“A Politician thinks of the next election... A Leader thinks of the next generation.”
Multiple members of our present City Council regularly demonstrate a clear lack of respect for each other and the constituents whom they are elected to represent.
The public are sending a clear message to City Council that they want their opinions to be heard and respected. I will work diligently on City Council to create an atmosphere of respect and collaboration as well as champion "participatory democracy" whereby we seek to empower individuals and groups of people to have a voice and affect change within their community.
I will work to change the “top down” approach of the Council that has so many residents feeling powerless and instead instill a “bottom up” approach that empowers residents and enables people and communities to feel that they have real influence in the decision making process.
Burlington City Council is too small to represent our city effectively.
The Town of Oakville operates with a Council of 13, the Towns of Milton and Halton Hills operate with a Council of 11. The City of Burlington, at three times the population of Halton Hills, operates with a Council of 7, a move that was supported by our current Ward 4 Councillor.
The danger of such a small Council is that it takes only 4 votes to control all the decisions that Council makes for the city. Increasing the size of Council will ensure more democratic decision making for the residents of Burlington.
I do not believe that we need 11 or 13 Council members...
I would like to see a Council of 9 for Burlington by adding 2 "Councillors at Large". These new Councillors would not have Wards to manage...their role would be to take on issues such as public transit that impact the city as a whole. They would also play a significant role in creating and maintaining a collaborative culture across the city and on City Council.
I also intend to explore the concept of term limits for City Council. The position of City Councillor and Mayor is meant to be an opportunity for citizens to provide civil service to their community. It is not meant to be a long term career that can lead to complacency and paternalism.
I would propose a 3-term limit for Council. I believe this could improve community and civic engagement as the during the last term of any given Council member there would be an opportunity for succession mentorship as well as encouragement for potential new Council members.
Taxes need to be kept in control and tax funds used wisely
We need to focus on attracting industrial and commercial ventures to reduce the dependency on residential property taxes. This is important for all the residents of the city…first-time home buyers, families and seniors on fixed incomes.
Council needs to prioritize spending where its needed most: roads, public transit, flood mitigation and community services for the residents of our community.
It would be my goal to index the property tax rate to the rate of inflation.
Flooding is a big threat to the Ward 4 community and over-intensification will only make it worse.
The August 4th, 2014 storm generated a flash flood that flooded homes, businesses, parks, over topped watercourse crossings, closed roads, and flooded motor vehicles. Approximately 6000 properties were flooded within the City during the 2014 storm event.
Climate Change weather patterns are very likely to result in more frequent severe storms which have the potential to cause severe creek bank erosion.
Related to this are the potential impacts from development intensification and the need to ensure that stormwater management and lot grading activities on these developments are coordinated to the highest degree possible and developed with contemporary stormwater management controls.
Stormwater Management Flood Control Ponds need to continue to be evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing flooding, and their installation on sites throughout the city such as vacant properties, parks, open spaces, unused road allowances and hydro corridors needs to be expedited where possible.
The Creek Erosion capital works program needs to be expedited and focus on creek bank rehabilitation projects to improve the overall condition of all urban creeks.
Development does not just mean “growth”…it is a process that increases choices, means new options, diversification, thinking about issues differently, creative problem solving and anticipating change.
Planning and decisions that City Hall and Council make regarding development should begin as a directed attempt to improve participation, collaboration, flexibility, equity and quality of life for the present and future residents of the City of Burlington.
We need to ensure that any future development preserves the history, culture and character of Burlington.
The focus for City Council should be to approve development applications that are sustainable, balanced and that truly benefit the community - not just the developers.
There has been a great deal of public opinion regarding the new Official Plan adopted by our present Council. The comments made by the present Ward 4 Councillor that he had "no choice but to approve it" illustrate a lack of willingness to represent the wishes of the residents of Ward 4. Our new Council needs to seek amendments and make our case to the Region of Halton before the Official Plan is approved.
Inadequate affordable housing in the city
The lack of affordable housing in the City of Burlington will dramatically affect everyone’s quality of life in the long run. Young families will not be able to afford to move to or stay in Burlington. The population demographic of young people ages 25 - 35 is what industry and commercial employers look for when considering locating in a community. If Burlington cannot provide adequate affordable housing to this demographic, both the young workers and the employers will leave our community. The result will be a one-dimensional senior community with less businesses, less services and less resources but greatly increased residential property taxes.
City Council must make it a priority that the majority of approved new developments are expected to provide a certain percentage of affordable, family-sized housing options.
Lack of creative, innovative and affordable housing options for seniors
Over the next 20 years in Burlington, the population of residents over the age of 65 will double.
Thanks to a healthy housing market, many of these seniors will be able to afford the luxury condominiums and retirement living facilities around the city, but just as many will not be able to afford these options.
As a community we need to think about this issue differently and consider the many creative options that Western Canada and other (mainly European) countries have implemented in recent years. Below are links to some possible ideas worthy of exploring...
I would also strongly advocate for the Bateman High School property on New Street to be purchased by the city and converted into the Bateman Community Centre offering programming for the community, young families and seniors.
New road infrastructure and improved public transit are mandatory or else traffic congestion will only worsen.
Burlington has historically been a car-dependent community. There will always be a need for vehicular transportation around the city especially for reasons of employment, inclement weather and citizens with mobility issues, but in in order to address environmental and traffic congestion concerns we need to focus on an improved public transit system as well as "active" transportation options for the city.
I will be advocating for increased funding for the conversion of our existing "hub" public transit system to a more efficient "grid" public transit system. This modification will greatly enhance the efficiency and capability of our public transit system which will in turn increase ridership and decrease traffic congestion.
I will promote opportunities to educate seniors, youth and the general public on the use of public transit in order to increase ridership.
I will reintroduce and strongly advocate for reduced fare/free access to public transit for seniors during daytime off-peak hours.
I will advocate to reinstate the Taxi Scrip Program as well as supplement the Handivan Service to ensure that isolated seniors with mobility issues are able to access valuable community resources.
I will promote improvement of the Seniors Community Connection Bus to better coordinate with the timing of seniors programs around the city.
Cycling and Active Transportation Options
I will advocate to re-direct the $5 million worth of funding approved for New Street Bike Tracks in order to upgrade or install multi-use trails in other areas of the city to encourage cross-city cycling and other modes of active transportation.
We need to protect our tree canopy
I believe our tree canopy is essential to the environmental and physical health of our city and its residents.
Greater Hamilton, Oakville (2009), Toronto (2015) and at least 13 other municipalities in Ontario have by-laws against the removal of urban canopy on private property without a permit.
Why doesn’t Burlington?
In 2013, the present Ward 4 Councillor voted against a private property tree bylaw despite our city’s Urban Forest Management Plan calling for increased protection, a more proactive approach to tree management and an opportunity for study of private tree regulations.
Without a private tree bylaw developers are free to remove trees BEFORE they submit a development site plan permit application as was the case in 2011 in the Orchard Community.
I will strongly advocate for a bylaw that provides reasonable allowances for homeowners while protecting trees from unnecessarily being cut down.