Campaign FAQ



1)   Did you support the destruction of a functioning football stadium and its replacement with a new stadium at taxpayer expense?
I campaigned against this in 2012 when I ran for Mayor, for the simple reason that the current stadium is most certainly in decent enough shape to host the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Sir Paul McCartney as recent as 2013. It hosted the Grey Cup in that same year. While it is certainly in need of updating and repairs, I feel the City portrayed the cost of these in such a manner that made it sound like the new stadium was the cheaper alternative. With that said, the new stadium is now near completion, and while I still don't agree with the need for it, we must now find ways to make it used as effectively as possible. I only hope that the promises to redevelop the current stadium site and the railyard do not disappear suddenly.

2)   If unforeseen issues arise requiring more spending to make the new stadium functional, should the taxpayers pay, or should the Riders and their fans pay?
This is a good question, and as an accountant, I would want to know the full details of what would be required. If there are deficiencies that were promised with the construction, and it is within the contract, I would first want us to go back to the builders to honour their commitment. If there were things that the City didn't consider and realize now that it's either do it or the facility cannot open to the public, I would be hard pressed to simply rubber stamp it. I would want to ensure we are balancing both sides of the balance sheet, and the good thing is we do have the current facility still able to be used until such time the new facility is deemed ready for the public. I feel the Riders got a sweet deal in this entire transaction, as they actually aren't paying one red cent for this new facility. Contrary to Mayor Fougere and Fiacco's assertions, the Riders "contribution" is actually money funnelled through them from sponsors. Not one single dime comes from the Riders accumulated surplus, which I feel is a kick in the teeth to taxpayers.

3)   Regina has one of the highest residential property tax rates and one of the lowest commercial to residential rate rations in Canada. Would you consider shifting the burden to commercial property?
I am so pleased that you posed this question. This is actually one of the items that I am campaigning on. I had discovered this over the summer through some research of a report done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I was shocked, but not completely surprised, to learn that in Saskatchewan, businesses pay only $2.13 for every $1.00 that residents pay. Contrast that to the national average of around $3.00 and the highest near $4.00. I most certainly plan to address this situation, and it would have to be some kind of compromise of reducing residential taxes and increasing corporate taxes. I have found through my own independent research that companies in Regina pay 30% less than similar assessed properties in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. 

4)   The Regina Chamber of Commence supported the construction of the new stadium at taxpayer exense. Would you consider shifting the burden of paying for the stadium onto commercial property?
I will say this - the Regina Chamber of Commerce has been responsible for so many favours to the business community in our City. That is one of the reasons why they pay the lowest in the Country in contrast to residential taxes. I have personally expressed my frustration with the Chamber at City Hall on numerous occasions, partially because of their tendency to exaggerate statistics, such as "67% of businesses agree with so and so", when in reality they only represent 1,200 registered businesses, of which fewer than 15% typically respond to their surveys. So, in reality, it is 67% of 15% of 1,200 of how many businesses are in Regina. So, to answer your original question - I would do anything I can to ensure businesses are not being subsidized by residents and that would include the burden for the new stadium.

5)   Do you think Libraries should be closed?
While I have rarely used a library since I was in school, I do see the need for them and until such time that this becomes a global trend that libraries are closing, I would want to keep libraries open. I see them becoming about more than just books as people traditionally see them. With that said, if there are valid reasons anyone can provide to me for the contrary, or to possibly reduce the locations, I am always open to listening.

6)   Do you believe recreation facilities should be closed?
Absolutely not. On the contrary, in fact. This is one of my campaign platform ideas, and I feel that recreational opportunities are far too lacking in our City. We have a tremendous amount of greenspace, which is great, but not very many viable opportunities for our kids to partake in activities that don't cost much or anything at all. I want to see more skate parks opened and bmx parks (the city currently only has one of these along the grid road that is 13th Avenue by the airport), places for kids to spend their time productively, rather than resorting to situations that are less than productive like gangs or the like. Another popular item I have heard on the campaign trail (and over the past number of years) is a water park. Of course, to be most effective, this would have to be indoors. I think this is a great idea, as our current facilities really lack that "fun" factor that a water park would offer. As for the cost of it - we have a significant amount of room in our reserves and in our debt ceiling. Another viable option would be a P3 - which I don't normally support, but this is a good example of where that would probably be the preferred option.

7)    Do you believe recreation facilities in low-income neighborhoods should be closed? (the last administration attempted to do this)
10000000% no. As I said above, I feel offering recreational opportunities to kids are a great way to keep them from less appealing options, like getting involved and gangs and crime. While it may not be the ultimate solution, it is certainly a way to show them that the City appreciates them and knows they have a meaningful contribution to our City now and in the future.

8)   Do you agree that Wascana Park should be opened up for commercial development (ie: office building construction)
This most recent situation with the Conexus office building, I do not agree with whatsoever. I campaigned against this over the summer, and was adamant that the City should not donate land for this purpose. If the university were using it for their own purposes, then it would be a different story. Granted, Conexus is a great community partner, and I am a proud member, I do not feel this is the appropriate use of the space. There were options available, and given our 15% vacancy rate downtown for office space, and the fact it went against the Official Community Plan and Wascana's own plans, it just seemed to be a no brainer that it shouldn't have happened. I was disappointed to see the lack of community backlash until after it was approved, but hopefully that serves as a wake up call to all residents to always be diligent with anything City Hall is capable of, regardless of how we feel they ought to decide.

9)   Would you reverse the City’s decision to allow Conexus Credit Union to build office space in Wascana Park?
If it is possible, absolutely, 100% I would do what I can to make that happen. Worst case, I would want to work with the partners to possibly get them to move it over to where the Conservatory is being demolished (this should never have been allowed to get to the point of no return either), so that there is minimal impact to the current greenspace and trees that make our park so beautiful.

10)  Do you support P3s for infra structure projects?
As I said above, I don't normally support P3's in any way, whatsoever, but I do admit there are times when they can make sense. A recreational facility like a water park, which can traditionally be viewed as a commercial venture, would be a good example. A private business might have a tough go of it in Regina, but with a P3, the government and the private company can work together to ensure the community's best interests are met.

11)  Do you agree that companies from out of province or out of country should be involved in Regina P3s?

No. Personally, I would much rather see preference given to Saskatchewan companies first and foremost. I realize this may go against our free trade agreements, etc. (at least according to Brad Wall), but Saskatchewan workers should always be given first priority. If a company coming in from out of province (or out of country) can somehow do a project for cheaper than our local companies, I would have to question the validity of their bids and what are they compromising on that our local companies are not. Most importantly, as an accountant, I would want to know what specifically is affecting our local businesses that doesn't impact those from out of province or out of country. It has to be, after all, a level playing field for all.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS from the 2012 Election

As I ran for Mayor of Regina in the 2012 Civic Election, I had been asked a variety of questions over the course of the campaign. I have decided to leave the questions up here, and my corresponding answers, just to give you a better perspective of the kind of social activist I am.

I've posted in a couple of online forums and asked for honest feedback and asked the question "If you were mayor..."

Here are my answers to some of Regina's hottest questions on the campaign trail.

1) Downtown streets back to one ways
- While I agree that traffic downtown has been affected by the Plaza construction, the long-delayed, well-over-budget fiasco that it was, now that it is here, and hopefully a lot of us can actually see the beauty in it, we can learn to accept it, and go on with our lives and try to work best with what we have now. At first, when I saw the plans, I really couldn't figure out why we were spending so much money on what seemed to be a big pile of random metal protruding from the ground. BUT, now that I see it in it's entirety, in person, especially at night, I can certainly see the beauty behind it. I agree that it should have been planned and executed far better than it has been to date, and if I had a say in it, it would have been located on 1900 block of Scarth Street, if anywhere.
To address the traffic flow downtown, I have several ideas in mind. One of which would be to increase the parking capacity at the Impark lot along Saskatchewan Drive there. I have met with senior management at Impark, and they are very much on board with this idea, as long as an anchor tenant could be secured to the parkade. The City refused to consider this option, as they would prefer to address Regina Transit as the "solution" to the downtown traffic woes. The parkade would not only accomodate the downtown parkers (I'm one of them, and I get my wife to drop me off instead because parking is expensive and insane), but also to accomodate the Rider games going forward. Did you know, there are nine to twelve month waiting lists just to get a monthly parking spot downtown? This is completely unacceptable.


2) Ring Road needs attention
- I am hearing a lot of the same concerns about the Ring Road, and I am with you there. To me, it is crazy that we still have a level railroad crossing on a stretch of road where the speed limit is 100 km/h. It boggles my mind why our City Hall, as large as we are, still think this is acceptable. That in and of itself wouldn't cost a lot to do, and the majority, if not all, of the expense could and should be bourne by the railroad company(ies). I don't know what the fate of that track will be after the GTH is complete, but my presumption would be it is still going to be needed, and therefore should be addressed ASAP. As far as making it a true freeway, that entire loop, so to speak, should be clear and free of ANY stops whatsoever. It is truly unacceptable that we still have an intersection at Pasqua, let alone one at McCarthy. Pasqua is long overdue for an overhaul, and apparently the solution was to just have two left turn lanes all around. To me, that's a bandaid solution and one that needs to be addressed.

3) Controlled growth

- I realize that Regina is growing very rapidly, and I want to be able to have a city that can accomodate that growth at a reasonable rate. One of the big business problems that you face when analyzing things from a CMA perspective is, growing too fast. If a business outpaces itself in growth so fast that it cannot keep up with demand, it's only a matter of time till things collapse. The same mindset goes for a City, because it IS a business, but one that the taxpayers are sharedholders of and live and work in. I want Regina to continue on the growing path, because it can only be good for taxpayers. A larger tax base should mean increased revenues which allows the city to increase it's expenditures. That said, you want to control your growth so that your traffic doesn't get so bad and so unmanageable that you wish you could go back 10 years and fix things. Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is where it's all needed to be. A CMA looks at where a business can be in 10, 20, 50 years and prepares a business plan accordingly so the business can achieves it's goals and still be successful in 50 years. The same mindset should be applied to the City and the Mayor's seat. Plan ahead to see where you want to be in 50 years time and if you plan appropriately, everything else should fall into place.

4) Voting on Stadium idea
- While I appreciate the sentiment in that, I witnessed first hand the treachery and underhandedness that can happen when putting this question to a public vote. It is important to draw major distinctions between the Moose Jaw Multiplex fiasco and the Regina Revitalization Project. While they are both for sporting facilities, that's about as close as the two ideas come in comparison. Regina's project has had ample research done, and enough due diligence (and private funding) that I feel confident that this is the way to go, no questions asked. Putting it to a vote, while noble, will only delay the process and potentially increase costs in the end. My feeling is, when I get into office, my #1 priority will be reviewing all the documents that pertain to this project, and if I can see that we can realistically get the $750 Million they are saying they can, from private funding, we would be crazy to say no to this, cliche, once in a lifetime opportunity.

UPDATE JUNE 2012: Since the time of me posting this FAQ item, there have been details that have come out that have completely changed the need for a vote. That being, the stadium is no longer, at this point, a domed stadium, and there is no evidence of $750M coming from private funding. It is essentially an entirely new project, and zero due diligence has occurred since May 2012. As such, a vote on this stadium is needed because our current council doesn't seem to have a clear vision for what they truly want with the RRI project, or how they plan to actually fund it. The latest version of the RRI project has been changed to an open air, 33,000 seat stadium, with possibly $550-660 Million in private funding, and yet, not one single dime has been announced from any private partners to date, and zero private monies are being invested into the stadium, aside from possible naming rights.


5) Pinkie Road paving
- As far as I am aware, the ultimate plan is to pave and twin the entire road from the #1 to the #11, in an effort to divert traffic from even approaching the current city limits, as truck traffic will be increasing exponentially over the next few years with the amount of railcars that will be handled at the GTH. I would ensure this plan is kept on track, and more importantly, on budget. It is an essential traffic issue that needs to be kept on. On that note, also I would want to make the east bypass a major priority as well, because I don't even go to the East side of town if I can avoid it. Victoria Avenue is a nightmare at the best of times, and 50% of that traffic could easily be diverted by the bypass, if not more.

6) City employee pensions
- This is a situation I knew very little about prior to the election. As far as I can tell, the biggest problem that has happened, and this is an industry problem, not just specific to the City, is the way the pensions are defined. There are what's called a defined-benefit plan, and a defined-contribution plan. A lot of government pension plans were setup to be a defined-benefit plan, which when the market crashed, was a big liability to most investors. In the end, the pensioners were still required to be paid a certain amount of money, based on their years of service and other factors. Regardless of what happened to the market. This was great for investors in the good times because they could make money hand over fist and still only have to pay the pensioners a set amount because that was what was defined in their plan. The answer to this, in my view, is to change it to the defined-contribution plan, which says that you contribute X% to the plan, and your benefits are determined based on your investment. This should fix things going forward.

How do you fix what's already been done? Short answer, you don't. Long answer, you suck it up, pay what needs to be paid and find a way to cover those extra unexpected costs. That's something that I would look into further when in office, but if it's a matter of saving a grand or two here or there, it's not worth spending months fighting over it. Hopefully the union and pension holders will be willing to sit down and talk seriously about getting the issue fixed, but again, it's far too early to say what would be the best solution without seeing everything in detail. UPDATE: I have also been informed, anonymously, that there is potential fraud that caused, in part or in whole, the pension shortfall in the City of Regina. As Mayor, I would make it a priority to investigate this to the fullest extent possible, and if needed, prosecute those responsible for the alleged fraud.

7) Affordable housing and abandoned housing
- My idea will be to take the "Regina Revitalization Project" one step further, and one that would be attractive to all three levels of government. I would keep with the idea that is already worked on, but take it one step further. I have become very aware, through discussions with North Central residents, that many houses are either being abandoned or have stopped being maintained by the owner, and either kicked the tenants out or let them live in a run down shack until even they decide it's too much for them to handle. To me, this is unacceptable. I am honestly shocked that our City would even allow something like to happen. I will be the first to admit, I wasn't even closely familiar with how horrible the conditions were in that area. I was one of those people who drove through and said "Thank God I don't live there." Instead of taking that attitude, I think it's important to find ways to address these properties and property owners and ensure that we can make North Central as attractive of a place to live as most any other area of the City.

What I will look into as Mayor of Regina, will be to find ways to take advantage of current and proposed government funding in order to maximize the benefit for our community. I want to try every way possible to help those property owners to either maintain and renovate what they have, or demolish and build new if the property is too far gone. Some 'free' ideas would be to offer no dumping charges for the companies that demolish properties past the state of repair. Also, help with funding programs so that they can have some kind of financial incentive (money talks!) to renovate or build new in those areas. This would be on top of the current property tax exemption program, because sometimes that's just not enough.

As for helping out renters and the outrageous gouging by some landlords in this city, I will be working on a program that ties into successful programs from other centres, offering a type of loan program for that 5% that is often so far out of reach for those struggling to get by. Sometimes it's easy to afford even these astronomical rents, but because of those rents, it makes it that much tougher to afford to save up for that minimum 5% down payment. My idea would be to have the loan be in the form of a 5 or 10 year loan to the resident at a low-interest rate. And, to encourage people to stay in the properties they purchased with those funds, make a certain % forgiveable for living there for X number of years, say from year 5 and on, you get 10% forgiven up to 50%. That's a very high level idea at this point, but I hope it gives you an idea of how innovative I can and want to be to help everyone in our community.

8) Recycling
- I don't know why we haven't adopted a curbside recycling program years ago, but it looks like we are finally on track to adopt one by 2013. The way they are approaching this, however, has me concerned that it will be ineffective, because they are charging separately for recycling and including garbage pickup for free (included in taxes). This should be the other way around, to encourage more people to recycle and reduce their unneccessary garbage going to the dump. My other concern is, why are we contracting that out to a private company when we have perfectly good trucks and staff that could do it themselves? I'm hoping there are no job losses because of this contracting out, but I am confident the union would be on top of that.

Something I would like to 'take to the next level' will be the public trash recepticals on city streets. I want to have an option for people to recycle where they can. I am very confident that a lot of people would much rather throw that can or that newspaper into a recycling bin/receptical rather than the trash when walking along the street if there was an option for them. By installing new options, not only are you helping the environment, but you also open up a new revenue stream for the City. While it wouldn't necessarily be much, all or a portion of the proceeds could be used to help fund the Revitalization of the North Central neighbourhoods. It's a win-win!

9) Fix the roads and sidewalks
- I have long questioned how Regina has maintained public roads and sidewalks. Some of them, I just cannot believe they would have ever been touched in over 30 years. One of the major things I would want to address would be fixing our roads. There is no reason why we cannot have roads as smooth as the reworked section of Albert Street, or the nice newly redeveloped section of McCarthy Boulevard. It was a great relief when that was done, and hopefully that is a permanent fix for years to come. (When I spoke with the city about it when it was being done, they stated that it was a long drawn out process to understand exactly what was causing the extreme heaving and that's why they had to go so far down. Apparently the pipes were laid incorrectly when that area was developed many years ago, and it's caused nothing but headaches ever since.) I would want to learn from the McCarthy work and apply that solution to other areas that are rollercoasters. Also, I sincerely want to address the accessibility of sidewalks in our City, as there are far too many that are not accessible to those with limited mobility. These should become a priority for updating.

10) Improve Provincial Funding for City
- This is something that I want to work closely with the provincial and federal government on all aspects of potential funding, from sport and culture, through to infrastructure maintenance. These are things that I think the City plays a major role in, but so does the province.

11) Public Transportation
- This is something that definitely needs to be addressed in the City of Regina. I have heard stories on the doorsteps that people are having to take 2-3 hour bus rides just to get to work. This is completely unacceptable, and our transit system needs a major overhaul in order to address these kinds of concerns. They are very valid concerns, and I feel strongly that if we had express routes and 7 day a week bus service (including stats), we would increase ridership. I would also like to try a "Regina Free Ride" system, where one day a month/week is completely free to Regina residents to ride the bus, so that they see how convenient it can be. (Once it's revitalized)

12) Crime Prevention
- One seldom explored avenue is preventing criminal behaviour at an early age. It is my strong belief that if the 5-15 year olds are paid even the littlest positive attention by someone they respect, then maybe they might be a little less inclined to go the route of criminal activity. I see this first hand when I attend the Sacred Heart and Albert Scott locations when I am volunteering for the Chili for Children program. I see so many bright eyes and hopeful faces as to what the future holds for them, but at the same time, I also am not too blind to recognize that they don't always get that hot meal at home, and don't often get the love and attention they deserve at home. What do I do to fix that? I find ways to give those kids that extra attention that we all know they crave (we were all kids once), so that they know they matter to our society, and have just as much of a chance to contributing in a positive fashion to our society as that rich kid in the suburbs.

I am living proof that it doesn't matter where you start in life, in order to become successful. My parents both struggled to put four kids through school, all the while putting food on our table and providing a safe roof over our heads.I am so very proud to remember where I came from, each and every day. While things weren't always great, the one thing that I loved was that I had family there for me. It didn't matter that we didn't have the latest fad clothing item or toy, what mattered was that my mom cared enough to cook hot meals for us almost every day (there were days when my dad - uuggghhh the creations he would make - or my grandma would help out). Neither of my parents went to post-secondary, but that was the norm back then. Of us four kids, I'm the only one that pursued post-secondary education, but that was just my personal desire to push myself to see what I truly could accomplish in life if I put my mind to it. I worked my butt off from the age of 12, with paper routes, then delivering pizza at 16 and on. I paid my own way through SIAST, and was fortunate enough to have employers help me through the CMA program financially. I am now at a point in life that I can look back and say "wow, I can't believe how far I've come" and truly mean it.

Okay, now that I went way off on a tangent there, let's get back on track. To reduce crime, I think it's essential to help prevent it at a young age by offering constructive ways to show the youth that they matter to our society. Positive thinking goes a long way.


13) Daylight Savings Time
- Most mayoral candidates would stay far, far away from either of these topics, but I pride myself on being 'outside of the norm', so why not? DST is a provincial issue, but something I am confident the Mayor would have some influence on in terms of what the provincial government decided to do. I honestly don't know enough of the benefits of this, aside from the extra hour of sunlight in the summer. Could someone shed some more light on what the other benefits might be? If you can convince me enough, perhaps it's something I could sit down with the premier about one day.

14) Licensed Strip Clubs and Privatizing Liquor Stores
- Licensed strip clubs, to me, this is something I honestly have never figured out why we don't allow alcohol in those facilities, other than the fact that we are typically a conservative crowd in Saskatchewan, and we've just stayed the course because no one wants to rock the boat. Again, this would be a provincial issue, but something I could find a way to sit down with the SLGA minister or perhaps even the premier to get a good understanding of the mindset as to why we are the only province (are we?) that doesn't have licensed strip clubs. To me, if a business owner wants to have a facility like this, they would know how to handle their clientelle enough so that nothing happens to the staff. I don't think big brother should be overseeing these things and saying that the owners don't know when to cut a person off at these kinds of facilities. I hear about more bar brawls happening on the Dewdney strip than I could ever imagine happening at a strip club.

As far as privatizing liquor stores, again, this is something I personally feel that Saskatchewan is way behind the rest of the country at. There is no reason why we need to have the government running our liquor stores, paying staff $20-30/hour to stock shelves or ring through customers. This is something that is, again, a provincial responsibility, but I would want to work with the provincial government to get this addressed. There is great economic impact by privatizing these businesses.

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