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The Triple Bottom Line

World, Federal, Provincial, Municipal, Central Saanich Municipality No Comments »

These days, you constantly hear companies talking about social and environmental responsibility and touting how altruistic they are. There’s even a new term for it, referred to as the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line insinuates that instead of just looking at the financial aspects, these companies factor in the environmental impact and social impacts as well, at times implying that they suffer financially in light of these decisions. In a recent magazine I read, they interviewed 3 CEO’s that mainly spoke about how environmentally or socially responsible they were.

It’s time to cut out the nonsense. 

The reason society and the environment have come to the forefront of the business world is the consumers demand for it, not the altruistic nature of these companies. The consumers demand environmentally friendly and socially responsible products, if you don’t provide it to them, you will go out of business. Before, you could be an environmentally unfriendly company and people would put up with it if you had great prices. That’s not true anymore. In fact, the opposite is true. You can now charge a premium for environmentally friendly products and you will get a larger chunk of market.

This shift in consumer demand has opened up a phenomenal marketing opportunity. That’s why you see business leaders talking about it. By switching to environmentally sound procedures and social responsible practices, even if it is costly, they are getting it all back in marketing and public relations. Being a “green” company is the best selling point you can have now! If it costs you a few bucks to change a few of your companies practices, who cares. If you inform the consumers of what you’re doing, you’ll get it all back in PR. That’s what these CEO’s are doing, capitalizing on a marketing opportunity.

It’s a great move; but I would appreciate some honesty about it. Come out and say “we switched because the consumers are demanding green business practices and we saw the money we invested to get there coming back in spades”. I’d have a lot more respect for that then “we did it out of the goodness of our hearts”.

What brought about this change? The media. It is critical in order for society to prosper that the media is independent of the government and doesn’t hold a monopoly. The media informs the consumer, who then reacts to the information, which drives where the market demand goes. If the government has a hand in it or there is only one news provider it only takes a few bad people to stop important information from getting to the public. Thankfully, it would extremely difficult to withhold important information from the public nowadays. Due to the evolution of the Internet, we are living in an age of almost perfect information and by far the most informed consumers to ever have consumed.

In the case of environmental responsibility, the scientist utilized the media to inform the consumers that some of our practices are destroying the earth, and due to the decency of us human beings, we demanded change. And we are getting it!

In the case of social responsibility, the companies that have prospered are ones that fostered their human capital and invested in their people. If a company mistreated their employees, the good employees would leave for better work environments and opportunities, financially hurting the socially irresponsible company. The competitors would end up with a greater human capital and inevitably put the socially irresponsible company out of business.

I’m not saying these CEO’s are bad people; in fact most of them are great, hard working people. And sure, its possible a small amount of them are making the switch for altruistic reasons. But save us the violin act like there is nothing to gain by making these switches. Look at companies that foresaw where the market was going like Toyota Motors or locally Columbia Fuels. These companies are socially and environmentally responsible and are doing great because of these excellent business moves. They’ll continue to grow because they are answering the consumers demand.

There’s no triple bottom line. If you are environmentally and socially responsible, it’s not a cost, it’s an investment, and will affect the real bottom line with bigger profits in the long term.

Censorship

World No Comments »

Now more than ever we are bombarded with violent imagery. It comes to us in all mediums; movies, music, television, radio, internet and print. Ultimate Fighting has been gaining more popularity, 50 cent has been topping the billboard charts and games like Grand Theft Auto 3 are best sellers. Some people find this stuff very exciting and entertaining.

There has been a backlash to all this violent entertainment with calls for censorship. The censorship crowd believes that by allowing people to view this type of entertainment they’ll emulate it. You have opinions from the upper right and upper left sides of the political spectrum predicting the downfall of society due to these forms of expressions.

So what do the stats say? Stats Canada released a report on July 18th that shows crime in Canada is down 3% from 2005 to 2006 and down 5% in British Columbia. The stats also show that crime has dropped 30% nationally since its peak 1991. There was a 10% drop in homicides from 2005 to 2006 continuing a trend from the mid 1970’s. In the mid 1970’s there were 3 murders per 100 000 people, now we’re down to 1.85 per 100 000 people. Youth crime has also been declining since 1991, although it increased 3% in 2006, it is still far below the 1991 levels. It’s not all good news, as violent crimes other than homicide have remained stable, but there hasn’t been an upward trend that would indicate a correlation between crime and pop culture.

Crime Chart

How is this possible? Since 1991 we’ve been exposed to an increased amount of violent imagery. Kids have been listing to “Gangster” rap since NWA came out in the 1986. Shouldn’t we be seeing the effects of all this glorified violence?

Censorship and similar movements are not so much an attack on artistic expression, but the human consciousness. What these movements are really saying is that people aren’t smart enough to interpret information and make decisions. They underestimate the power of the human mind and its ability to differentiate between fact and fiction. We as human being always have a choice; the media we’re exposed to can’t brainwash us to do anything against our will.

Some of us find violent imagery entertaining, some of us don’t. That doesn’t mean we emulate it. No matter where we come from, we can differentiate between the movies and real life.

The stats prove it.

Housing Prices

Provincial, Municipal, Central Saanich Municipality 2 Comments »

Similar to any economic issue, housing is subject to the laws of supply and demand. The combination of the huge demand to live on the Saanich Peninsula and the greater Victoria area combined with the constraints on supply have led to the extraordinary high prices we see today.

The factors affect the demand side:

Temperature and Climate:
Our mild winters and summers make living here very attractive.

Low interest rates:
The average interest rate in Canada since 1935 has been 8.05%, the highest rate was 21.25% in 1981 and lowest of 1.12% in 1958. Historically our interest rates are half of what the average has been.

Rising wealth of foreign nations:
Due to the acceptance of capitalism and the free market in nations abroad, the people and the nations are prospering. China’s middle class went from 50million in 2002 to 75million in 2005 and those people now have the means to move to and invest in Canada and specifically Vancouver Island.

Alberta Oil Sands:
The wealth created and brought into Canada through the oil sands has enabled many Albertans to buy vacation and investment homes in Vancouver Island.

Baby boomers:
Due to our favorable climate and beautiful retirement living, many of the baby boomers choose Vancouver Island as a place to retire.

Low unemployment:
In Victoria the unemployment is currently at 3.1%, which is excellent. When more people are producing goods and services, more people are making money, which leads to more people purchasing houses. It also leads to more interprovincial and international migration to our region by individuals in search of employment. These individuals will want a place to live.

These factors affect the supply side:

Agricultural Land Reserve:
British Columbia is the only province in Canada that has an Agricultural Land Reserve System. It was created by the NDP on April 18th, 1973 with its purpose being to preserve farmland from being developed. It is a fact that the system drives up housing prices. An example of this is all the 2 acre ALR land housing lots you see. Although these are beautiful properties, by limiting the amount of houses that can be built you create a greater urban sprawl and constrict the amount of area available to build houses. In addition, these 2 acre lots aren’t fulfilling the intent of the ALR of keeping farming alive in the region. These properties are seldom used to produce food and by having such small lots you lose the economies of scale to the point that even if they wanted to produce food, they couldn’t compete with the rest of the market place. Many of these properties end up becoming “hobby farms” and utilized for their tax advantages.

Community Improvements tied to developments:
By forcing developers to make infrastructure improvements you drive up the costs of building. Although this initiative enhances the local area and street appeal of projects, it raises costs. The developer doesn’t take it out of his margins, that cost is passed right onto the purchasers of the condos and houses.

Red tape:
In order to do any residential project, being a house or a condominium, there are an immense of carrying costs, rezoning costs, building codes to meet, and inspections to pass before the house hits the market. Depending on the municipality they can be more or less of these regulations. Someone has to pay the inspectors, the architects, the mayor and council, the planning and development officers, among others. Once again these costs are passed on to the home purchaser.

High labor costs:
Labor is subject to supply and demand just like housing. The demand for employees combined with the limited number of individual’s available drive up the wages.

Geographical challenges:
The fact that we live on an Island limits the amount of space available for houses.

 

Short of destroying valuable jobs, stopping individuals from choosing to live here and changing our spectacular weather and climate, there’s nothing municipal governments can do to stop demand. We live in the best place in the world, inevitably more people will move here.

What municipal government can do is manage this growth properly and set responsible supply side policies. For instance, if a developer were to do an affordable housing project, streamline the process, reduce or eliminate the community improvements required, cut the property holding time, and remove as much of the red tape as possible. By reducing the developers costs, you reduce the price of the homes. The correct policies with business and government working together can create simple low cost developments that are attractive and provide price points that are affordable.

If you continue to constrict supply housing prices will go up, if you allow supply to catch up to demand you stabilize housing prices, if you allow supply to outreach demand housing prices will drop. It’s economics 101.

The current policies are great for the high-income bracket as there is lots of high-end luxurious developments going in for them choose from plus they can afford to pay all the additional costs being tacked on. I’m not saying that I’m against those developments as they look excellent and are good for neighborhoods, such as Polo Park for Central Saanich. I’m saying municipalities ought to balance those developments with developments for the first time buyers and low-income earners. They can do this by making it financially viable for developers to build for that market segment.

Municipalities have the means to accomplish this; it’s a matter of the political will to make it happen.

Re: Personal and Confidential

Central Saanich Municipality 1 Comment »

Dear Mr. Nason

Thank you for your letter regarding my article, Disturbing the Peace, on my website (www.seanformayor.com).

In regards to your letter being addressed Personal and Confidential, I did not sign any confidentiality agreement and have no intentions of keeping our future discussions personal and confidential. The Sean for Mayor Campaign is a 100% transparent campaign, just as government ought to be. I intend to inform the residents of Central Saanich of my vision and goals as a Mayoral candidate, along with the reasons why I’m running and the areas I see for improvement. This requires that I provide the voters with as much information as possible, hence the website.

It is unfortunate that it is in your view that the “Disturbing the peace” article was inappropriate and that you were informed not factual. The entire story is factual, in fact the July 25th 2006 altercation can be collaborated by 3 witnesses in addition to security camera images. As far as its appropriateness to the Sean for Mayor website, it is appropriate as it is an example of some of the current mismanagement taking place at Central Saanich, and an example of the treatment a tax paying citizen of Central Saanich is receiving from a municipal employee, which are both relevant issues in my campaign.

I respectfully submit that you reinvestigate the claims I make in “Disturbing the Peace”. I will be happy to provide assistance to your investigation.

I find it concerning that the District supports the actions taken by Mr. Neurater in relation to the bylaw incidents I discuss seeing as the ticket was based entirely on hearsay. Police officers visited us on many occasions to investigate the noise complaints and didn’t ticket us, Brian Duncan who works for the Central Saanich Municipal Hall did a sound decibel reading that recorded results in our favor, and not even Mr. Neurater heard the apparent noise himself. It is the equivalent to someone reporting someone speeding to the police, and the police ticketing the individual based entirely on that complaint.

Does the District support bylaw ticketing based entirely on hearsay?

I’m not sure how to interpret your comment that removing my post was an advisable thing to do and that you expect I will not post this type of information in the future. Is it a threat or have you become a political advisor? I find it puzzling where you got the impression that your opinion and expectations are relevant to the Sean for Mayor campaign team.

As far as directing future complaints to yourself or Sara Ribeiro, I will if I see fit, in addition to posting the complaint on my website.

I would expect that my tax dollars would be spent on more pressing issues than reading my articles containing my opinion that I post on my website for an election campaign that is 15 months away and then writing letters to me with your thoughts, opinions, and expectations.

It is in my view, Mr. Nason, that this would be an appropriate time to point out that not everyone at Central Saanich has treated me with disrespect. Ruby behind the front desk has always been a pleasure to deal with. She has been helpful, provided all the relevant information when requested, has a great sense of humor and I’ve noticed does an excellent job greeting people as they enter city hall. Robert Thompson is a councilor I have a lot of respect for, as in my experiences with him he has taken an unbiased, pragmatic approach to issues keeping focused on the final outcome. I disagree with some of the things Susan Mason has said in council meetings but she is one of the most upbeat, energetic, positive people I have met and enjoy running into her at local area events.

If you have any questions about this letter, please contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Sean McNulty
Mayoral Candidate
The Municipality of Central Saanich

Personal and Confidential

Central Saanich Municipality No Comments »

This is a letter I received from Gary Nason, Administrator at the Corporation of the District of Central Saanich, regarding a previous article titled “Disturbing the Peace”.

June 29th, 2007

Mr. Sean McNulty
Island View Golf Centre
7081 Central Saanich Rd
Saanichton, BC V8M 1Y3

Dear Mr. McNulty:

Re: Website

I read a recent post on your website (www.seanformayor.com) called “Disturbing the Peace”. In that post, you made derogatory comments about Mr. Ken Neurauter in his capacity as a Bylaw Enforcement Officer for the District, and attributed various derogatory comments to him.

It is my view that the above post was entirely inappropriate and contained information that I have been informed was not factual. The District supports the actions taken by Mr. Neurauter in his position as a Bylaw Enforcement Officer in relation to the bylaw incidents you discuss in the post. I noticed that you have since removed this post, which was an advisable thing to do. I also expect that you will not post this type of information on your website in the future.

In future, please contact either myself or Sara Ribeiro to set up an appointment if you have concerns about the conduct of a municipal employee that you wish to discuss.

If you have any questions about this letter, please contact me at your convenience.

Yours truly,

Gary C. Nason
Administrator

C: Municipal Council
Department Managers

Letter

Disturbing the Peace

Central Saanich Municipality No Comments »

I removed this post with the intention to repost another article containing more detailed information of the unprofessional behavior displayed by Ken Neurauter. Due to some recent developments I’ve decided to repost the article.

In order for political systems to work, you need to have unbiased individuals with integrity in key positions to ensure public services are being run properly. You can have all the checks and balances you’d like, but if the people in charge are biased and corrupt the system will fail.

That is what is happening at the Central Saanich Municipality.

As you may or may not be aware, the facility I run has been having a dispute with our neighbors. The municipality, from day 1, has shown a very clear bias towards our neighbor’s side of the argument. This same sentiment has echoed right from the mayor and council, down to the office staff and to the bylaw enforcement officer, Ken Neurauter.

This municipality’s bias treatment against our family owned business has been going on since the dispute started in 2002. Ken Neurauter has been extremely unprofessional and passionate in his role as a bylaw enforcement officer. For example:

- On July 25th, 2006, Ken came by the facility to ask me to take a boat tent down, which he saw as a permanent structure. I saw it as a tent, which is was, which isn’t permanent, and told him I wasn’t taking it down. He then got about an inch away from my face and stated that he wanted me to hit him so he could “kick my ass up and down the parking lot”. He also stated that I was a “pretty boy” and a “spoiled brat whos daddy paid for everything” and that I should “go hit the tanning bed”.

- Throughout the summer of 2006, he visited us regarding our parking stalls. I submitted videotape evidence to council that our parking lot had never been more than 2/3rds full. He continued to harass us until I drew up plans making the garden beds and other spaces around Island View parking stalls.


For the purposes of this article, I’m going to keep the scope of this to noise complaints and a complaint we made regarding water coming from our neighbors soaking our sand and rock stockpiles.

We have been receiving noise complaints on sporadic occasions since we opened. They have been inconsistent although our business operates the same day in and day out, and completely unfounded, as I live on the property and know what the noise output is.

Ken, being the diligent public servant that he is, was of course all over us on the non-existent issue. He came by my office in June of 2007 saying he was going to have to give us a ticket. I requested that he or another representative from Central Saanich come by and listen for themselves to decide whether they thought the noise was disruptive. If they found it disturbing, I stated I would gladly adjust my operations to accommodate their requests. I wasn’t going to start changing my operations on unfounded noise complaints driven by one individual. We had already had one decibel reading taken by Brian Duncan who works for the municipality, and it turned out us whispering registered louder on the sound decibel reader than our operation of the range. Brian stated that he didn’t find the noise at a level that was disturbing.

Ken reluctantly agreed that he would do his due diligence and investigate, although grumbled about how he would have to request overtime and how the task was outside his hours of work. Surprising considering his dedication to the job.

From the time of that meeting, a number of police officers came by regarding the non-existent noise. I discussed with them what I discussed with Ken, and stated again that if they came down at night and listened or did a decibel reading and thought that the noise being emitted was disturbing, that I would gladly accommodate their request. Constable Sandi Begg and Constable Dave Hodgson can attest to this. In addition, Constable Dave Hodgson has come down to investigate the noise himself and stated to me that he hadn’t heard it at a disturbing level yet.

In the mix of all this, I logged a complaint of my own regarding water, coming from the property of the same individual who makes all the noise complaints, and soaking our stockpile of raw materials used for maintenance around the range. I sent an email to Ken, complete with pictures, asking if he could put a stop to this (Ordinarily, I would just call my neighbor and figure out a solution but that is not an option in this circumstance). Ken replied to my email stating, “Hi Sean: Unfortunately this is a civil matter”. Well that’s interesting. When my neighbor makes a compliant, I have police officers and municipal workers camping out at my facility. When I make a complaint, it’s a “civil matter”.

On Friday June 15th, 2007, I returned to the range at 4:00pm to find a ticket sitting behind the counter, a bylaw infraction ticket regarding noise to be exact. I immediately called up Central Saanich and asked to speak to Ken. Once Ken was on the phone I asked him if he had come down to investigate the noise complaints himself. He stated that he hadn’t and that it was outside his hours at work. I stated that he was ignorant and asked him what happened to him doing his due diligence, to which he hung up on me.

Every individual has a threshold on the amount of abuse they’ll take from another individual or organization before they speak up. Mine had been met. So I drove down to the municipal hall to speak to my old friend Ken and the rest of the municipal staff personally.

Once I got there, I went to the planning and development department downstairs and saw Ken by the photocopy machine behind the front desk joking about someone swearing at him on the phone. I stated, “I’m right here Ken”. He turned around with a surprised look on his face and began to walk towards the counter. I then pointed out to Ken and every employee at city hall the fact that my complaints are regarded as “civil matters” and complaints against me are ticket-able offenses, that they have no integrity, that they issue tickets without investigating and that my family and myself will not be bullied and pushed around without standing up for ourselves. Ken responded that I am a loser, to which I countered that Ken is the loser, which anyone who has met him can attest to. Ken then said that we should go to the police station, which I agreed to and accompanied him to. While outside the reception at the police station, Ken again got right back into his bread and butter insult that my daddy gives me everything. I left, and stated that if the police wanted to talk to me, I’d be at the driving range.

The police did come to the driving range while I was at the bank. I met Constable Dave Hodgson back at the station and we discussed the matter in detail.

Now some people will say that by going down there and yelling at everyone I was doing more harm than good. It is important to note that I’ve tried writing letters and talking calmly and have been met with nothing but broken promises and disrespectful treatment. Now that I have got everyone’s attention, I hope that someone at city hall may begin to ponder the question “why is Sean so angry with us”. Perhaps my outburst may have sparked one of the few good people at city hall to investigate the treatment we have been receiving.

I would like to compliment the Police and Fire Departments of Central Saanich on the outstanding, unbiased treatment they’ve displayed and I appreciate the difficulty and the patience required to deal with this issue.

*Any of the residences in Central Saanich who have also received disrespectful treatment from the municipality I invite to share their story with me. My contact information is available on this website.

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