Meet Ladysmith mayoral candidate Marsh Stevens

Town of Ladysmith: Stevens, Marsh - Mayor Candidate

Marsh Stevens

Marsh Stevens

Name: Marsh Stevens

Occupation: Stay At Home Parent of three children, ages six, nine and 11. I also homeschool my eldest.

Background:

I am a well preserved 47 years old and  I live at the corner of Third and Baden Powell with my wife, Yvanne, and our three children aged six, nine and 11 — in the house I built for us. Yvanne grew up in the Cowichan Valley and I grew up in a little place called Waupoos in southern Ontario. I met Yvanne while she was at university in Ontario and I always joke that her first words to me were “My name is Yvanne and I want to move back to Vancouver Island” That was 19 years ago. After a lot of moving around for school, jobs, training etc. we finally made that happen.

Education:

I was trained by my father, as a cabinetmaker. I hold a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University, a Master of Arts from the University of Guelph, both in Philosophy. I also earned a Certificate in Community Based Development through St. Francis Xavier University and a Diploma in Computer Assisted Drafting and Design from the International Academy of Design and Technology.  Most recently, I have studied martial arts, and if my testing goes well, I will receive my Conditional Black Belt in Kung Fu in the week after the election, and full Black Belt mid next year.

Work Experience:

Arranged it in an order of relevance to the job of Mayor, but in a way it is all relevant. I have done a lot of different things, have developed a lot of skills and am not afraid to use them.

*Four years of Health Services Planning experience in the Ontario District Health Council system (now known as Local Health Integration Networks)

*Policy Analyst for the Aboriginal Affairs Branch of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa

*Attaché to the Editor/CEO of www.nowtoronto.com

*Exhibition Preparator at the Design Exchange http://www.dx.org/

* Sculpture Facilitator at The Banff Centre  www.banffcentre.ca

* Short stints (six months to a year) as a PT Tutorial Leader and/or Marker at Trent University www.trent.ca, The University of Guelph www.guelphu.ca and the Ontario College of Art and Design

Why are you running for public office?

Despite all of the cynicism surrounding politics I still believe that nothing is more important when it comes to improving the lives of people. Especially at the municipal level, which effects our day to day lives more than any other level of government. I live a charmed life, I have a beautiful wife whom I love dearly, I have awesome, healthy kids, and I live in a house that is just how we want it because I built it that way. I have worked hard in my life and as a result have been fortunate to gain a lot of skills and experience. In short, I owe the world, and the best way for me to pay that debt is to use my skills and strengths to be part of the solution to issues that Ladysmith faces.

What are your top three issues and how do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?

My top three issues are:

1. A Cultural Change at City Hall

2. The Downtown and The Waterfront

3. Responsible Development

RE No. 1: Transparency it is a word I am hearing over and over from people. Some folks are angry, others just shake their head, but among all of them there is a perception that something is ‘going on’ at City Hall and they do not like it. This perception will remain the reality unless something is done to address it. Regarding the perception of  too many in-camera meetings, obviously I do not know what is discussed in these meetings, but I do know how they would be under me as mayor. I will have zero tolerance for any discussion other than legitimate in-camera items. Communication is lacking. I will open everything up to the public. I will ask council to consider everything from live streaming/archiving of meetings via the Town’s website, to amending the rules around question periods at meetings and any other measure that lets citizens know what their government is up to.

RE No. 2: I am including these two topics together because they are inseparably linked to each other. There can be no revitalization of the Downtown without doing something (anything) on the other side of the highway. I am not naive to the larger challenges on the waterside. What I want to grab in the next four years is the low hanging fruit — things that can be done quickest and with the greatest chance of success: modest development for the two distinct populations that will breathe life back into the downtown; people who stay (new residents) AND people from away (tourists, visitors).

These two populations will create demand for goods and services. Existing business might have to adapt a bit but they will really benefit from a larger consumer base that is close by. Smart entrepreneurs will fill the demands (and empty store fronts) not met by current businesses — complimenting not necessarily competing with them. It is also a good bet that many stores would see an increase in their regional customer base.

Waterside development does not have to be on a massive scale. In fact, it should be done incrementally — conservatively — build something of human scale enough for 2-500 to start and see what happens. I know from my past experience in Health Services planning and from my experience in design — you can only plan so much — you can only design to a certain point. Sooner or later, you have to do something and amend it as necessary — sooner or later, you have to build a prototype that you can see and touch. I also believe that once something starts to happen on the waterside of the highway, momentum will be created and the larger problems will not seem so daunting. From this momentum, we will see improvements year after year as the waterfront becomes simply too attractive for other issues to hold it back.

RE No. 3: Please see below.

What does your ideal Ladysmith look like?

It is vibrant, a great mix of new and old that retains all of the traits that make people who live here love it .

How do you plan to manage taxes and spending?

On paper, the Town seems to be in good shape — debts can be serviced and there are reserves in place. However there are infrastructure deficits that need to be addressed and, as I knock on doors campaigning, many people are expressing concern over salaries.

I will keep the Town focussed on its biggest issues — the ones standing in the way of it meeting its full potential. I want to take the emphasis off of pet projects and grant chasing and make sure the Town plays its full part in the creation of a strong commercial, industrial and residential tax base. I will ensure that citizens of Ladysmith are getting maximum value for their tax dollars.

What are your thoughts on development and growth in Ladysmith?

A Town that is socially, economically and  environmentally sustainable will be created by responsible growth of all types of services, businesses, and a housing options for its Citizens. New development needs to be kept within the Urban Containment Boundary on land that is already zoned and easily serviced.

What do you think it takes to lead Ladysmith?

Respect for its citizens.

How long have you lived in the Ladysmith area?

Seven years at the end of  march 2015. Visiting family here since the late 90s.

How many council meetings have you been to in the last six months?

Within the the first few months of arriving in Ladysmith I had a third child born, my father got cancer and quickly died in Ontario, and I started building our house. However, I made the time to attend all of the Community Visioning sessions with the exception of the one on the Waterfront. Soon after that I applied for, and was appointed to the Town’s Advisory Planning Commission. I really enjoyed this work and to do it had to read and understand all of the Town’s reports and plans (Holland Creek, Waterfront etc.)  I also attended Global Commission meetings where all of the Town’s volunteer commissions (economic development and environment) came together to meet. I ended up resigning over the ‘Carriage House’ issue on Roberts Street. Over the years, I have attended 20-25 council meetings and have commented on various bylaw public hearings. I took a bit of a break from attending meetings as family life got busy, I started homeschooling my son, and my wife’s midwifery practice was getting established.  However, I have always followed the issues closely and regularly read the reports and minutes. Now my kids are a bit older, my wife’s practice is running full steam and I am chomping at the political bit. Most recently, I attended the presentation on Water, the Couveron meeting, the municipal services meeting on derelict boats and the most recent council meeting.