platform – extended version
cleaII have been listening to Cochrane residents now for over 10 years. I want to thank the people who have been willing to share your wisdom and common sense. I have always said, all we (council) need to do to find a solution is to listen to the many talented men and women we have in this town! I have been consistently humbled and amazed, so again, thank you. As a member of Town Council, I promise you that I will listen and I will take action.
People’s lives are busy and the time is not always available. Because of this I have posted only a synopsized version of this information under my priorities while posting the full information in this Archived format.
PRIORITY – TAKING ACTION
As I did in 2017 I will do my part to fix our growing traffic problems. We are choking on our own growth as it outpaces our infrastructure. The latest commitments in infrastructure will fix some of the problems while creating new ones.
I still believe that there are some cost-effective ways to expand on current infrastructure projects that would contribute as much if not more to fixing our traffic problems. Some specific ideas that I would bring forward are diverting Calgary commuter traffic away from the downtown core, diversion of industrial traffic from the downtown core with the creation of an industrial park (this would also allow safe and secure parking for truckers), strategic use of traffic circles and ensuring adequate infrastructure is placed before development occurs, not afterwards.
Health and Wellness
I will actively promote health and wellness in Cochrane. We can build on the nucleus of the services we have in Cochrane. With some volunteer spirit we can drastically reduce costs. My initial focus will be on:
Exploring the creation of a river park. Imagine having a river kayaking course in Cochrane to add onto the services already offered at the Spray Lakes Sawmill Recreational Center! I am skeptical that a River Park could be created without considerable expense and damaging effects to the environment. I will also NOT support the reduction in access to and/or reduction in use of the existing dog park. Right now I could not support further times/expense being given to this idea given the information I currently have. However, I believe it disingenuous for candidates to take a ‘over my dead body’ approach which is overly dramatic and counter productive to finding solutions. When I say no to this park I will ensure it is clear rationale and benchmarks are given to the proponents of this park before then can again bring this idea back to council. By doing this I provide clear rationale and benchmarks for proponents who might wish to continue their work on the project and peace of mind for residents who have now clearly stated they have no interest in this project. Lets remove politics from decision making.
I would also like to see a downhill mountain bike course. There are several hills that could easily accommodate this type of course. Courses are present in other other towns/cities and a course could be built for minimal expense.
I will expand the use of and/or connections of pathways in Cochrane.
I will focus on a ‘Cochrane first’ policy for access to Cochrane programs. This would include assisting hockey moms and dads with better ice times etc.
I will seek to add more outdoor hockey rinks, at least one for each area of Cochrane.
I will seek to build a path or steps for people parasailing.
I will explore having Spray Lakes Saw Mill become an anchor tenant to a new industrial park within town limits. Spray Lakes has been an upstanding corporate citizen for the Town of Cochrane but as the town grows so does its needs. Both the Town of Cochrane and Spray Lakes would benefit from a new location, the town by having another area within the core for development, Spray Lakes for having a new, more modern facility and both the Town and Spray Lakes ensuring that any pollution reclamation on the existing site is completed.
A business park also leads to opportunities for industrial growth in Cochrane, a possible location for safe and affordable commercial parking, reduces and redirects commercial traffic away from the downtown core and can be used to relocate various town facilities which in turn offers redevelopment opportunities.
I will ensure that the Cochrane home page has a full list of licensed local businesses. Let us provide increased value for companies with a Cochrane business licenses. I’ve heard from too many people in the trades and/or homeowners that talk about not knowing how to make a more informed/local choice, about feeling victimized by shoddy workmanship and about the lack of fairness for those business that ‘play by the rules’ vs. those that do not. Cochrane still has a ‘shop local’ vibe, lets promote this and provide people the information to make a more informed choice. Let us help local businesses keep providing the amazing services they already do.
I will form a ‘Cochrane first’ purchasing policy for the town. This would mean that, whenever feasible and where all other considerations are equal, any project approved by Council and/or operational purchases will require that service be provided by locally registered businesses up to a price point variance of 5%. If we want to ‘talk the talk’ of supporting our local businesses, then lets ‘walk the walk’. I would expect this idea to involve further discussion/input, a trial phase before full implementation and study but I think this idea would focus administration into giving local businesses of all sizes a much-deserved guarantee to compete for businesses.
I will focus on increasing the number of registered and licensed childcare spots of all forms in Cochrane. In today’s age parents can and should be given the opportunity to keep in/rejoin the workforce without the barrier of child care costs. However, the reality is that this is often not the case and parents are forced to choose either their career or having children. I will seek to change that.
I will work with developers in the town to promote more sustainable and environmental building practices such as ‘roughing in (building in the capacity during the initial construction of the house)’ solar panels, electric care charging stations etc. I will do this by incentivizing the off site levi program and/or other influencers so that developers have a financial incentive to build better homes. I have an uncle who is a building contractor and I have researched this subject. The costs to have solar power capacity and/or electric car chargers is minimal if done during initial construction but grows exponentially as a retrofit. Forward thinking building practices provide value-added assets for both builders and the community.
I will seek to have 100% of all municipal buildings run by renewable resources. Cochrane has taken the lead in environmental initiatives in the past, it can be done again!
I would seek to have the town explore counsel ways to facilitate green initiatives/rebate programs. I would seek to have these programs cost neutral and optional. These program(s) would allow a wide variety of choice for individuals who wish to make more sustainable choices.
I will work towards identifying and providing predictable ongoing financial support for key community resources. Cochrane is blessed to have amazing volunteers. Groups such as the activettes, Nan Booth Library, the Humane Society, Shriners club, Bike Cochrane, Sports for All, a pending women’s shelter are just some of the groups I am talking about but there are many others. I have worked for non-profit agencies in the past and there was always pressure from one year to the next just to survive. This leaves agencies competing for scare donations/resources and distracts them from doing the work they were formed to do in the first place. Lets let volunteers focus on what they already do so well!
Support would not be just limited to financial support but also other resources with an important point, the town would ask, not dictate, what other forms of support an agency requested.
I will assess and explore free public transportation for seniors. Our seniors have spent their lifetime building Alberta/Cochrane, we owe them the highest standard of living possible! One of the consistent issues I hear from seniors are the challenges associated with general restrictions of age, isolation and the challenges of living within a fixed income. There are many areas where I see town council being able to make a difference in services to seniors; free public transportation and/or drastically increased eligibility criteria for low fares seems like a good starting point. Like everything there would be a dollar value for this service but my hope would be to make this cost neutral which I believe is possible from a reallocation of budget savings from my other initiatives.
Transparency and Accountability
I will put a motion forward asking for the formation of set criteria for ‘in camera’ sessions. Right now, any council member can call for an ‘in camera’ meeting that results in a meeting where NO records are kept. There will be times where a debate with no public record is needed such as discussing a legal matter. I feel the public has the right to see what council members say. I want to ensure ‘in camera’ sessions are not used to be used to avoid a public debate.
I will focus on transparency and ensure clear ethical boundaries are known and respected when I become a Town Council Member. The Conflict of Interest Act is the legislation that outlines the rules regarding ‘conflict of interest’ in Alberta. The Oxford dictionary defines conflict of interest as, “A situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity.” A conflict of interest can exist if a decision is found to be in conflict of interest or has the perception of being a conflict of interest.
There have been questionable choices in the past by mayors and council members. It could be argued that some of these decisions have cost the town of Cochrane millions of dollars of wasted tax payer dollars. My point is this; the position of Town Council is a responsibility and an honor and should never be abused for personal gain. It is time for a discussion about the rules Council should govern themselves by so that we avoid problems in the future.
PRIORITY – HEALTHY FUTURES
I used to work as a paramedic in BC. I also trained to be a fire fighter. The training I received taught me one very important lesson, minutes count during an emergency.
The saying, ‘failing to plan if planning to fail’ is an essential concept for planning emergency services.
Initial focus will be on two major ideas.
As a Town Counsellor I will focus on implementing a funding model that automatically grows as our population grows. This eliminates large deficit spending and allows predictable funding to support the men and women that provide emergency response services to us. Surplus funding is to remain with the service it was allocated to so that the department can best prioritize their needs.
I will also form an epidemic/pandemic task force to research protocols and policy that Cochrane can use in the future. We MUST learn from the confusion, chaos and needless costs of Alberta’s reactions to the Covid Virus. There is now clear proof of what does or does not work and Cochrane must do better if another epidemic/pandemic strikes which science says is not a matter of if but when.
I will also be proactive in basic safety measures. I will not vote for any development that includes sidewalks on just one side of the street, I will not vote for any development that includes zero property setbacks and I will seek to re-establish a minimum 4 foot per house (8 feet total) spacing between houses. I remain unconvinced at this time of the benefits to Cochrane residents to allow these practices to continue.
PRIORITY – SAVING US MONEY
In When I was a financial planner, I always urged my clients to ‘focus on the basics’. That means always have a ‘rainy day fund’ with clear expectations when these funds will be used, look at debt with realistic plans on how to pay that debt back, ensure you know the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and do not spend money you do not have.
That does not mean you do not go into debt, very few of us would have a house if we did not borrow money, it just means that you are judicious when you borrow money.
With power comes responsibility. Municipal governance has many ‘moving parts’, unique feature and can be complicated, but basic principles should be followed.
As a Town Counsellor, I will take action by:
1/ I will focus on needs, not wants. I am not convinced that tax increases are inevitable but the reality is having a zero percent property tax increase is an exceedingly difficult target to reach without draining reserves and/or having unintended consequences. An open, honest and transparent conversation MUST take place between Council and residents. Services have costs and taxation is the principle way of paying for services. I won’t back away from tough discussions nor would I be proud of a budget that includes a 0% property tax increase that was only possible through increased debt and draining reserves.
2/ Counsellor Nagel attempted to become a UCP candidate in 2017. While I applaud Mr. Nagel for his personal commitment to act on what he believes in, if he had been successful, the resulting election to find another Town Council member would have cost $250,000 – $500,000 depending on the estimations you use. But that could be avoided by simply having numbered ballots for the Cochrane municipal election. By closing this oversight, we eliminate that future liability. This is just one of many other policy loopholes/oversights that need to be addressed.
3/ I will focus on having Cochrane Town Council be the lowest paid in Alberta by 5% and I will be the lowest paid Town Council member by 5-10% by donating that portion of my compensation to charity.