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Candidate bio: Pamela Swanigan

Pamela Swanigan is an independent candidate for council
Pam Swanigan
Pamela Swanigan (Independent)

I was born in California and came to Canada when I was five. I’ve lived in almost every part of the country, but I’ve always come home to the West Coast.

I’ve been a professional writer since I was 19, when I got my first piece in the Vancouver Sun. I’ve also taught English at Kwantlen and other universities. In lean times, I’ve worked at stores like Save-On and Purdys, but mostly I’ve written. Right now my main job is writing articles for a website offering advice to caregivers whose parent or spouse wants to age at home.

I don’t own much of anything, and nobody owns me. Some people have told me I can’t win a seat on council if I don’t have the developers and realtors in my pocket. I don’t believe that. If the people of Delta don’t vote for me, it will be for their own good reasons, not because I haven’t truckled.

I’m running because I see the current council acting as if Delta were just another place. Delta isn’t just another place. Delta is one of the most ecologically important places in the world. Every single person who lives here has the awe-inspiring privilege of stewarding it.

Developers and this council tell us that if we want viable businesses and roofs over our heads, we have to pave Delta over. This is not so. If we take profiteering out of the picture, many things are possible. Affordable rental and co-op units with solar energy and living roofs. Villages with green parking lots and green infrastructure. A thriving ecotourism economy, and farms flourishing through agritourism and crop diversification. There are hundreds of exciting, workable, win-win solutions.

I’m running because I want us Deltans to be the good guys. I know we can be. Let’s make it so.

What are your election issues?

The environment, especially climate change and biodiversity loss.

I get why people are scared about affordability. I really do. But what’s the point of being able to afford food if there’s no food to afford? What’s the point of being able to afford housing if our housing is flooded by rain events or burned down in wildfires? This is really happening. We need to stop letting the urgent be the enemy of the important.

I would:

· Require all buildings to be CAGBC LEED-certified, and push for a phased transition of Ladner, Tsawwassen, and North Delta to Green Townships along the IGBC or LEED for Cities certification models.

· help Delta grow a thriving ecotourism economy. Additional revenue for businesses would come from e-commerce platforms along the lines of the UK’s NearSt, and for farmers from agritourism. We can densify until we’re blue in the face: it’s not going to help our local businesses compete with Amazon.

· shift from grey infrastructure to green infrastructure such as rain cisterns, bioswales, porous pavements, infiltration trenches, and perforated pipes.

Unaffordable and environmentally unsustainable housing.

I put these together because they come from the same place: developer profiteering. We are giving Delta away. We are giving developers incentives to carry out projects that bring them enormous profits. Meanwhile, the “community amenities” they provide in return are pitiful.

I would push to enact stringent conditions for all development:

· 60% or more of the space must be for rental or co-op housing.

· Each project must include minimum 10 lease units for our fire fighters, police, and paramedics, to be subsidized by the developer, in perpetuity, at 75% below market value. Our public-safety workers need tools to help them recruit and retain the best.

· All housing must be net-zero energy, with solar power, living roofs, greywater recapture, etc