In order to get beyond the election signs and the candidate profiles Abbotsford Today has put together a series of questions for candidates in the upcoming municipal election. We will be publishing the answers provided by those who participate.
Abbotsford Today – What do you know about the way civic government operates?
Raji Buttar – The municipal government’s responsibilities and powers are regulated through the Local Government Act of BC as well as the Community Charter. The city of Abbotsford is governed by a mayor and council and one of the primary functions is to pass and adopt bylaws. It is very important for Abbotsford residents to learn about the functionality of their local government so that they become aware of the impact it has on their daily lives.
AT – Why did you decide to run?
RB – 53% of the population of Abbotsford is under the age of 40 (source: 2011census, statistics Canada). It’s time that the demographics of Abbotsford are fairly reflected in the city council. I want to represent those who will be in living in Abbotsford 50 years from now and those who will be dealing with consequences from decisions made today. I have a young daughter, and I want her to grow up in a city that is inclusive and fair to everyone and will represent those of us planning to reside in Abbotsford for the long term.
AT – What does social responsibility mean to you as an elected city councilor?
RB – Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Decisions made by the city council should serve the Abbotsford community as a whole, never just the interests of a selected few. Equally, it is imperative that decisions are made with a serious thought towards the economic implications in the long run. I will strive to make a positive impact in our community and for our citizens in an accountable and respectful manner whilst considering economic, environmental and cultural issues.
AT – What do you want to accomplish and how will you get it done?
RB – Abbotsford is currently facing a series of issues that are complex and diverse. We need a fresh perspective and approach to tackle them. I want to bring a new way of thinking into city politics.
AT – Please list, in order of importance, the top five issues you think this City faces
RB – 1.Homelessness 2. Property Taxes 3. Unemployment 4.Transportation 5. Environment
AT – What should the City of Abbotsford do with Abbotsford Center now that the Heat are gone?
RB – Since we do not have a significant new tenant, we will need to focus on bringing in community sports teams and major events, such as concerts, until we find an anchor tenant that can use the building to capacity. Some unfortunate decisions may have been made by council in the past, but it is time to focus on the future and work for a positive result.
AT – What should Abbotsford’s approach to homelessness be?
RB – We need to show more understanding and compassion. Sometimes it is forgotten that homelessness is not just a housing issue. Homelessness is just one issue amongst many others including drug addiction and mental health. We need to take a deeper look and address the serious complexity of this issue.
AT – If elected what would you do about the law suits faced by the City of Abbotsford by members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors through Pivot Legal Society?
RB – I want a respectful and fair outcome. I trust the court to decide what that is.
AT – Abbotsford suffers from the highest unemployment in Western Canada and has for years. What would you do about that?
RB – We need to diversify our economy and create high quality jobs. We should offer incentives to businesses from outside of Abbotsford to move their operations to Abbotsford so we can create more local jobs. We also need a strategy to retain existing businesses. Being an entrepreneur myself, I find many other young individuals feel entrepreneurship is an ideal career path; however, starting a business is daunting because of the excessive red tape. We need to cut the red-tape in City Hall and encourage the growth of businesses.
AT -What do you say to those who might argue that you are too inexperienced since you are a first-time candidate?
RB – I have a master’s degree in Business Administration, and a bachelor’s degree from our local university (UFV), I have established a successful luxury travel company based in Abbotsford, and I understand the challenges faced by young families today. Since I grew up in Abbotsford, I am confident that I can relate to the issues affecting our city.
I care tremendously about Abbotsford. Taking a step towards becoming a candidate for city council should indicate how important this community is to me. I have many great ideas and a young and fresh perspective that our council desperately needs. My ideas will help the City of Abbotsford move forward and look towards the future.
AT – How would you resolve the commercial truck parking issues here in Abbotsford?
RB – Commercial truck parking has been an issue for many years. The trucking industry continues to grow in Abbotsford and it is a vital component to our economy. Coordination and communication with truckers will be required to come up with a resolution that suits their needs whilst enforcing bylaws.
AT – Abbotsford has no animal control and care facility. Will you address this issue when elected and how will you do so?
RB – We may not have an animal control facility in Abbotsford; however, the facility we use in Chilliwack is excellent. Not only is working with the FVRD financially good for our taxpayers, they also provide very good care for the animals just a few minutes away from Abbotsford.
AT – Is there anything we should have asked that would better demonstrate your value as a candidate?
RB – I can relate to those who are young and just starting their careers, I can relate to those who own businesses, I can relate to students living on a budget and I can also relate to families raising their children in Abbotsford. Additionally, I would like to add that my parents, who like many of our local residents, are senior citizens. They are also affected by decisions made by the Abbotsford council and often do not believe that their voices are being heard. We need someone in council who can and will stand up and address their concerns.
Abbotsford Today has put together an extensive section on the 2014 Municipal Election. In addition candidates announcements, profiles and Q&A as well as news stories, columns and pieces contributed by candidates it includes:
Contact Your Candidates
List of Candidates
Municipal Election Guide
New Local Elections Legislation
The Municipal Election Guide is made up primarily of information and links from the City of Abbotsford’s extensive information section on the City website which provides all of the information you will require in order to exercise your franchise.