In the Town of Sidney, Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith will be acclaimed with no opposition. Nine candidates are running for six councillor positions. We asked each candidate to outline the most important thing council can do to improve the lives of residents. Here are their responses listed alphabetically.
Change policies that cause harm.
An example is zoning. The evidence of this is how bad the housing crisis is. In times before zoning, when faced with immigration pressures, residents would have simply built the housing that a growing population demanded.
Many buildings of this period are cherished today for their form and versatility. These are largely illegal to build because of policies that are in place today. We need to bring back some of that “we can do it” approach to our thinking and realize that sometimes the best thing government can do is get out of the way.
Work together with fellow councillors openly and transparently to seek broad public input and approval in creating an inviting and affordable community to live in: Providing strong zoning bylaws to accompany the new Official Community Plan; developing an active transportation plan providing access to all individuals; and being fiscally responsible making the best use of the hard-earned taxes provided by the residents.
The largest day-to-day problems facing residents (housing costs, inflation, fuel prices, access to medical care) are well beyond local government’s ability to respond directly with policy. Our largest contribution to the quality of life of residents is by working to maintain the basic services we rely on for social, environmental and physical health. Clean, functional streets; good first responder services, sewers that work, fresh water from the tap are core services local government provides that contribute invisibly to health and well-being, and in this continuing time of stress, the public will need to know they can rely on the basics.
Council can improve the lives of residents by promoting development projects that provide a balance of housing options while simultaneously viewing them through a climate change lens. To this end, it is important to ensure adequate green space and tree canopy are considered throughout the design phase. We must value the benefits that green space and trees provide for the livability and quality of lives for its residents, not just now, but for future generations. Green space and trees provide storm water mitigation during extreme rainfall events, as well as cooling in the extended heat waves of summer.
As it pertains to Sidney, council needs to approve the zoning bylaw to match the newly approved OCP. Council needs to work with the community to achieve the vision of the OCP, and the West Side Local Area Plan.
The next council will need to work with the community to re-think the Beacon wharf, and work towards the revitalisation of this iconic piece of Sidney’s history. I believe that the council needs to focus on affordable workforce housing. I believe if elected to council I can help achieve these goals and the residents of Sidney will be better off.
I feel that the most important thing this council can do is to listen to its constituents. Too often, once elected officials attain office, they quickly forget how they got there. Councillors need to hear what their citizens want and then make decisions based on critical thinking and analysis of what’s best for the community. This is the most important reason I am running for council, I want to be the voice of constituents at the table.
Balance the need to increase supply of housing with the need for green space and quality living environments. Lack of housing is impacting the quality of life for individuals. Businesses can’t attract employees due to lack of housing. This impacts our economy and the level of services that existing residents enjoy. We need to ensure we don’t overwhelm existing neighborhoods and that adequate infrastructure is in place to support additional housing. Incentivize basement and garden suites. More townhomes versus condos to attract young families. Have incentives for developers who provide below market housing.
Councils need to listen, but also act on important issues. Case in point: The Shoreline Medical Clinic in 2016 was going to close due to financial difficulties and came to my council for help to stay open. We acted swiftly and came to their aid by providing $200,000 in emergency funding. Now they are expanding and continue to operate a critical service to the community because I listened, and then acted in the community’s best interest. This is what I will continue to do if elected as a councillor. Listen and act with common sense on all issues.
One of our significant challenges as an aging community is the affordability of Sidney as a place for young people to live and raise a family. Council needs to guide future development in keeping with our Official Community Plan to ensure Sidney is a resilient community that includes opportunities for affordable housing, active transportation, communal greenspaces, and infrastructure designed to provide capacity for climate change while maintaining the character of our quaint seaside town. Achieving these development goals would improve the lives of residents, provide opportunities for all demographics including young families, and create a supportive environment for local businesses.
Advance voting starts on Oct. 5 with general election day on Oct. 15. For more information on how or where to vote, check out your municipality’s website. You can find election night results, and more coverage in the lead-up, under the election tab at peninsulanewsreview.com.
READ MORE: 2022 Election Coverage
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