As part of our coverage for the 2022 municipal election, The Squamish Chief sent out questionnaires to all candidates running either for council or the mayor’s office. Identical questions were provided to each candidate, who had the chance to send written responses.
What follows are the unedited responses for this candidate. Those who did not respond by press deadline do not have answers to publish.
Furthermore, candidates were also invited to film a short elevator pitch. This candidate’s elevator pitch is embedded in this story.
Please state your name and political party
How do you think council can help with the housing affordability crisis in Squamish?
Having a home should be a fundamental human right, but a lack of affordable housing has meant homes are out of reach for too many. Municipal governments can’t solve this problem on their own, but here is what I will do:
- Support the newly created Squamish Community Housing Society to increase affordable housing stock
- Get affordable housing units built by developers, and secure some of these as fee-simple units for the Housing Society to own
- Diversify the housing stock by enabling more triplexes, fourplexes, low-story walk-up apartments, and purpose-built market rentals (we can do this through incentives like density bonusing and priority processing of applications)
- Amend zoning bylaw to make it easier to build nonprofit, co-op, and rental housing
- Build on previous work with Province and BC Housing to create more subsidized housing units in Squamish
- Ensure relevant policies are revised and up-to-date (e.g. Perpetually Affordable Housing Policy&community amenity contributions)
Some locals have been calling for a pause on development on private land, but council does not have the power to do that. How will you reconcile that disconnect?
I know that the rates of growth and development have felt overwhelming for our community. Council does not have the power to press pause on development and much of the building we are seeing today was approved under policy that is now out-dated. Our power as a community lies in choosing how we manage growth and development through regulation and policy. My focus will be to ensure policy and regulation supports vibrant, walkable communities that make more efficient use of our infrastructure, protect and preserve our green spaces and trails, and deliver diversified and more attainable forms of housing. We can further deepen our engagement with the community so that residents better understand the context in which development applications are being considered. We should also continue to create neighbourhood plans which enable us as a community to come together and create a shared vision for how neighbourhoods will evolve to meet the needs of current and future residents.
Do you own property in Squamish? When was the last time you were a renter?
Yes, we purchased our townhome in 2016. Prior to that, I was a renter.
How do you typically get to work? When was the last time you rode a bus?
Most of the time I work from home. When I do need to commute or get around town I either ride my bike or drive (about a 60/40 split). I last rode the bus about a year ago.
Have you had to find child care in Squamish?
Yes. I have a one-year old, so the child care issue is front and centre in my life right now. I went back to work part-time when my daughter was 6 months old. There are no childcare spaces for kids under 1 year and my salary didn’t afford us the ability to hire 1:1 care, so our family did the work/childcare/life juggle. We feel so fortunate to have found full-time care now, but there is so much work to be done on this issue. Too many families are struggling to find reliable, affordable care, too many caregivers are struggling to make ends meet, and too many businesses are losing staff because parents can’t find care.
Do you or have you ever owned a business in Squamish? Do you pay commercial rent?
In your opinion, does Squamish have a parking problem? If so, what will you do about it?
Our thriving downtown core is attracting both locals and tourists to new and long established businesses, which I think has led to a change in people’s perceptions about how much parking is available. Before we choose and spend money on new systems or infrastructure, we need to better understand the issue itself and what options will work for Squamish. That is why I moved to put money in the current budget (2022) to update Squamish’s Parking Strategy. This strategy will study parking utilization rates and bring forward recommendations on how to improve parking systems. We do need to pay particular attention to the availability and utilization of accessible parking stalls to ensure these are sufficient for those who need them.
What ways would you support council addressing the climate crisis?
In 2019, I tabled a Climate Emergency Resolution which was supported unanimously by Council and led to the development of the Community Climate Action Plan in 2020. Since its adoption, District staff have made progress on 89 of the 122 actions included in that plan. There is still so much work to do to reach our GHG reduction targets of 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. If re-elected, I will support and strongly advocate for persistent, bold action on this issue. We need to start by updating our greenhouse gas emissions inventory so that we have an up-to-date picture of what is working and where our future actions are best focused. That said, in 2020, transportation accounted for 52% of community emissions, buildings for 29%, and waste for 30%, so further action on improving transportation alternatives, retrofitting buildings, eliminating fossil fuels in new buildings, and reducing waste will be critical.
The municipality has control over passing bylaws, budget planning and approval, committees, board and commission appointments and general oversight of municipal administration. Within those powers, what didn’t the last council do that you want to make a priority?
I would prioritize new Council Committees - advisory groups made up of Squamish residents, business owners, and community members - in order to improve community dialogue, engagement, and transparency. Current Council did not establish committees during this past term because of challenges and strains from the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, I believe Council would benefit from more community engagement and advice on issues such as replacement and renewal of municipal facilities, activating public spaces for community connection, as well as accessibility and inclusion.