Mayor's Message: Friday, Nov 4, 2016

Mayor WaltonOne of the most frequent topics folks want to discuss with me when I’m out and about in our community is development: the pace of development, the amount of development, and the impacts believed associated with development.

Often times I find people only associate the negative, albeit temporary, impacts of construction activity with new development and aren’t aware of the bigger plan we’re executing or the benefits eventually accruing to our North Shore community. 

Our unique traffic challenges

The second most asked about topic is traffic congestion. The District has unique topography and barriers to traffic movement: getting around here is not at all the same proposition as it is in most other municipalities.

Our road network is not a grid, so you can’t just skirt a traffic jam. We also have nature’s complicating factors such as ravines and creeks, and the Provincially-owned Highway 1 and Second Narrows bridgehead interchange system that completely bisects our community. There are only three bridges across Seymour; Main Street, Keith Road and the Highway.

Providing affordable housing 

Another topic very much in the news and on people’s minds is the challenge associated with affordable housing.

How do we replenish an ageing rental stock and continue to maintain our inventory of affordable housing? What constitutes so-called affordable housing? Whose responsibility is it to ensure the North Shore has affordable housing? What are the levers and jurisdictional tools at local government’s disposal to improve the outlook in our community?

Land-use decisions are the core business of municipal government. There isn’t a North Shore council meeting that goes by that doesn’t have at least one land-use decision on its agenda.

Over the past year at the District, we’ve discussed everything from large town centre development proposals to single requests for coach houses. We’ve discussed with the community in great detail the future of the public lands at Delbrook, and we’ve ordered necessary remediation to single properties that are posing risks.

Looking to the future while maintaining our systems and infrastructure

In the autumn each year we roll up our sleeves and examine our budget for the coming year, as well as our ten-year financial plan priorities, in great detail.

We want to ensure our community is not only maintaining its systems and infrastructure, but that it is also looking to the future and ensuring we have the right knowledge base and talent in our ranks to address the realities of a growing community that is in the midst of transformation. And we want to do all of that while keeping a sharp eye on the public purse.

Balancing pragmatism and idealism

The work of local government can seem rather dull and prescriptive from the outside, but it is a fascinating balance of pragmatism and idealism. No other level of government’s decisions so greatly affects the public’s daily lives.

Those of us who serve the North Shore have a responsibility and an opportunity that we take very seriously.

Providing you with greater insight into our plans and decisions making

Over the next year I intend to dive into the topics listed above, and others, suggested by readers and our councillors alike. Our hope is to provide District residents and businesses with greater insight into our plans and decision-making. I don’t pretend to speak for other North Shore mayors and councils. And, while I also can’t speak on behalf of the individual councillors in my own municipality, whose views vary, I do intend to consult with them on the contents of this column.

I hope it  will provide you with food for thought and spur further discussion, in the spirit of democracy.

Suggest a topic or question you’d like to see addressed here