Interview: Charlottetown Mayoral Candidate Kim Devine
I’m almost hesitant to say this but I’ve never before voted in a municipal election. But in a year when women are running for election in the United States in groundbreaking numbers, politics and politicians have been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been keeping a sharp eye on my local municipal election coming up this fall and was delighted to see former Charlottetown city counselor Kim Devine enter the running. Smart and well-spoken, I’m not only going to vote for her this fall, but I’m excited to do so. Devine was kind enough to answer a few questions about her campaign and policies.
1. A really buzzy topic right now is the housing crisis. Apartments are either extremely difficult to find or too expensive for the average PEI wage earner. How would you propose Charlottetown council help to solve the issue?
Affordable and available housing is in short supply in Charlottetown. With a vacancy rate of less than one per cent, many people are struggling to find a place to live. Affordable housing is key to a livable city. Without it, we risk losing our residential population. When elected mayor, I will take immediate steps to address the housing shortage and ensure a vibrant residential population for the city.
Within 90 days of taking office, I will host a roundtable forum with developers to determine how best to advance new development in the city. New development is essential to meeting the housing needs of our growing population.
In addition, I will look at ways to streamline the planning and development process and improve efficiency for developers. I will also review the city’s bylaws to find ways to create more housing within our existing housing stock. Earlier this year, the City’s Youth Retention Advisory Committee released an excellent report containing several recommendations about changes to zoning, parking and building codes to generate new development and renovation of existing buildings. I will review the bylaws to determine how we can adapt our existing buildings to meet the city’s housing needs.
The current housing shortage requires a level of commitment and collaboration from governments and all stakeholders. When elected, I will bring together elected officials and stakeholders to create solutions. Collaborative action is required to ensure that housing options are available for our youth, families, seniors, newcomers and all city residents.
UPDATE: Devine has added to this comment in a recent article in The Cadre.
2. It might be a long ways off if it comes to fruition, but what are your thoughts on the Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan development proposal? (Info here)
The Eastern Gateway Waterfront Master Plan is an exciting, long-term plan that will transform the east end of Charlottetown from an industrial area to a people-friendly space. While development may not happen exactly as described, the plan directs our attention to the future and provides residents with a common vision for how the area could be developed over the next 25 years. It can also guide public discussions and provide a framework for changes that may be proposed over the next several years. The plan also provides a path to extend the great work that has been carried out on the waterfront over the last several years. Public involvement in the future development of this area is important and the plan will help guide discussions on any proposals that may come forward for the area.
3. A report was presented to city council two years ago, suggesting several ways to increase accessibility in Charlottetown. If elected mayor, what are some specific accessibility issues you would like to see solved?
One of the pillars of my campaign is equal opportunity. It is very important to me that Charlottetown is a place where everyone can participate and be included. In 2016, the City hosted a Barrier Free City Forum to consult with residents living with a disability on ways to make Charlottetown more accessible. A framework for change was developed as a result of the Forum, including recommendations to make the city more accessible.
When elected Mayor, I will continue to implement the recommendations outlined in the report. I will continue to expand on making public transit more accessible. I will ensure that when the city hosts or sponsors events that people with mobility challenges are part of the planning process to ensure a barrier-free event. I will also ensure there is an open and accessible process for citizen engagement on all city committees so that the voices of all residents, including those with disabilities, may be heard.
4. What other issues are you passionate about as a mayoral candidate?
I am passionate about making Charlottetown a vibrant city where people feel they belong and where all voices are heard. I am committed to empowering residents to live active and sustainable lives, and to work together to strengthen our social, cultural and economic well-being.
A vibrant city offers housing options, a strong economy, jobs, affordability, green spaces, recreational and cultural opportunities, diversity, strong public engagement and a healthy environment.
With a strong economy and a growing workforce, Charlottetown’s potential has never been greater. I will position Charlottetown as a leader in the region and a city whose decisions are guided by the objective of ensuring Charlottetown is a great place for everyone to live and thrive, now and for years to come.
5. How can folks help support your campaign?
The most important way people can support me is to vote for me! Another way is to encourage friends or colleagues who may not be regular voters to get out and vote. Every vote counts. I also need volunteers to help out in a variety of ways. There is a role for everyone. I would love to hear from anyone who wants to get involved and help out with my campaign. They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a freelance blogger, a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.