Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why I am Running for Central Saanich Council

I am running for Central Saanich Council in the local elections this November 19th.

I love and am committed to maintaining the rural health and beauty of Central Saanich. I have worked hard and passionately to protect her over the years, speaking out at public hearings, writing articles and advocating for a small-community, sustainable and self-sufficient future. I am proud of the helping hand I have been able to offer to those who would set up a recycle depot, fight to save farmland, protect our ferry route, hold a dry grad and create a more livable, less stressful space for our community.

I am opposed to turning us into just another cookie-cutter suburb of a larger city. We are LÁU,WELNEW, the place of refuge, as our First Nations neighbours know and we need to maintain that vision. We need to respect the land we are using and give back to its future wherever we can.

Central Saanich needs to refocus on families, farms and fairness.

Our families need safe, affordable, green and appropriate housing so that our community does not become a monoculture of one age group or one income level. We need to help people "live where they work and work where they live" to reduce transportation costs and the pollution that goes with long commutes. We need to find incentives and funding for alternative energy use; we need to encourage urban gardening and tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change. And we need to keep costs down.

We need to lobby our provincial government for more help for farmers including perhaps a land bank to buy farms and lease them back at low rates to other farmers. We need a true commitment to our Official Community Plan and the Regional Sustainability Strategy so that our community can concentrate on growing food for our families far into the future. We need to respect and understand our agreements with other communities because we are not a law unto ourselves; what we do or fail to do impacts others.

We need fairness and that means accountability which means all votes must be recorded. We need much more public interaction, more notification of public hearings, open houses, town halls, council and committee meetings using all the new tools available to us. We need more input from the public and a clearer more readable budget and accounting system so citizens can easily access the information they need. We need respect for those who come before council, they are the employer and they are the people footing the bill.

We need those who will spend carefully for what is needed, but hold the line on frills. Tax increases as a result of the new "run up the debt" philosophy of some current council members will hamper local families for years to come and future councils will be blamed for the over-spending taking place now. Development increases taxes over time as demands are made for more and more amenities and as maintenance and repairs become necessary. Development does not add to revenue sufficiently to cover the expenses it creates, as some believe.

Any council pay or benefit increases should have to go to the next election as a referendum item before they can be implemented. (Yes, it still irks me that councillors voted on and benefited from their own decision without reference to the voters a few years ago, and I will lobby the provincial government to make such self-service illegal). It's a matter of respect and accountability.

I am an 18 year BC government employee. I have learned a lot about the difficulties people face in our society and I have learned to respect them no matter who they are: we are all one, we all belong. Our respect for each other is what creates the magic we call "community."

Sue Stroud

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