The meetings I have had with local groups and organizations, in preparation to be your Mayor, are helping me think, more broadly, and creatively about Our future in St. John's as a people, and city. My thinking is being challenged, and my 'vision' for our city is becoming stronger. Yes, we have the important day-to-day needs of any city and we expect, and generally get, very good quality services from our many city employees. Yes, things can always be improved (road quality, pot-holes, parking, snow-clearing are examples), so be it. The things that can be made better, will be so, when we are able to tax the commuter communities for their daily use of our city services and infrastructure, and have the funds to improve our city for all. Fair is only fair.
But, more so, I feel that we need to be looking more into our collective future, as a city, and as citizens. What do we want to look like in 10, 20 years from now?
We will need to look more multicultural than we do now, and we will need more young people in our city who, are born and stay here, or will come here to make St. John's their new, beautiful hometown. Our people are aging...obviously says you, and we have big issues regarding future and current labour market needs and increasing the population of St. John's will be key to meeting those labour needs.
Our city can start by promoting itself and its inherent quality of life with the development of more affordable housing. Not just for the working poor and disadvantaged, but those, like me and you, who started careers with debt, professional struggles and wanting to buy or rent (affordably) a good quality place to live. Our city can work with the private sector and other levels of government to build affordably, creative communities. These communities can be higher density, to avoid sprawl, and allow a mix of ages, 'life-styles', and income groups. We can develop our own 'rent-to-own' program for our young people.
Do we all need to be slaves to the automobile here in St. John's, and beyond? No, but, to be set free of the auto, we need more convenient, efficient and creative approaches to public transit. How can the city, labour and business, and the commuter communities, work better together in transporting people to and from work in St. John's? Can we 'pilot' different approaches, in the different commuter communities, such as financially attractive car-pooling, small coach travel to key points in St. John's from commuter communities, coordinated work from home options and programs by employers, to ease the traffic pressure and commuter-stress in people's lives?
We need to get more corporate development with a social conscience, that gives back to us and our communities in concrete and obvious ways, and, in turn, we actively promote and welcome corporate development. People friendly development will require give and take by all of us, but we need good development, and developers needs us to be reasonable.
We need to get architects and engineeers to help us make the most of our land/seascape. We need to engage creativity. Look at Fogo - using a local, homegrown architect, and the majestic and land/sea/heritage honouring structures that have been built there. We can do that here.
And, your Mayor needs to have a broad-based social and economic development working panel to help him/her/us, get out of that proverbial box-mentality, and dream a bit, reach higher, create more, be flexible and nimble, and be more...together.
Imagine drawing on who we all are now, with the people yet to come, and who we will be in 10 to 20 years from now...just imagine.