Today, September 10, 2018, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce will post Council candidates answers to this survey.

Four men, and I, are running for Mayor.

May the best woman win.

 

2018 Municipal Election Candidates Survey

1.

Will you be in attendance and participate in the All Candidates Forum for Mayor (October 2) or Council (October 4)?

Yes. I plan to be there for both dates.

2.

What is the role of Abbotsford City Council from your perspective?

The ideal Council will be one mayor and eight councillors whose goal is to represent all of the people in the municipality to the best of their ability. No group-think slate!

Council’s mandate is the common good in relation to bigger issues — infrastructure needs for water, sewage, roads, police, parks, pools.

Council sets the rules that govern us, so that we may best live harmonious lives in community.

Council has to do as much as possible in the open: transparency keeps government accountable, and improves public confidence that they are under the care of honest leaders.

Taxation has to be kept as low as possible, so the public can keep more of their own earnings.

There must be no favouritism in decision making.

Council needs to provide more adequate notice about proposed changes to citizens’ property, so they can fairly engage in decisions impacting their lives.

Make Abbotsford a place where people have confidence in a  Council that makes sensible, doable, enforceable laws.

3.

What inspired you to put your name forward for consideration in this election and what qualifications or experience do you possess that will assist you in being an effective Mayor/Councillor? 

The present Council has shown a cavalier disdain for the public they’re elected to serve.

They’re unwilling or unable to enforce bylaws justly.

I’m opposed to a slate. Need nine independent leaders to make decisions on behalf of the whole populace, not a group-think slate. The only slate Abbotsford needs is a clean slate!

Qualifications: Worked as a banker; had my own small-scale landscaping business. Was privileged to have time to pursue my interests in university courses, peripheral politics.

Volunteered 12 years at the federal women’s prison.

Sing for seniors with my group, many years. Served as president of Rock and Gem Club; and last year was secretary-treasurer of Business and Professional Women.

Persuaded School District 34 to stop spraying chemicals on our school grounds.

Helped stop City from imposing pay-parking at our public parks.

Spent 6 years opposing SE2.

Worked to restore our municipal voting back to the present system, because voting at-large invited fraud.

4.

What opportunities for growth and development do you see in the future for Abbotsford?

Growth and development emanate from the private sector: government takes money, but does not generate it. Economic central planning is typically bad for a country.

Council needs to ensure Abbotsford is a desirable place to establish homes and businesses. Let people with the skills, grit, and money be the ones to drive healthy economic growth.

Baby boomers are fast needing care as they approach their final years. Lots of scope for jobs there.

Farmers are doing a terrific job of expanding the use of their lands to bring extra income and provide more jobs. Council should encourage those efforts.

Agriculture can diversify to niche markets that increase wealth and attract visitors.

Abbotsford’s beautiful setting and easy accessibility can be promoted to attract more tourists, with related benefits to hotels, restaurants and service stations.

But many of these kinds of opportunities will be squandered unless Council acts to make our community safer and better-run. (See next section.)

5.

What specific strategies will you seek to implement in order to achieve these opportunities?

Make our municipality a safe place to put down roots. Often people have stopped calling police about recurring theft and vandalism.

Keep taxes as low as possible.

Laws must be for the common good. Enforce those laws, without bias, across the board.

Council has shown a cavalier attitude about changing zoning without giving adequate notice time to affected citizens. Ten days is NOT enough notice to inform re an upcoming Public Hearing. This council refuses to address that appallingly inadequate notice time.

Abbotsford must be a place where people can trust Council will  protect their property rights, and respect taxpayers enough to ensure they have plenty of time to hear about proposed changes and to inform and engage themselves in what may be monumental changes to the value of their property and the quality of their lives.

Infrastructure has to keep pace with population increase and residential construction.

Ensure the cost of growth does not exceed the associated benefits.

6.

How can the City better support the growth of existing and attraction of new business to Abbotsford?

Common-sense laws. Justice and equity in by-law enforcement.

Keep Abbotsford cleaner. Join with other municipalities to get the Province to address the scourge and filth and degradation of homeless encampments all over this municipality.

Taxes rise without obvious increases in service. Taxes can’t be inflicted on the populace for the sake of growing government bigger.

The Official Community Plan extols the virtues of beauty and retaining unique communities, but the reality is far different. Once-lovely neighbourhoods have been stripped of trees, bushes and gardens to make way for row after row of monster houses that defy zoning by-laws and are filled with illegal suites to pay for those edifices. The City must make clear what the laws are AND have the will and resources to enforce those laws. People need to know they can trust in zoning. At present it’s meaningless.

Good and legal growth needs rapid approval so no money is lost while business wades through needless red tape delays.

7.

The Industrial Land Supply Study completed by the City in 2017 concluded that Abbotsford can play a much larger role in the regional industrial land market in the future.  However, to do so will require the City to bring to market sizeable industrial land parcels that match market criteria.  Given our quickly diminishing supply of available industrial land, how can we best plan for future needs?

If we have a quickly diminishing supply of available industrial land, how does it follow that “Abbotsford can play a much larger role in the regional industrial land market in the future.” Those two statements don’t mesh.

We tout our great dependence on Agriculture, and we are confined by the Fraser River, a mountain range and the US border. So we need to better utilize lands currently zoned for industry. The ALC has denied Council’s request to release more agricultural lands for industrial purposes. A good chunk taken out of the ALR years ago went to huge box stores. More recently, some 600 acres was granted for industry, but then Council voted approval for a banquet hall that would have provided mostly part-time jobs at basement wages. Fortunately Councillor Loewen flip-flopped the next morning, and now that parcel is developing industry that will bring good jobs and liveable wages.

So make better use of what’s available and don’t treat the ALR like a cookie jar to exploit at will.

8.

Council adopted the 2016 Official Community Plan (OCP) as a tool to guide the City to a population of 200,000 residents.  Staff are now working on nine Master Plans and four Neighbourhood Plans as a roadmap to implement the OCP.  Do you support this approach or what changes would you propose?

I’ve read right through the OCP. It is not convincing. Lots of rhetoric and buzz phrases. We’re seeing bulldozers make way for huge densification. Monster houses maxing out the footprint of lots. Eradication of greenery, destroying beauty everywhere. Why did we spend two years and much money on this plan that has no similarity to how the city is really growing. An example of the nonsense written in the OCP is the repeated use of “gentle infill”, which in reality means cramming buildings into every last bit of space in our town. The OCP claims we have an average of 2.8 persons per household. Not likely. Monster houses are becoming the norm. Lawns give way to parking spaces for all the cars needed by people living there.

The City has no idea how many people live in most of those large dwellings.

I don’t support an OCP that is blind to reality.

Land can be slid out from under property owners by re-zonining that happens too fast. That can leave owners powerless to stop the City.

9.

The City relies on its tax base to finance infrastructure, capital projects and operating budgets.  Residents demand more services but don’t like tax increases.  What factors do you feel are important for Council to consider when setting its annual property tax rates?

Exactly what are these “more services” being demanded? What I hear from people is that increasing taxes have little bearing on increased services.

Infrastructure has to be repaired, upgraded, and expanded for new development, but the public’s money gets diverted when the City sinks money into glamour projects.

Municipal employees’ wages and benefits are really generous. It’s quite common for people to think they deserve more, but when municipal wages are compared to the private sector they  are far ahead in job security, wages and benefits. There should be a wage freeze across the board at City Hall — including Council! — until private and public pay levels even out. City wages are generous enough to stay at present levels, so no greater tax burden needs to be laid on private citizens.

Council must keep all spending open to public scrutiny. That will have a clarifying effect on where and how tax dollars get spent.

10.

What role can the City play to encourage the supply of more affordable housing options of all types in the City? 

Builders and developers don’t have the assurance that they’re competing on a level playing field in Abbotsford. That has to be addressed.

If one builder abides by all the rules, pays all the taxes, and does no “under the table” business, while another developer ignores as much as possible of those same parameters, the scofflaw beats out the honest broker every time.

What incentive is there for people to build affordable housing in a city where cheaters are given free reign to prosper? Over the years I’ve many times asked the City to act on blatant by-law infractions, and depending on who the scofflaw is, the action taken is anemic at best. So cheaters prosper here.

Work to keep all taxes to a minimum.

Make clear, sensible by-laws, and remove unnecessary regulations that impede quality development.

Impose maximum fines on people why defy the rules. Developers need to know Council is supportive of good growth.

Make Abbotsford a place where business can flourish and compete fairly.

11.

The Ministry of Agriculture has struck a committee to look at revitalizing the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and the Agriculture Land Commission (ALC).  In the committee’s recent interim report they recommend the urgent need to curb land speculation in the ALR by establishing a maximum total floor area for all primary residences in the ALR and providing local government flexibility to zone below that maximum.  Would you support the committee’s recommendation? 

Yes, the ALC is right to limit maximum floor space on houses in agricultural lands.

Lots of those buildings are more like apartment buildings, or hotels!

While they’re at it, the use of farm land for commercial truck parks needs to be stopped.

One property I repeatedly asked Abbotsford leaders to deal with was 10 acres, paying only the same taxes as my own small property. The owner, in plain view of thousands of cars daily, had a huge business renting space to easily 50+ long-haul trucks.

Another farm that I asked the City about had a minimum of 10 illegal suites on his land.

It is right to tax farmers at a much lower rate than residential land. They work hard, and they face the vagaries of weather and market uncertainties to provide food for the rest of society.

But it’s NOT right for Council to allow the continuation of blatant zoning by-law infractions.

Agricultural lands could be revitalized with help from the Ministry to diversify crops, with less dependence on monoculture.

A FRIEND WROTE:  I am really despairing of that thought they we may be reelecting proponents of high density housing in older neighbourhoods – especially with monster houses that tower above the existing houses.  No wonder we have so little affordable housing in Abbotsford.