To say I was disappointed for missing the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce All Candidates Forum was and is a huge understatement. I apologize to all those who were looking forward to my thoughts on some of the issues Lake Country is facing. As mentioned, I wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t someone the public wanted to look at (I get ugly sick).
With that being said, I very much appreciate Tracy (from the Chamber) forwarding the questions over to me the next day. So, without further adieu…
1. Will you commit to keeping property tax increases at or below the consumer price index rates?
I can’t commit to this. However, tax increases of any kind should be as a last resort after exploring all other options. Then and only then, we need to communicate effectively why an increase of that size was needed. Tax increases can always be justified, but we must recognize the impact any increase makes to our community. Each resident of Lake Country doesn’t receive an auto pay increase each year.
2. Would you support a change to provincial legislation allowing ALL residents of a municipality with a ward system to vote for ALL candidates in every ward?
Were that to occur, we really wouldn’t have a ward system. I think the question is “Does the Ward system makes sense?” Should we be looking at changing it completely or adjusting so that it works better for our community? Our four wards all have different personalities and proper representation ensures they can have a voice at the table. It’s certainly a topic that should be discussed as a community.
3. What strategies would you propose to increase the commercial and industrial tax base in Lake Country?
First, we must come up with a proper identity. What does it mean to live in Lake Country? What does it mean to visit Lake Country? From there we can determine what types of business we want to attract. We should also look to the businesses that left and find out why. Once the research has been done, we can create a marketing plan to start building forward.
4. Do you have any solutions for improving or replacing aging infrastructure (water, sewer, roads) within Lake Country WITHOUT large tax increases or any additional levies on our tax bills?
If we want to improve or replace all issues at once, then I don’t have a solution that doesn’t include large tax increases. But let’s talk about the bigger picture. We’re a town that seems to be always struggling to pay the bills. Community is tired of being told that we can’t have nice things without paying more (including me). Overall, we need to increase our business community in Lake Country. This combined with working with developers and not against them will allow an increase to cash flow to tackle these issues quicker and without major impact to residential tax.
5. The next question has 2 parts:
(a) Have you read the Loan Authorization Bylaw (Waterfront Property) 1187-2022? and
(b) Do you feel a tax increase of more than 2% (probably in excess of 6% if borrowing up to the $8 Million limit) is an appropriate use of tax dollars given the burden inflation is having on our citizens?
(a) Kind of. I’ve looked it over and had conversations with councillors and community members regarding it. Also, it’s not easy to find.
(b) No. This is a terrible time to borrow money. Interest rates are high and people are struggling more and more. We need to ensure that we’re looking out for the future of Lake Country including opportunities to better our lifestyle, while balancing our current economic situation.
6. How do you see AFFORDABLE housing happening in Lake Country, not subsidized housing but rental units or family homes that would be affordable for the average wage earner? Are you aware of any of those types of housing in our current developments?
If we were working better with our developers as well as creating a better idea of what our needs are and where we need them, we’d be a lot further along. We can’t require our developers include all types of housing with each project. We need to look at our needs as a community and then the wants of developers. After which we can come to an agreement on working together for the betterment of Lake Country’s future.
7. Lake Country has been significantly impacted by extreme weather events over a number of years. Municipalities across BC are taking steps to respond to climate change.
- What steps do you envision Council taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Lake Country; and
- how do you see Council assist the community in mitigating the effects of extreme weather events.
Awareness and expectations. An analysis of what we are doing that’s working, what we’re doing that can be improved and what are we doing wrong. This involves the community as well. Raising awareness and creating reminders will help with daily things like… keep the doors and windows closed as you’re running the AC. Then there’s bigger solutions to explore like solar, wind, etc. It’s not solved by policy, it’s solved by everyone acknowledging there is an issue and us all working together to reduce our impact.
8. There is an overbearing sentiment in and outside of our community that the DLC is hard to work with for homeowners, contractors, and builders. Development permit wait times are substantially longer than all neighboring communities with no end in sight. If elected, what would you do to change the reputation our district has rightfully earned over the recent years and make Lake Country an easier and more approachable district to work with?
First, all council and admin need to admit that there is an issue (with no “But…” at the end). Are improvements being made? Yes, but we must have a strategy and just as important share that with the community. We need to be measured to ensure we’re improving. Once we have that, then we need to start having conversations with developers and address their concerns. Lake Country should be a place that developers love to come spend their money, not because approvals are easy, but because they are fair.
Please let me know if I’ve missed any questions or if you have any more.
Thank you so much.