QUICK QUESTIONS – Yes or No?
Given the time constrains on this evening’s questions, would you commit to answering the remaining questions in writing so that we could post them on the GNA’s website? Have you answered the questions on the candidates’ survey on the Happy City website? If not, will you?
Yes, I have answered their survey.
In recent years Bannerman park has undergone significant changes. The pool was closed for upgrading. This year the children’s programs offered at the pool were significantly reduced. Swimming lessons and life-saving courses are no longer offered. Will you work towards reinstating those programs which have served the children in this neighbourhood for decades?
Yes, the pool time needs to benefit more then the recreational users, education can save a
The GNA has asked, for many years, for a comprehensive study of parking needs and solutions for the neighbourhood. Would you support this?
Yes, the entire downtown core needs a full review of parking that allows residents to have adequate parking but also doesn’t restrict visitors to their homes.
Are you a resident of Ward 2?
Yes, I grew up in Ward 2 and have been a resident for 19 years on Forest Road.
Recent news reports have highlighted the serious issue of used needles on school and park grounds in our neighbourhood. How will you support efforts to address this issue?
As I indicated in the meeting I believe there are two issues here, 1. The immediate need to address the disposal of needles in public areas. This can be done by the placement of secure disposal containers with daily removal of any contents. 2. There has to be work done with community organizations, and other levels of government to address the root problem of addiction. We need to help the individual identify that they have a problem and then ensure the supports are in the community to assist individuals to get clean and stay clean.
One of the most immediate conversations that needs to take place is with officals at the English School District to ensure the staff and parents of schools are fully versed on the protocol when somebody comes upon needles or other dangerous material.
Snowclearing – The ongoing issue of snow clearing and specifically winter walkability is a serious one for this neighbourhood. How do you see addressing this issue in this downtown, walking neighbourhood?
There is no easy answer to snow clearing given the enviroment we live. I do believe there are many other cities who deal with the same issues as St. John’s and I believe there are some best practices in play that could lessen the impact. There are unique issues in Ward 2 compared to other section of the city. The narrow street and row housing with on street parking becomes the biggest challenge. The downtown core really needs special attention due to on-street parking and having utilitiy poles close to the road. I would like to see a dedicated crew that begins snow removal from downtown streets within 24 hours of a snowfall of over more than 15 cm. In the commerical area of the downtown I would like to partner with the Downtown Development Commission to develop a method of having the business owner clear in front of their location and stock pile the snow in desigated spots for quick removal. I know many residents feel very frustrated when ploughs do not push small accumulations back as far as possible the first time they clear a street. I would like to see something put in place that empowers the operators to improve the efficency of their work. If there is no snow on the roads, keep the blade up. This is not an easy solution, however I feel there is one out there if we all have input.
Snowclearing II – How would you improve the sidewalk snow clearing in downtown St. John’s?
I would again designate a location on each street that the smaller sidewalk ploughs or blowers can stock pile the snow for quick removal.
What are you thoughts on urban density in Georgestown? Do we need more or less or the status quo?
I think the density in the Georgetown area is very close to its limit. I am sure with the limited amount of parking in the area, increasing the density would only increase the demands on the roads and other infrstructure systems. If the city wants to slow down urban sprawl I think we need to ensure there are adaquate roads and transit to handle the increased demand.
In a few places in the neighbourhood, city parkland is being used to access the rear of properties. No one minds if this use is occasional and done with care not to damage the land. While residents understand that infrequent access may be necessary, instances have arisen in the past few years where the use is frequent and damaging. There is, moreover, now a garage backing onto Davey’s Field. What would you suggest in order to manage this problem?
I am not familiar with the specific field, however I don’t believe any public recreational locations should be used to access personal property. The largest gate that should be permitted would be one to walk through only.
Georgetown is an older neighbourhood, which is mostly residential in character. Its population is fairly diverse, as is the nature of its housing stock. Since housing stock tends to influence population type, what do you see that will protect and enhance the diversity of housing stock while also seeing that new construction is in character with the neighbourhood and that the heritage value of older housing is maintained?
I see this neighbourhood in the same light as some European cities that do an incredible job of maintaining the charm of historic neighbourhoods. I would feel without this, we are cheating our history and the many people who want to come and see the charm of his style of housing. We are known for our row housing and big houses, if we let that all get replaced by modern housing, we may lose tourists as well as residents. Georgetown residents are as unique as the housing style they live in. The community has a wide range of diversity and we need to maintain this within the community and grow as a people.
What importance do you give to the many alleys and pathways throughout the neighborhood, which allow a fairly free flow of pedestrian traffic through the neighbourhood. Do you feel these should be maintained and enhanced?Should the three or four that have in recent years been encroached upon, or even closed off, be opened again?
This alleys and lanes are part of our history. I know for the people who live next to the
alleys they can be source of frustration and concern if there are large groups of people
hanging out there or passing through.
What are your views on adding additional commercial uses to the neighbourhood? In particular, how would you balance the needs of residents against those of the clientele of the commercial uses.
When I was growing up in downtown St. John’s all the neighbourhoods had their own
store, pharmacy and bar. It was a convenience for the people living within those areas but also a place for community members to come together. I believe it would be difficult to introduce many new businesses because of the parking restrictions, however I would support alcohol-free eating establishments or corner stores as long as it is supported by a majority of residents. Suburban sprawl adds to inner-city traffic. What would you do to protect the neighbourhoods, like this one, which ring the downtown from increased traffic volume and speeds.
As I indicated in my answer to the density question, I believe the road infrastructure has to be in place before other high-density development takes place in other wards.
Century Park – We were told that work would begin on the park in Spring 2017. Now we hear that the City is waiting for the completion of sidewalk / curb repairs prior to work commencing on the park. Moreover the City is not taking care of the basketball court that is the centre piece of Century Park. The neighbourhood kids are still buying nets and spray-painting 3 point lines. Will you undertake to get things moving on the upgrades that were promised for the park and the repairs that are necessary for the basketball court?
If Century Park is a city owned facility, it should receive the same attention as anyother facility. If this is not completed in a timely fashion, I will pick up the torch for the kids painting the lines. In the meantime, when they have to paint them again I will join them and assist with keeping the facility safe to use.
Given that Ward 2 is a series of formal and informal neighbourhoods, some quite close knit, and that all would benefit from greater citizen volunteers in their own back years, what would you do to champion this in Ward 2, and encourage it in other wards, while maintaining strong stewardship of the budget?
Volunteering to make your own neighbourhood better is one of the greatest thing a person can do for their community. Many years ago, specifically in the city operated parks and neighbourhoods, there were playground staff there to organize activities and interations with other neighbourhoods in friendly activities. I believe with cooperation with other Ward Councillors this can be achieved again. The investment of volunteers and a small investment by the city can make this and other things come together.
There has been an ongoing degradation of the infrastructure in the ward for many years, and a recent uptick in vandalism, including three new “artists” tagging public and private structures. This is well known as a precurser to further dangerous acts, and is an indicator of dissatisfaction in the community. What will you do to address the wear and tear, the damage and the root causes of both?
It has been my experience that if somebody is indicating their dissatisfaction, we need to find out who they are and what we can do to solve the issues. It may not always be successful but if you don’t attempt anything you will never know what the solution will be.
I recently saw Al Gores’s latest movie AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER, which reminds us how dramatic and catastrophic climate change is. We need to act locally to reduce our carbon footprint and actively combat the destruction of fossil fuels. What are our candidates planning to do at the municipal level to address this problem?
I believe we have staff driving around the city in gasoline fueled cars when they could possibly use electric powered car to perform the same duties. If the city took leadership on this and began setting up power stations, we could become a leader in this area.
Do you consider permaculture, environmental, economic and social sustainability important methods and foundations upon which to improve the city?
What are you going to do to get St. John’s ready for climate change?
After watching some of the tragedy in Houston this week, we need to know if this city had the capacity to absorb this type of rainfall. Given the hilly terrain I think we need to identify any potential low lying section of the city and ensure they can handle high volumes of water run-off in a short period of time.
It’s so common to hear people say that you need a car to live in St. John’s, but living with fewer cars on the road or going car-free is good for finances and promotes healthy people and thriving communities. Do you think that the transportation system in St. John’s needs to change, and, if so, what is your vision for the transportation system in St. John’s?
I believe that Metrobus should have express routes to certain key areas of town, as well as commuter parking lots where people from out of town could park their car and travel to work or other destinations on the bus. I think another possibility could be to develop express Metrobus routes from nearby towns to major centres (downtown, Stavanger, Kelsey, etc).
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
What drives you to want to be a city councillor?
That is very simple, I am running because this is my home town and I have lived the majority of my life in Ward 2. I am passionate about this city and I believe it has so much more potential. I am not advocating for privatization but I believe we need to look at innovative ways to deliver services that will help them become more efficient and
What are your skill sets and experience by which you will enable the city to thrive?
I am a people person and enjoy working towards solutions with people. I have served on the Eastern School Board and represented this same zone for 8 years. I spoke on behalf of the many families in the city who began to see their centre city school disappear. I held the position of Chair of Finance with the ESDNL which was repsonsible for an annual budget of over 300 million dollars. I have worked in sport and recreation and I know and understand what it takes to operate these types of facilities and programs. I have both work and volunteer experience with organizations who assist individuals who struggle to meet their day to day food needs. I understand some challenges that people face and I am empathetic and willing to work towards solutions.
Name three reasons we should vote for you.
I believe there is just one reason to vote for anyone, consider whether they come across as being sincere and honest toward the people they are asking to elect them? I have always been a straight shooter and I tell it as I see it. I don’t believe in only doing what we have done in the past, I think there is always a new way to approach situations.
What would your dream team be for city council from the pool of those running?
We have a great deal of talent in the pool of candidates and I am the type who will work with anyone who is sitting at the table.
Which ward do you live in?
What is your vision for Ward 2?
I would like to see a ward where people can be proud to say that they live there and they would never want to live anywhere else. With the addition of the Virgina Park to the ward, I see this ward as being even more unique in that we have a mixed level of development available which creates possiblities for new families and new business opportunities to complement the historical sections. I also envision it as a ward where families can feel safe.
What, in your opinion, are the three major planning and development issues currently facing Ward 2?
1. Traffic/Parking in main residential sections
2. Improved Transit
3. Protection of the history of the ward while allowing for appropriate developments that benefit the ward
What steps would you take to make Ward 2 a better place to live and to do business?
I already believe Ward 2 is a great place to live and do business. Can we as a community do things differently? I have no doubt. If elected, it would be my priority to bring your thoughts and ideas to the council chamber.
POLICY, PLANNING and BUDGETS
Would you support the idea that for all proposed developments and redevelopments which entail significant changes, including but not limited to changes in zoning, significant changes in height, footprint and general building size, changes of use even if in a permitted zone, and significant alterations of the existing streetscape, the urban forest, public and private parking and general vehicular and non-vehicular traffic flow, the developer must provide signage on the site which illustrates the proposed development and redevelopment and provides general information such as height, footprint, landscaping, parking and traffic impacts?
I would prefer to see that council ensures the developer stays true to any original plans approved by council and not sit on properties for long periods of time hoping that if the condition of a place deteriorates they can come in and announce changes to the proposal. I also believe any site that is being developed or re-developed must keep the entry point on to city streets free of rocks and debris.
In concrete terms, how do you intend to change the short sightedness and outdated ways in which important municipal decisions are made? (city planning: infrastructure planning and implementation, building development, social well being, cultural development and tourism)
I believe that no matter who sits in the council chamber, they must always look at the bigger picture for the city. Having said that, we as a community also need to be a part of that vision and big picture. I believe there needs to be a process in place that first and foremost protects the residents most closely impacted by any development or programing/service level changes. We need to then see how any proposed changes will impact the community as whole both from a service level and from a budgetery and taxation perspective. We live in a province and a city that enjoyed a very short boom time in our economy and now we need to work hard to ensure that the demands for services from our council and the requirement for taxation in order to achieve the revenue level are able to come together and not create a burden on either side.
We hear a lot of complaints about potholes, snow clearing, parking, complications and inconsistencies with renovation permits, and public transit. Where do you stand on those points?
We have all seen the difficulty of living in a climate of freeze and thaw and the impact it has on our roads. I would like to see (and let the public see,) a cost comparison between the grind and patch program and taking full sections of street and doing a full cap replacement. What is the life span of grind and patch compared to placing larger sections? Are we replacing the same patches year after year? Without getting into each of these areas I think we need an operational audit to examine how decisions are made, not only at the council level but also at the management level.
Do you think that planning is important and a means of achieving your long term goals for Ward 2? And, if so, why?
Planning is important, not only for this ward but for all parts of the city. What happens in Ward 2 has a big impact on all parts of the city because of the historical nature of the ward. We have to all look at the long term plans for the ward and the city in order to achieve the quality of life we hope for all citzens.
Do you think that the capacity of the planning deparment in the City of St. John’s is up to the task of creating municipal wide plans and neighbourhood plans such as a plan for Ward 2?
The city has very competent individuals to look at the bigger picture of the city and advise from their point of view if individual neighbourhood plans will complement the overall city plan and vision. The staff are able to take research, and feedback from the taxpayers of St. John’s and bring it all together for the elected members to make the final decision.
How do you propose to improve interaction between Council, City staff and the Public on key issues for meaningful results in Ward 2?
I believe that access to council and the city staff are very important to the public. I will commit to having a solid presence at community events as well as online via email. I believe that for some issues, public meetings are an important aspect to allow residents to bring forward concerns.
How will you strengthen Heritage Preservation in Ward 2?
The city has adopted a heritage bylaw developed by very knowledgeable individuals over the years. I believe it needs to be continually updated and council should adopt those updates.
What will you do to ensure that the current Municipal Plan and Development Regulations are completed by the new Council?
I would first find out where they are in the process and take a look at the timelines set out in the original document. If they are proceeding as planned I would let the process continue, however if they are behind then I would ask that it set out a new timeline and let the public know so they can have their input, in addition to determining why it is behind schedule and look at what is needed to bring it back to the original plan.
How will you ensure that the Council is accountable for its policies and procedures in a transparent manner?
With technology today I believe the city can be highlighting all it policies and procedures to the public via the web. I also believe that we can set up a series of sessions to inform the public of the policy or any changes proposed and adopted.
How can the current planning process in the City of St. John’s be more effective?
It has to be timely and have taxpayer input.
How do you view the importance of downtown in our community as a social, economic and culture resource? What is required to enhance it?
In order for businesses to attract people to the downtown there has to be a reason to go there and presently the perception is that traffic is difficult, parking is an issue and in the winter sidewalks are not accessible and you may have to climb snow banks to get from the street. We have a costly and outdated system of parking meters; the city needs to convert to the parking boxes so they can purchase a permit for the entire length of time they are parked. The downtown has a mixture of social and economic diversity in the people who reside, work and visit there. It is a community hub that brings many people together.
What constitutes “sustainable development”? How does a community achieve it for the City of St. John’s in Ward 2?
As I had indicate in other responses I think we need to ensure all development is done in a way that benefits all segments of the community.
Why are there not more partnerships between the City and community and cultural organizations to render the city more interesting, dynamic thus creating more opportunities for all parts of our social fabric?
It is my understanding that there are a number of partnerships between the city and community organaztions that benefit the overall wellbeing of the city and its people.
Do you think that landlords of vacant commercial properties should pay property taxes?
There no doubt this is a difficult issue, there are a number of vacant locations and to tax the owners could have a negative inpact. I don’t believe the tax should be at the full assessment value, however owners need to be encouraged to not let the buildings remain vacant.
What are your thoughts on commercial properties in residential areas / mixed use development?
I think it is dependent on the type of business that is mixed in with residential areas. I don’t necessarily believe a bar is an appropriate but I think other types of businesses could be beneficial to neighbourhoods.
How would you solve the problem of obnoxious motorcycles that are unnecessarily loud?
This is a problem not only in St. John’s but around the province. It is a provincial government responsiblity to change the Highway Traffic Act before the city can institute an effective by-law.
How much is the City’s 2017 budget?
The city Budget is presently just over 3 hundred million.
If you were told that something in the City’s budget had become less expensive and there was 5% of the total revenue available, what would you do with that money? Would you spend it (if so, on what)? Or would you use it to reduce taxes?
The City Act does not allow for the city to retain a surplus in the operating budget, it becomes reallocation of the funds. It is my understanding if the savings was in capital works then that money can be forwarded to the next budget year.
If you were told that something in the City’s budgt had become more expensive and there was a 5% deficit, would you raise taxes or reduce expenditures and, if so, which expenditures?
I would work with the staff to look for budget expenditures that are non-essential to the regular delivery of program and services.