Running for Victoria Councillor
What would be your highest priorities in the next four years to reduce the total energy use and emissions from transportation?
My highest priorities to reduce the total energy use and emissions from transportation over the next four years would be to work with BC Transit and our provincial partners to expedite the process of transitioning to lower emission buses such as hybrids or renewable energy vehicles. Another priority would be investing in infrastructure that would increase the walkability of our communities and ensure connected neighbourhoods that work for all, regardless of age or ability.
I would also prioritize initiatives that would reduce the amount of time people need to spend in their vehicles and reduce congestion. An important part of that would be to support a reduction in sprawl and prioritizing compact neighborhoods with complete streets and active transportation infrastructure.
Over the next 4 years, would you support increasing the space for walking, biking, and public transit and reducing that for private motor vehicles in your community? How would you do that?
I would support increasing the space for active transportation options; however, I would encourage the rest of council and city staff to do broad community engagement and consultation with experts to ensure that our active transportation networks are safe, accessible, and work for all members of the community (not just a select few). I would balance the need for active transportation infrastructure with the need for accessible parking options, downtown business owners’ concerns, and the concerns of those with disabilities. We need a city that works for everyone and given our ageing population as well as the prospect of self-driving autonomous vehicles on the horizon, it is unrealistic to think motor vehicles will not remain a significant part of Victoria’s transportation future.
Would you actively encourage the provincial government to prioritize public transit, walking and biking infrastructure over roadway expansion projects such as the proposed interchanges on the Pat Bay Highway?
I support encouraging the provincial government and our partners at the CRD to explore options that balance the needs of roadway maintenance and highway upgrades with active transportation infrastructure. This is a complex topic and would require lengthy discussions with engineers, academics, the Ministry of Transportation, and BC Transit. Improvements to roadways such as the Pat Bay Highway interchanges are not only for the benefit of private motor vehicles, but also serve to enhance the efficiency and reliability of our public transportation system.
Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in the City of Victoria?
I absolutely support making walking safer and more enjoyable in Victoria. Our community spaces should allow people of all ages and abilities to conduct their daily errands by foot if they can. I lived in Cook Street Village for over five years and pretty much everywhere I needed to go was walkable. I would frequently walk to and from work, meetings downtown, and get groceries from as far away as Yates Street Market to as close as Oxford Foods. Victoria weather allows for walking year-round and I wholeheartedly support the need and desire for people to feel safe while walking in our city.
What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in the City of Victoria?
I would advocate that resources be allocated to invest in wider sidewalks, tactile paving for those who are visually impaired, and crosswalk upgrades that are standard pedestrian crossings, not confusing puzzle-piece intersections. This would include more pedestrian-controlled traffic signals and crosswalks with audible signals.
Do you support building a community-wide network of all ages and abilities (“AAA”) bike routes in the next four years?
I generally support a comprehensive bike network – but it must actually be that, a bike network that works for people of all ages and abilities. The current bike lanes that have been developed are not only hurting some of our local businesses but they are also putting at risk those with visual impairments as well as novice cyclists. Unidirectional bike lanes should have been the priority from day one. When it comes to a community-wide bike network, it is vital that we have proper community engagement that includes residents with diverse abilities, local residents and business owners, transportation experts, community planners, BC Transit, emergency first responders, and other stakeholders. We also must remember that biking is but one form of active transportation. We need an active transportation network that supports a range of modalities – wheelchairs, strollers, pedestrians, skateboarders, and transit-users, not just prioritizing cyclists above all others.
Do you support completing the downtown AAA bikeway grid on Wharf St, Humboldt St and Vancouver St?
As someone that was a proponent of moving the planned Cook Street bike lane to Vancouver Street, I am well aware of the lack of engagement over several years with regard to the bike lane network. I am thrilled the city finally heard us after so many years but it highlights the fact that we need proper consultation on the second phase. The portions of Vancouver & Wharf Street that link Fort & Pandora make sense, but I don’t believe anything further than that (including the parts of Wharf & Vancouver that are South of Fort) currently has the social license to proceed, especially given the cost overruns and lack of proper consultation.
I know many James Bay residents felt blind-sided by the fact that the overall plan for Wharf Street runs into their neighbourhood according to Phase 4 of Biketoria. Until it was pointed out by some, most were unaware of this as Wharf Street itself does not continue into James Bay, so they believed the plan did not pertain to them. This was another misstep in the botched consultation that has marred what should have been a simple and uncontroversial process.
Broad community engagement will need to occur to mitigate the challenges faced, and frustration voiced, during the development of the Pandora and Fort bike lanes. We must also ensure that when building active transportation infrastructure, we do so in a fiscally responsible way. Bike lanes are great part of an active transportation network, but if residents do not feel as though their concerns are being heard and their tax dollars respected, then that is doing more harm than good to the active transportation discussion.
Would you support completing the 24/7 bus lanes along the Douglas Street/Highway 1 corridor, as well as along other routes such as the Pat Bay Highway as a high priority for municipalities and the BC government in the next four years?
As our city grows, the reliance on public transit will continue to increase as well. Completing the bus lanes along the Douglas Street corridor as well as others will play a significant role in increasing ridership and helping Victorians get around.
Would you support keeping the E&N railway as a railway and actively campaign for electrified passenger and freight services?
I have long been a vocal supporter of revitalizing the E&N Rail. A business case does exist, and I would actively lobby the provincial government to invest in a sustainable future for passenger and freight on the E&N. Passenger services would go a long way in enhancing the connectivity of our region, lower emissions from private vehicles, and make the commute to the city from the West Shore more enjoyable and environmentally responsible. Provincial funds would also provide an opportunity for growth and densification along the E&N corridor.
Would you support and actively campaign for street-level electrified rapid transit in the greater Victoria region? If so, along what routes?
The development of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in the capital region has long been a dream of many locals. I would support advocating that the province invest in Victoria’s future with an LRT line if a detailed Ministry of Transportation study could demonstrate that is was feasible. I believe improving connectivity between downtown and the University of Victoria should be a priority as well as connections between downtown and the Jubilee area, Uptown, Esquimalt, Colwood, and Schwartz Bay.
In the next four years, would you support removing the requirements for off-street vehicle parking from new and infill developments?
I would be interested in exploring creative options such as car-sharing memberships for residents of developments but this issue is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A blanket approach to removing off-street parking requirements is not something I would support.
In the next four years, how, would you activate and bring more people into public spaces within your municipality, including sidewalks, public squares, streets and parks?
Place-making fosters and strengthens community identity and social cohesion. I am committed to building a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive community. The “My Great Neighbourhoods Grants” are a fantastic city initiative that allow community members to engage in their own place-making initiatives. That helps build community capacity and resiliency in our neighbourhoods. As as city councillor, I would support exploring how we could extend the Open Streets pilot project on Government Street. I also support responsible investments in green space and I think that upgrading Centennial Square could go a long way in activating community space.