Thursday, September 12, 2013

McCreath Responds to Happy City Survey 9/12/13

The Happy City Group has asked me to respond to a survey on Municipal Election Issues. Here is the responses I provided.

Questions submitted by the Happy City Community

1) What changes (if any) would you make to the planning process in St. John's?

First of all, would like the planning process to be made public, so folks like myself, who have never been part of council, will have an idea of what the planning process looks like. Only then, can i make strong suggestions on how it can be improved.

2) What should city council and the mayor's office do to make St. John's more pedestrian-friendly?

Sidewalk snow clearing is a major issue. We need to stop driving bulldozers over sidewalks and start using proper plows. we also need to plow the sidewalks at the same time we plow the streets. Other cities have figured out how to do this, and there is no excuse for us not to.

3) Please state your position on the idea of mandating that a proportion of units in new residential developments be affordable.

While I want to see steps taken to address the affordable housing, I'm hesitant to create formal legislation forcing this to happen. I'd rather create incentive programs for developers, and partnerships with developers, to ensure that this matter can be addressed in a way that won't discourage developers to take on projects.

4) What is your vision for heritage preservation – how can we increase and promote our built and intangible heritage?

Buildings declared historic should not be destroyed, no exceptions!

5) I have not seen green spaces provided in new subdivisions. What ideas are forthcoming to address ongoing developments? legislation should be created to force the creation and/or preservation of green space, in new developments.

6) Is the current number of councilors needed? Should it be lower? Higher?

As this city grows, I sense the workload on councilors will increase. at the same time, I am not sure we need 4 at large positions. I'd be in favour of reducing the amount of councilors, but at the same time, I suspect we need more than just the mayor to be considered full-time.

7) Should St. John’s build more shared (bike/pedestrian) pathways around the city? Given that many runners prefer to run on asphalt rather than the concrete sidewalk, should the city consider replacing some of its sidewalks with such shared pathways?

If it is feasible to do this, then yes.

8) Some parts of St. John’s have an excellent walking trail network. Should green spaces with walking and biking trails be a part of all new developments? What about bike lanes?

I am definitely in favour of having walking trails in all neighbourhoods. if the market requests bike trails and bike lanes, then they should also be considered.

9) Do you believe that workers in essential services such as public transit should have an alternate means of dispute resolution so that labour disputes do not cause a disruption of services and undue hardship on those relying on those services?

Most jurisdictions have provincial legislation that can require workers deemed 'essential' to report to work, even during a strike or lock out. if this is not already in place, then I would look to engage the Provincial Government to put such a thing in place.

10) The St. John’s Board of Trade wrote: “Transit Oriented Development increases accessibility and transportation options through land use clustering and mixing, and non-motorized transportation improvements. This reduces distances for car trips, allows a greater portion of trips to be made by walking and cycling, and allows some households to reduce their car ownership. Together, this can largely reduce vehicle travel, reduce total transportation costs and create a more livable community.” What is your stance on Transit Oriented Development?

100% supportive of this!

11) Do you believe that the development plan for the North East Avalon Region should incorporate a traffic-reduction strategy?


Questions on Dialogue, Communication and Public Engagement

1) What changes, if any, would you want to make to the city’s system of public consultations on development issues?

Incorporate interactive online feedback options, in addition to in person and mail-in options.

2) What do you think about the City’s use of social media? Are there further opportunities available for creative use of these tools? If so, what are they, and what obstacles might they face?

The city currently does use social media. I would strongly encourage growth in social media use to extend outreach and public engagement.

3) Would you support a redesign of the city’s public notices to improve readability and increase interest from the general public? Would this be worth pursuing if it meant amending the relevant provincial legislation?


4) How could the city engage residents more thoroughly in the budgeting process? Would you support any sort of “participatory budgeting” process that allowed citizens to vote directly on budget priorities?

I am definitely supportive of having as much citizen engagement as possible, yet at the same time, I would raise caution about a small amount of citizens having the authority to vote on budget issues. final say should be in the hands of City Council.

5) Happy City has heard a number of ideas on how to make public meetings and council meetings more welcoming to citizens. Would you support the following?

a. Providing child care during public meetings
b. Taking questions via Facebook and Twitter during meetings
c. Posting footage of meetings online
d. Allowing citizen deputations at meetings of council
e. Encouraging developers to meet with citizens and gather input before developing a proposal for a piece of land

Yes to all of these!

6) Are there any other ideas you have for making the City more responsive to citizen input?

Restore Faith in Government Process by the following:

- Better citizen engagement
- More transparency
- Pro-active accountability
- Streamline service delivery

Increase Cooperation and collaboration:

- Get the City working better with neighbouring cities & towns
- Develop better working relationship with provincial & federal governments
- Form stronger relationships between city, citizens, and businesses

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