In 2013 I ran on several issues, and I stand by my commitments. I have learned a great deal since then, and this year, with four years' experience and after many conversations with residents, I see the following as key election issues and I have outlined how I intend to tackle them over the next four years.
I love St. John's and with your support I would like to continue working to help our city reach its potential.
The issue I hear from almost every voter I meet with is taxes. It is critical that Council ensures our residents are being taxed fairly and that those tax dollars are being spent wisely.
I voted against the 2016 budget that saw taxes goes up and some services cut. I felt this was unfair to residents and business, neither of whom were consulted properly on how to make these changes.
So when the 2017 budget was announced after a full year of review and millions in spending cuts, I supported the return to 2015 levels of residential tax and a reduction in business tax.
These cuts are not enough. The upcoming years will be challenging as our population grows and service demands increase. As your councillor, I will work to ensure we continuously review our programs and services, demand regular public reporting of our financial standing a decision making, and prioritize our spending to keep taxes low.
In my first term, I put a heavy focus on improving the way City Hall engages with the public. But I have come to realize that we really need to improve the relationship between Council and the public.
I called for better transparency and accountability in my recent blog post, “Council Should Be More Transparent - Here's How.” I have also heard calls for participatory budgeting, which I think is a great idea to help the public be a part of our budgeting and decision-making process.
While the sections above are certainly important to having a functioning and prosperous city, we must also ensure that all residents are taken care of and given opportunities to "make a go of it." With growing trends of poverty, food insecurity, addictions and inadequate housing, it is essential that Council play a role in addressing these issues
The key to limiting suffering and providing a solid foundation for people lies in partnerships. We must increase our efforts to work with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the Provincial Government, Eastern Health, End Homelessness St. John's, and the many other community organizations working diligently to strengthen our communities. Below are just a few specific actions that I commit to working on with these partners.
I have been an advocate of “smart development” since before my time on Council, and have supported proposals that focus on density and infill. Going forward I see two key areas to focus on: our development regulations and our permits and inspections processes.
A draft of our new regulations was released recently and, while well written and an improvement on the existing regulations, does not reflect all of the forward-looking policies that such an important document should have for a modern city. I will push for more public oversight of this document and not accept them until they have been thoroughly reviewed by residents.
There has been work done to improve operations at City Hall with respect to development, but I am hearing far too many stories of confusion, delays, and frustration from residents and developers trying to complete renovation and construction jobs of all sizes. It is time we did a full review of our permit and inspections processes to see what is going on to make them reliable, efficient, and accountable.
Our city has been growing and modernizing for well over a decade, and our transportation network has not kept up. While work has been done, people still find the public transit system sorely lacking in accessibility and convenience. We also have more work to do to enable safe cycling and winter sidewalk clearing.
I intend to get a seat on our Transportation Commission, which is the committee overseeing our Metrobus services. I have two goals with this committee: to bring the currently inaccessible agendas and discussion to the public, and to push for real change to routes and frequency that will enable more people to take advantage of the service.
In my next term I hope to chair the new Cycling Advisory Committee to make real progress on our Cycling Master Plan, and will continue to advocate for more and better sidewalk clearing.
It is a bold claim to make that we are the “Oldest City in North America,” so if we say it we should act to reflect it. Too many buildings of significant heritage value have been lost in recent years, and I vow to be a stronger, more proactive voice on Council for our built heritage.
Council must provide effective policies that support and enhance heritage structures and not allow "demolition by neglect." And we must encourage adaptive reuses of older buildings by offering meaningful financial incentives and developer supports.
While Council must ensure that our infrastructure is maintained and residents’ basic needs are met, we have an important role to play in our business community. We have regulations, policies, and taxes that, whether we like it or not, impact how a business can operate.
So with this in mind, City Hall has to become a “small business champion.” The more we understand and appreciate the efforts and challenges our business owners face, the more likely we will be to keep this group in mind when making decisions and implementing services.
Tourism has proven itself to be one of our most valuable and growing sectors, and the City plays a critical role in the positive (or negative) experiences that visitors have. We need all of our Council and staff to truly appreciate the importance of visitor experience and work hard to ensure everything we do makes St. John’s more accessible, welcoming, clean, and vibrant.
Our arts and culture sectors are also integral to the vibrancy of our economy and quality of life, and it is important that Council be a strong supporter. Our financial contributions are currently far lower per capita than other cities; we can and must do better.
Our environment is integral to so many facets of our lives, and it is incumbent on Council to ensure we are protecting and enhancing it. By protecting wetlands and waterways we can minimize flooding and encourage urban biodiversity. By encouraging density we can take control over rising budget costs and foster thriving, mixed-use neighbourhoods. And by ensuring City buildings and activities are energy efficient, we can have confidence that we are limiting our impact on climate change.
Thank you for taking the time to review my platform. Click here if you would like to support me in my efforts to be re-elected. Please ask any questions or make comments below!comments powered by Disqus
Dave is involved in community issues and activities. He can't make it to all, but these are on his list!
If you have an event you would like Dave to attend, please get in touch!