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Blog transcript below:
1. So, the word is out that you have announced you are running for a second term.
Yes, that’s true, we had our campaign kick off reception on the 15th of the month. We had a great turn out.
2. I’m anxious to hear why you decided to throw your hat back into the ring. After all you have had some interesting comments to say the least over the last 4 years and yet here you are ready to go again.
I would tell you that of all the jobs I have had there has been nothing that has been more satisfying than being mayor. This is not a part time job to me; it is far too important not to be there every day.
You know Dave it does have its ups and downs, but I have been very fortunate to be around when so many of our objectives have come to fruition and that really makes it all worth while.
3. So, you and I have been doing this long enough to know that you didn’t just jump into this without having a game plan in place, can we talk about it?
Sure, I thought you would never ask. The main thrust of my plan is to continue this momentum towards our vision we have already started back in 2018 and same one that I feel we have to continue for the next four years. Dave, we didn’t develop this vision the people of Parksville told us what they wanted. I just completed a survey with over 400 responses in the last month just to confirm we are heading in the right direction and almost to a response it said the exact same thing as we heard in 2018. There is still lots of meat on that bone yet to be dealt with.
4. Does that mean you really didn’t move the needle during the last four years?
That is kind of what that sounded like isn’t it? That is not the case at all. We accomplished more than any other Council in the history of Parksville, but you know there has never been a real vision a viable workable plan to guide Council and Staff forward. We have many years of chasing shiny new ideas instead of focusing on the fundamentals for a great community. It has gone on for years so to turn it around it is going to take more than 4 years to finish.
5. We have had a number of conversations here in the past, can you give me a brief summary of what you think has been Council’s highlights over the last term.
As I said we have accomplished more than any other Council in the History of Parksville as far as I’m concerned. But I really would like to brag a bit about how far the Council and Staff of Parksville have come since the 2018 election. So, you get to sit back for a couple of minutes and listen to what has been done.
Let me start by saying Parksville has been ranked for the last two years as one of the most sustainable communities in all of BC. Annually for the last 3 years we have had some of the lowest property tax increases in the province. We have virtually no debt that the taxpayers of Parksville are paying for. We now have around 35 million dollars in our reserve accounts to pay for future ongoing infrastructure maintenance and to pay for our major equipment requirements.
There is no community in all of British Columbia in better financial shape than we are.
We are the only community on the island that has been carbon neutral each and every year since 2008.
We have drinking water capacity for over 2 times our current population levels without depleting our aquifers by one drop. Dave, it is really important that I say that again, I am reading and hearing far to often that we are short of water, that is not the case. Again, we have sufficient water capacity for two times our current population.
We have added over 1000 apartments and strata’s since we were elected in 2018 drastically improving the horrific vacancy rate, we inherited from one of the worst on the Island to one of the best and we are still improving upon it. We have approvals and permits in process for another 400 units. In fact, for 2020 and 2021 we have had the most apartment builds per capita in the province.
I do however continually hear how our growth can’t be sustained by our water and our infrastructure limitations. That is not true. If the truth be known our growth is still well behind the projections of the Official Community Plan. Our growth will be driven by one factor and that is our requirements for younger families. If we had the same split in our demographics as other communities, we wouldn’t need to grow at all. But that is not the case. If our community is going to flourish, we need to increase the younger segment of our population.
Since 2018 Council and Staff have focused on the fundamentals which make our community work and they have been brought in line. It wasn’t easy and it took discipline and leadership and yes, we did disappoint some of our residents. We have lived within our means. If you are going to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s money you cannot satisfy every request from every special interest group no matter how many votes.
The hardest fight and the most rewarding to date involved the changeover of the Parksville Community Centre to become a functioning and truly needed community centre rather than a rental hall. Under its new management the Parksville Community Centre will provide many worthwhile programs for residents of all ages, they will provide 91 daycare spaces for children from newborn to school age. The Parksville Community Centre is still be available to rent for private and public functions. We went from approximately $250,000 a year subsidy to no cost for our taxpayers without losing one iota of service to the community.
We recently opened the new Outdoor Theatre and we have had a number of performances there already and in the first few weekends they have drawn almost 10,000 attendees between the Tim Horton Concert series and that amazing Rock the Park concert. The team from the Beach Fest society have exceeded all expectations both in the structure that was built and in the professional entertainment they have presented.
We cut the ribbon on what I believe will become one of the best assets the city has with the Memorial Plaza, by all accounts the area is being used extensively as a gathering place in our downtown.
We are in the final stages so we can soon begin construction for the next phase of the walking trail that will eventually go between the Boardwalk and Rathtrevor.
We have come so much closer to being able to provide the residents with the options they can choose from for a swimming pool and multiplex. This is taking longer than I originally thought but we have to make sure we get it right so the residents can have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
We have all but eliminated panhandling in the downtown core. Do you remember what it was like in 2018 when you couldn’t even walk downtown without stepping over panhandlers or being accosted for money.
Do you remember all the tents in our parks and right downtown across the firehall? We didn’t throw them out we just made them follow the rules and they decided to leave. Yes, there are still homeless people in our community, but they did not take over our parks and public spaces the way it was headed. We were able to keep those available for the people who paid for them.
I had the privilege to begin the discussions with the Province in 2009 and then complete the circle by cutting the ribbon on our Water Treatment facility in 2019.
We have a number of major improvements still to be made in the community park. If you think it is great now wait for another year it will be amazing.
All this Dave, while holding the line on your tax dollars.
6. Based upon this you have done very well in the 4 years in office.
Thanks, but the reality is that I didn’t do all this myself, it is always a team effort with the support from the majority of Council and from our hardworking amazing staff.
It is my job to provide the leadership and a provide a conducive environment to bring these projects home, but the team makes it happen.
7. So, with all this in the preverbal bag, what is left to do?
We aren’t done yet we still have a long way to go. There are still far… far too many people in our town that need help. Parksville still has distinct divisions as far as income goes. We may never be able to fix it completely, but we can focus on some of the major factors that help make life more comfortable for all the residents.
8. A little bird told me that you have some firsthand knowledge on some of these issues you are talking about.
I often think about my parents and their lives and the stress they dealt with on a daily basis. You know we moved 13 times before I graduated from high school because my parents couldn’t afford to pay the rents. They had to continually restart their lives with every new accommodation, create new friendships. My mother became an expert on packing and unpacking.
They had to wrestle with deciding whether money was to be spent on paying the rent or buying groceries. They had to decide whether some bills could be missed so we could have Christmas presents or new shoes for school.
The interesting thing is that if I am telling a teenager about this, I always preface it by saying that regardless of all this I wouldn’t change one minute of my youth. This provided the motivation for me to keep going. It also made me want to help those people who are having a difficult time. It doesn’t seem like it at the time but if you make your mind up with what you want and stay focused you can come out the other end a lot better of and better for it.
9. You talk a lot about affordable housing, and I assume what you just told me has a lot to do with why but what can we do?
It is sad but I get calls on a regular basis from people worried they are going to be out on the street with no place to live. It tears me up when I don’t have a solution. I promise if the people of Parksville allow me to serve them for 4 more years, I will work hard to find those solutions. We will make affordable housing the number one priority. Not providing hotel rooms or rental units not suitable for families or seniors or basement apartments too small for families because that is all they can afford.
We need homes people can live in with dignity. This can and will be fixed.
10. I heard that you went on a tirade about doctors, what’s that all about?
I am giving notice right now that unless they come up with a satisfactory way to fix the lack of doctors, I will be working to get someone else elected to the Legislature that can fix the problem. I don’t care if they are Liberal, Conservative, NDP or the rhinoceros party, who ever comes up with the solution I will be pounding on doors for and telling everyone who will listen. We have been given far too many excuses and the problem is not getting better in fact it is getting worse. Every person in Parksville deserves a doctor and not be forced to wait for hours in a clinic or make telephone calls to some health service or go to urgent care facility to get a prescription.
All these new fangle ideas they keep coming up with are not working. It is simple pay the doctors the money they need to stay in the province and open more classrooms. That’s a start. How about the 5000 foreign trained doctors in this province alone that can’t get approvals to practice medicine here.
They know there is a way they just don’t want to spend the money. This can be fixed.
11. What can you do to help the people of Parksville?
First off, I do not believe the people of Parksville expect, nor even want the city to do those things that they can do for themselves. However, it is our job to give the best service we can to handle those areas of responsibilities that we do control.
I am so proud of our staff. There is a new attitude at City Hall. YES, WE CAN. This has been developed by the CAO and goes through her staff. This Council has been able to accomplish more than any other Council in the history of Parksville because of the strong synergies between Council and the City Staff.
12. Can you accomplish what you need to get done in the next four years?
Our vision is an ongoing journey, one we will never get to the end of, but we need to keep moving forward step by step.
As I said we still have a long way to go.
13. What do you need to keep moving forward?
I need the people of Parksville to believe in me and give me a second consecutive term as mayor. If we are to Continue the Vision, I need their help. And for that support I will make only these promises to you. One, I will continue to focus on this vision and two, I promise that no one will ever work harder for you and the City of Parksville than I will. I will continue to provide the same leadership that moved Parksville to what it is today and beyond.
I ask not only for their vote but that they get their neighbours, friends, and family out to vote as well. The residents of Parksville truly have the opportunity to make a difference in this upcoming election but they have to vote.