In an interview with Gagandeep Ghuman, mayoral candidate Patricia Heintzman outlines her ideas and her plans for what she would like to do as Mayor.
Why did you decide to run for election again?
I got so much feedback and support and encouragement to do it. At a personal level, this isn’t a great thing to do. There is a lot of frustration, the money isn’t good and I have been sacrificing on the financial side. But I think we need good leadership and we need a really empowering mayor. It’s frustrating when things don’t trickle down into the bureaucracy and every day is a groundhog day. I decided that I will change that and it has to be a philosophical change.
Well, you are dealing with people’s hard earned money and for staff there can be a fear of not being perfect with everything. So, there is huge risk aversion to ideas. In the private sector you know failure is part of the game. But in the public sector you have to take these calculated risks and there can be trepidation sometimes especially for new councillors. Council as a whole need to be more open minded and have a much more collective voice which conveys clear critical thinking.
How do you see Mayor Rob Kirkham’s time on the council?
He is a nice guy and we get along but for me it comes down to personal leadership style. I’d like him to share more information. I don’t think his not sharing information is intentional, but he just doesn’t see it as important. My personal style is to be more inclusive manner where everyone can see whom the mayor is meeting, where the official meeting schedule is an open book. I’d like to implement a system where we have a meeting without agenda.
How would you be different mayor?
I’d publish my calendar for starters and be more open to the public and council. We have had a few standing committees without clear mandate, but I’d like an open task force that involves tapping into our human capital.
How do we rein in the taxes?
See, you have to do the business of the city. You can’t cut corners on infrastructure, but most of our budget is wages and with union collective bargaining, there will be an increase of three or four cent every year. The only way a municipality can make money is through taxation on property, but I think there are efficiencies to be found in some areas where we are overstaffed. We have too many middle management and I don’t think we are big enough so there is a lot of streamlining to happen. We need to right size, I think.
What are some of the things you would like to achieve?
I want to focus on specific ways to improve transit and look at revenue with a long term goal. I’d like to see a shift but think about a real strategic way to improve it. We have a lot of car traffic and we know businesses don’t come here for lack of a better transit. We also need to fix our zoning issues. We need to be proactive about zoning and it’s really challenging to find office space and land to build here. I’d like to see a task force focussed on low hanging fruit on zoning. We did a zoning review and it cleaned up a lot but it took two years to develop.
Why did you back away from referendum and what are your views on LNG?
I was not getting any support from it, but I think there still is a potential for referendum. I don’t support the current project because I think the provincial government policy on LNG is short sighted. There are concerns with fracking and we don’t have the cleanest LNG as the government is saying. It won’t be a net gain and there are several environmental issues, air quality issues that haven’t been taken into account. With the Fortis gas pipeline, we have just beginning to understand the implications. It will go through our business park, through the estuary so there are huge issues with that too. Economically, there won’t be any gains but we may have a bit of a boom.
I don’t have the power…we don’t have jurisdiction but we can ask the right questions, which I think our Mayor and council are not asking about the process. We may not have the jurisdiction, but you have to speak your mind.
Are you satisfied with the Oceanfront deal?
I’d like to do an audit but I doubt it would find anything untoward except that we didn’t get value for our money. I don’t think you are going to be. If we want to get the oceanfront build then this is the deal on the table and there is a lot of public process that has to happen still. I’d like to have seen a better deal and the Solterra deal wasn’t $20 million as you reported. So, this is by far the most viable deal. So either we decide we move forward or we sit on it. We have yet to complete the DCCs, tax exemptions. Now council has to decide and that is reasonable, community feedback does influence.
Are you in support of the Cheekeye fan development?
I fundamentally think we need to be infilling. One of our big challenges is we that we are a sprawled out community and it’s really challenging to manage that. Cheekeye fan is an important area for industrial potential, landfill, and wildlife corridors. So, there has to be pretty compelling reason for us to start building there.