As a new resident of Richmond, I attended my first all candidates meeting (Tuesday, Nov. 1).
As is my usual practice at such meetings, I took a blank piece of paper, drew a line down the middle and put a heading at the top of each side. One heading was "new spending," the other was "increased revenue."
Every time a candidate mentioned an idea that involved new or increased spending, I made a tick mark. I did the same on the other side of the page every time a candidate made a concrete proposal as to where the increased revenue would come from.
At the end of the evening I had six tick marks on the new revenue side. I gave up on the new spending side after 100 ticks.
As for new revenue, even the six ideas were fluffy: comments like making Richmond "business friendly" or having a great economic development department. Every town and city in North America claims that.
The new spending proposals covered things like affordable housing, bike lanes, community farms, food banks, seniors' centres, day care, etc. All worthy or interesting ideas, but all of which require increased revenue. I could not imagine any Richmond family sitting at the dinner table for two hours, making a list of over 100 things they wanted to buy, without having a discussion about finding the new money.
The future of Richmond lies in creating an environment that will foster high-paying jobs and then aggressively pursuing the companies that can provide those jobs. Milking the property tax cow is not a plan for job growth.
On that note, a few candidates mentioned that they wanted to make sure their children could work in Richmond. Here in a city where a large portion of the population has crossed oceans to find opportunity, I found it curious that for some candidates, having their kids cross the Fraser River to find a job would be a family crisis. Not exactly a global view.