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 answers provided by all those who participate.
Abbotsford Today: What do you know about the way civic government operates?
Vince Dimanno: Civic government is actually a group of people entrusted to manage the “incorporation” of Abbotsford. They are given powers by the Province of BC and must follow strict guidelines in the way they do business. Their mandate is to administer and maintain public safety, infrastructure, and recreation….among other things. It accomplishes these activities through the Committee and Council organizational structure and generates funds through the collection of Property Taxes and other fees for things such as water, sewer, business licenses, and Development Cost Charges.
AT:Why did you decide to run?
VD: I have been representing taxpayers since 2006, during the run up to the Plan A Referendum. I then founded the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association in order to attempt to advocate for more responsible spending. I have watched the City be consistently mismanaged since that time and I feel that the only way to truly make a change is to sit at the Council table. We cannot continue on the path we are on. Debt increasing, services being cut, rates for everything going up, without justification, incredibly high unemployment and no plan to attract new business.
AT: What does social responsibility mean to you as an elected city councillor?
VD: We are elected to serve every citizen with respect and dignity. When we ignore any portion of our community we are being socially irresponsible. We have had no problems finding the will to spend money on arenas, a YMCA, the friendship garden, and other poorly planned projects. At the same time, we have said no, twice, to funding for our in-need, and at-risk citizens. This is unacceptable. We must achieve a balance in our society and it is up to elected officials to insure this is a reality.
AT: What do you want to accomplish and how will you get it done?
VD: We’ve got to get Abbotsford back on track. It is the geographic hub of the Fraser Valley and it should be the economic hub. We have so many natural assets including the hospital, the university, the airport and many more. We need to leverage these assets to attract business, investment and development. Growth will help us to overcome the stresses of debt in our city. It is time to focus on our core services and do away with ego projects and poor planning. We can afford it no longer.
AT: What should the City of Abbotsford do with Abbotsford Center now that the Heat are gone?
VD: We must mitigate the losses that the building incurs. Firstly, we should discontinue our relationship with Global Spectrum and take over the maintenance of the facility. Next we should open the facility up for promoters to book a wider variety of events there. While these actions are underway, we should actively look for someone to take over the facility and purchase it.
AT: What should Abbotsford’s approach to homelessness be?
VD: We have to stop being the city of “No”. We must engage the Provincial Government to continue to look to Abbotsford as a place to fund projects that will cover the wide spectrum of issues facing our homeless. This includes detox, recovery, low-barrier housing, and much more. Engaging of other levels of Government, respectful of everyone in our community and a working effort to make our city a better place for all to live.
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?
VD: It is very difficult to comment on these ongoing legal issues. Until I am a City Councillor and I am privy to the in-camera meetings and direct consultations Council has had with the lawyers handling these actions, I cannot make meaningful comment. However, I can say that I see no benefit to continuing a legal action that seemingly exists to allow the City to treat a certain portion of its citizens without respect and dignity.
AT: Abbotsford suffers from the highest unemployment in Western Canada and has for years. What would you do about that?
VD: We have gone years in this city without any real economic development initiatives. We have also gone without an Official Community Plan. It is time to target and attract businesses that pay good wages and give our children the ability to work in the same city they have been raised in. In order, to facilitate this, one of our initial targets will be to maximize the potential of the Transhipment Cargo license held by our Airport. We will seek out companies that can bring business of this type to Abbotsford, and the businesses required to support this industry. This is one of many economic development initiatives that AbbotsfordFIRST will undertake.
AT: How would you resolve the commercial truck parking issues here in Abbotsford?
VD: Firstly, we need to recognize that the problem exists and that it is because this industry is important to the people of Abbotsford. As part of the process of developing a new Official Community Plan, we should be designating truck parking areas. In order to bridge the gap between our current system, and the construction of new facilities, we should consider the adoption of a temporary permitting system that will keep the industry moving and profitable.
AT: Abbotsford has no animal control and care facility. Will you address this issue when elected and how will you do so?
VD: It is irresponsible to leave services like this to other cities. Our animals are our responsibility. In conjunction with a facility, we also need By-Law enforcement. Correctly planned, this facility and these services should have no net cost to taxpayers.
AT: Is there anything we should have asked that would better demonstrate your value as a candidate?
VD: In addition to my experience in business, both local and international, and nearly 8 years of being involved in local politics and community groups, I am happy to be running for Council with the AbbotsfordFIRST team. While many candidates make promises, only a team approach can bring the votes at the Council table required to make real change. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen debt double, unemployment grow to the highest in Western Canada, our Property Taxes have risen 43%, and our water rates have gone up more than 83%. It is time for change and the AbbotsfordFIRST team can bring fresh ideas to the Council table.
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.