Name: Nathan Loewen
Party affiliation (if any): endorsed by Abbotsford Greens Elector Organization
Education: BA Geography, Dipl. Liberal Arts, currently enrolled in Dipl. T. Renewable Resources
Occupation: manager of contracting business, currently student
Previous political experience: Fraser Valley Regional Committee of BC Green Party, assisted with provincial and federal Green Party campaigns in Abbotsford.
Residency (city/neighbourhood): Abbotsford, Sandy Hill
Community involvement: volunteer with Fraser Valley Conservancy & Fraser Valley Watershed Coalition, member of the Scandinavian Club of Abbotsford, formerly social advocate with Vancouver-based Streams of Justice.
Marital status/children: married with 2 year old son
Social media: https://www.facebook.com/AbbotsfordGreens
What do you feel are the three key issues Abbotsford voters should be considering in this civic election?
1. Adhering to sustainable/green urban development best-practices in order to prevent future economic, social and ecological disasters.
2. Prioritizing compassionate solutions to end street homelessness and support permanent affordable housing options.
3. Attracting innovative clean-tech businesses and quality employers that can provide living wages to our citizens.
What’s your plan to deal with homelessness in Abbotsford?
My plan is to employ a multi-faceted approach following examples from other cities where homelessness strategies have shown to be effective. This must include working with a Housing First strategy – providing more housing units as the basis for bringing people out of a homeless state and into a safe, stabilized lifestyle. Here a continuum of supportive services can help individuals maintain employment, health and dignity. Harm Reduction must be integrated into this strategy to allow chronic addicts and users a chance to first receive low-barrier housing and other assistance without having to be ‘clean’ as they may be in life or death scenarios. “Assertive community treatment” (ACT) teams should compliment with bringing health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment services directly to clients where and when they are needed. Street outreach workers are to be points of contact for individuals needing access to housing assistance. Collaborate with a broad range of community partners, non-profits, faith groups and businesses to effectively source funding and resources. Distribute supportive housing and low income services appropriately throughout the city. Most importantly, develop long and short term plans for ensuring enough permanent affordable housing options are available to prevent more people from slipping into homelessness – using subsidized housing requirements for new development projects for example.
How would you make city hall more accountable and transparent?
I’d want to ensure: -all high level planning is fully accessible to public review and critique. -Consultation and collaboration with community stakeholders or citizens committees is meaningful and implementable in good faith. -Citizen feedback and input is sought out through public forums and online surveys. -Department managers are maximizing efficiencies and finding cost savings whenever possible.
Are changes required in local municipal spending? If so, what are they and how would you address them?
As a green, I firmly believe in fiscal sustainability and balanced budgets to the very best of our city’s means. It must also be viewed in balance with the long term vision for a healthy, equitable and just city that looks after everyone. I would aim to decrease the spending on sectors that carry fewer benefits as seen through the lens of sustainability and shifting it towards sectors that offer greater benefits to our community’s future. Savings are also possible if we could bring senior levels of government to better fund services that fall in their jurisdiction but for which the city and non-profits are filling in the gaps.