Other Policies

Beyond the Housing Emergency:

The Rest of Rob Duncan’s Platform

for Mayor of Victoria 2018

 CONTENTS:

  • Citizens’ Assemblies with Participatory Budgeting
  • Municipal Living Wage Program
  • Fare-Free Buses and Designated Bus Lanes During Rush Hour
  • Promote Development of a Walkable Community
  • Moratorium on Further Construction of Separated Bike Lanes
  • Advocate and Support Worker-Owned Co-Operatives
  • Municipal Affordable Childcare Program

>> CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLIES WITH PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING

…because democracy is not a spectator sport!

 Monthly or quarterly one-day assemblies in a suitable location(s), to create opportunities for residents to publicly voice their thoughts and perspectives, to reveal, clarify and express community sentiment, to include a diversity of residents’ points of view,  to help keep local government accountable to the community, and to deliberate on policy ideas and make recommendations to Council. Assemblies will consider and advise Council on budgeting priorities, evaluate existing policy and proposed policy, and generate new potential policy initiatives. In some cases, assemblies may be focused on specific issues (housing, for instance, or bike lanes, or transit), while others may be more general in scope.

Assemblies will be organized by City of Victoria staff but there will be no involvement on the part of municipal or other elected politicians, as either participants or observers.

Initially, attendance and participation in citizens’ assemblies would be open to all interested residents of the City of Victoria and to all owners of property and businesses in the City; if numbers prove overwhelming, it may be necessary to use a random selection procedure (similar in general terms to the procedure used for jury selection) to designate participants. (In practice, any sample like this would be an ‘approximately random’ or near-random sample rather than a strictly random sample, because unlike the jury selection process, people who are selected would always have the option of saying they don’t want to participate.)

 British Columbia has a history of innovative use of citizens’ assemblies. The British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in 2004 was the first of its kind in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_on_Electoral_Reform_(British_Columbia)

The Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform in 2006 and 2007 was modelled after the pioneering BC project. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_on_Electoral_Reform_(Ontario)

Variants of the citizens’ assembly concept have also been used in the Netherlands (2006) and in Ireland (2012-2014) to deliberate on electoral and constitutional reform.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_assembly

 “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm (first African-American woman elected to the US Congress; candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the US in 1972, running against George McGovern; first African-American candidate for a major party’s nomination for President; first female candidate for the Democratic nomination)

 Let’s work toward greater community engagement with a deeper, broader democracy!

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 >> A MUNICIPAL LIVING WAGE PROGRAM

 A municipal living wage program is a requirement that workers are paid the locally-calculated living wage for Victoria (currently $20.50/hr – http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/price-of-housing-pushes-living-wage-in-victoria-area-to-20-50-an-hour-1.23281235), covering all City employees and all employees of businesses that have contracts with the City. For businesses that have contracts with the City, this will be a condition for maintaining those contracts.

 Council can consider extending this approach further, such that, for instance, in order for a specific business to have a contract with the City, all the businesses it has contracts with must also pay a living wage to all employees.

The City of New Westminster has had a municipal living wage law since 2010. This law is less far-reaching in its scope than the law proposed here. The New Westminster law covers city employees as well as employees of service providers and their sub-contractors who “perform services physically on City premises.” The law proposed in this platform, on the other hand, covers all employees of businesses that have contracts with the City, regardless of where their work is performed, as well as City employees.

https://www.newwestcity.ca/business-and-economy/doing-business-with-the-city/living_wage_employer/sb_expander_articles/530.php

The City should play an increased role in the Living Wage Employers Certification program, through greater participation in public education, outreach and information. Victoria City Council currently has membership on the Living Wage Employers program advisory committee, but this role will be expanded to include greater commitment of personnel and resources on the part of the City. http://www.communitycouncil.ca/initiatives/livingwage

http://www.livingwageforfamilies.ca/living_wage

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/livingwage2017

 Focusing on bolstering the business community (in other words, following trickle-down economics, also known as supply-side economics) fails to stimulate the economy because it does nothing to increase demand. That requires putting money in the hands of people who will spend it, those who have needs that are not being met. One way of thinking about this is to see it as a bottom-up strategy, rather than a top-down strategy.  If the goal is to strengthen the local economy, rather than just increase inequality, the top-down trickle-down approach is the wrong approach. Putting more money in low-paid workers’ pockets benefits the local economy because when low-wage workers get a raise, the additional pay is spent in the community, and usually without much delay. It typically doesn’t get invested in the stock market, doesn’t get spent on a winter holiday in the tropics, and doesn’t get squirreled away into a retirement fund, or in some other way removed from circulation in the local community. Instead, it immediately gets spent on needs that previously were not being met and goes back into circulation in the local economy, thus increasing local economic activity and strengthening the community. If you want to stimulate the economy, rather than just increasing inequality, give more money to those at the bottom, not those at the top. By increasing consumer demand, this municipal living wage policy will benefit Victoria’s business community.

“We say that if you run a small business you should want your employees to earn enough to live above the poverty line. Those people … will spend it all in the community, at the grocery store, on rent, at the corner store and the drug store and if they’re lucky maybe at a restaurant or a movie.” – Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour, quoted in the Victoria Times-Colonist, January 16 2015

“A holistic solution to income inequality is going to take a lot of work, but every time you prove that one of the strands is achievable and that it has a positive impact on people’s lives you take another step toward proving the bigger theory of the case.” – Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City

 Let’s make Victoria a LIVING WAGE COMMUNITY!

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 In an interview on Victoria CBC radio FM 90.5 on January 4 2018, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt identified attracting and retaining workers as the foremost challenge for Victoria businesses in 2018. The housing crisis has been a central obstacle in this whole scenario, as has been mentioned in the news a number of times recently, and this crisis is addressed across the board in an all-inclusive manner in Rob Duncan’s Housing Platform. Other obstacles to Victoria businesses when it comes to hiring and keeping employees that were identified by Holt include transportation and childcare. Both these issues are addressed in this platform with detailed policies that are beneficial to the business community, as well as to parents and families and to commuters.

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>> FARE-FREE BUSES going into downtown during morning rush hour & going out of downtown during afternoon rush hour, combined with (1) dedicated BUS LANES on selected commuter routes, also going into downtown during morning rush hour & going out of downtown during afternoon rush hour, (2) a greatly expanded PARK-AND-RIDE system, and (3) TRANSIT SIGNAL PRIORITY. Transferring from a fare-free bus to any other bus during the fare-free period will also be free.

This proposal will of course be criticized as too bold, too ambitious and too expensive,  but we need to see such commentary for what it is: an example of the kind of blithe denialist inertia that keeps humanity squarely on the road to oblivion. There’s a 40-year lag in the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which means that the climate effects that we’ve been experiencing so far are the result of fossil fuels that were consumed in the 1970s. How many smoky months of August in a row will it take before people start to realize the time for baby steps is past? This summertime smoke is the first way  climate change will begin to reduce life expectancy in Victoria. It’s time for large changes in the way we organize our transportation and especially our commuting, changes that are substantive and not constrained by small-scale thinking and resistant attitudes.

https://skepticalscience.com/Climate-Change-The-40-Year-Delay-Between-Cause-and-Effect.html

“Either we want change, or we like the idea of talking about change.” – Shirley Chisholm (first black woman elected to the US Congress [1968], first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President, first woman to run for the Democratic Party‘s presidential nomination [1972])

This policy will be beneficial for the community in terms of TRAFFIC CONGESTION and DOWNTOWN PARKING as well as AIR QUALITY. Like Rob’s housing, childcare and living wage policies, this transit policy will benefit Victoria’s business community – and especially the downtown business community – immensely, for example by freeing up parking that has been occupied by employees, for customers.

As more and more people start taking advantage of the free, fast transportation to work, the number of people bringing their cars into the downtown core and elsewhere will decline, thinning traffic out and improving air quality as well, as traffic volumes fall, and especially going forward as older buses are replaced with new buses and eventually with electric buses (as quickly as possible).

Many residents of the region are deterred from coming to downtown Victoria for shopping or other purposes by the unavailability of parking. They can’t find a place to park, and as a result they prefer shopping at suburban malls or other outlying locations as much as possible. Part of the reason for the shortage of downtown parking is related to large numbers of workers who work downtown and need to park downtown, for example in the City-owned parkades. As more and more downtown workers start taking advantage of the free, fast buses, the parking shortage in the downtown core will be alleviated.

And of course, increased community walkability will reduce the need to use automobiles at all for commuting.

Working creatively with the bus system is the way to reduce the amount of commuter vehicle traffic coming into the downtown area. Separated bike lanes won’t have the same kind of large-scale effect as working with the bus system to make it more attractive and more appealing. The most recent statistic from before the bike lanes were opened was that 6.6 % of commuter trips in greater Victoria occurred by bicycle. Let’s suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the separated bike lane project could double that percentage – an increase that would be an amazing result for any project like that – the percentage of people cycling to work would still be only 13.2 %, less than 1 in 7. Not everyone can ride a bike to work, and a great many would be completely unwilling to during Victoria’s wet wet winters, but everyone, or almost everyone, can ride a bus.

The City should seek funding to implement this program at least on an extended trial basis, in collaboration with transit authorities and authorities in adjacent jurisdictions as needed.

Further expansion of the City’s separated bike lane system shouldn’t go forward until the effect of this policy on traffic volumes is known.

It’s estimated that 10.9 % of Greater Victoria commuters commute by bus. This is a lot lower than Toronto’s 24.3 % and a little lower than Halifax’s 11.8 %. Lots of room for growth in Victoria.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-high-on-cycling-less-so-on-transit-census-data-show-1.23108565

 Another important element of the transportation platform involves greater development of PARK-AND-RIDE programs, from the Mayfair area – where an existing park-and-ride program that started in April 2017 is fully booked – and from other locations in the City of Victoria and around the region where parking space is available or can be created, using the rush-hour bus lanes on major commuter routes where feasible or in some cases planning routes that go around congestion and heavy traffic, to drop-off points in the downtown core.

A technology that will make the bus lanes even more efficient is known as TRANSIT SIGNAL PRIORITY: buses are equipped with technology that enables the driver, when approaching a traffic light that is about to turn red, to quickly message the light to keep it from changing until the bus passes through.

This combination of fast, fare-free transit buses during rush hour and rush-hour bus lanes with transit signal priority, and an expanded park-and-ride system will be effective in reducing commuter automobile traffic into Victoria’s downtown core.

 “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.” – Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogota

 Let’s transform commuting in Victoria for the 21st century!

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 >> PROMOTE DEVELOPMENT OF A WALKABLE COMMUNITY

 WALKABLE COMMUNITIES are compact, high-density communities in which people can walk to destinations like work, school, parks, stores and restaurants, and to access services, not as an occasional alternative but as a form of everyday transportation.

Council should, on a case by case basis, consider altering and relaxing ZONING to accommodate selected development proposals and business license applications that make a demonstrable contribution toward increasing walkability (especially businesses or government facilities that employ substantial numbers of workers locating in residential areas, and residential developments in areas with high concentrations of employers). Greater mixing and integration of workplaces and employment sites with residential use will promote walkability in Victoria, leading to benefits in terms of health and exercise, in terms of the cost of commuting, in terms of traffic congestion on Victoria’s roads and residents’ reliance on fossil fuel burning vehicles, and in terms of air quality in the community.

Walkability can also be promoted through increased DENSITY, which increases the potential customer base for businesses and potential employee pool for those businesses and other employers locating in a particular neighbourhood. Several ways of increasing density (secondary suites, higher residential towers) are discussed in the housing platform. Another way to increase walkability is to make street crossings more numerous, and easier and safer to use.

It’s estimated that 10.3 % of the Victoria area workforce walks to work.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-high-on-cycling-less-so-on-transit-census-data-show-1.23108565

WHY WALKABLE COMMUNITIES?  “Walkability is the cornerstone and key to an urban area’s efficient ground transportation. … Walking remains the cheapest form of transport for all people, and the construction of a walkable community provides the most affordable transportation system any community can plan, design, construct and maintain. Walkable communities put urban environments back on a scale for sustainability of resources (both natural and economic) and lead to more social interaction, physical fitness and diminished crime and other social problems. Walkable communities are more liveable communities and lead to whole, happy, healthy lives for the people who live in them.”  https://www.walkable.org/

https://www.inphilanthropy.org/sites/default/files/resources/Walkable%20Communities.pdf

http://canadawalks.ca/about/walkability/

https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/

Let’s work toward a community where everything’s just down the block and people can walk to work!

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>> A MORATORIUM ON FURTHER CONSTRUCTION OF SEPARATED BIKE LANES DESIGN FLAWS AND SAFETY PROBLEMS ARE ADDRESSED AND UNTIL USAGE INCREASES

 Council should implement a moratorium on further separated bike lane construction, and put the rest of the project on hold until (1) design flaws, safety hazards and routing problems are addressed and (2) usage increases substantially. Criteria for determining when separated bike lane use has increased sufficiently to warrant resumption of construction will need to be discussed and voted on by Council. City staff will collect observational data documenting usage levels in all four seasons, to facilitate evidence-based discussion and decision-making; I have collected a small sample of data myself showing what seem like low frequencies of use, and the data from these observations are summarized below.

Clearly, safe separated bike lanes that can be used by cyclists of all abilities are an important investment in the future, and will become more necessary as residents of Victoria transition toward the transportation options of the future. Many people, though, believe the separated bike lanes that have been built are not presently being used heavily enough to justify either the amount of vital roadway space they occupy, or their cost. Many also believe the decision-making process in which the separated bike lane system was approved wasn’t sufficiently democratic, and that for such major changes to public roadways, especially on main commuter routes, greater public engagement in the decision is needed. To this end, the City will organize one or more citizens’ assemblies on the question. (A more comprehensive, perhaps better option for engaging the public in this matter might be to hold a municipal referendum, as was done with the Johnson St. bridge project, in conjunction with a citizens’ assembly, but the exorbitant cost of a referendum is prohibitive. In the case of the Johnson St. bridge, the referendum was held in conjunction with a by-election for a Victoria City Council seat, defraying the expense and making the cost of the referendum much more reasonable.)

Data on Frequency of Use of Victoria’s Separated Bike Lanes

Date & Time Location Number of Bikes Rate of Use
Fri Feb 16, 3 to 3:20 pm Pandora (walking from Chambers to Government) 5 0.25/min
Fri June 29, 4 to 4:15 pm (i.e., rush hour on the Friday before the July long weekend, presumably one of the busiest rush hours of the year) Fort (walking from Douglas to Cook) 14 (plus 3 in the car lanes, not the bike lane) 0.93/min
Sat July 14, 1:20 to 1:35 pm Fort (walking from Douglas to Cook) 10 bikes (plus 1 skateboard and 1 mobility scooter) 0.67/min
Sat July 14, 1:40 to 1:55 pm Fort (walking back from Cook to Douglas) 15 1/min
Fri Sept 7, 4:27 to 4:47 pm (rush hour on Friday) Pandora (at Blanshard, on the corner by the Ministry of Health building) 65 3.25/min

 

Thurs Sept 13, 4:02 to 4:22 pm (rush hour) Pandora (at Blanshard) 53 bikes (plus 3 skateboards, & 1 bike in the crosswalk and sidewalk, not the bike lane) 2.65/min

The highest rate of use, then, was during rush hour on a Friday, when it was over 3 bikes per minute, and in only one other observation was the rate higher than 1 per minute. Based on these data, the claim that the bike lanes are well used in terms of numbers seems unfounded.

Multiple issues other than rate of use need to be carefully considered before more separated bike lanes are eventually constructed. Before more construction is planned, Council should consider a design change to a less obstructive design, a design that doesn’t block access by emergency vehicles, among other things. An example might be the bike lanes in Saanich on Cook St. between Maplewood and Quadra, which are separated from the automobile traffic only by a sloping (as opposed to vertical) curb. In addition, in the sections with curbs on both sides of the bike lane, the existing design traps cyclists in the lane and prevents them getting out of the way if something goes wrong, such as, for example, a vehicle jumping the curb, or another cyclist losing control, as is bound to happen. And if the bike lanes as currently designed should get busy, there’s a distinct danger of cyclists traveling in opposite directions colliding. And in trying to avoid a collision, the cyclist closest to the road may be forced out into automobile traffic. Two-way bike lanes have been found to be unsafe in a number of locations.

https://cyclemontreal.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bi-directional-cycling-paths2.pdf

https://cyclemontreal.org/2012/06/25/bi-directional-two-way-cycling-paths/

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/egan-the-oconnor-bike-lanes-and-the-danger-in-progress

http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/06/explaining-bi-directional-cycle-track.html

Design manual for bicycle traffic. Netherlands: National Information and Technology Platform for Infrastructure, Traffic, Transport, and Public Space, 2006.

A simple solution to this particular hazard would be to convert the bike lanes on both Pandora and Fort to one-way lanes, traveling west on Pandora and east on Fort, the same as the automobile traffic. In addition, the bike lanes to eventually be constructed on Vancouver St. clearly should be one-way lanes on each side of the road, rather than a single two-way lane.

A further flaw in the design of the existing separated bike lanes involves safety and lack of universal accessibility, in that no provision is made for persons with visual impairments or limited mobility getting off buses and having to cross the bike lanes to get safely to the sidewalk.

Also, many predict that the design of intersections with right-turning automobile traffic will be confusing to many visiting drivers encountering it for the first time, and will result in conflicts and accidents or at least undue stress for these visitors to our city.

And then there are multiple questions involving choice of routing, including the question of locating separated bike lanes on busy thoroughfares such as Pandora Ave. rather than under-utilized alternatives like the Balmoral-Fisgard corridor into the downtown core, Fort St. instead of View St., and  Cook St. rather than Vancouver St. (the original plan, which Council eventually returned to after overwhelming public opposition to locating the bike lanes on Cook). The fact that Council even considered locating bike lanes on Cook St. and the fact that they’ve been installed on Pandora and on Fort indicates a lack of appreciation of the many considerations involved and of the impact on the community. Many also feel that separated bike lanes should be installed for commuting purposes, and not in tourist areas such as Dallas Rd. Hazards involving safety for disembarking bus passengers, among other problems, could be avoided altogether with more thoughtful routing (i.e., there are no buses on Balmoral, Fisgard, or View).

BC Transit bus drivers report that there are sections of both Pandora Ave. and Fort St. that, with the bike lanes, are now too narrow to be safe for transit buses (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/fort-street-a-squeeze-for-buses-after-opening-of-new-bike-lanes-transit-union-1.23323338). Transit buses require a lane width of 3.3 m, whereas in these narrow locations on Pandora and Fort, the lane, inexplicably, is only 2.9 m wide. While the City did consult BC Transit when designing the bike lanes, the City failed to ensure that the bus drivers and their union were also consulted. Here again, converting the bike lanes on Pandora and Fort to one-way lanes instead of two-way lanes would allow for a simple solution: the width of a one-way lane could safely be reduced somewhat where the road is too narrow, whereas making a two-way bike lane narrower would increase the risk of collisions between cyclists.

Clearly, there are numerous issues that need to be reconsidered and problems that need to be carefully addressed before more separated bike lane construction is considered. At an average cost of $2.7M per km, it’s important that a project like this is though through carefully and thoroughly in advance, which has clearly not been the case to date.

It’s estimated that 6.6 % of Greater Victoria commuter trips are made by bicycle. Even if this percentage could be doubled – a result that would be amazing for any public infrastructure project – this would still be only 13 % of commuter trips (less than one-seventh) occurring by bike. Many supporters of separated bike lanes believe this kind of infrastructure will revolutionize commuting in Victoria. Given these numbers, though, it’s clear this belief is misplaced. Too many people simply can’t or won’t ride bikes to work, especially during Victoria’s long periods of inclement weather. Almost everyone, on the other hand, can ride a bus. Rob’s bus policy (discussed in detail above on this Other Policies page), in contrast, does hold this promise of significantly altering people’s commuting habits.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-high-on-cycling-less-so-on-transit-census-data-show

“When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall, otherwise you’re not riding hard.”  –  former US president George “Dubya” Bush, after getting hit by a bike cop at the G8 summit, Gleneagles, Scotland, July 2005

Let’s make sure new bicycle infrastructure is safely and optimally designed, implemented democratically, and used enough to justify its creation, before we commit more public road space and public money!

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 >> ADVOCATE & SUPPORT WORKER-OWNED CO-OPERATIVES

 A business that might be shutting down or that goes up for sale could be purchased by its employees, to be run as a worker-owned co-operative, with profits shared among the workers or potentially deployed in other ways as voted on by the membership – that is, the workers, who will then be working for themselves.

Council will identify concrete, practical ways the City can work with the provincial government or other entities to facilitate, promote, and assist with the establishment and maintenance of worker-owned co-ops. Legislation facilitating government promotion of worker-owned co-ops has been proposed in a number of places, and in some cases, proposals specify that government will provide financing for the takeover in the form of a loan to the co-operative.

https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/07/27/BC-NDP-Greens-Can-Grow-Co-op-Economy/

https://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/vision-green/economy/co-operatives

Worker co-operatives are businesses that are owned and usually also operated by the people working for them. Worker-owned co-ops most often are run by democratically elected management, elected by the worker/owner/members themselves from among their co-workers, with every worker/owner/member having a democratic vote in the way the co-op is run. In other cases, professional managers are hired to run the business, but regardless of the management model, with this kind of ownership structure, worker co-ops generally keep profits in the local community, and they have the effect of reducing economic and social inequality as well as worker alienation and discontent. The worker-owned co-op model is highly flexible and can be used in any sector of the economy. Worker-owned co-ops can be large or small organizations, organized hierarchically or nonhierarchically.

Dr. Richard Wolff, an economist whose analyses have recently become popular on Youtube, sees the process of co-operatization as a process of democratizing the workplace, making decision-making and distribution of profit into democratic processes, and points out that while we expect our political system to be democratic, for some reason we seem willing to accept that work is not.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urCy3UOGgx8    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFyl0zz2yqs

Worker-owned co-ops are common in Argentina and are a central feature of the economy in the Basque region of Spain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation

Western Forest Products closed the profitable Somass sawmill in Port Alberni in 2017 – which had turned a $5M profit in 2016 – despite employee efforts to find an arrangement to keep it going, including efforts toward an employee takeover. The move was in the interests of WFP, which moved the production to other mills and presumably increased its profit by doing so, but obviously not in the interests of the community or of those who lost their livelihoods. Had there been a government standing by ready to assist with dedicated resources and logistical support and a pre-planned, organized process, the outcome might have been different and the Somass mill might be a thriving worker-owned co-operative today, making an important contribution to the Port Alberni community.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/port-alberni-sawmill-closure-1.4225434

A Vancouver Island success story – the Harmac Pacific mill:

https://thetyee.ca/News/2013/09/23/BC-Mill-Success-Story/

http://www.harmacpacific.com/employees.php

http://canadianworker.coop/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urCy3UOGgx8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRa8ruB5mMk

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jeremy-corbyn-unveils-right-own-john-lewis-style-employee-ownership-policy-1581548

http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/occupy-buenos-aires-workers-movement-transformed-city-and-inspired-world

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/17/working-collectively-beats-working-for-a-boss/

http://www.shareable.net/blog/cabby-owned-taxi-cooperatives-on-the-rise

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_cooperative

“Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally, there is nothing – but as people walk this way again and again, a path appears” (source unknown).

Let’s work toward a community with less inequality and less alienation from work!

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>> A MUNICIPAL AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE PROGRAM, BEGINNING WITH WORKING SINGLE-PARENT LOW-INCOME FAMILIES AND OTHER WORKING LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

> Many families pay more for childcare than for any other household expense except housing (and in some cases, even more than they pay for housing).

> The SHORTAGE of childcare spaces in Victoria is severe, and MARKET PRICING puts paid childcare completely out of reach for low-income families.

Like so many other communities across the country, Victoria has a CHILDCARE CRISIS, a crisis so severe that it affects, for example, local businesses’ ability to hire and retain employees.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/child-care-cost-shortage-unlicensed-victoria-vancouver-1.4536136

Earlier this year, the provincial government committed to investing $1B in childcare over the next 10 years. This includes plans to create 22,000 new childcare spaces and to provide up to $1250/month as a childcare subsidy to 86,000 families who are among the worst affected by the crisis.

In 2017, the federal government announced its Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, involving a plan to spend some $7B on childcare and related programs, also over 10 years.

There is, then, no shortage of funding available from other levels of government for new childcare services.

That being said, though, the time frames put forward by the provincial and federal governments for implementation of new programs seem to suggest a lack of appreciation of the state of crisis in childcare. This crisis urgently requires rapid action, not decade-long program roll-outs, and the City of Victoria should step into the gap with initiatives to alleviate our community’s childcare emergency in a more timely manner.

The City will secure funding from the provincial and federal governments to establish a municipal childcare program. As a starting point, the City will implement an affordable high-quality childcare program for working single-parent low-income families, as a first priority (according to the most recent statistics, the poverty rate among children living with one parent in British Columbia is an alarming 48 % – http://still1in5.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2017-BC-Child-Poverty-Report-Card.pdf), and for other working low-income families, as feasible, with flexible hours to accommodate parents who work nonstandard hours.

From this starting point, the City will seek funding to expand programming to deliver high-quality municipal childcare to as broad a segment of the community as possible.

The City will work with the provincial and federal governments to speed up the creation of new affordable childcare spaces in Victoria in the face of this community emergency.

Municipal childcare programs exist in many places, in other parts of the country as well as in BC. The City of Vancouver provides space in City-owned buildings for more than 2000 high-quality subsidized childcare spaces. The City of Vancouver has been working on expansion and enhancement of childcare services (working with the Parks Board and the School Board) since 2003. http://vancouver.ca/your-government/childcare.aspx

http://vancouver.ca/people-programs/vancouvers-childcare-approach.aspx

In Ontario, the City of Ottawa operates 11 municipal childcare centres (https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/social-services/childrens-services/information-parents#city-operated-child-care), the City of Thunder Bay operates 4 municipal childcare centres (http://www.thunderbay.ca/Living/City_Services_and_Info/Guide_to_City_Services/Children_s_Services.htm), the Municipality of Greenstone operates 3 childcare centres (http://www.greenstone.ca/content/licensed-childcare),  the Municipalities of North Perth and Brockton both operate a municipal childcare centre (http://www.draytonvalley.ca/child-care/; http://www.brockton.ca/en/our-services/brockton-child-care-centre.asp), and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo operates 5 municipal childcare centres and a home-based childcare program (http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/servicesForYou/ChildCare.asp). The City of Toronto has provided municipal childcare services since 1953. https://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/childrens_services/files/pdf/parent_handbook.pdf

https://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=6d3e8ed34ce9e310VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

In Alberta, municipal childcare exists in Jasper (http://www.jasper-alberta.com/2173/Childcare-Services), Beaumont (http://www.beaumont.ab.ca/226/Child-Care-Services), and Drayton Valley (http://www.draytonvalley.ca/child-care/).

Another childcare priority identified by the Province is increasing the proportion of spaces that are licensed and regulated, both through creation of new licensed spaces and through working with unlicensed care providers to help them make the transition to licensing. Research has established that on average, licensed high-quality childcare programming (but not lower quality unregulated childcare) tends to have positive influences on children’s development. The City should explore possible ways to incentivize licensed childcare.

The City should also facilitate and promote the establishment wherever possible of new childcare sites through nonprofits or private business in the community, for example by relaxing zoning and by fast-tracking applications to encourage childcare programs in workplaces, in residential developments such as new apartment towers and townhouse developments, and in schools, potentially integrated with the school system. In the case of residential sites and workplaces, the City should explore ways to incentivize designs that incorporate high-quality childcare facilities.

The City will also work to persuade the provincial government to set a goal of producing more than the projected 22,000 new childcare spaces around the province, a number which is plainly inadequate even in the short term, considering, for instance, that according to Mary Clare Zak, managing director of social policy for the City of Vancouver, the City of Vancouver alone needs 17,000 new spaces. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/province-announces-33m-to-create-3-800-new-child-care-spaces-1.4432155

“Affordable means that you can go to work and pay your mortgage and provide for your children, know that they’re safe and not be breaking the bank.” – Kate Spence, mother of two.

Let’s work to end the childcare crisis in our community!