Tag Archives: campaign

Managing your money

Finding funds amid financial belt-tightening
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

With uncertainty surrounding how much – if any – money will come from senior levels of government to pay for infrastructure upgrades that come with billion-dollar price tags, the mayoral candidates propose different approaches to foot the portion Saanich will be expected to pay.

Incumbent mayor Frank Leonard says creating a longer-term, multi-year fiscal plan must be created to respect taxpayers’ ability to pay for projects like a mandated sewage treatment facility and a proposed light rail system.

“We’ll have to phase in some expenditures. … We do that within our Saanich budget and the same goes for a billion-dollar expenditure,” he said. “We have to do that to see when expenditures can be accommodated.”

Challenger David Cubberley says the reality is that these projects can’t be funded by property taxes alone.

He suggests proportionate billing, based on how much you use a particular service, is the only fair way to pay for the infrastructure upgrades.

“Property taxes don’t capture anyone’s use of the roadway,” he said.

“We have a sewer utility, which creates separate utility billing based on your use of the system. That’s the vehicle for billing charges for this new infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, all departments – except public safety – at municipal hall were asked to trim one per cent off their annual budgets to help keep tax increases to a minimum. It was the third year in a row that a one-per-cent decrease was asked of the departments.

Council candidate Ingrid Ip says more similar cutbacks will be necessary to find money to pay for these projects.

“The best way is to try and cut costs in other areas, including reducing the salaries for councillors,” she said. “I think that we should have curb-side garbage pick-up – that would save money.”

Incumbents Leif Wergeland, Vicki Sanders, Vic Derman and Judy Brownoff say getting creative with ways to find money will be crucial, stressing that cost increases can’t just fall onto property taxes.

“Corporate funding is something that we haven’t been as open to, or cautious of sharing in, but we have to be creative in ways we can still manage to do business, as well as shoulder the burden of sewage treatment and transportation costs,” Sanders said.

Susan Brice, an incumbent, is calling for 50- to 75-year payment plans on the projects, while Dean Murdock acknowledges priorities need to be set right away.

“We need to make sure that, as we move forward, we’re being thoughtful about maintaining the high-quality services that residents expect from Saanich,” the incumbent Murdock said. “It’s not going to be possible to build everything at one time, so we need to stagger those approaches and ensure we’re investing in the services that our residents want.”

Rob Wickson and Nichola Wade say Saanich needs to make better land-use decisions along major corridors that allow for revenues to increase.

Harald Wolf wants to see Saanich make decisions and plans based on more realistic expectations.

“(The public is) constantly pressuring for more services, then complain when they’re expected to pay for them,” he said. “I’m concerned that most planning and improvements are based on growth projections, and I’m not convinced this growth will happen.”

Paul Gerrard says mandated and wanted improvements can’t be made without raising taxes to some degree.

All candidates, however, say municipalities can’t go it alone.

“Hopefully senior levels of government will come up with their share of the money,” Wergeland said.

Both mayoral candidates say they are skilled lobbyists who have proven they can get money from the provincial and federal governments.

“I’m confident that once we know what you’re asking for, I know how to lobby on behalf of Saanich and the region,” Leonard said, having “personally lobbied” for recreation and art centre upgrades for Saanich.

“Someone has to make the right argument and advocate on taxpayers’ interests, and nobody is doing that right now,” Cubberley said.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get. What’s gone on in the last decade in the Capital Region is living proof of that. I can’t guarantee you that I’ll be successful in lobbying the government, but no one can.”

Saanich News: Balanced budgets

What will be the best way for Saanich to balance its annual budget while also finding money to pay for large-ticket items such as sewage and light rail?

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“It’s about priority-setting. We need to make sure that as we move forward we’re being thoughtful about maintaining the high quality services that residents expect from Saanich. It’s not going to be possible to build everything at one time, so we need to stagger those approaches and ensure we’re investing in the services that our residents want. Every one of the elected officials has a responsibility to be sensitive to the burden property taxes have on taxpayers. We need to work with senior levels of government to leverage opportunities for funding, as well.”

Saanich News: Aging population

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on Saanich’s aging demographics.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

As our population ages, it’s important that our community has the infrastructure and services to allow older adults to “age in place”. That means making neighbourhoods and major routes more accessible and welcoming. Let’s upgrade our sidewalks, cross walks and bus stops so they can be used by people requiring mobility assistance and those with hearing or visual impairments. Our major centres and the commercial services within them need to be designed with older adults in mind. Our recreation centres and community programmes should reflect the needs of an aging population.

Saanich News: Food Security

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on food security.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

The cost for families to put food on the table is rapidly increasing. With rising costs of importing foods from the around the world, it makes sense to focus on growing food right here at home. We can make our region food secure by respecting the urban containment boundary and refusing to allow development on farmland. We can promote local food production by implementing Saanich’s “buy local” food program and working with local municipalities and businesses to encourage adoption of similar programs. We should promote local food markets and expand community gardens on public and private open space.

Saanich News: Transportation Planning

Planning for the future of transportation in Saanich will involve upgrades to sidewalk and bicycle infrastructure, but how should the transit system change to be accessible to more people?

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“What we’re seeing is that there’s clearly a desire for a system change, a restructuring and realignment. We need to locate transit hubs in the urban centres with rapid transit on major corridors. That means we’re going to have to build dedicated transit rights of way, at least dedicated during peak hours, on streets like Shelbourne, McKenzie, Quadra and Douglas. Once we build up those major transit hubs, we’ll have to do community bus service so you’re collecting people in the neighbourhoods and bringing them to these transit hubs.”

Saanich News: Climate Change

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on climate change.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

Our temperate climate and abundant natural beauty make Saanich a great place to live. The global climate is under threat and we must take local actions to combat climate change to preserve the remarkable climate we all enjoy. Nearly two-thirds of our emissions come from automobiles. Cutting those emissions requires investment in better public transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and trails. We have to raise our green building standards, create rebates and incentives for residential energy-saving renovations, create incentives for green residential and commercial development projects, and discourage further sprawl by encouraging development in major centres.

Saanich News: Affordable Housing

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on affordable housing.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

We need to work with builders and regional partners to get a mix of housing options that are affordable for all levels of income. When families can afford to settle in our community, they invest in housing, send their kids to local schools, and buy local products and services. Our region’s future depends on affordability for families. Permitting secondary suites is another way to make housing more accessible for home-buyers and increase options for renters.

Saanich News: Traffic Congestion

How do you propose to quickly alleviate some of the stresses caused by single-occupancy vehicles, which turns many of our major thoroughfares into parking lots at rush hour?

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“We have to do what we can to promote alternatives to get people out of the single occupancy vehicle, into carpools having multiple commuters per vehicle. We need to do service improvements for transit on existing routes because the people who are being passed up by buses are not likely to continue to ride the bus if they can’t catch it – they’ll be getting into their cars. And at places like McKenzie/Borden, where it meets the Lochside Trail, we need to change some of the access points for pedestrians and cyclists, giving them points of access – a pedestrian overpass or a pedestrian scramble – because that intersection is recking havoc on traffic.”

Proud to get top marks from the Saanich Civic League

A Saanich citizens group hopes its just released report card will serve as a benchmark for voters in the Nov. 19 municipal election.

The Saanich Civic League’s report, released yesterday, analyzes 20 motions Saanich council voted on over the past three-year term.

The report scores each of the nine-member council on whether their decision aligns with the civic league’s values.

“We look for when council was making a new decision. How did that new decision fit with these values?” said spokesperson Don Anderson. “When they had to face a new issue, how did they respond to that? How did that align with what people in Saanich want to see their council doing?”

The councillors most attuned to the league’s values are Vic Derman and Dean Murdock.

The lowest scorers were Coun. Wayne Hunter, who isn’t seeking re-election, and Mayor Frank Leonard.

Among the values the league considered important are leadership in combatting climate change, and support for local agriculture, local markets and food supply.

“You really only hear about (council) when they make a big decision, but there’s a whole bunch of other things (they vote on),” Anderson said. “(The council voting record report is) an attempt to get people talking about what council does, the kinds of decisions it makes and measuring those against what we have heard Saanich residents want.”

He acknowledged that the numbers aren’t completely objective.

Saanich council has voted on more than 1,000 items in the last term.

According to the Civic League, 92 per cent of the votes in 2010 were unanimous. However, the report card highlights only 20 decisions that show a disproportionate amount of split votes over three years.
Civic league releases council report card
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

“They were quite selective (during the 2008 election) of what they chose to share,” Mayor Leonard said Monday, prior to seeing this year’s version of the report card.

“I think anything that tries to represent us as being split or divided on significant issues is not being genuine.”

Unanimous decisions on more than 90 per cent of votes – including what Leonard calls successes such as the acquisition of lands, consent for backyard chickens and support for light-rail on the Douglas Street corridor – is a better way to grade council. “It’s the outcomes that matter.”

Mayoral candidate David Cubberley​ called the voting record “useful” because the incumbent candidates “shouldn’t be afraid of how they voted.”

“I think it’s helpful to have that shown to the public. Hopefully (the Civic League has) worked hard to make it representative so it’s fair,” Cubberley said.

And while the eight-person Civic League says it is non-partisan, at least one member is also working on an election campaign – former councillor Carol Pickup, who hopes to help get Cubberley elected.

“We know that some of our executives may support particular candidates, but they don’t do it on Saanich Civic League time,” said Civic League chair Christine McLaren, stressing that the league is non-partisan.

For more information on the Saanich Civic League or to see complete details on the council voting record, visit saanichcivicleague.ca.

New developments must have affordable units: Murdock

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release
November 8, 2011

New developments must have affordable units: Murdock

Victoria – Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock wants to set a minimum of affordable units for large development projects. This morning Murdock announced an Affordable Saanich Action Plan that includes a 10 percent contribution of affordable units that will add hundreds of new units to Saanich’s housing stock.

“On the doorstep, parents tell me they are concerned that their children cannot afford to live in their own community and will have to move up-Island to find housing they can afford,” Murdock said. “That’s not how you sustain an economy or a community.”

Murdock’s proposal would see all large projects offer 10 percent of housing units at below market value for sale or rent. The title of the unit would reflect the below-market cost, and the unit can only be re-sold or rented below market cost to keep the benefit going for future owners and renters.

“We’ve seen dozens of new projects in Saanich over the past three years,” Murdock said. “If each of those projects included 10 percent affordable units, we would have added hundreds of new affordable homes in Saanich already. We should be making up for lost time.”

Saanich has 2663 units of social housing and contributes $300,000 per year to the Regional Housing Trust Fund. The Saanich Strategic Plan calls for an incremental increase in units each year.

The first-term Councillor is seeking re-election to Saanich Council and a seat on the CRD Board.

Municipal elections are November 19.

Affordable Saanich Action Plan

Our region is a desirable place to live and raise a family. Unfortunately, the increasing cost of housing can be prohibitive to many. It is important to ensure that our region remains affordable and that housing options are available to all members of society. We can achieve regional affordability by:

– Requiring a minimum 10 per cent contribution of affordable units (constructed, not cash-in-lieu) for all residential developments of 10 units or more.
– Regulating and permitting secondary suites and working with community associations to ensure that the suites respect the quality and character of the community.
– Offering surplus municipal property (not green space or parks) on long-term, no-cost lease in exchange for publicly-operated affordable rental units.
– Working with regional partners and senior levels of government to finance construction of publicly-operated affordable rental units.