The Mission Record asked every candidate three questions about local issues impacting the community.
The following are their answers. (The Mission Record asked the mayoral candidates to limit their answers to 200 words.)
1. The Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey shows that Mission’s homeless population has nearly tripled in three years. At the local level, what are the policy prescriptions needed to tackle the issue? Council has been fairly unified on their approach, what would you add to the conversation?
Homelessness is a national disgrace. Canada is a rich country, so why do so many stay silent while our most marginalized live in squalor? A roof over your head, food to eat, clothes to wear and the medical help you need should be guaranteed in Canada.
The 2020 homeless count shows that, per capita, Mission has twice the number of homeless than Abbotsford and three times that of Maple Ridge. These two cities rose up about the destruction homelessness was having in their communities.
The media picked up the story and refused to let it go at the end of the news cycle. Due to this extensive reporting, the provincial government could no longer ignore the problem and brought in the professionals and services only they and the federal government can provide.
Mission has two MLAs that are both with the party in power in Victoria. I would leverage this and have staff work with the non-profits and other government agencies already trying to assist the homeless for the wrap around services they need.
The District needs to be at the table but does not have the expertise or financial capacity to solve homelessness in Mission alone.
2. Mission’s waterfront development has been a hotly debated topic for decades. Council has been moving forward recently with a masterplan, and designated 297 acres as a comprehensive planning area. In your opinion, what needs to happen to turn Mission’s waterfront from a plan into a reality?
The waterfront development has the potential to become the jewel of Mission. Council and staff chose to spend $1.4 million to have a Canadian-based company of experts develop a Master Plan for our waterfront. I support this contract because the scope of this massive project is beyond our capabilities.
The question will be if Council selected the right consortium. Time will tell. I hope Council will be taking credit for their choice for years to come.
What I really like is that several options will be presented and the public will be asked for input as the project moves forward. This will allow for “changes on the fly” rather than at the end of the process. Mission’s website with the details on the waterfront project is an excellent resource. Please log in as the project moves forward.
No matter who is elected, this Mayor and Council will not be involved in significant decision making for this project because there is only a year and a half remaining in the term. The waterfront master plan will be several years in the making. I will be an interested and engaged Mission resident just like you, but from the sidelines.
3. What do you want the people of Mission to know about you, and your policies, before they cast their ballots?
Julia and I moved to Stave Falls in 1983. We raised our boys in this beautiful rural area of Mission. Like many of you, I commuted a long distance as I was a Vancouver Police Officer. I was twice seconded to the JIBC Police Academy during my 29 years of service and retired as a Sergeant. Both of our sons are self-employed and raising their families in Mission. Our oldest son is a paid-on call firefighter at Hall One. We downsized and moved into central Mission in 2018. I understand the uniqueness of living in rural and urban environments.
The District of Mission is not a small business; it has over 400 full-time employees with an operating budget of $82 million. The VPD is approximately four times larger. The JIBC is likewise a very large government organization. I understand how to work within these complex civic services.
I will be laser focused on working with Council to speed up building permits and minor zoning requests quickly and with certainty. I will work to have bylaws that unnecessarily restrict your property rights removed. I will not run in the next election cycle and, if elected, will decline the salary offered.