"This municipal election is about more than pro or against, it's about what can be done, action and new leadership. As the campaign continues I will release my positions on issues and I will answer your questions directly. If you believe a position needs further comment, let me know"
I want to look at tackling affordability through several paths.
We cannot underestimate the issue of property taxes; any increase is going to make our city more expensive.
We need to bring on more units at a level that entry homebuyers, young families and lower income members of our community can afford.
We should work with experts in the field such as the Greater Victoria Housing Society and Pacifica Housing.
I support opportunities to offer tax incentives for residents who want to add rental suites or studios. This could include a period of relief from the increase in property taxes
My position on a stronger Arts Community in Victoria
The arts community is a very important part of my life. In fact, it is the reason I moved to Victoria more than 24-years ago.
It is a thriving hub of creativity that I know will benefit from another strong, supportive voice in local government.
As Councillor I will work with my fellow councillors, not only in Victoria, but across Greater Victoria to advance a plan to create a stronger arts community by:
Recognizing the arts community’s significant impact on Victoria’s culture and economy.
Working to increase a steady stream of sustainable funding through evidence-based investment.
Revising local government funding commitments and to support a move to a rolling five-year funding model, thereby providing certainty for the future of our community arts organizations.
The development of cooperative agreements between all arts groups to promote the work and events of the arts community and enhanced support by existing local government communications resources.
Advocacy for the development of an “Arts Centre” to provide secure space for community groups to operate within that is suitable and appropriate to their needs.
I see arts groups struggle in our community because very often they do not have a permanent space in which they can create. The work of these groups strengthens, inspires and enriches our community - most of this work is through thousands volunteer hours.
Their investment is recognized and enhanced.
We place significant investment in sports, recreation and events, it’s time we rectify the arts deficit in our community.
My position on consultation in local government
We are not perfect people and very often when politicians make mistakes we tend to hold them to a standard that’s unattainable.
If they fail reasonable consultation, they should apologize and vow to do better and not repeat the mistake.
Such was the case when Victoria’s current Mayor acknowledged she and her council failed to effectively consult Fort Street merchants and businesses on the installation of bike lanes. It is a huge project and deserved full input from those it affects the most. In fact, the mayor apologized, promising to make changes and do better. That was - as you will see from the letter on this page - February 2017.
Here we are 18 months later and another apology for another failure to consult - the Sir John A. MacDonald statue reconciliation debacle.
As a voter asked me this week, “How many apologies are we to accept before they [present council] learn?”
One of the main reasons I’m running is because I believe when issues fit councillors’ agenda, they pay lip service to “consultation”.
I had several opportunities to sit down with members of NewCouncil.ca team and it’s been inspiring, productive and respectful.
What is stunningly appropriate is the interest each member has for the opinions of others.
And, this is important, each candidate is committed to listening to people they serve when elected.
I’d even say we are excited to get to work and show you how you should be respected.
As your councillor I will listen and show you respect even when we disagree.
I welcome your comments.
My position on support for the Street Community
I am pleased to share our team’s position on homelessness and our street community.
As you will see from the statement, this position statement clearly lays out that we all see this issue as a priority.
To supporters, we have this in hand. We will act quickly and decisively on this file and I know we can bring partners to the table to help solve this challenging issue.
To critics, there are no mention of cuts. There is no signs if disinterest. We are committed to helping our street community. I am committed to helping our street community.
The City of Victoria must provide the support that people without a home desperately need. Tent cities and sleeping in doorways put vulnerable people at risk in an environment that is unhealthy, unsafe and does nothing to provide this community with long-term solutions to homelessness.
There are almost 600 people in Greater Victoria identified as Absolutely Homeless in the most recent Point-in-Time survey. By working with organizations such as the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, a New Council will implement a proven Housing First strategy to shelter every one of them within the Capital Regional District, with enhanced support and care to eliminate the need to sleep in parks and on the street.
We will establish an effective and accountable housing spectrum to transition people living on the street into safe shelters; from shelters into supportive housing; from supportive housing into recovery and reintegration.
Victoria needs leadership from a New Council to implement a lasting solution to homelessness. We will remove costs for new supportive housing through a clear, efficient and flexible zoning and planning process.
We will work with neighbourhoods to identify opportunities for a variety of housing, using best-practices and proven strategies to successfully house and support those who need it.
And we will challenge the regional municipalities, the CRD, Island Health and all levels of government to fully commit their resources to ending homelessness. This is a regional concern and we must lead the effort to bring the region together to respond.
Tent cities, piecemeal approaches and short-term plans are not acceptable. For the health of all people living in Victoria, a New Council will ensure lasting safety, dignity and hope for our most underserved.
What people are saying about Stephen
"The City of Victoria would be lucky to have you as a councillor" - Tracy Squance
"I welcome a fresh intelligent voice on Council" - Helen Edwards
"Most excellent! A man with logical, straight-forward thinking able to see the big picture." - Nikki Jomha
My position on lowering speed limits
As Councillor I would oppose any blanket initiative to lower speed limits to 30 km throughout our city.
We should review the available evidence and make decisions based on proper consultation and safety. We need reasonable leadership balancing the needs of everyone.
I live on a street where 50 km/h is inappropriate. We also have speed bumps, “significant” speed bumps. We have some “personal signs” at the end of our street asking people to slow down and for the most part it works. There are always those exceptions.
Certainly, speeds in neighbourhoods where there is evidence lowering the speed limit will improve safety, we should look at the issue and make changes.
But, a blanket policy to reduce speed limits across the entire city is something I cannot support. I need to see evidence and neighbourhood support. In essence what’s good for one neighbourhood may not be good for the entire city.
This is another case of the incumbent Mayor imposing her will on the people with no consultation.
My position on one support initiative for people living with addition
One element missing from our city’s challenge coping with people living with addiction is “Recovery”.
One of the best explanations I have seen is; Recovery is peer-led recovery support that helps individuals build recovery capital at the community level. It also helps facilitate supportive relationships among individuals in recovery, as well as community and family members. In turn, this increased recovery capital helps individuals initiate and sustain recovery over time.
As Councillor, I will work with my fellow Councillors and Councillors throughout Greater Victoria to establish a Recovery Centre.
Modelled after similar centres throughout the world, this centre will provide recovery information and training, offer support services, connect people to employment and social services and provide much needed space for meetings.
Typically centres, such as the initiative I am proposing, are mostly volunteer-peer operated.
I have personally witnessed benefit of the recovery community. It is strong, effective and provides a truly altruistic benefit to our community.
I have no doubt with added support and resources, our community will become more healthy.
I support zero based budgeting and do not believe inflation plus one or two percent is an acceptable base.
Do you get a 2% increase every year? What about seniors on fixed income?
We need to be responsible with your money, no more poor management such as the Johnson Street Bridge - $70 million plus over budget, the Bike Lane Project $7 million plus over budget, an estimated $2million spent on the former Police Chief investigation.
We have a $500 million infrastructure deficit and we need to fix our aging city.