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Silent Majority

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

The vocal minority drives municipality’s decisions. It is an unfortunate fact that election turnouts work out to about 25% of the population. Even less than that attend council meetings, write letters to the mayor and council and pay much attention to anything going on at town hall. I don’t blame them. They are BUSY and have many important responsibilities to tend to.

In fact, if the municipality didn’t get so directly involved in my life and motivate me to take a closer look at my tax dollars at work, I probably wouldn’t be running for mayor.

There are many special interest groups in all the municipalities. This is a beautiful thing! These special interest groups are productive and promote what they see as change for the better. Some are supporting business, some are supporting parks but they all are attempting to make their neighborhood a better place to live. By organizing they become a louder, more coherent voice. Working together these special interest groups can dramatically improve their neighborhoods.

Special interest groups are not what I mean by the vocal minority but most special interests groups have elements of the vocal minority in it. The vocal minority isn’t the individuals trying to make something happen; it is the individuals trying to stop things from happening.

This vocal minority is especially prevalent when proposals come to council. It is important for councilors to remember that people who support or are indifferent of a proposal generally won’t show up to the hearing of it. The individuals against a proposal will show up in force, often resorting to mob like tactics and the use of threats and intimidation to get their point of view across. This type of behavior is intolerable in my opinion but in many council chambers it goes unchallenged. All some politicians see are votes and are willing to compromise individuals being disrespected to get those votes.

The members of the vocal minority rarely bring anything to the table in terms of improving the neighborhoods they live. They spend too much time thinking of creative ways to stop change rather than creative ways to improve their municipalities. The mandate of the vocal minority is stagnation.

To combat this vocal minority, the silent majority has to make their voice heard during the elections. Get out and vote! I know it’s a cliché but if you get the right people in office, your municipality will change for the better and that is extremely beneficial to you as a resident and land owner. If you don’t get out and vote, the vocal minority will continue to drive the municipality’s decisions.

Milton Friedman

World No Comments »

I’m just beginning my study into Milton Friedman’s work and the more I learn about him, the more I admire him. He and I share a passion for freedom. I commend him for standing up for the free market, for arguing against price and wage controls, and promoting capitalism.

Due to his work, untold amounts of people have raised themselves from the grasps of poverty. Just look at China and India.

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing individual, I’ve attached a link to a video from 2005 of an interview.

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-2963837673813979186&q=milton+friedman&total=217&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=3

Pull vs. Potential

Municipal, Central Saanich Municipality No Comments »

Pull is becoming increasingly more important than a projects potential. In some municipalities, it’s more important to be cozy with the mayor, council and the planning department than to have a spectacular project.

Of course the very nature of municipal politics lends itself to pull. The mayor and council know majority of the population within a municipality, therefore it is hard from them to remain completely unbiased. The good councilors do, some choose not to. But the great thing about the Mayor and Council is that they’re held accountable through our electoral system. They want votes, and in order to get votes they have to display integrity within there decision making. They also live within the municipality so there is a vested interest in every project.

The problem with pull rests within the planning and development department. The head of the department is appointed, often doesn’t live in the area (the case in Central Saanich), and is in charge of recommending if council should approve or disapprove all planning and development issues that come forward. There is no vested interest, little threat of losing his or her job if they make an incorrect decision (none with Gary Nason), and one individual who ultimately makes the recommendations that Mayor and Council majority of the time will follow.

To add more fuel to the fire, the ever-growing amount of bylaws and red tape engulfing our municipalities are giving even MORE power to these unelected officials. There are people who get every road block thrown at them and there are people who these unelected officials will look the other way with. Bylaws are not the answer to resolving problems! I believe that in order for conflicts to be solved the two parties have to be brought together, lawyer free, to talk about it. Done any other way and you create a lasting animosity that destroys neighborhoods. Municipalities now have a bylaw for just about everything. You can’t even build a deck onto your home without the approvals from planning and development. And guess what, if your deck fails, do you think they’re taking on any liability? Not a chance.

Here some examples of actual events that residents of Central Saanich have contacted myself personally on:

A family I know bought a property zoned R1 Residential. Under this zoning, you are allowed to sub-divide to a pan handle lot. This family went to the planning and development department in Central Saanich and spoke with Hope Burns. They were told that his project wouldn’t be permitted. They cited the zoning laws under R1 Residential, Hope stated that it “wasn’t in the community’s best interest”.

I got a big problem with “wasn’t in the communities best interest”. It’s vague and unaccountable. Who in the community is she talking about? Who’s interest is she actually advocating? What about these tax payers and property owners best interest? If it’s the immediate neighbors then the answer would be “its not in your neighbors best interest”, which is acceptable. This wasn’t the case in this circumstance.

Panhandle lots are permitted in the R1 and R2 Zones. In fact it is clearly stated in the Districts Land Use Bylaw. However, Hope Burns does not permit them and hasn’t approved a single one since her appointment. This is outrageous as historically, homeowners, builders and developers could rely on the Approving Officers support of a subdivision application that complies with the rules the District has laid out in the Land Use Bylaw. Otherwise what’s the point of having one? If Hope Burns or any other employee of the District wants to arbitrarily change the rules of the game, there is a formal process available for them to do so. If you don’t approve panhandle lots, don’t state in the Land Use Bylaw that you do.

A lady living in Central Saanich contacted myself with regards to a bylaw issue she was having with another neighbor. I was told that her neighbor was putting up a structure in violation with the bylaws. When this lady went to City Hall to complain, the municipal employee she dealt with stated that if she wasn’t complaining, they wouldn’t even be bothering with enforcing this particular bylaw.

This example sums up what I’m talking about. Here is a municipal employee outright stating that they apply bylaws to whom they want when they feel like it. If the bylaw is redundant get ride of it, otherwise enforce it. It’s a one-way street.

There are a number of other examples I could go through, but I believe I’ve made my point.

What is my solution?

First of all, go through the bylaw book with a fine tooth comb and get ride of the bylaws which are redundant, illogical and/or irrational. This would remove some of the dictatorship like powers that are used to detrimentally affect certain tax paying citizens. I would promote differences being sorted out between neighbors without government interference. In terms of rezoning, the immediate neighbors opinions are the ones that matter. They bought their land with the surrounding area zoned a certain way and ought to have a large say in what happens. Most of all, the bylaws are to be applied equally to all citizens.

In terms of the planning and development department, instead of making a recommendation, all planning and development related proposals should be presented to council without bias. This would take the opportunity for preferential treatment away from the planning and development department and allow the mayor and council to make decisions regarding the facts rather than the story line.

A projects potential ought to always be the determining factor when Government makes decisions, not the pull of the people involved.

Sidney by the Sea

World, Provincial, Municipal, Central Saanich Municipality 2 Comments »

Sidney is beautiful and a great example for other municipalities to follow. The pedestrian foot traffic, walkways along the water, vibrant businesses, stunning brick sidewalks and aesthetically pleasing plants and buildings are something to be admired.

Downtown Sidney is a happening place! In fact just about anything your looking for can be found there. Even in the pouring rain, you’ll always see people walking around running their errands and interacting with their neighbors. Here they’ve done a great job with mixed-use commercial/residential and keeping the store entrance on the street and the parking in the back. The mixed use allows people to do majority of their consuming without getting in their car and the storefront on the street concept ensures shoppers don’t have to walk a marathon across a parking lot to visit a business plus allows the business to entice the traffic walking by with their products and services.

The residential infilling that has taken place has been done first class. There are apartment buildings and housing coexisting together seamlessly. By allowing the building of apartments, condos, townhouses and duplexes along with single family residential dwellings there are a variety of price points and options for people looking to live on the picturesque peninsula. There are smaller condo’s for seniors to move to once they grow tired of caring for their home and apartments for teenagers to move out into as they venture out on their own.

A thriving industrial area is located across the highway, which is the perfect location for these establishments as they can operate freely without disturbing residents.

The people who deserve majority of the credit for this are the municipal staff of Sidney. Judging from the results, you can see that the staff in Sidney embraces change, supports business and has a vision for the future. The streets are clean and tidy, businesses are thriving and the residents are happy. Of course Mr. Amos and his council deserve some credit as well, but it is the staff at city hall that ultimately make it happen. They are the ones dealing with businesses, developers and residents.

Don’t you think the Saanichton Village or the Brentwood Bay Village have the potential to become thriving businesses neighbourhoods?

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