The decisions made by City Hall regarding how to spend our tax dollars are complex and affect all of us. These decisions can be made more effectively when they are based on the input of citizens, because we are the ones who see the impacts and have the most at stake.
I have worked for years as the founder and chair of Happy City St. John’s to demonstrate that our communities are full of engaged, informed people, and that, when done right, public engagement can make real change to the benefit of all. I will bring this experience to Council.
As our city grows, with more people, cars and places to go, traffic and congestion increases. It is increasingly difficult to reach our destinations quickly, and there is often nowhere to park once we get there. More cars also means more people speeding down residential roads causing noise and safety issues.
In my past two years on the city’s Police and Traffic committee, I’ve had the opportunity to develop an understanding of these issues and to help develop appropriate responses. The good news is that these are issues common to cities throughout the world, so we have a great deal of resources to draw upon for solutions.
While we can certainly build more parking garages, design roads to better manage traffic, and encourage people to carpool, the long-term solution to traffic issues is a convenient, regional integrated transit system.
We have to finish our Cycling Master Plan if it is to be effective. Our walking trails are the envy of the country and should be protected and expanded. And I will continue my work with Metrobus and the various committees of Council to expand our public transit system to address the growing transportation demands of our population.
I believe that a strong development environment is an integral component of a healthy economy, and also strongly positions our city for investment from both within our province and from around the world.
Not all development is “good” development, however, and it has always been my position that any proposed development must fit within a broader plan for our city. We must be guided by principles such as: context-sensitive design (does it flow with the structures and space around it?); contribution to the surrounding community (does it have public amenities?); and long-term sustainability (Is it energy efficient? Is it built to last?).
A clear set of development guidelines and regulations is essential to ensure we have incredible built infrastructure. These guidelines must be created with input from citizens, developers, architects, and urban planning experts, and it is essential that these guidelines are enforced consistently.
The current state of frequent, arbitrary amendments and allowances must end. Developers and residents alike will appreciate these guidelines and we must not shy away from following a plan we all agree on.
St. John’s unique heritage is an incredible asset. The challenge in our city has often been finding the balance between maintaining our built heritage while encouraging and facilitating growth and development.
I have worked for several years to seek out this balance. I sit on the board of the Newfoundland Historic Trust and am proud of the work we’ve done to expand our mandate to advocate sustainable, well-designed new structures. Through this role, I also have the opportunity to sit on the City’s Heritage Advisory Committee. I have seen first hand the hard work that many developers undertake to maintain heritage value as they build new developments.
Through my work on other committees with the St. John’s Board of Trade and Downtown St. John’s, I have personally brought together voices from all sides of the development and heritage debate to find where we agree and make progress. I am excited at the opportunity to continue my work in this area as a councillor.
It has been proven worldwide, and here at home, that one of the most important ways to maintain a strong economy and quality of life is to make sure everyone can afford a place to live. Housing prices are affecting people of all income levels, and solving this problem helps everybody.
I believe there are ways that City Hall can help reduce the cost of living. For example, we can work with developers to encourage the development of rental apartments, and mixed-use neighbourhoods with various types of housing. As well, we can help reduce the “hidden” costs of housing like utilities and property taxes by providing more efficient services and a more equitable tax system.
For those who are struggling with income, I support groups that are already doing incredible work in this area such as the Housing and Homeless Network, Choices for Youth, and Habitat for Humanity.
A typical symptom of a growing economy is an increased prevalence of drug use, theft, and other crime. City Hall can take various actions to help mitigate crime, and can be most effective by supporting the efforts of our provincial police force, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC), and their many community services such as Neighbourhood Watch and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.
I support the recently approved Advisory Committee on Crime Prevention at City Hall, and believe it must be made up of people of diverse walks and stages of life. As a councillor, I will work to ensure that St. John’s is always a welcoming, positive, and safe place to live, work and play.
St. John’s is a unique, beautiful city. Our hills, trees, trails and parks not only make this an attractive place to live, they also promote active lifestyles and increase our level of happiness.
Our landscape and public spaces are assets for all of us to enjoy, and must be maintained and used wisely. I am a St. John’s Clean and Beautiful committee member and have been working to promote a clean city. I also worked with Happy City St. John’s to spread the word that a beautiful, welcoming, and social city is a prosperous city. As a councillor I will ensure that our growth is centered around making St. John’s a place we all love and are proud of.
The services that City Hall provides for all of us, such as snow clearing, water and sewer, garbage pickup, etc., all cost money. While the city should continue its work to improve its financial agreements provincially and federally, property taxes will always be the primary source of revenue to pay for these services we all rely on.
In order for our tax system to be fair, we first have to ensure that our services are run in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Next, we must ensure that taxes are not overly burdensome on citizens, particularly given that rates are often based on factors out of an individual’s control.
As a councillor, I will work closely with staff to support their efforts to provide high-quality services, and will continuously explore our options for spending tax dollars more effectively. I will also encourage improved “means testing” to ensure that taxes are billed based on a household’s capacity to afford them.
Dave is involved in community issues and activities. He can't make it to all, but these are on his list!
If you have an event you would like Dave to attend, please get in touch!