It has been one hundred days since I took my oath of office and assumed my seat at Victoria City Council and the Capital Regional District Board.
Here are some issues I have been working on since my last update:
- Successfully convinced City Council to retain backyard collection of solid waste, while moving toward a kitchen scraps program and exploring options to collect blue-box recycling as part of a unified (and low-carbon) waste collection system. The new system will cost $181/year per household rather than the current rate of $202/year; Media report | Radio interview
- Advocated against cuts to greenways, bicycle lanes and bus shelters in the 2012 Budget, while taking aim at contracting out of road work, parking services and arbourist services with a view to capping tax increases at no more than 3.5%. Looking toward the 2013 budget, I will be proposing a review of all contracted services to ensure the City is spending finite tax dollars effectively; Media report
- Facilitated a meeting between residents of the Gonzales neighbourhood and the City workers’ CUPE Local 50 to discuss opportunities for a volunteer work party to reduce costs associated with reopening the Chandler-Gonzales Pathway; Media report
- Defended the essential role of community centres and seniors centres in the City’s grants program, which collectively receive a subsidy equal to 1/50th of the budget allocated to the Victoria Police Department;
- Moved an amendment to the Police Budget to reduce the $2-million annual overtime expenditure (a proposal that a majority of councillors chose not to support); Media report
- Worked with council colleagues and members of the street community to introduce motions for the repeal or amendment of discriminatory City bylaws against people who are homeless and a discussion for a temporary regulated tenting area to replace the current ad-hoc form of camping that takes place in many City parks;
- Proposed procedural improvements that have now resulted in greater disclosure on Council agendas of subject matter considered during closed-door in-camera meetings, while advocating for further limitations and transparency in how these proceedings are conducted; Blog post | Radio interview
- Worked with colleagues in Saanich to propose a Midtown Master Plan for the area between downtown Victoria and “Uptown,” a 1.8-square-kilometre tract of strip malls and parking lots that has the potential to provide thousands of affordable homes and jobs, as well as greenway and transit connections, while keeping high-density development out of established neighbourhoods and the region’s farmlands and forests; Blog post | Radio interview
- Proposed the formation an Ombuds Committee of council on a trial basis in 2012, to determine the viability of creating an independent office of the Ombudsperson to help resolve complaints from residents and businesses while improving operations at City Hall; Media report | Radio interview
- Introduced a motion to change the design and process for the new Johnson Street Bridge, to safeguard the interests and borrowing power of taxpayers on the city’s largest infrastructure project while providing future opportunities for commuter rail to downtown; Media report | Radio interview
UPDATE: THE JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE
The proposed design change for the new Johnson Street Bridge was originally supported by only two other councillors, newcomers Shellie Gudgeon and Lisa Helps. However, in light of major projected cost overruns that have come to light this week ― from $77-million to $93-million ― Council will be considering a proposal very similar to the one that I introduced last month when our Governance & Priorities Committee meets this Thursday, March 15th, at 1:30PM, in City Council Chambers. You can read more about the financial picture and options in this staff report to Council.
It is my hope that Council agrees to proceed with a design-build contract for a lower-cost, simpler and more functional design, and that this design modification includes a specification for a bridge that is strong enough to survive a major earthquake and to accommodate commuter rail in the future. To share your views with Council and the Mayor on this important issue and others, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in solidarity,
Listen to this CFAX 1070 AM interview with Al Ferraby from March 14, 2012, where I discuss cost overruns on the Johnson Street Bridge project and the need for Council to consider a simpler, more functional design:
Link to CFAX 1070 radio interview, March 14, 2012
Download CFAX radio Podcast