Council’s job is to determine the values that should be reflected in our spending based on the needs of the population and our best projections about what the future holds. And those projections must be determined by facts, data and the expertise of staff. I have created and successfully managed budgets from $20,000 to $3M. I have participated in local, provincial, national and international boards under a variety of models. I understand the process and can read the results both in trends and in outcomes. I realize that my role as a city councillor is not to ‘get into the weeds’ but to steward the resources entrusted to the City by residents. And for the most part, it’s all ‘our money’ – whether from property taxes and fees for service or from provincial and federal grants.
My values are reflected in my priorities – equity, diversity and inclusion lead to social justice, community cohesion and health which moves us all toward a city where everyone thrives. Can we do everything for everyone? Absolutely not. What we can do is remove unnecessary barriers to opportunities or projects that contribute to the public good by way of policy, regulation and process. We can direct staff to prioritize projects and services that increase social and economic well-being; that urgently address climate breakdown and that give our children, grandchildren and newcomers the same, or better, level of services, amenities and opportunities that we have enjoyed.
I have reviewed the last few years’ budgets and financial statements. Several things stood out for me. Our budgeting process has won awards and accolades so thank you to the staff who collaborate with mayor and council through the process. Previous councils have only considered one year at a time when debating and adopting each year’s budget. We have a ten-year financial plan, so to consider only a single year when discussing the future of the city and the residents is not good governance. Thankfully, staff have recommended that at least five future years be considered and that the city develop a policy to regularly review fees for service.
I have heard other candidates promising to decrease, or at least not raise, property taxes. I am not ready to make that kind of commitment without a thorough and intensive process that ensures the City will remain on sound financial footing. Staff and council have done a lot of work on this already and I look forward to catching up and participating in the next phase.
I will be responsible and responsive with the City’s resources. I will listen and learn. And I will speak up and push for good decisions.