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Monday, November 10, 2008

Canadian Federation of Students: Municipal Candidates Questionnaire

1). A study of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities found that the percentage of renter households’ income spent on housing has increased dramatically over the last two decades. In addition, low vacancy rates in most urban areas of BC leave students with little choices for affordable housing. In 2007, Human Resources and Social Development Canada found that vacancy rates across the country were lowest in British Columbia. Do you support initiatives to help reduce rental costs in BC? How do you propose to increase the amount of affordable housing available to students and other low-income people in your municipality?


I am well known in Nanaimo as a Community and Social Activist for the disadvantaged. I have considerable experience working on issues ranging from Homelessness, Food Security, and Anti Poverty, to Neighbourhood Development and Downtown revitalization. For a number of years I have fought for more affordable housing and as a member of the Nanaimo's Working Group on Homelessness had a hand in the development of Nanaimo's Homeless Action Plan.

When elected to council I will continue to make affordable housing a priority. I would like to see the creation of purpose built subsidized housing and would push to see such a concept enacted through advocating with BC Housing. I would work to make the development of rental units in Nanaimo more appealing to developers as well as any other means within my power to make housing more available for students and those with Iow-Incomes. I would also advocate with the province to increase the minimum wage and have it indexed to the cost of living.

2). For many students, the quality of public transit, or lack thereof, is a day-to-day frustration that affects our ability to travel to and from school and work. In all regions, increasing fares, infrequency of service, overcapacity buses, longer-than-anticipated commutes and inadequate service, including a lack of late night service, are of primary concern. According to the 2007 BC Transit Annual Report, between 2000 and 2006, BC Transit ridership increased roughly 31%. Service hours over the same period saw an approximate increase of only 13%. Do you believe increased funding for public transit is a priority? If so, would you work to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments to increase funding for transit infrastructure and quality across the province? What would you do to help improve transit in your municipality?


Transit in Nanaimo is under the prevue of the Regional District of Nanaimo.

I would most definitely work with the RDN and Province to increase infrastructure funding as a viable transit system could reduce costs of use as well as encourage increased ridership and reduce emissions of toxic fumes into the environment. The primary way to improve transit is to increase ridership, to do this development in the community needs to take place in existing urban areas to create greater density. I would also advocate for smaller busses during non peak times.

3). Transit fares have increased numerous times in BC over the last decade. Students make up a significant portion of transit ridership, and have thus borne the brunt of fare increases. Furthermore, students and low-income families have been impacted by the escalating cost of living–as well as the doubling of tuition fees in the last seven years–making the higher cost of public transit a greater burden. Do you believe that transit fares are currently too high in your municipality? How would you work to ensure public transit is affordable for students and other low-income community members?


I would work to make transit more efficient by having smaller busses in off peak hours, increased service during peak hours and create a greater density of housing. I would also look to implementing lower student and low income bus rates.

4). Part of building an active citizenry and representative government is facilitating involvement from the community in decisions that affect them. At every post-secondary institution, students are democratically represented by students’ unions, through which they are represented when decisions are being made that impact them at the federal, provincial, and local levels. Will you commit to working with your local students’ union(s) to facilitate the involvement of students on municipal committees and through consultations?


Categorically YES!
I am already acquainted with a few members of the Students Union at Vancouver Island University (VIU) as well as a number of instructors. I am often asked to speak to classes about Community Building and Activism and encourage participation of Students to take part in the community by becoming involved. One easy way is by working with their local neighbourhood association or with the students union on events. I have actively encouraged youth involvement in a number of organizations I belong to and work closely with the Popular Participation Movement, a group of active young people, many of whom are students at VIU.

5). In March of this year, the BC government cut allocated funding to BC’s universities and colleges by $55 million, causing program, service, and faculty and staff cuts. Recognizing the importance of public colleges and universities to local economies and social health, a number of municipalities passed resolutions in opposition to the cuts, despite post-secondary education being a provincial jurisdiction. Do you believe that municipal governments have a role to play in ensuring there is adequate funding of core public services, such as post-secondary education? How would you work, or have you worked, to protect public services that are not locally administered and funded?


Again YES!
As a fairly recent graduate (2002) of, at the time, Malaspina University/College I am fully cognizant of the issues facing students today. I believe municipal government can and should play a greater role in advocating for the needs and issues facing students. Part of this could be through lobbying both the Provincial and Federal Governments. I have and will continue to push for an increased minimum wage indexed to cost of living increases. I have spoken to and sent letters to both MLA’s and MP’s with regards to restructuring the student loan system and I have worked closely with and will continue to work with unions and community coalitions to protect and properly fund public services.

Link to CFS website and answers from other candidates

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