Campaign 2018 in the books – thanks all

Friends,

Campaign 2018 is in the books for me. I will end it as I started it with a pledge to be respectful, responsive and realistic regardless of outcome. I will also add reflective. The campaign has given me plenty upon which to reflect. Engaged discussion, challenged assumptions, critical conversations.

I’m very grateful to all of you.

I’m thankful to all of you who have stopped and asked me questions, shared views and showed your amazing love of this place we call home.

I am thankful for community members who have stepped up and done deep dives into issues and taken positions on the choices we face as a community. That takes guts. Good on you!

I am thankful for the work of our local media who gave of their time and talent to bring you information about all the candidates. The fifth estate. We must never forget the role of free press.

I am thankful for all those who put their names forward. It’s a steep climb and a nerve wracking process.

Tonight, I will unwind with friends, maybe play a game of scrabble or cards and have a few laughs.

Tomorrow, I will share a meal with my neighbourhood at the Canoe Seniors Hall (everyone welcome) then walk to North Canoe School and cast my ballot with my kids in tow (if they’re willing – #becauseteenagers)

I will spend the rest of the day making up for weeks of overdue household chores to absorb the nervous energy of election day.

And I will wait with anticipation (as a child does at Christmas) for your decision. I hope there’s an orange in the bottom of my stocking and not a lump of coal.

Still, for all the strife in the world, please know that as citizens our most precious right is the right to vote. Thank you for doing that.

Loulou out.   It’s all up to you now.

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Chamber of Commerce Q&A

Questions Yes or No – All Candidates

Do you support the procurement of funding for the Ross Street Underpass?
Yes. It’s been decades in the planning and it represents our best chance to secure an unfettered, safe and much needed access to and from a vital part of our community. I have spoken to paramedics, cyclists, moms with strollers, seniors in walking distance of the downtown. It’s key to building an inclusive and active living link. It will improve our downtown. Our job as Council is to increase access. Transport Canada’s job is to limit the danger of level crossings. Either way, we pay. Let’s do this and move on to other projects. 

Cultural Planning, at its base level, is a process for identifying and leveraging a community’s cultural resources and integrating those resources across all facets of local planning and decision making. Do you support the creation and implementation of a Cultural Master Plan for Salmon Arm?

Yes. I chaired the task force and the volunteers members were thoughtful and decisive in their expertise and informed view that unless and until we address our capacity as a city to sustain our arts and culture sector, we cannot make an informed decision on what happens next. Council is in support and the plan will move forward. I am proud of my opportunity to have facilitated that process.

Do you support the development of a Performing Arts Centre?

Yes, with a caveat. Without presuming the outcome of the Cultural Master Plan, I will say that I will only support this if it’s been identified as a clear and sustainable need based on the cultural master plan.  There is no question that we want one. The real question is can we afford one and what, as a community, are we prepared to invest to get one and sustain one. The Cultural Master Plan will help us assess this so we can make an objective decision.

As we witness throughout our province, natural and man-made disasters can be devastating, in particular to smaller communities and cities. We could experience forest fires, large scale flooding, water contamination (due to rail or transport spillage), landslides, etc. Do you support the creation of a Salmon Arm emergency preparedness and disaster recovery program?

Yup, already in place. This is mandated to regional districts and the City of Salmon Arm supports it through annual funding. Thanks to our amazing team of staff and volunteers who administer it.

Questions    

What are your 2 primary goals during your 4 year term? How will you achieve this?

One big thing and one small thing.

Big thing – Build affordable housing units with the support of BC Housing.

Small thing – Solar lights at the skate park to make sure that our youth who use it, typically are on the fringe, know that we support their athleticism, their dedication to their sport and their respect for their community and sacred gathering space. I am thankful for all those who made that skatepark happen. And while we often dismiss the skater culture, we do so at our peril. Those kids are individualist who deserve to know that we respect and appreciate their potential. Ironically, this might be more difficult to achieve that the big thing.

What do you see as the greatest economic challenges facing Salmon Arm? How will you address them?

Housing, housing, housing. It’s the whole spectrum we need to look at and I am confident that without providing the aspirational option of home ownership, we will not see our potential realized. As co-chair of the Housing Taskforce, I am so proud of the work of our volunteer members who have stepped up and committed to finding a Salmon Arm solution while advocating for our fair share of provincial resources. I was inspired and grateful for the response of the province when we met with them at UBCM and told them of our approach. Their response, which motivates me to keep working, is that they were clear that without us, they can’t move forward. Politics is about finding the right pillars of power to move issues forward. We’ve found that. And we need to keep moving, sooner, rather than later.

What specific measures will you take to help local business thrive?

Part of this is recognition. I want you to know that I have lived in four provinces and seven cities. I am, if nothing else, extremely curious. I am, at my core, an explorer. I moved here for love but I stayed here because I realized that there are things that happen here that simply couldn’t happen anywhere else and I wanted to be a part of that.

We have a mature and successful tech cluster in Salmon Arm in constant search of talent. How do we get talent? Is it just about a paycheque? No. It’s about a lifestyle, it’s about inclusion. It’s about belonging. It’s about added value.

We have seen significant growth in the last 18 months. We need to recognize this. And continue to work towards recognizing our responsibilities to our newcomers that they see what we see. And we will meet and exceed their expectations of us just as you recognized my expectations of you.

I will say this, my colleagues envy my spot in life. While I might not have the income they have, I have a lifestyle to which they aspire. All in all, good trade off.  I will never go back to Vancouver. And my Vancouver friends would do anything to be here. Enough said.

If elected, what transportation issues will be your priority?

30,000 foot view. We focus on symptoms and not causes. I’m not sure why we do that. We need a rigourous and measurable active transportation plan. As long as we focus on the car, we forget the power of common and active transportation. And prior to any criticism, can I ask you, have you ever taken the bus? It’s cheaper. It’s faster and it’s better. I have.

How will you move forward to increase housing density and affordable housing stock?

Simply put, not a single R8 (coach house, rental suite in a home) has been rejected in the last four years. This council understands that we do not have a space problem (we are second only to Vancouver in land mass), we have a use of space problem. As for multi family, I am personally grateful to our developers who have stepped up and capitalized a four fold increase in multi-family developments in the last year. It needs to be said, that without the commitment of developers to increase density, the situation will not change. They are stepping up and I am proud to live in a community where private interests know that there is a higher purpose. Thank you.

What measures will you take to preserve heritage in our city – the buildings, historical sites and stories to pass down to the next generation(s)?

We have several city committees. The only committee to have its own strategic plan and budget is our Heritage Commission. They have expert power. Our Council respects that. And we let them take the lead. I am the Chair of that Commission and I can honestly tell you that not a meeting goes by that they do not amaze with with their passion and commitment to the cause. We are in good hands. And I am humbled by their service.

In your opinion, what is the greatest strength of Salmon Arm? How do you plan to put this strength to use as the City develops its growth plans?

We are BC’s most liveable city, in my view. I am grateful for the work of the Community branding team. Research, facts and a way forward. Small city, yes! Big ideas, you bet. Game on!

What will you do to support labour attraction and retention in Salmon Arm?

See above. A made in Salmon Arm solution.

What is your vision and overall plan for the Industrial Park? What will you do to achieve that vision?

So this has been on my mind. I think we like to make assumptions about what businesses need. And that isn’t the right approach. I do believe that perfection is the enemy or progress. And I have spent time, as a business owner, speaking to these owners. I caution you. They work hard and should not be the subject of speculation. Trust me, if they want something, we hear about it and we respond.

What plans do you have to combat the growing homeless population in Salmon Arm?

Housing. When first elected, I asked to be chair of the Social Impact Advisory Committee (trust me, not the easiest job) and learned about the root cause of what people see and experience. We face some serious housing insecurity issues. But, while I don’t have the answer, nobody does, btw, I do know this. Our social impact advisory committee members are subject experts and are totally invested in the solutions we seek so I’ll use this forum to say that if you are of the point of view that blame is the game, know that a rejection of their efforts is disrespectful and totally pointless. They are our heroes. And they need our support. I have their back.

What is your plan to deal with the increase in street solicitation (panhandling) that is taking place within the downtown and outer areas?

Housing. And, a demand (not a request) of the province for a community outreach worker.

What is your plan to deal with increased usage, and dwindling supply, of parking in the downtown core and waterfront?

Symptom, not cause. I believe in a people focussed community, not a car focussed community. End of.

 

Shuswap Food Action Society Q&A

1) Would you be willing to work with the Shuswap Food Action Society to develop a Salmon Arm Food Strategy that sets priorities for and guides ongoing food-focused policy initiatives and projects (including adding food security language into relevant areas of the OCP)?

Yes. I have, over the years been involved with the organization, and with other food organizations such as the COABC and small producers as part of my work as a design and marketing consultant. As a councillor, I understand the fundamental challenge of food security even despite the fact that “Food” as a category doesn’t typically fit within municipal jurisdiction. So I want to acknowledge that it has been an uphill climb to put this on the municipal political radar and I admire your resolve and dedication. But as cities increasingly recognize their moral (if not jurisdictional) responsibility to play a role in ensuring food security as it relates to healthy communities, the narrative has, thankfully, changed for the better. It’s my view that the OCP will need an update in the next term and I am committed to seeing food security included in that as a fundamental pillar of a healthy community. As chair of the Shuswap Healthy Communities Coalition, I have always advocated for a voice for food security and economic sustainability of local producers. Healthy people make good decisions and health comes from nutrition, belonging and active living.

2) From your perspective, what would be one priority project related to food and agriculture over your term?

We need to integrate the work done by the CSRD’s Shuswap Agricultural Strategy, the Shuswap Food Action’s mandate, Interior Health initiatives and the Salmon Arm Economic Development’s Agricultural initiative as well as our social development agencies food security initiatives (community gardens, food banks, gleaning programs) into a comprehensive food policy for the City. The work is being done at several levels but requires a coordinated assembly of efforts, goals and objectives. We do not have a food problem. We have a food distribution problem. Of them, in terms of a number one priority, I will advocate for Salmon Arm, given the current Provincial governments focus on local food, for the establishment of a commercial kitchen (aka food hub) for food producers and healthy food education here in an accessible, public and affordable space. I want kids to learn how to cook. And seniors to know that the kids can make them healthy meals. This is within our reach. And if re-elected (or not), I will continue to advocate for that.

As an aside, I attended on workshop on this very topic early in my term and it shocked me to hear that if there is a major earthquake in Vancouver, we would run out of food in three days. That was a rally cry for me. And I won’t ever forget that. And I won’t ever stop trying.

Thanks again for all you do.

Louise

Dear Kristal – thanks for the questions – my answers here.

Hi Kristal. Thank you for the questions. Can I just say, that, for me, the best thing about elections is elector engagement which you have shown by posting these questions on all candidates facebook pages and profiles.

Greatest accomplishment:
Striking two task forces with council support.
The Cultural Master Plan Taskforce to carefully and thoughtfully review our capacity, our needs and our ability as a community to ensure and secure a sustainable arts and culture sector including securing funding for provincially supported Business for the Arts.
The Housing Taskforce to convene, inform and engage all sectors related to housing including builders, bankers, social and economic development partners and the very positive response to this initiative from the province and specifically BC Housing.

Hardest decision:

The Mino’s property purchase. This was a significant values clash between heritage preservation and long term planning. I knew from the get go that the way forward was to allow the community a voice. So I convinced council and staff to host an open house of the property to make sure that all those who had an interest in the decision had an opportunity to engage in the debate. And while I know my vote disappointed many, I understood that my role was to focus on the long term benefit for the community to expand our recreation campus. When the new facility is built, I will advocate to have its heritage reflected in the design. Compromise is difficult but important.

Making the Mayor’s office stronger:

It’s important for me that you know that the Mayor is one of 7 votes. It’s called the weak mayor system. I have great respect for all our Mayors who have led our community through difficult times and the community has been wise in its selection over the years. What I didn’t know until I was elected was the importance of our relationship with the provincial and federal government. We have good relationships but as a growing city, we need to flex some more muscle. So it’s time to play hard ball and demand our fair share. I guess, I’ll turn the question back to you. Who has the best experience in getting the deals done? Because the province wants to know that too.
Receiving input and any need for changes:
From the beginning of this journey for me, I have welcomed feedback and done my best to be responsive. Some elected officials complain from time to time about being stopped at the grocery store about one issue or another. I welcome it. It’s an honour. And it’s my job. So make no apologies. That’s what we are here to do. So e-mail me at lwallacerichmond@salmonarm.ca or call me at 250 833 5554 and ask those who have. I always answer. 
Mediating conflict including social media and at council:
Conflict is good. It moves us forward. There is positive conflict and negative conflict. I am fascinated and inspired by good conflict. So often we are faced with situations that seem dire and detrimental. I always focus on cause, effect and long term outcome. And I’ll divulge that in my early days as a councillor I would tremble when an entire neighbourhood would show up to oppose a coach house or legal suite. Because, as an elected official I know that if they don’t get the answer they want, none of them would ever vote for me again. So I changed my tune. What if I make decisions based on the fact that I might never be re-elected again. It cleared my conscious. And I can honestly say, I have never voted feeling compromised. And i’m so grateful I learned that lesson early.

 

I have a confession to make

As a professional who works in design every day of her life, and, as a community member running for re-election for local council, I need you to know that I really really dislike campaign signs. They are boring. And they pollute the landscape. But I’m also practical. They are a necessary evil. So I thought long and hard about what, exactly I would do to meet that need without sacrificing my soul. And here’s what I came up with. A love letter to my city. I need you to know that I love you. I love your willingness to step up, to volunteer, to act, to challenge, to ask for a better city. So I had some signs printed. I want you to know that, regardless of outcome, Salmon Arm deserves good, independent leadership. We are the most liveable small city in Canada. And together, we will take care of each other. We will respect each other. And I believe in you and together, we will get the job done. If nothing else, please, please vote on October 20th. And if you already vote, please, please bring someone to the polls who doesn’t normally vote. Our biggest power as human beings is the willingness and ability to make decisions. As an aside, I spoke to a group of young people this evening and my main message was that I learned to love making decisions and one day, their decisions will shape our world. #awinforus #awinforthem #salmonarm42595332_1886829458291683_1175183024476651520_n

Why I run

I wanted you to let you know that I will be running for re-election as a City Councillor in Salmon Arm this Fall.

During the last election, I talked about how running for council was like applying for a job. I was a candidate and the election period was my interview. Running for re-election, however, is more of a performance review, so here goes.

I studied carefully, asked hundreds of questions, attended a thousand meetings and read tens of thousands of documents. I learned a great deal indeed and I appreciate the investment you’ve made in my on-the-job training.

I learned that every city, while unique, still has to follow the same rules. A municipality  is a child of provincial government. We stand out by the quality and strength of our relationships. I have built meaningful relationships with my fellow council, city staff, community partners, neighbouring municipalities, our regional district and our provincial and federal representatives.

But the most important relationships we have are with you, our community members, our volunteers, our business owners, our neighbours, our seniors, our families and our youth. Wether it was a coffee, a committee meeting, a council meeting, a visit at the park, a chat at the grocery story, a late night text or an early morning e-mail, I have always been honoured to hear your ideas and concerns. Some would say that is the burden of being a local elected official. I don’t see it as a burden. I see it as a gift because you chose me. It has been an honour.

I’m proud to say I have moved the community ahead on a number of fronts – arts and culture, Canada 150, housing, social impact, healthy communities and communication but, I couldn’t have done it alone. That’s now how a healthy community works. A healthy community always has work to do and I’d like to keep doing it. I learned quickly that the best approach is always about collaboration, communication and compassion. And every time I raise my hand for a vote, I think carefully about cause and effect, net benefit and long term outcomes. Which means, from time to time, we haven’t been able to agree. And I’ve honestly never worked with a group of people so able to disagree agreeably. And I’m very appreciative of the respect and inclusion at all the tables to which I am offered a seat.

As for the next four years, as a growing city, one of BC’s fastest growing, we have some issues to address.

Prevention for one. Our greatest (and very important) shared expense is policing. I’m not convinced we do enough on the prevention front. On average, Canadians spend $335 per person per year on policing. I’d like to see us be more mindful of preventative measures. A homeless outreach worker, an increased focus on youth activities, extending transit service into evenings and Sundays, a friendship centre, a year round shelter and a renewed focus on public spaces. But those decisions are not ours alone to make. We need to continue to build partnerships with non-profits and other levels of government to see those improvements made.

Inclusion, for another. The world is changing. Barriers are being busted. Silo thinking is a thing of the past. This runs the gamete from housing to active transportation and youth activities to immigrant services. Generally, we need to continue to build a city with everyone’s needs in mind. Specifically, there are things we can do right now. The Ross Street Underpass, for one. Currently, the safest way to cross the tracks is in a vehicle. That’s not inclusive. If you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller, or riding a scooter or a bike, it’s not safe. Transport Canada has told us as much. We now have an opportunity to remediate this without an increase in taxation. We need to do that. I also feel strongly that we have great assets that can be further developed including lights at the skatepark and lights at the beach volleyball court on Canoe Beach. Our kids need to know their city cares about them and extending the use of things that kids like is a good start. Plus, it shines a light on good behaviour. The dark, not so much.

Diversity is equally key to a healthy community. So often, people will run for council in an effort to push their point of view and their solutions to problems they perceive. I know that because when I ran in 2011, I thought I had all the answers. I didn’t. And I didn’t win. And I’m very grateful for what that taught me. The job of a Councillor is to listen, especially to people who are not like you and to people who might not like you. We can’t live in our own bubbles. Only through appreciative inquiry can you expect to make the best decisions. To be frank, a canned approach of solutions to problems only some perceive will simply not work because it’s exclusive of others. And exclusivity does not a healthy community build. Some years ago, Council decided not to support any public declaration so as not to offend one group over another. I don’t agree. I would advocate for the rescinding of that by making a budget referral for programmable LED lights at an appropriate public venue so we can light up with pride for important causes such as diabetes awareness, LGBTQ, autism, cancer prevention, earth day, etc. You get the idea. We need to celebrate the work of our volunteers on the very causes that will change the world and make it a better place.

Recognition is key. It appears, at least to me, that we don’t know the depth and breadth of the incredible advances made here by our business community. There are, without any shadow of a doubt, things that happen here that simply couldn’t happen anywhere else. We have a mature and incredibly powerful group of technological manufacturing, service and retail businesses who aren’t recognized for the work they do and the lives that they change. We need to celebrate that. I’m hopeful our community branding project will help share those stories to our current and future residents.

And there’s still all the usual business of council, zoning, development, infrastructure, protection services, parks and roads, long term financial plans, annual budgets, the official community plan and the long term strategic plan. It’s complex and compelling work. And I love it.  

I will tell you this, a living and thriving city is never perfect. And I will never make promises I can’t keep. Except for this. If re-elected, my hair will get more grey, I will need a stronger prescription for my glasses, and I will show up for you every day. As I have for the last four years.

I hope to see my name on the list of successful candidates come the evening of October 20. Regardless, I thank you for being here. I thank you for voting and I thank you for making Salmon Arm all that it is because, wether you vote for me or not, I believe in us. To my mind, Salmon Arm is the most liveable small city in Canada. And while on occasion being one its councillors keeps me up at night, more often than not, it motivates me to gets me up in the morning to keep doing the important work that needs to get done.

As always, you can call me on 250 833 5554 or e-mail me at lwmediability@gmail.com

Thanks

Louise

Thank you!

I want to take this moment to thank all my fellow candidates. We’ve run a clean campaign. Of that, I am proud.

Nobody wins alone. I want to thank everyone who helped we win. You know who  you are.

But mostly, I want you to know that tonight, you made my dream come true. Not everyone dreams of public office but I do. I want you to know that your trust and respect and support means the world to me.

Monday, I will go to the city. I will find the office and I will post my office hours. Your voice matters. And for the next four years, it will matter to me.

Keep in touch. We all have a role to play in the future of Salmon Arm. Thank you for your support. I couldn’t be more proud or more happy. Thank You.