The Colwood Community Association Election 2018 Q & A – Read my answers!
The Colwood Community Association, founded by Kim Vincer, is hosting a weekly Q & A with candidates in the Colwood 2018 municipal election. Answers are limited to 150 words. Read my answers and thanks Kim!
Question: Week 1 — What skills would you bring to the table if elected?
I come from rural southern Ontario, put myself through several university degrees and learned a few languages along the way, We speak English, French, and Japanese at home. I have lived in Colwood for over 10 years, but before that I have lived in diverse places across Canada, such as: Canmore, Toronto, Sarnia, and was raised in a town of <400. I’ve experienced living internationally: Europe/Asia—living in the worlds largest cities, like Tokyo, and some of its smallest — all these give me insights to the possibilities of what can and cannot work in our treasured community of Colwood, BC.
I’ve served on community boards in the capacities of treasurer, fundraiser, communications, and recruitment; and being collaborative in nature, made them work for the all involved, while learning a lot myself. I’ve owned three successful small businesses, worked for governments (Japan, Mauritius), have strong analytical, accounting, PR, and problem solving skills. I don’t make decisions based on emotion or philosophy, but rather my decisions are fact and evidence based.
As Colwood’s Canada 150 Community leader, I learned a tremendous about about Colwood, how it works, and why, which meshed well with my day job as a destination marketer. My passion for Colwood knows no bounds!
Question: Week 2 — What would you do to alleviate the housing crisis for everyone, in particular seniors and young people starting out?
Municipalities are limited in what they can do, but here is a list of tools that we can tweak, just and modify to favour housing, and should employ: Bylaws, Transportation, Inclusionary Zoning, Fee Waivers and Relief, Property Taxes, Advocacy, Land Contributions, Replacement Policies, Housing Agreements, Community Land Trusts, Zoning for Rental Housing.
I try to volunteer as much as possible in the greater community effort to end homelessness. As such, I believe in the Housing First approach to solving homelessness, developed into workable reality by the street-to-homes community organizations in Victoria, such as: The Coalition, Our Place Society, Pacifica Housing, Victoria Cool Aid, and many more. Once housed, attention and dollars can be directed to improving the health, skill sets, and quality of life of the hard to home. It is good so see these organizations in our community. I support their further involvement in our community.
People need to be able to live in the communities in which they work and play. If residents of Colwood can’t afford to live in Colwood in 5, 10 or 20 years, then we will have failed them. I am in favour of using every means in the municipal tool box, in concert with other levels of government to keep housing and living affordability as high as possible. The BC government’s 30 point plan for housing affordability in BC is not the solution to British Columbia’s housing affordability crisis. It is going to take this, a lot of out of the box thinking and cooperation of all levels of government in my opinion.
Question: Week 3 — How would you go about improving the transportation/traffic problems we face living here?
Colwood is bordered by the ocean and Metchosin, Langford, and View Royal. We don’t have control over who travels through Colwood to get to work, school, and play. Building more and wider roads is not the answer. The CRD’s regional transportation plan dates back to 2014 and therefore outdated, lacks imagination solutions and way finding isn’t really addressed. What we need to do is:
Week 4 — What is your view on the sustainability of Colwood’s tax base?
It is not sustainable with 93% of it being funded by residents and 7% by business — if we want amenities such as sidewalks, skateboard parks, arts facilities and traffic solutions.
High density development is not the solution either. The newly minted OCP calls for balanced medium density mixed development in our community, going forward. This will gradually, and effectively change that ratio over time, allowing for the existing community to adapt and allowing us to plan for a robust future, keeping residential taxes in line with more amenities from the increased tax base, and more jobs available for residents who wish to work in our community as well.
Week 5 — How would you preserve Colwood’s green spaces and waterfront?
The waterfront is a stewarded, world-class destination for residents and visitors alike.
Nearby urban areas…will be balanced with measures that protect sensitive ecological areas from human activity…safeguarding the qualities that make this place special.
On page 10, the second goal:
People and nature are exceptionally well-connected.
It goes on to state green spaces/water sheds will be protected AND enhanced. Development decisions will be based on the whole watershed. We have protection and enhancement of our waterfront/green spaces enshrined in the OCP. What I can do is protect the OCP from requests to amend these goals and/or grant variance requests watering this down.
It would take an evidenced based proof of an existential threat to people, significant infrastructure, or other ecosystems for me to move on this.
Download & Read Scott MCDONALD for Colwood Council’s Election Brochure
Where is your brochure, people have thoughtfully asked? Being environmentally conscious, and trying to keep our waste stream and carbon footprint as small as possible, we are trying to reach out to Colwood residents digitally with this website, Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, other print and digital media, such as the West Shore Voice News and the Goldstream News Gazette, Additionally we have responded to dozens of surveys from various interest groups and media.
We do have a digital brochure as well, and print a very limited number for canvassing at people’s door’s. (Thanks for the warm welcomes, cookies, hot tea and great conversations so far Colwood!) In the end this may be the wrong strategy, but we will see.So far, we’ve had over 3,000 visits to the website, and expect double that by campaign’s end. Thank you for bearing with me!
Volunteering in my community is very important to me – it binds us together and I always learn so much.
As it happens, when I finish this post, I’m off to film some video for the Japanese Cultural Fair, which happens after the election. I enjoy this volunteer work as co-editor and translator for the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society | ビクトリア日系文化協会 – because it keeps me in touch with the Japanese community (I have a post grad degree in Classical Japanese literature). The VNCS has presented this event for 18 years, and so I encourage you to attend on Saturday, October 27, 2018 on your calendar, I’d love to see you there.
My philosophy on volunteerism is to do what you can, when you can, never over promise, and remember, self-care is important too–try not to over do it. Whereas it take a community to raise a child, it takes uncountable volunteers, each with different skills and experiences, to make a community. I have volunteered on various boards, societies, community organizations, schools, relief efforts and fundraising for causes all my life. Below is a select list of volunteer work I have done that have given me keen insights and experience I believe are relevant to my candidature for Colwood Council.
I was the municipal voice of Canada 150 at local events, documenting and putting on social media the stories of Colwood’s Canada 150 efforts. Canada 150 Community Leaders across Canada were touch points to share information about Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation.
Our Place serves 1200-1500 meals daily — that costs a lot. So, usually as part of a group, we donate $500 for the cost of breakfast AND then go down and cook and serve breakfast with the fine staff at Our Place. The people receiving breakfast are so kind and appreciative, and every single time I have some great conversations with people.
The last time I did this, in June 2018, was with another organization I volunteer at, Skål Victoria, a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. Is it as a board member there and we had a wonderful time. Find out how you can do this too, download Our Place Society’s Sponsor a Breakfast brochure.
I volunteered as a board member with fundraising, because the society was facing closure, daycare was crucial to the community and I was running my own business and doing business plans, preparing budgets, working on day to day, and year end accounting. As controller and treasurer If formulated a budget and fundraising plan to bring the centre back to full enrolment, and put the organisation on a financially stable footing, with he help of a great collaborative team. I my last year I applied for and received a grant from the Alberta government for $75,000 to back major renovations, and increase daycare spaces.
Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society | ビクトリア日系文化協会 – Co-editor/translator/digital strategy, event help – ongoing 2018
The VNCS was formed in 1993 specifically to establish a sense of community for those of Japanese heritage and/or those interested in Japanese culture.
I am relatively new to the VNCS Newsletter editorial team, and am very thankful to the hard work my colleagues have put into this bilingual publication. In the coming months and years, I hope to meet their extraordinary efforts. VNCSニュースレター編集チームの新人、スコットと申します。私の同僚がこれまでバイリンガルニュースレターに尽力してきたことに非常に感謝しておます。 これからの数ヶ月と数年間で、私は彼らのすばらしい努力に近づきたいと思っておます。
The Greater Victoria Flower Count is an annual light-hearted promotion sponsored and organized by The Butchart Gardens, The Victoria Chamber, and Tourism Victoria. The goal is to bolster community pride and increase awareness of Greater Victoria as an attractive shoulder-season tourism destination. It brings national and international attention to the fact that Victoria (City of Gardens) has the mildest climate in Canada. I cannot tell you how proud it makes me that Colwood, especially students in our schools, step up and involve themselves in the community effort.
By the way, if you would like to volunteer with the Colwood Garden Society, here is a their volunteer sign up form.
On a very personal note, the very first time I volunteered as an adult was in the mid 1980s in Toronto at Casey House. It was a hospice care facility, where gay men, young and old were dying from a terrible unknown disease, which we all know now as HIV/Aids. We had trouble finding volunteers, people were understandably frightened. But there was also a darker side of discrimination and stigma. This informed my views on equality, being non-judgmental, and kindness; and, I am a fierce defender of all three today. In my spare time, I offer mentorship to LGBTQ2+ street youth–volunteer work has hopefully made me a better human being, and I am so appreciative of these opportunities to help.
Read my responses to the ArtsVote BC Election Survey
Do you know how much your local government invests in the arts? Would you commit to advocating for an increase in that cultural investment for arts, culture, and heritage in your community, within the capacity of your elected body?
If elected, will you take an active role on behalf of your local government in championing the growth of arts, culture and heritage in your community? Why?
Yes. I have done so already, as Colwood’s Canada 150 Community Leader. Arts, Culture and Heritage is as important as parks, roads and transportation in my view.
Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages and are three times more likely to get a degree. Will you commit to making the arts a critical component of every child’s education? If so, how?
Education is a provincial jurisdiction. I already advocate for the arts in education and will continue to do so.
How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?
Colwood is a growing community with an increasing tax base. Just as funds are allocated for new sidewalks, I will advocate and vote that funds continue to be allocated to the arts, and increased where possible in a a measured and meaningful way.
Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?
Colwood already leads in this area. I will collaborate with the mayor and council to be sure this is not eroded.
How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?
Direct advocacy for and with local First Nations, and direct liaison with Indigenous Tourism BC and Destination BC, and Destination Greater Victoria.
How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?
Communication that Colwood is open and amenable to artists and cultural workers.
What do you feel is the single most important issue relating to arts, culture, and heritage in your community, and what action will you take to address it?
Identification of culture and heritage assets, experiences available for the public and communication of that.
How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)
I attend art and culture events regularly. But I am also a destination marketer–I promote these constantly to the wider world.
I am endorsing three (3) candidates for SD62 Belmont Area School Trustees
I am primarily endorsing these candidates because of their passion for education, their engagement (we met on Twitter), their selflessness on the campaign trail, and their track record of being in the community, visible, helping kids, even before the election period started, in some cases, years before.
Trudy SPILLER is wise beyond her years and has even written a children’s book, about connecting with nature: Trudy’s Rock Story, and her perseverance against odds is amazing. Cendra BEATON, was the first candidate to reach out to me, she’s bilingual and an advocate for French Immersion and demonstrably knows how to make things happen. Ravi PARMAR in an incumbent, and I remember after the last election I kept seeing him here and there out in the community, and when we had issues he was approachable and solutions oriented — he’s grass roots equally comfortable in a suit at a meeting or in jeans with kids at a playground., a kind word for everyone he meets.
Below is a bit about each candidate and a link to their website.
Trudy SPILLER – website I am running for school trustee in SD62 Belmont Zone because I am raising my great niece, 13 years old in grade 8 and my grandson, 12 years old, in grade 7. I have been a role model to SD62 for 7 years and now I feel it’s time to having a voice for the leaders of our tomorrow, our children, at the Board table.
I am passionate about special needs and want to advocate for extra supports for not only sudents, but staff as well. SD62 is one of the fastest growing school districts in B.C. and I want to actively advocate to the Ministry of Education for more capital, teachers and other supports. Class size and composition is also important and I want to ensure that the classrooms are all in compliance with the collective agreement.
Cendra BEATON – website As a long time education activist for our kids (locally and provincially), I can’t wait to step into this role. I am an active volunteer with multiple parent groups in our schools, and also a member of Canadian Parents for French. I have lead efforts that have brought additional resources and funding to our schools, spoke in senate committees to strengthen education, collaborated and advocated to all levels of government for a quality education, and so much more. I have been actively participating in district committees and attending the district school board meetings since 2014, which allows me to be informed on the challenges that we face as a whole.
Ravi PARMAR – website As an SD62 graduate, I am passionate about the school district. I believe that public education is the most significant institutional undertaking in a democratic civil society. The last 4 years as a trustee have been very rewarding. I’m excited to run for re-election and continue serving my community as their representative on the Sooke School District Board of Education.
On Saturday, October 20, 2018 I will be voting for these three candidates for SD62 Belmont Area School Trustees, and I hope you will too.
Read my answers to the Community Trees Matter Network’s election survey.
Our urban forest is key to our prosperity so I was happy to answer this survey with my thoughts.
1. Our municipality’s forest canopy is both shrinking and becoming less dense at a rapid rate. Since trees provide essential ecological services, such as flood control, cleaning and cooling the air, and producing oxygen to name just a few, and since trees have a proven beneficial impact on public health, what will you do to protect our existing canopy, and increase it as quickly as possible?
I am a supporter of Colwood’s Interim Urban Forest Bylaw #1710. While not perfect it is a start. I believe in fact based decision making. After a review of the data from this bylaw, I will support strengthening it if the data shows we need to do so. We simply don’t know how many trees are being cut in the community or even what our tree inventory consists of.
2. How much of a priority is this to you? How soon will you act?
Green space is important to me as are the myriad benefits of trees. I am a garden writer and garden destination marketer, I understand the value of our flora and would like to see it preserved and enhanced.
3. What will you do to protect this municipality’s trees? How soon? How will you increase the budget for tree care, and tree planting? What creative ideas do you have to increase our city’s tree canopy?
We need an inventory of trees in Colwood. I would support first identifying exactly how many trees we have, of what type, where they are located, health, age, and at risk situation. Perhaps we could us an online app such as Plants Map to start the process. When people understand exactly what they have, they are more apt to want to preserve, protect, and enhance.
4. How will you encourage builders to leave mature trees in place?
I favour a replacement model which incorporates guaranteed care over a long period of time for any replacement trees planted when development has to remove any tree, and especially garry oak and arbutus, among others. Understandably this is expensive. I would rather we find creative ways for mature trees to be left in situ.
5. Will you introduce and use serious penalties for those who harm or kill our life-giving trees? (Mississauga charges a replacement fee of more than $700 for a damaged or destroyed street tree. In the region, it averages about $40 a tree.)
Colwood’s Urban Forest Bylaw sets out replacement tree costs and fine for contravention far in excess of these. I am not in favour at this time of increasing those fees. (See page 20 and Schedule A of Bylaw #1710)
Are you in favour of a citizens’ assembly process to look at governance in your community and its relation to the region? Why or why not? Please explain.YES. In the last election, 75% of CRD residents who were given a chance to respond, voted yes to further study. The time is now. Let’s find out what people think, let’s have a look at governance options once and for all.
The current Capital Region District Board consists of municipal councillors and mayors who are appointed1 from the 13 municipalities. By legislation, these municipal appointments are responsible to represent the interests of their home municipalities.2 Do you think that regional interests would be better served if the entire CRD Board was directly elected by voters region- wide? Why or why not? Please explain.I think the CRD board should be directly elected. The current system puts CRD directors in a difficult situation—they were directly elected to serve their community, not 12 other municipalities and their community.Go to the Amalgamation Yes website for for information, and see the list of answers from Colwood candidates.
Read my answers to the survey from the Juan De Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society
1. What forms of art and culture do you currently enjoy?
Fringe Festival, various film festivals, the Royal BC Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, PRIDE events, garden events where cultural or art activities take place, such as at The Gardens at HCP and the Dr. Sun Yet- Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver, Japanese festivals, fairs, music and cultural observances (I volunteer with the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society, an am also co-editor and translator of their bi-monthly newsletter. Which reminds me, the 19th Annual (2018) Japanese Cultural Fair is Saturday, October 27th at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre 10:00AM TO 4:00PM!) I am also keen about First Nations culture, food, and art, especially since I am involved with Indigenous Tourism BC.
2. Do you support the development of an arts and culture centre in the Westshore? Why?
Yes. Having a high level arts centre where art and culture can be enjoyed, learned about, participated with is as important as having a state of the art teaching and research university, such as Royal Roads. In fact, it is as necessary to the success of our community as are roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. It is only because of art that we identify as human, we are the only species on the planet that is capable of creating it. And because it adds so much to our lives, an existential must if you will.
3. If elected, are there any specific actions you would take to support the development of a West Shore Arts and Cultural Centre?
I would be a cheer leader for sure and would work collaboratively with the mayor and council to support and further its development in any way possible.