out by the Municipality and the RDN.

E) PREAMBLE: In 2006, the BC Ministry of the Environment published a document titled: “Develop with Care! Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development”, which addresses the maintenance of environmental values during development of urban and rural lands.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with these guidelines as they pertain to Vancouver Island? If elected, will you support adherence to these guidelines as a minimum requirement for any development to take place? If not, why not?

I have only had a chance to peruse the document but as a minimum requirement I would support adherence to these guidelines. I would however push for stronger requirements if these guideline proved insufficient for the protection of resources.
Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in BC: Community Planning

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