A few important lessons I learned my first term on council is that it really takes a couple of years to learn what you need to understand the inner workings of local governments. And though my political science classes and policy work were helpful, it takes time to understand the inner working of an organization, how its history effects the present, who people are and what is important to them, the complexity of some of the deeper issues and the inner workings of the local government system. Once you have that under your belt, you have the foundation to really kick things up a few notches and support effective changes and make the responsible decisions required for present while planning for the future.
A few important lessons I learned in my second term on council? It's hard to know where to begin but I will try and try to be succinct about it. After having such an inspiring first time nothing could have prepared me for such an extreme opposite. It was a tough four years with learning you could never get out at any university. I learned to thicken my skin, stay focused and stand on my own two feet. I learned the difference between democracy as it should be, and democracy as it is practiced . True democracy means looking at all the evidence, and then looking again from another angle, keeping in mind what is happening in your community, what is working, and what needs work and from there, taking the time to discuss solutions, develop outcomes and take action. It means listening to hear, not listening to speak and considering the thoughts of diverse views around the council table, from the community and then, making the best choices you can. It means you don't win all the time, nor should you expect to. It means not making promises you can't or should't keep and knowing when to admit you were wrong and get on with things.
What do I plan to do in TERM THREE? Here are a few to start with, top three broken down under themes. Want to know more? Check out my short videos or send me your questions. Bricks and Mortar 1. Continue with the strong fiscal management of your tax dollars. FACT: Did you know? The City has received the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting (CAnFR) each year since 2011. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) established the CAnFR Program in 1986 to encourage and assist Canadian local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles, as set by the Public Sector Accounting Board of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.
FACT: Did you know? The City’s philosophy for many years has been to avoid incurring debt whenever possible. Accumulating reserves reduces the need for future borrowing and related interest. When the City first received the news that we did not have to pay policing costs council made some tough but prudent choices planning ahead. We know our population will rise above 5000 again in the near future and we were faced with the choice of applying those savings to cut taxes now but at the cost of ( the next council) having to raise taxes by as high in some scenarios as 18% (in one year) when the population rises. Instead we opted for moderate increases to avoid a whopping bill in the near future landing in your mailbox and using the policing bridging funds to pay for planned ( and necessary) infrastructure projects that otherwise we were going to have to borrow to complete, costing you money in interest charges.
2. Continue to work on replacing aging infrastructure and supporting the development of the City's asset management plan, a key guide to ensure cost effective replacement. Push for progressive and long-term solutions to Traffic, Traffic, Traffic, and planning with all levels of government to address the growing bottlenecks and congestion on our highway.
3. Continue to be active in the planning to remove JUB outfall (sewage) from the Cowichan River and review best practices for treatment options.
Building Relationships 1. To hold 2visioning sessions within the first four months of the new term one with the Downtown Duncan Business Association one with the Highway Corridor to create plans that identify the shared goals we would like to work on over the term and into the future and, establishes the form and steps we will take to get there.
2.Continue relationship building with Cowichan Tribes to increase partnerships, develop opportunities to work together on increasing safety, transit, transportation, and other areas of shared interest that includes reaching out to Cowichan Tribes members and governance to work on solutions and ideas related to issues that cross our borders, develop a new memorandum of understanding and set goals for the term and the future.
3. To hold neighborhood dialogue sessions at the beginning of the term to hear challenges and work together on creating solutions.
Social Issues 1. Work on solutions and project developments with community partners, businesses around homelessness to mitigate impacts while creating opportunities to address Stigma and move from Us and Them to all of Us.
2. Actively participating at the Community Response Table ( an existing table with regional representation from governments and service providers, health, rcmp and others) so the City has an active role in working with community partners towards solutions for the impacts of the Opioid crisis has in our community.
3. Affordable Housing needs are on the rise and lack of housing is causing us lost economic opportunities and creating added challenges for young families and seniors who are unable to find affordable housing or maintain cost of living in current housing. As local leaders we have a responsibility to be involved and take action to address this issue. Through innovation, partnerships, land use, building initiatives for secondary dwelling we can do our job and create opportunities.
WATER Protection and Management Top Three 1. Increase water conservation efforts 2. Working with all community partners to supper the ongoing development of shared localized authority and control over regional watersheds 3. Working with business and residential water users to do more that meet the target of 25% reduction
Environment 1. Reinstate an active and engaged Environment Committee (get back to implementing the Integrated Sustainability Plan and increasing green building requirements 2. Work to establish local recycling pick up for apartments and multi-unit dwellings 3. Establish urban agriculture as part of a viable economy that provides local food security and re-activate our role in the Cowichan Food Charter
A few more points
Foster ongoing partnerships and effective regional planning with other local governments and community groups/organizations
Reintroduce a Duncan City Youth Council
Increase opportunities for people to participate in the decision making of their of government and establish this as an ongoing commitment of the City
Continue to effective and safe routes for biking and other alternative methods of transport
Continue to be an active member of the Regional Housing Coalition
Support Duncan to become a leader in planning and providing all types of Affordable Housing
Work to increase our localized economy, providing employment, opportunities and living wages
Establish a Seniors/Elders Advisory to develop an Elders Council that makes recommendations to council and works with youth council.