The most important role of a council is governance and financial management. Council sets priorities and ensures that progress is being made towards these priorities.
Taxpayer funds are limited, especially now given the economic climate, and need to be used with great care. Careful alignment of budgets with priorities is important. Staff and council need to regularly review existing programs and budgets to ensure that they are still relevant and effective at meeting the community’s needs and priorities.
I believe that another of the primary roles of a councillor is public engagement: getting out to talk to a wide spectrum of Esquimalt’s residents to understand what their concerns and priorities are. If elected, I intend to be a highly visible and approachable councillor.
I’d like Esquimalt to:
- Increase applications and (hopefully!) funding of projects from federal and provincial grants. Neighbouring municipalities such as Victoria and Saanich have received far more in grants from senior levels of government than Esquimalt (e.g. the BC Active Transportation Grants). Even though it’s ultimately all the same taxpayer, Esquimalt should be getting its fair share.
- Improve the presentation and communication of Esquimalt’s finances. The budget documents that are presented to council each year are confusing and don’t do enough to engage the public, council and stakeholders in what is a fundamental role of government: determining funding priorities and allocating resources to meet the community’s needs and desires. Part of this is Esquimalt’s unique relationship with the Federal Government and its yearly Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) for CFB Esquimalt, but we could do better. Neighbouring municipalities can provide some inspiration.
- Ask the public for approval in a referendum for major capital projects, instead of using the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) that was used for the Public Safety Building. The AAP was a divisive process: the debt repayment for the Public Safety Building over the next 30 years will impose constraints on subsequent councils for decades (over 5% of the yearly revenue will go to debt repayment).