Apparently my suggestion about a zero percent tax increase has generated a lot of questions, and at the All Candidate Debate last night hosted by the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce, they were brought forward. I applaud Councillor O'Neill for suggesting if it's 0%, it's not an increase, but semantics aside, don't we as taxpayers in all cities deserve to pay the lowest possible amount for our services while ensuring sufficient planning for our future.
It's easy to brush off the suggestion as impossible or ideological, but really it's just managing our money properly - here's how......
At the end of 2013, we had $200 million in the bank, with no restrictions on how it could be spent. We had another $100 million that was set aside for future planning & needs. We earned 1.5% on that money, not a great return, but I digress;
We also had loans of $34 million with payments due in 2014 of $9 million PLUS interest at up to 7.3%. The $9+ million represents triple the amount needed to give tax payers a 0% property tax increase.
Let's put this in perspective for your house, if you owed $200,000 on your home and you had $1,000,000 CASH IN THE BANK, earning you 1.5% interest, but you were paying 7% on the mortgage, would you not pay out the mortgage and save all that interest? Financial Advisors and Planners will tell you "pay yourself first", so why would you pay the bank?
Cities are incredibly complex with many needs, shouldn't we take the basic steps to manage our money in a way that enables us to address those needs instead of lining the pockets of the bank?
Let's keep your money in your pocket - you know how best to spend it to take care of your family.
Like many of you, I've had the pleasure of growing up in Coquitlam, spending endless hours at the hockey rink refereeing you or your kids' games, coaching them or instructing in the BC Hockey Association Officiating program. I've played sports, gone to school and created life long memories in this great city.
And like many of the people that I've met in my time as a Branch Manager at Westminster Savings and Coast Capital Savings, I've asked the questions, "how will my kids be able to afford to live here?" "Where are the homes that we can raise a family in and still afford to have a life?"
The answers are incredibly complex but as a City Councillor, our job is to help create the environment in which our kids can stay in Coquitlam and raise their families. This means housing solutions but also job creation.
The solutions start with smart development, building a variety of homes in both our new and established areas of the city. Perhaps we open our eyes to smaller lots in Central Coquitlam, getting away from 10,000 square foot lots because it's too small to subdivide which results in the construction of 7000 square foot homes. Maybe we can create opportunities for 3-5,000 square foot lots with 2- 3,000 square foot homes, parking options to not clog our streets or we consider small multi family lots such as duplex, tri-plex or even townhomes. The designs could fit the character of the current neighbourhood AND provide housing options that our kids could actually afford without mortgaging their futures.
We need to realize that we are in a knowledge based global economy and that businesses that pay well are looking for clean, green office space. As Councillors, we need to build the culture at City Hall that will ensure we include space for good paying businesses in the design of the towers surrounding our new Evergreen Line stations.
We need to participate and encourage the builders to participate in the creation of rental options for the kids just starting out on their own with new careers and moving out for the first time or for the new immigrants that have chosen to make this beautiful city and country their new home. We must create the environment in which our community can thrive.
As I said, the answers are complex, but we must work to together with our residents and with all of the stakeholders to achieve a goal of housing and employment options that will give our kids the chance to stay in Coquitlam and raise their families.
Guilty as charged!!!!!
That’s right, I admit it, my wife is the Social Media expert in the family and despite her consistent encouragement to update my blog, it has regularly fallen to the bottom of the “to do” list behind door knocking, ad design, phone calls and the myriad of other campaign related duties, oh and all the other household duties that need to be addressed.
So here we are 20 days from Election Day, and I find myself sharing some thoughts from the campaign trail and yes Lisa, I promise I’ll do this regularly!!!!
Street safety has been a consistent message from residents, particularly around school zones. We see more and more parents dropping off or picking up their kids, in the interest of safety, but in doing so, they ignore the basic traffic rules that help keep our kids safe. Speeding, illegally parking (oh but just for a minute or 10) and letting the kids out the door INTO the street are just some of the things you will see on any given day outside our schools.
Recently a young child was hit by a car, suffering a broken arm and a concussion, serious injuries, but fortunately it was not more serious.
We take our kids to school to help keep them safe, let’s take a moment and ask ourselves, are we acting in a way that will keep ALL the kids safe? Can we encourage others parents to take that same care?
A huge thank you to the teachers and Principals that spend their mornings directing traffic and trying to keep the kids safe. I’m sure that they would rather be preparing for the day or grabbing one last coffee before the onslaught of learning takes over, but there they are, protecting our kids from US.
Let’s work together and make our streets safer for everyone!
Knocking on doors and interrupting residents while they go about their day is one of the most unnerving parts of an election to new candidates. Stories abound about doors being slammed, voices being raised and accusations of "you're all the same", but in fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that this has happened in the over 15,000 doors that I've knocked on.
Residents typically want to share their thoughts, either immediately or by phone, email and twitter after the fact. Ideas are as vast as the topics ranging from traffic safety (a big one in most neighbourhoods) to crime, to the Riverview lands and of course TAXES and better money management at City Hall.
My main purpose in door knocking ( and if elected, I pledge to continue doing it monthly after the election) is to gather information and ideas to make our neighbourhoods better. We're going to make this city a better place one neighbourhood at a time, so please share your thoughts about the issues relevant to you and your neighbours.
Saturday, September 27th
Sunday, September 28th
APPLE OF MY PIE
Watch pie makers duke it out at the Coquitlam Farmers Market (624 Poirier St., Coquitlam) pie contest. Host Diane Thorne (a former MLA) leads the way as celebrity judges including columnist and culinary instructor Chef Dez, Wilbur's Christina Sepidoza-Walter and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart nosh their way to deciding between first, second and third-place pies. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the contest kicks off at 10:30 a.m. Visit www.makebakegrow.com for more info.
RIVERS & TRAILS FEST
Explore Port Coquitlam's natural beauty at the annual Rivers and Trails Festival. The fun begins at Lions Park (2300 Lions Way) at 10 a.m. with activities, live music and loads of food from This Little Piggy food truck. Release salmon smolt and join the guided group bike ride, then hop on a shuttle bus to Peace Park (1470 Kebet Way) for paddle wheeling, kids' games and more music. Visit www.portcoquitlam.ca for more info.
Make Easthill Park (800-block Washington Drive, PoMo) a greener place to play by volunteering to help plant more than 140 trees at the TD Tree Days event. Starting at 9 a.m. volunteers will be at the park to plant trees in areas of the park where natural selection and dieback are affecting plant diversity and slope stability. For more information and registration visit www.tdtreedays.com.
FAMILY DAY AT PDA
Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam) hosts a special Family Day at PdA: Culture Days Edition from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The whole family can tour three stunning exhibits, then check out several all-ages art activities based on the themes in the shows. Visit www.placedesarts.ca for more information.
Enjoy the weekend!