Housing - Availability and Affordability for Everyone
Chilliwack is one of the fastest growing communities in British Columbia, creating challenges for housing availability and affordability. Residents are finding it increasingly difficult to afford rent or buy their first home – even with good paying jobs. As Chilliwack grows, these challenges will become more pronounced and affect more and more people within our community.
If we are going to continue to make Chilliwack a great place to live, we’ll need a housing strategy that keeps up with growth, provides diversity in the housing options available, and helps make different housing options more affordable.
“A strong community is one where people have a sense of inclusion and connectedness, where individuals do not feel isolated and where everyone knows their neighbours, whether in a subdivision or a condo tower”
Working with the development community and streamlining the City’s development process, we can better integrate smaller units and higher density into the planning process and allow these projects to be built on an accelerated timeline. With a comprehensive vision for the future, we are better able to provide transit closer to population centers, efficiently deliver community services, and support the development of affordable housing – all while decreasing cost.
An important part of this equation will be affordable housing, subsidized housing, and shelter bed style housing for our low income, fixed income and homeless populations. To better address these challenges, and to seize the opportunities that come with growth, we need to partner with agencies like BC Housing and provide options for those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.
Public Safety - Emergency Preparedness & Crime
While we’ve made important strides over the last few years, we must account for where we stand today and address where we fall short. For a number of reasons, Chilliwack’s crime rate continues to climb and this reality impacts every corner of the city. We have lost something vital when we no longer feel safe in our own homes and neighbourhoods. We need to begin by sending the clear message that these trends will not be tolerated.
“Government leaders need to broaden their approach and embrace their responsibility to facilitate, support, and empower citizens as stakeholders, trusting that they can and will effectively engage in the issues”
Part of the solution is placing more officers on the ground with a mandate to focus on the major sources of crime in drug proliferation and trafficking. The other part is to work with those who call the streets home, those who are addicted to dangerous substances and turn to crime to feed their addiction. We will never be able to police our way out. We have to focus on the root causes of systemic homelessness, mental illness and addiction and not simply treat the surface problems – evidence based solutions are key.
Public safety is not only about crime, it’s also proactive emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation. As the Fraser River lapped at our dykes this spring, and as we endured devastating ice storms and record snowfalls last winter, we were reminded of the very real threats that face our community. If we are to stay ahead of these challenges we need to continue to build our dykes, plan our infrastructure appropriately, and understand our shifting environment.
Economy - Prosperity through Opportunity
Chilliwack’s history is one of enterprising people taking on the inspired work of building community and as we all know that strength is alive and well today. Agriculture and industry played a significant role in this history and they will continue to be a massive economic driver in our future.
But we continue to grow. Today Chilliwack’s industrial and commercial sectors employ tens of thousands of people, while expanding and emerging hospitality and outdoor recreation opportunities are increasingly leveraging our truly unique position in the world. Our strength today is in the desirability of the Chilliwack lifestyle, our proximity to an amazing outdoors, and our ideal location between Metro Vancouver and the Interior of BC.
New and existing businesses are working hard to keep pace with the demand that comes with a growing population and a changing community. Mindful that growth presents challenges, it has also afforded us economic opportunities, with over $300 million in building permit construction value approved last year alone, the construction sector is booming.
“Over the past six years, I’ve focused on fiscal conservatism and business management to ensure the success of my operation. I know Chilliwack expects the same from its local representation”
Our goal as a community should be an economy in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. If we are going to prosper in the decades ahead we need to grow good, secure, and accessible jobs that provide pathways to prosperity. Furthermore, we need to increase the economic security and mobility of vulnerable families and workers and help to cultivate and retain homegrown talent.
Transportation - Drive, Ride, Bike, Walk
Whether you drive, cycle, walk or use transit, getting around our community is essential to daily life. Chilliwack has experienced a population boom – between seven and twelve thousand new residents per year for over a decade – yet our transportation networks have not kept pace with this growth. Residents experience this daily coming and going from Promontory during peak times, on Vedder and Yale roads during rush hour, and in almost every other neighborhood at different points in the day. To mitigate the impacts of future growth we need to provide transportation options for tomorrow’s needs, not yesterday’s.
“As Chair of the Transportation Committee, I’m proud of the work we’ve done. Recent investment in our transit system, the largest in the City’s history, as well as the implementation of Chilliwack’s first complete cycling plan, Cycle Vision, embrace the demand that has come with Chilliwack’s growth ”
Over the past three years as Chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee, Sam has seen first-hand how our community has become more congested, and has worked to be more proactive in addressing this problem. As a City we have increased spending on roads and transit to help alleviate some of the challenges, and yet there is still more to do. We need to be proactive in our investments and make transit, cycling, and walking, not simply viable, but direct, fast and safe options for getting around.
Community - Leadership & Engagement
Sam is a passionate advocate for the role local government can play as an agent of change for community residents and their needs. However, this love of finding creative ways to better serve people can’t happen without the support of an engaged community willing to stand up and help shape it. A strong community is one where people have a sense of inclusion and connectedness, where everyone knows their neighbours whether in a subdivision or a condo tower.
Significant barriers currently exist to effective citizen engagement in Chilliwack and there is often a lack of trust between citizens, the Mayor, and Council. As a City, we need to work on the use of appropriate consultation strategies and tools to encourage communication between community members and local officials. Government leaders need to broaden their approach and embrace their responsibility to facilitate, support, and empower citizens as stakeholders, trusting that they can and will effectively guide decision making.
“We must embrace the positive, and the possible while acknowledging the challenges and the changes that have come with growth”
Throughout his time on council, Sam has prioritized the integration of community values and input into the planning process. At the heart of Sam’s philosophy is the belief that local governments make better decisions and have greater positive impact on their communities when they increase the frequency, diversity, and level of engagement of community residents. Engagement is meaningful when citizens play an important role in the deliberations, discussions, decision-making and/or implementation of projects or programs affecting them.