Taxation: We need to keep the tax burden as low as possible, because taxes, along with many other factors, often challenge residents to make ends meet on a monthly basis. They can also hinder our region in remaining competitive with other regions and provinces.
My approach to taxation is built on being smart about our investments. We should measure taxation decisions through the lens of return on investment in our community — both in dollar amounts and in improvements to our quality of life.
We must achieve a level of taxation that provides a satisfactory return on investment, without threatening to limit the success of our residents.
We need to keep the cost of living in our city within reach of everyone and keep any potential tax increases based on tangible and measurable items that residents of the city can track and see value in.
Public Safety: I support our emergency services professionals, who do an exemplary job for our city of protecting property and human lives. As with any business, we must remain mindful of costs and proceed with staffing increases through incremental steps and proper vacancy management.
I feel residents are receiving a good return on their investment in protective services and hope to see that continue through the coming years. Entities such as the police board have made sure that any changes or additions to the staffing complements are done with an eye towards front-line services and meeting the areas of most need. All protective services, whether policing or fire/EMS, should be actively engaged with the community on preventive strategies that reduce actual costs through a proactive approach. By focusing on early intervention approaches such as the Community Mobilization Unit model spearheaded by former City of Brandon Police Chief Ian Grant (you can find out more about it here) we can focus on preventative measures to stem the ever increasing challenges we face as a community.
Crime: This is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing our community. We have reached a point where we cannot play food chain politics with the opioid crisis or the resulting rise in crime caused by that crisis.
As civic leaders, we must work with professionals in the health and justice communities, and our government partners, to find proactive solutions and opportunities to assist those in need to get on a healthy path.
Much of the crime we face can be traced back to opioid abuse. City council can lead change by supporting opportunities for our youth to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and crime through involvement in the community, including sports, clubs and other recreation-based activities.
Wages: I support the work city staff do in completing their tasks. We must ensure that staff salaries are held to a level that attracts top talent, while ensuring we exercise restraint and properly manage vacancy assessments when positions become open. This challenge is faced by the private sector on a daily basis. Civic leaders must remain cognizant of maintaining that same balance.
Infrastructure: I believe this next council will be challenged with infrastructure spending on some fronts (8th Street Bridge, extending Pacific Avenue, 34th Street expansion and the Daly Overpass, to name a few). Regarding the pedestrian bridge specifically, I would withhold judgment on this until the preliminary findings of the RFPs requested by City Council on July 16 are published. Before considering a major infrastructure project such as this, Brandon would, at the very least, need to secure funding partnerships to help share the costs before entertaining proceeding on such a large project.
In all reality cost-effectiveness is something we should continue to seek out at every juncture. We need to find ways to minimize costs on projects deemed necessary for the city. Whether this comes from exploring options for bulk purchasing or whether it comes from changing the time between tender and delivery to better control costs of rising products, this is something the city should be focused on achieving.
One project I see of great importance is the installation of traffic control devices for the corner of McDiarmid Ave and Victoria Ave. This corner has become an increasingly dangerous spot for sightlines and crossings. I pledge to work with the Province of Manitoba and the City of Brandon to lobby for proper traffic control devices and crosswalk lights at that corner to allow for safer pedestrian crossings.
Public Transit: Our public transit system is in a time of challenge. With the loss of the 8th Street Bridge it undoubtedly has to have caused some issues for ridership. Public transit though is an asset in our community. As our city continues to grow and expand we must find new ways to make ridership more appealing, and routes more effective at moving people throughout the community.
Downtown Revitalization: During my time as chair of the Downtown Development Group, our board championed the cause of downtown development. Success in the downtown area comes from creating a critical population mass.
If built, a proposed downtown student and seniors housing building would go a long way to achieving the mass that genuinely spurs on secondary levels of downtown development. I acknowledge and applaud the dedicated work of our downtown champions. Downtown growth and development is a challenge for the entire city, affecting residents of every ward.
Growth and Amenities: I feel the city should be committed to the creation of an outdoor recreation complex. This should include a pool amenity as well as opportunities to connect with recreation year-round. I have long felt this is one of the pieces of the puzzle that keeps youth in the community. If they can see value in the amenities provided to them by the city and private industry, they are more likely to choose to make Brandon home, raise a family and retire here.
The Keystone Centre: Probably the single greatest asset in the community, perhaps even the region. The city must continue to advocate to the Province of Manitoba that the Keystone brings tremendous value to the region and is an economic driver as well as a source of pride for the community. Without sound, thought out investment the Keystone will continue to be challenged with maintenance costs eclipsing their operating budgets.
I welcome your feedback on this and any other item on here.