*Actual proofs of my handout, delivered to ~1000 Sechelt homes as part of my canvas campaign fall 2014
I want to reflect a little on what I campaigned on, and what has come to fruition out of that.
I haven’t achieved everything I set out to, of course – it has been a challenging term – but, I’ve also achieved things that weren’t part of the original plan. I was a brash and inexperienced candidate in 2014, and that was certainly reflected in some of my promises then.
However, I made some key assertions that still stand today. To me they represent a fair delivery on my key messages.
Learning the business of government
The single most common question I faced in the 2014 campaign was: why do you want to be on Council? Why are you doing this?
I answered this question 100 times a day and my response was always the same: we need the next generation to step up and start learning the business of government.
I’d been to various community meetings and seen with clarity that my generation was almost totally unrepresented. It was a change that I could affect as an individual, simply by being there and engaging.
Knowing that governance is a specialized skill set that is vital to the smooth functioning of society, I set out to learn this business the best I could. After 4 years on the job, and with multiple advancements and accolades from my peers, I feel I have adequately learned this skill set.
I’m a journeyman of local government now, however, not a master by any stretch.
Working with Sechelt’s Council…
The second most common question I was asked was: who do you want to be mayor? Who do you want to work with on council?
My response was: it’s not up to me to pick the mayor and council. That’s up to Sechelt, and I am prepared to work with whatever mayor and council was chosen, to the very best of my ability.
I have lived up to that.
There have been challenging times for this council, no question. But, we have consistently maintained our working relationship and not let our differences devolve into something unworkable.
I would like to thank this mayor and council for working with me as well. They’ve supported me to learn my role and engage the system, when they could have attempted to stifle and control my input. I think all members of this council will agree that we’ve maintained a level of respect and fairness for each other.
I’m proud of that accomplishment and worked hard to achieve it along with my colleagues.
The 4 points
All of my campaign materials featured 4 key points: Fiscal Responsibility, Green Values, Transparency, Fresh Perspective.
Here’s how I think I fared with each of these:
- Fiscal Responsibility
This is the area I’ve achieved the most in. It is a misnomer to think that fiscal responsibility can simply be equated with low taxes. It is a combination of measures taken together to implement overall corporate financial health. I have written at length about my work regarding the structural deficit, but the highlights are that Sechelt now has adequate DCC’s to fund growth related infrastructure and a financial sustainability plan – including an asset renewal fund. There is still more work to be done shifting our operations towards greater efficiency, however, the bulk of the work of pushing Sechelt towards better financial stability has already been completed.
- Green Values
I inherited a plethora of planning documents and bylaws, all of which speak to sustainability as a core intent. It has been relatively easy to speak to these documents to implement change. A revival of the existing Tree Protection Bylaw has restricted large-scale logging operations within the district. It is now commonplace to see a tree protection plan associated with every major, new development. I have written in other places about my external work related to oil spill response in the Salish Sea, which has been very successful. Sechelt World Oceans Day is another initiative that will work to bring a cultural focus back to the preservation of Sechelt’s waterfront.
The work of this council has been done in a fully transparent manner and that’s been with my expressed support. On a day-today basis I have sought to provide clear rational on my views of all key council decisions. I make a regular statement at the adoption of every budget, as well as at 2nd or 3rd reading of every major development application. In these ways my views are recorded in a permanent way for reference and discussion by those who may be impacted. I may have missed a few opportunities, but for the most part, my views are regularly recorded on the DOS Youtube channel here. Another aspect of my transparency commitment was communicating through my blog. I have admitted that my blog has been spottier than I would have liked. I found it very challenging to write my blog mid-term as we were ‘neck deep’ in our most difficult period as a council. I struggled to communicate anything of this that the wider community would have been interested in. In retrospect, I could have done better in this regard.
- Fresh Perspective
When I came to Sechelt Council it was common practice to perform accounting magic, and ‘add back’ amortisation of our capital assets within the capital budget to reach a net-zero position at the end of the day. We were thus recording falsely balanced budgets, without understanding the clear consequences inherent in that. I refused this way of doing business outright, and consequently, staff and council’s understanding of this key issue has evolved. My other main contribution has been to help re-focus our administration on the many key planning documents that already exist and have been agreed upon. In both cases these issues were low-hanging fruit, and a new perspective provided the catalyst for significant change in these areas.
I wanted to touch on Youth Engagement, because it was an area many in the community were looking to me to improve. This is admittedly the weakest area of my delivery, as I have no specific initiatives to report. As well, there is no visual change at town hall meetings regarding demographic composition.
I have spent a fair amount of time discussing my work with my cohort. They’ve also watched me go through this process and are making their own conclusions about what that means for them. Altogether, my work in this area has only been in passing, and I would have liked to be able to deliver more in this area.