Party affiliation (if any): AbbotsfordFIRST Electoral Society
Education: Simon Fraser University, Kwantlen College, Adobe Certified Instructor, Various other technical certifications
Occupation: Web and Software Developer
Previous political experience: Founder of the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association, Candidate for Council in 2011, Various Board positions held in community groups and charity organizations
Residency (city/neighbourhood): Abbotsford, Clayburn area
Community involvement: Abbotsford Ratepayers Association, Abbyfest Multicultural Society, Crohns and Colitis Foundation (volunteer)
Social media: facebook.com/abbotsfordfirst, @abbotsfordfirst, www.abbotsfordfirst.com
What do you feel are the three key issues Abbotsford voters should be considering in this civic election?
1. Debt, including our infrastructure deficit
2. Homelessness and Social Issues
3. Economic Development, including employment opportunities
What’s your plan to deal with homelessness in Abbotsford?
Firstly, to admit that it cannot be solved with a single solution. Secondly, to facilitate collaboration between all the service providers in the city. 250 service providers exist and all the resources are there to have a great impact on our social issues. We must treat all involved with respect and this includes engaging the homeless about their needs instead of simply imposing our plan upon them. This thinking has resulted in a litany of court cases and a tent city that is no solution at all.
How would you make city hall more accountable and transparent?
There must be a cultural change at City Hall. Businesses pass us by, citizens feel disenfranchised, and much of this has to do with a lack of consistency in all areas such as communication, by-law enforcement, and policy application. AbbotsfordFIRST proposes that the City of Abbotsford produce a Performance Report each year that explains every city operation and how every dollar was spent, in an easy-to-read and understand format. Asking the average person to read the city’s financial statements to find out how their tax dollars were spent is not engaging or open. It is the responsibility of City Hall to communicate their activity clearly, not the responsibility of citizens to be accountants, or engineers, or business development experts in order to understand how their city works. A Performance Report will address this need.
Are changes required in local municipal spending? If so, what are they and how would you address them?
Local governments must return to priority spending. For example, we cannot grow without infrastructure and we have a huge infrastructure deficit. Combined with our existing debt, non-priority spending left our city with only $14 million in the bank last year (as reported to Council by the Finance Dept during the YMCA briefing). To re-fund our DCC account, and to pay for our infrastructure deficit, we need to focus on planning that includes densification. This will help us grow while taking advantage of existing infrastructure.