"Since the 2016 by-election, I’ve spent considerable time listening to citizens of all ages, business owners, employees, students, service providers, former and current mayors and councillors. Many are as concerned as I am with the lack of action. Our community needs to keep up with the pace and challenges required to maintain control of our future vision."
The following is a sampling of questions I’ve been asked in conversations from a representative number of citizens and my answers. Several of these questions were asked in various forms more than once or repeatedly. I invite any citizen to provide me a question, and I’ll respond, so you know what my view is.
CITIZEN QUESTION #1 : I’m tired of hearing people demanding more housing when we have nothing but gridlock traffic, worse than I can ever remember. New housing brings more cars. Don’t you think we should ban any more housing until we solve the traffic problem?
I hear the reasoning behind your suggestion, but I have to say I don’t agree with you. Let me share my view. I agree traffic on Marine, the Upper Levels and both bridges is terrible during the morning and evening rush hour—a nightmare when there’s an accident. Our population has decreased by 2,500 over the last couple of years—not increased—and yet traffic is worse. Why is that?
While we’ve resisted additional housing, time has marched on in Squamish, Bowen Island, the Sunshine Coast, North Van, Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland. All have built housing to meet demand, product is new and more affordable, so citizens have left West Van for other communities.
But to get into Vancouver, workers, employees and tourists must go through West Vancouver to reach their destinations. A traffic situation has resulted to which our community has barely contributed. My view is we cannot stall overdue progress to secure our own future in a vain attempt to “solve” a traffic situation we have little control over and can only minimally affect. We have to take action to add modest new housing along transit routes creating new incentives to wean our residents away from cars. This is already a trend. We need to make a trend the daily choice.
If I’m elected, I will work to revive our focus on expansion of potential arterial roads lessening the dependence of local traffic on the Upper Levels Highway by creating an Upper Road as a northern companion to the Low Road traversing Squamish Nations land. Improving access and capacity of local secondary roads, we can also relieve clogs during peak demand. This will remove some locally destined traffic from the highway and allow it to flow more efficiently. If I’m elected, I will also propose a working group to investigate smaller, less obvious, more creative ways we can reduce traffic—ride shares, increased transit, better bike lanes, more park and rides. Solutions exist when fresh eyes rethink challenges. I would invite you to join that working group. We need your ideas.
Citizen Question # 2 : I don’t understand why every other community is receiving attention from the Province on transportation except West Vancouver. New bridges, new trains, new buses, new roads, while our traffic is one of the worst in the Lower Mainland. Can a single Councillor have any affect?
If you elect me, I will have an effect. This is a special concern of mine because I don’t think we’re looking hard enough and outside the box enough as a community. However, I agree with you that, historically, we seem to get little attention from the Province. This has to change.
The process requires that the Province sends initiatives and directives through TransLink and Metro Mayors Committee and attention is directed from them to municipalities. West Vancouver has traditionally said: “leave us out of this, we’re OK as a bedroom community, we don’t need your help.” Then we complain about how much of our taxes fund TransLink. Now we’ve woken up from our bedroom community sleep and said: “wait a minute, we need your help—our traffic is awful.” The message back to us might well be “get in line.” Right now, we’re at the back of the line, so we have to move up. How? By talking about it everywhere. I’m in discussion with regional and provincial leaders, and as your Councillor I will keep doing that to get the relief we need. We must be strategic and understand what we need, beyond the B-Line that will service from the Phibbs Exchange to Dundarave.
North Van’s MLA Bowinn Ma led a North Shore study that I recommend you read called the North Shore Transportation Planning Project, which provides a fresh look at the North Shore’s connected transit issues from cause to solution. Here’s the link: https://www.instpp.ca/
I would love to hear from you regarding this and any issue. Your ideas are more important than you think. All opinions and creative ideas are welcome. And I promise that anyone who elects me will have my full attention to this issue.
CITIZEN QUESTION # 3 : I agree with you that we need more housing. If I downsized, I couldn’t afford what’s being built, and I wouldn’t want to live in some of those old high rises. But I’m worried. Are you suggesting new high rises in our neighbourhoods as the only solution to housing?
No, not at all. What I support is housing choice, not high rises in neighbourhood where they don’t belong. Our new OCP doesn’t suggest that either.
Our existing housing stock offers three choices: single family houses, townhouses and multi-family high rises, with few successful examples of cluster housing such as Hollyburn Mews. Since all of these examples are priced between $1.4 to over $3 million, they are not “affordable.”
The primary cost of housing is land value. Because Council has resisted new housing over the past decade, land prices have accelerated rapidly. Demand was high, driving up the price of land, which drives up the cost of housing.
The ingredients required to lower housing costs are: lower land values and more housing choices .
I strongly support purpose-built rental housing as one possible solution to repatriating some of our work force and service providers exiled by high housing prices. It will also serve our downsizers and disabled so affected by current high prices.
Such housing can best be situated on District land where land value is subtracted from the sale price. Units would sell at construction cost only, while the District would strictly control the design and rental so that we get what we need. This initiative would not only create a community where those who work in West Van can live here, but would also add value to our community and possibly decrease rush hour traffic jam volume entering and exiting the North Shore.
CITIZEN QUESTION # 4 : I’m a senior, and I’m in a wheel chair. My apartment isn’t designed for my needs, but I couldn’t find anything suitable. West Vancouver isn’t doing much to help us toward the end of our lives. Can you do anything to bring more housing for the disabled?
Yes, this is a strong issue with me. Most of our old high-rise rental stock wasn’t built with seniors or disabilities in mind. Much of it wasn’t built with earthquakes in mind either. It takes planning and more space to create safe apartments for those with disabilities. I support requiring any new housing applicants to devote a minimum of 15% of their units as purpose built for disabilities, and I will fight for more of such housing. I also propose to create incentives for rental building property owners to renovate a percentage of those units to comply with disability needs.
I also support many measures to assist disabled and elderly seniors getting out into our community to enjoy the beauty of West Van with friends and neighbours. We need more:
- sensitive, safe ways to access our parks, waterfront, entertainment, mountainside trails and forests.
- ramps, safe walkways and washrooms that are wheelchair, walker, cane—and stroller—friendly.
- intra-community transit to and from local events and entertainment for seniors who no longer drive.
- incentives for businesses to enhance in-store product access and mobility for disability needs.
We need to be aware of inclusion and access needs at all times. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we can do much, much better. I also encourage seniors to speak up about their needs—to me and to Council.
CITIZEN QUESTION # 5 : I’m worried about BC and West Vancouver. This is the second year in a row we’ve had wildfires all summer long, with smoke covering the whole province and across the country. I’m afraid of what’s to come. Do you think there’s anything we can do about this? Is BC going to become like California?
It might if we don’t take action to prevent it. The entire west coast of North America is reeling from a rapid acceleration of climate change, flipping quickly from our familiar temperate summers, springs and falls and rainy, snowy winters. Now it’s reduced to wet winters and dry summers. It seems this is a trend we must adapt to—fast.
The world has been slow to develop sound environmental policy, and mitigation of climate change has been an afterthought. Natural disaster mitigation risk is a federal and provincial responsibility. But if I’m elected, I will propose improved, more frequent communication between the Council, staff and citizens regarding our preparedness for all natural disasters, adding an annual Town Hall in the spring to update the whole community on risks and what we can all do. We need everyoe’s help with this.
I support the Province providing tax incentives for homeowners to adapt roofing and landscaping to a changing climate and implement safety and response measures to reduce the risk of fires. We need buffer zones between forests and housing on our mountainside. It’s no longer a distant threat that climate change “is coming.” It’s already here, and we need to mitigate its impact on our citizenry, our natural capital and our tax base. This is an environmental and public safety imperative that can no longer be delayed.
We’re also vulnerable to large earthquakes. Much of our multi-family housing is pre-seismic code and vulnerable, leaving our seniors dependent on evacuation that is challenged. We need to take stock of the state of our multi-family housing safety needs and legislate to bring them up to current standards. A dialogue followed by concrete action involving the entire community is overdue. I hope you’ll speak up on your concerns. We need your voice.
CITIZEN QUESTION # 6 : There’s a feeling that residents living west of Dundarave get short shrift from Council. All of the current Councillors live in Ambleside, and they all seem completely consumed by Ambleside and Dundarave issues. As a Caulfeild Councillor, can we expect you to bring up issues concerning westerners for a change?
Yes, you can, and I agree. West Van rejected party, slate and ward systems a long time ago, so citizens rightfully expect all Councillors to represent all citizens; a duty outlined in the Community Charter. Neighbourhoods west of Dundarave are overlooked. That needs to change.
As a director of the Western Residents Association, I’ve addressed ferry traffic, park and beach maintenance, traffic calming concerns, relaying them to Councillors. If elected, I will address and champion western concerns during the Cypress Village and Horseshoe Bay Local Area Plan process to be launched early in the coming term. In that context, there’s a strong opportunity to create a new plan to hold regularly scheduled western town hall meetings so that local issues are quickly heard and remedied.
CITIZEN QUESTION # 7 : I have some concerns about what everyone seems to be discussing—slates, conflicts of interest and special interest groups. I thought we’d seen the end of this with the departure of Citizens for Good Government, but slates appear to be back again. Are you part of a slate, have a conflict of interest or do you represent a special interest group?
No—to all three questions. For me to best represent West Vancouver, I need to be independent of any external pressures. I value my independence to judge the issues on merit and make conclusions in the best interest of ALL of West Vancouver. Not only am I not part of any slate, I am also—on purpose—not seeking the endorsement of any third party political group or organization. Our community has said good-bye to the formal slate process which we had with Citizens for Good Government (CGG). I am confident West Vancouver is not ready for any replacement, whether it be through a formalized slate, or unofficial third party support and alliance.
I’ve based my campaign on my belief that this election is the most important in West Vancouver’s history. For the first time ever, we have three new and superb policies, unanimously passed by Council, to guide our future: our Official Community Plan (OCP), Economic Development Plan and Arts & Culture Strategy. These policies form a solid foundation to secure a viable, vibrant future for West Vancouver—a bright horizon after almost a decade spent in endless debate about the main choice we face in this election: do we embrace a vibrant future and become a vital community, confident of its potential OR do we sit back, debate for another 4 years and remain just a bedroom community?
My campaign is not based on the views of others. It springs directly from the needs of our community, as expressed in those three policies, and reflect what I hear constantly from citizens. The only support I am seeking is that of our community—unencumbered by any coalition, slate, organization or special interest group.
I want to hear from you. I will be taking all questions via my website, my cell phone, email or social media and will respond on my website. Your questions may inspire other questions and hopefully, inspire new ideas and an ongoing dialogue on the many issues that face us.
VOTE for ANDY on OCTOBER 20TH 2018
Authorized by Financial Agent Robert Paterson: firstname.lastname@example.org