QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

 WITH MARY-ANN

Q: Why do you want to be the next mayor of West Vancouver?

A: This upcoming municipal election is a pivotal one, for as much as we all love West Vancouver, it is clear that we face some serious challenges in the years ahead.

Our greatest challenge will be to balance protecting the way of life that has been built here over many years, with the changes that must be implemented if our community is to continue to thrive.

My conversations with hundreds of residents, recent research (including the WV Community Foundation’s “Vital Signs” report), and my own dreams have helped to shape my vision for West Vancouver. Like many of you I want to live in a community that is livable, vibrant and inclusive, a community where,

 

  • There are new and more diverse forms of housing for citizens of all ages;

  • The charm and vitality of our commercial villages are restored;

  • Innovative solutions make travel across the North Shore and into Vancouver easier;

  • The natural beauty of our parks, mountains, oceans and streams is protected; and

  • All residents have the opportunity to connect with others, contribute, and feel a sense of belonging.

This is why I want to be your next mayor - to work on finding solutions to these five critical issues. That’s what’s driving me - to work together, deal with competing interests, and find what I call “the sweet spot”. There is common ground, and I have the experience, vision and passion to lead West Vancouver into the next chapter of its celebrated history.

Q: Why did you “recuse” yourself from the decision regarding the sale and development of

the 1300 Block Marine Drive?

A: Because it was the right thing to do. My husband, John Sampson, acts as legal counsel for Grosvenor, the developer of the property. Trust and honesty are at the heart of good governance, and as my participation in that decision would have placed me in a conflict of interest, it was clear to me that I should not vote on the matter. However, as I announced in the last election, John has decided that he will not work on any future development projects in West Vancouver, so I will be able to fully engage in debate.

Q: There is a rumour that Grosvenor has purchased part of the south side of the 2400 Block in Dundarave?

A: As I had no knowledge regarding this matter, I asked Nina Leemhuis, our Chief Administrative Offer to look into it. Her response to all of Council was as follows: "It has been confirmed by Grosvenor that they did not purchase the property and therefore do not have any plans to develop it" ( Please also see my answer to the question above)

Q: Are you in favour of development?

A: We live in a unique community, one that we are all proud of, and I will continue to be focused on preserving what is best about West Vancouver - our parks, our prized facilities such as the Memorial Library, the Seniors Centre, and our two Community Centres. But I also understand that in order for this community to thrive in the years ahead we will need to revitalize our villages, particularly Ambleside, and that we must encourage more diverse forms of housing. I have supported several developments over the past seven years on Council where I felt the specific project, as well as the associated community benefits, outweighed the potential

drawbacks - projects that provided more affordable housing options, such as smaller units and rental units; opportunities for seniors to age in place; for locals to buy first (a program I championed); a place for WV dementia patients to stay in their community; supportive housing for people with disabilities; child care; and expanded retail offerings. I will support what might best be called "gentle" densification - development proposals that are innovative, and that meet our changing needs without compromising the look and feel of this community.

Q: Do you support further high rise development in Ambleside and Dundarave?

A: No. These "villages" should be just that - charming seaside places where people can live, shop, walk, and dine. They should be closely connected to the ocean and full of sunlight. Ambleside does need redevelopment, but I am not inclined to support any new high rises in this area. Many attractive European villages thrive with low level development, and we could do the same.

Q: Now that Council has unanimously passed the new Official Community Plan (“OCP”),

will we see rapid development in West Vancouver?

A: No. The OCP provides high level, strategic guidance to Council and staff. The specific policies and plans that flow from it will provide many opportunities for community consultation and input going forward.The projections in the OCP are quite conservative and intended to strike a balance between preserving the District's quality of life while adding needed housing options for the community. West Vancouver is the only municipality in the Metro region that actually lost population since the 2011 census. The estimates in the OCP - to add 10,000 people (and 5,000 units) over the next 25 years - amount to adding about 400 people per year (or 200 housing units) across the municipality. This is an annual growth rate of 0.74%, while the rest of Metro is projected to grow by almost 5%. The next steps include preparing Local Area Plans (including height, density, built form, and design of development) for the Ambleside Town Centre, Cypress Village, Taylor Way Corridor, and Horseshoe Bay.
 

Q: Are you planning to oppose the recently announced provincial School Tax and Payroll

Tax?

A: Yes. About half of the homes in West Vancouver are valued above $3 million dollars and so will be subject to the new School Tax. (For further information on how your property will be impacted please visit https://westvancouver.ca/government/financial-information/school-tax.) Of the $200 million dollars in total revenue projected from this tax in B.C., approximately 25%  of it will come from West Vancouver residents. Further, the new Payroll Tax will add over $1 million dollars in expenses to our annual budget, for which our municipality will have to either increase property taxes by 1%, or reduce services commensurately. This is before we even consider our own budget needs. If elected mayor, I would go to Victoria to strongly advocate on

behalf of my constituents and offer alternatives to these unexpected changes. Coming from a family headed by a single mother who struggled financially, I appreciate the value of a dollar. I also know that the citizens of West Vancouver want our taxes kept affordable, and municipal services delivered efficiently and cost effectively. During my two terms on council and as a member of the Finance Committee, I have argued for operating increases at or below inflation and financial prudence when reviewing the budget. However, I also supported the asset management plan, reserve and tax levy introduced in 2016 to maintain and repair our $750 million in aging infrastructure, which had long been neglected due to years of inadequate funding.

Q: Are you still practicing law?

A: No. I graduated from the University of British Columbia with degrees in business and law. After teaching commercial law at U.B.C.’s Sauder School of Business, I practiced for more than ten years, including positions as a provincial crown prosecutor and

in-house corporate counsel. My husband, John Sampson, and I raised our two daughters in West Vancouver, where they attended public schools. Now that our two daughters are grown, I devote my time fully to my role as a Municipal Councillor.

Q:  What experience do you have in the business world?

A:  Prior to my election to Council, as a School Trustee I managed a $60 million budget, kept schools open and staff working during a period of unprecedented financial restraint, and put $2 million in the bank in my last year as Chair of the Board.

I grew up in the hotel business - starting as a chamber maid at the age of thirteen, and ultimately putting myself through university working part-time in almost every aspect of hotel operations.  Ironically, my final position as a lawyer was as corporate counsel for a regional hotel chain.  

I have a business degree from U.B.C., and after law school I taught commercial law for six years in the Sauder School; during which I also designed, produced and marketed professional development courses in its Executive Education department.  

Q:  What is your relationship with developers?

A:  I have no relationship with developers outside my work as a Councillor.  It is well known that my husband, John Sampson, is a real estate lawyer, and that he acts as legal counsel for Grosvenor.  During my first term as a Councillor I recused myself from the decision regarding the sale of the 1300 Block Marine Drive as my participation in that decision would have placed me in a

potential conflict of interest.  However, as I announced in the last election, John has decided that he will not work on any future

development projects in West Vancouver.  Trust and honesty are at the heart of good governance, and I take this responsibility

very seriously.I fully appreciate the community sensitivity to new development, and frequently meet with individual applicants on site to ask questions, so that I have the best information available to make a decision at the Council table.  In addition, at times I have strongly conveyed my expectations to developers, as was the case when I proposed the Local’s First Program to Westbank after learning that the Sewell’s Landing project had been marketed in Hong Kong before the matter had gone to a public hearing. 

This Program was not only adopted by Westbank, it has been widely copied by other developers and communities.  

 

Please visit this page regularly as questions and answers will be added throughout the campaign.

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