Name: James W. Breckenridge
Education: Bachelor of Commerce University of Saskatchewan
Occupation: Emergency Shelter Worker
Previous political experience: None
Residency (city/neighbourhood): Blueridge/Ridgeview
Marital status/children: Single
Social media: www.jameswbreckenridge.ca
What do you feel are the three key issues Abbotsford voters should be considering in this civic election?
1. Fiscally sustainable, responsible budgeting and planning [in line with the economy; taking into consideration the state of the provincial and federal budgets]
2. Social issues facing the city [affordable housing, homelessness, poverty, hunger, living wage, employment opportunities]
3. Changing the way the City does business in order to attract business to the City and ensure everyone treated equally.
What’s your plan to deal with homelessness in Abbotsford?
Start on the issue – there is no fast easy neat way to deal with homelessness which is why Lethbridge’s plan refers to ‘ending homelessness in 10 years. Avoiding the issue does nothing but allow the problem to grow worse. Focusing on the end goal of helping people become healthy [mentally and physically] enough to remain housed and take up their lives. There are many cities and programs that provide best practices for us to choose from. Prioritize spending/investment/focus based on whether a support or service is necessary to the end goal of healthy people. There are many services/supports it would be nice to have, but the fiscal reality is we cannot have everything we wish for and we must spend our money on supports and services that will produce a long term reduction in the number of homeless. Involve the community, both for ideas and to provide what is needed [healthy social networks etc].
How would you make city hall more accountable and transparent?
Adding pages [or links] to the city website were councillors can write about issues facing Council; their positions and reasoning for those positions and why they made the decisions they did. It would provide a way for the public to share their ideas, their thoughts/comments and what their issues/concerns. If you have advisory committees their makeup must include members with lived experience [mental health advisory must have family and/or those living with mental health challenges]. The unfiltered, non-spun advice from advisory committees must be publicly accessible.
Are changes required in local municipal spending? If so, what are they and how would you address them?
Sustainability has to be a major consideration in the finances and budgeting. The economy and its direction, the budgets/finances of the provincial and federal governments [providers of funding] have a major effect on sustainability and the options a city has available to make its finances sustainable. There are a growing number of examples of the severe consequences of governments not focusing on the sustainability of their finances.