Chilliwack City Councillior

Category Archive: The Campaign Trail

  1. Questions on Development in Chilliwack

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    Some very thoughtful questions from Richard and Carol…. Here are my responses.

    Hello and thank you for taking the time to craft such thoughtful questions.

    Q – Chilliwack is located on top of some of the best farmland in the province. The value of what that land can provide today and to future generations cannot be compromised. Once the land is covered over with gravel and asphalt it is lost forever. Where do you stand on “infilling” of large tracts of prime farmland, including construction of residences, greenhouses, poultry barns and landscape nurseries?

    A – I stand in full support of the ALR and I agree that we must understand that building on farmland will never be reversed and so it should not be viewed as a potential location for development. The issue of agricultural buildings as the use for farm land is a difficult one as currently the zoning allows for that. I do think however that all efforts should be made to use prime farm land for field farming, pasturing etc, rather than farm practices that could thrive on low quality lands instead.

    Q – Hillside residential development over farmland has been a commendable focus of Council over the past 20 years. However, the goal for high density is resulting in safety concerns around land stability and water runoff, narrow roads and parking issues, and secondary “escape” routes. Where do you stand on density, road design, accessibility, and the level of engineering study for hillside development?

    A – In line with your first question, if we do not develop on farm land, we must then focus on infill density and hillside development to accommodate Chilliwack’s growing population. We have clearly learned that building on the hillsides does not come without serious complications, however with an increase in the level of geo technical and environmental assessment of a site prior to development, the mitigation of such risks as sliding is very possible. As we infill we will also be met with issues such as parking and roadway capacity, however with a heightened focus on transit, cycling and other alternate modes of transportation, we will be able to build our city to accommodate. With an increase in density and population Chilliwack will be able to create more localized jobs that require less dependency on commuting, which will also aid in the reduction of transportation related issues.

    Q – Baby boomers will continue to alter demographics in Chilliwack as elsewhere in the country. This aging population is healthier and more active than previous generations. Where do you stand on zoning for new freehold housing options conducive to seniors living independent and active in their own homes, eg. pedestrian friendly, close to key amenities, rancher style design, and with a lot size conducive to gardening and hobbies? Garrison is a creditable concept, yet lot size and house design are restrictive.

    A – Chilliwack is and will continue to be a great place for active seniors to live and play. I would love to see more options for seniors facilities and residences built within our community to accommodate the diverse needs of the baby boomer generation. That being said i am also mindful of the limited residential development space of the kind you are speaking about and the need for our City to limit one story developments that lead to sprawling suburban neighborhoods, rather than higher use urban ones. Seniors friendly apartments and condos with community gardens, rooftop gardens and other urban farming techniques can be creative solutions for many people.

    Q – Other communities have successfully developed pedestrian/ bicycle pathways connecting neighbourhoods to libraries, cultural and theatre centres, leisure and sport centres, hospital and medical offices, shopping and parks. Where do you stand on active construction of pathways independent of roads providing safe access to and from key community resources?

    A – I am so glad that you asked about interurban trails and park spaces! I love walkable and cycling communities and if such spaces are planned correctly, they can be the seed for a vibrant city. You spoke about separated bike lanes and safe corridors and I believe that these are the key components to building corridors that people will choose to use for both commuting and recreation, aiding in the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles. Chilliwack is at the stage where the integration of these concepts must happen soon to be ahead of the growth that is coming and to allow for proper planning into future developments.

    Thank you again for the questions and I hope that you see me as a great choice for helping to lead this city forward.

    -Sam

  2. Green Waste Collection

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    I received this question from Janice:

    I am a new resident to Chilliwack and I am considering my options for voting in this years municipal election. I would like to know where you stand on Green Waste Collection.

    The community I moved from, City of North Vancouver, diverts solid waste from landfill by doing curb side collection of Green Waste. Reduction of solid waste to landfill is something I think is very important.

    Please let me know know where you stand on this very important issue.

    Thank you.

    Janice

    This was my response:

    Hello Janice,

    I am happy to hear that you are calling Chilliwack home! As I am sure you are well aware Metro Vancouver is confronting major issues with waste disposal at the moment as the population of their region continues to grow. I love seeing people such as yourself bring forward issues that speak to a forward thinking mentality for our community. We are not faced with the same scale of land constraints as our neighbors to the West, however this is no reason to sit on our laurels. I agree with you that we need to implement better curb side services that would facilitate the separation of waste and aid in green progress for our community.

    I am sure that many people will be concerned with the issues of cost surrounding a program such as this, and to that I would like to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of prevention. When we limit the amount of solid waste that enters our landfills we also reduce the cost of managing that long term liability. Green waste in contrast is a short term liability and does not require the same costs to run and manage.

    Thank you for your thoughtful question and I hope that I was able to address your concerns.

  3. Native/Non-Native Reconciliation

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    A gentleman, Larry Commodore asked me to answer this question.

    “As a step towards native/non-native reconciliation, the City of Vancouver unanimously passed a resolution acknowledging that the city is on unceded aboriginal territory. Are you in favour of a similar resolution for the City of Chilliwack?”

    Here was my response to him.

    This is certainly a groundbreaking acknowledgment, and one that i believe that the City of Chilliwack should adopt as well. There is no denying the facts that much of what is now the City of Chilliwack, rests on the traditional lands of the Stolo Nation. I believe that the City of Chilliwack must open a new chapter of collaboration and cooperation with the various First Nations peoples whose lands lay in and around this municipality. The first step towards better and more progressive Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal relations is to officially recognize that these lands are their traditional territory and they remain so.

  4. Chilliwack Small Businesses

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    This Question came in from a gentleman named Dale.

    My name is Dale Johnson and I am a local business owner in Chilliwack. I am in a partnership with Jason Petty and have a marketing company by the name of SparkSpot Creative. We are also the main proponents behind the Live! Chilliwack Facebook page and events in the community (Cash Mob and Field to Fork).

    We have worked with over 120 small, locally owned and operated businesses and have built quite a following. Recently we won an award for being the Top Local Advocate in the “We Heart Local” awards, a group funded by the BC Farmers Market Association and Global, as well as some other minor sponsors.

    At times despite the successes we have had we feel like we are fighting a losing battle. We have heard “I support small business” from nearly every candidate, and honestly who is going to say they dont support small business? What we have not heard are any specific initiatives or ideas that would accomplish this.

    I would like to know if you have any specific plans or ideas on how to improve the state of small business in Chilliwack and what you feel government’s role is in supporting small business.

    Thank-you,
    Dale

    This was my answer to him:

    Thank you for the note, and thank you for all of the work that you do to promote local business in this community! As you know I own a small business, so i understand the challenges that come with trying to compete against chain stores and big box establishments in particular. To better understand the solutions that I would look at proposing, I choose to examine other communities outside of Chilliwack that seem to support small business better than we do. How is it that they have bustling downtown cores? Or a noticeable lack of big box stores cluttering strip malls on the outskirts of town?
    I do not have all of the answers on the outset, however I do believe that if we ask the correct questions, those answers will become apparent.

    The City of Chilliwack has the amazing tool of CEPCO to help us promote business relocation to Chilliwack, aid in starting business here in the community, and build the necessary infrastructure to facilitate economic growth. That said, I think that this tool has been underutilized in certain areas. I would like to see some of the focus of CEPCO shift from recruiting already established businesses from else ware, and instead focus on the needs of existing businesses as well as the fostering of new ones. I would like to see the founding of a business incubator, a place where aspiring entrepreneurs could come and meet with mentors to flesh out their ideas and hopefully also find assistance in getting their vision off of the ground. The barriers to entry for new business in Chilliwack are large. Mostly due to the opaque nature of the process. Other towns have long term economic plans that outline where the City is trying to foster growth and their plans to make that growth happen. If we were to have such a plan I believe that this would help to give those looking to make new business investment in Chilliwack, greater confidence in our community.

    The City also needs to work better with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown BIA to provide useful information to business. Perhaps helping to coordinate consistent hours in certain shopping districts or multi-business marketing initiatives.
    Non of these ideas will work on their own however I am confident that with a consolidated effort, and a focus from City Hall that Chilliwack will continue to grow to have a small business sector.

    We must all come to realize that supporting a small business is supporting your neighbor and supporting your community. This is the answer to a vibrant and stable economy.

    -Sam

  5. Disagreeing Respectfully, and the Necessity of Positivity

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    Tis the season for insult slinging, rumor spreading, and political attack strategies.

    I suggest a different way of doing things…. and i will tell you why. I am not the largest advocate of social media political campaigning at the best of times, however lately my stance has been even further solidified as i watch the vitriol spread across the municipal election field in Chilliwack. People are slandering one another and doing everything within their capacity to dig up some piece of defaming dirt on the people that they are viewing as  competitors for their much-coveted council, or mayoral seat.

    I would ask that we view things in a different way. What happens when one or two of the people that you have vehemently tore down for the last month during the election campaign are sitting across from you in council chambers and are now, by virtue of necessity, your colleagues in progressing this city? I do not believe this bodes well for the very fabric of the democratic process that is equally at play AFTER the election takes place and decisions are being voted on by the six sitting Councilors and the Mayor on a bi-weekly basis. Finding consensus and earning the support of your fellow Councillors while trying to pass a piece of policy, or while voting on a contentious issue, is paramount.

    Let us opt for a different tactic… or at least i will.

    If you wonder why i am not jumping into the online fray at times, this is the reason. I believe that i will stand on my own merits. I believe that the dedication and involvement i have shown to the citizens of this city has earned me a position of respect for the body of work that i have accomplished, and been a part of. I hope to build ties with governmental counterparts at the provincial level, not out of partisan support, but rather out of the knowledge that good working relationships with other levels of government will only hold positive outcomes for the citizens of this community. This is the same way that i approach moving forward towards a dynamic future. It can only be done if we have people who are willing to work together to find reasonable compromises in our differences for the good of the community as a whole.

    It is often the case that the easiest and most gratifying solution to an affront to your person, is to lash out with aggression and counterattack on someone else’s position. However i will always hold the stance that this approach is rarely the most effective, and rather cooler heads prevail in the pursuit of progress.

    Please help support me in this stance: Disagree Respectfully!

  6. Speaking with CSS & SSS Highschool Students

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    This past week has been busy as the spotlight on the upcoming municipal elections begins to heighten. I am excited as today marks exactly one month until election day where Chilliwack will vote on who will help to guide our City , School Board, and Cultus Lake Parks Board for the next 4 years!

    I am never to busy however to get my hands dirty and help out Chilliwack’s next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs! I love the days when the high school teaching staff email or phone me to sus out my interest in speaking with their classes about entrepreneurship, leadership or eco tourism. This week held two of those emails and i am elated that both dates fit nicely into the busy weeks ahead.

    Next week on Monday i will have the chance to talk with the Eco Tourism program run by Jen Bos at Sardis Secondary School. Jen is a shining example of the future teaching style in the district that features out-of-the-box thinking, paired with specific expertise and a healthy dose of passion. Jen has recently been selected by National Geographic to partake in a fully paid trip to Antarctica and she is excited to bring that experience back to the classroom to inspire her students. I will be speaking on the topic of Chilliwack’s shifting economy and the boundless opportunity that awaits us in the adventure and eco tourism sector in Chilliwack and the surrounding areas.

    The week following i will be heading back to my old tromping grounds at Chilliwack Senior Secondary to speak to the Entrepreneurship class. They are hosting a mock Dragon’s Den and i will be joined by Councilor Jason Lum  and CEPCO president Brian Coombes as one of the “Dragons” assessing and giving guidance on the students business ideas that they bring forward.

    The long and short of it is that i feel privileged to be able to be a part of Chilliwack’s bright future!