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Clay: Control development in Moody
Occupation: computer and IT consultant
Years living in Port Moody: 22
After two terms on Port Moody council, Mike Clay is running for mayor because he thinks he can bring people together from all areas of the spectrum to deal with important issues facing the city.
“In the last six years, I have built a lot of relationships. I can bring everybody together and they’re not threatened,” Clay said. “They don’t think I have a hidden agenda because I don’t.”
As an example, Clay said he has spent time with every mayor and councillor in the Tri-Cities in recent years and believes it was for this reason the region’s mayors provided a united front of support for the Murray-Clarke connector, although this cohesion failed to sway TransLink, which ultimately withdrew the connector from its priority list.
Clay said he will make it a priority to represent the city in a positive manner and to do the research required to make sure council has all the information it needs to make a sound decision. He cited his efforts to raise awareness about the financial implications of Smart Choices — a web portal Port Moody and Coquitlam built with taxpayers’ money to conduct city business online and promote local groups (The Tri-City News reported it cost $9 million in federal and municipal grants and support, Clay says it was more like $17 million) — as an example of how he enjoys research and isn’t afraid to raise difficult topics.
He’s also a critic of regional government because of the lack of financial oversight and believes the media should be more critical of double-dipping politicians. He said he donates to charity stipends he gets for attending Metro Vancouver meetings.
Clay says he has always been open to different points of view and offers as an example his invitation to Zero Waste spokesperson Helen Spiegelman when he chaired the Environmental Protection Committee. “She has very radical ideas and most regions in the city weren’t inviting her in. They are now,” said Clay.
He believes his first job as mayor — and council’s top priority — will be to create a strategic plan and hire a new city manager (former manager Gaetan Royer is now a manager at Metro Vancouver.) “That’s a huge responsibility to make sure that person who oversees all 300 of our employees carries out the council agenda while managing all the other areas of the city.”
Clay is also adamant the city won’t approve density along the Evergreen Line until infrastructure is in place to support it. Calling the $1.4-billion rapid transit system that will run adjacent to CP Rail tracks the single biggest change to the city since the rail tracks were first laid 125 years ago, he said he will be cautious about making sure development doesn’t overrun the city, particularly in Moody Centre, where he said the line will transform the neighbourhood.
“There is going to be a lot of problems if we just start slapping up condos everywhere,” he said. “We need balance and development that we can accept.”
He also expects the city to re-open the official community plan and promises “total disclosure and clarity” in the process.
Clay envisions bringing new life to Moody Centre, where he lives; he would like to see more shops and services to serve existing as well as new residents. He supports the idea of pedestrian linkages to the waterfront and even a plaza over the rail line. He thinks there is also the possibility of building a technology park near the West Coast Express station, although he noted, “It’s in the hands of TransLink.”
As the only councillor running for mayor, Clay says it’s “kind of unfair” for candidates to suggest the city create a cap on taxes, such as keeping increases to the rate of inflation, given that servicing the debt for the fire hall will result in a 1.3% hike in 2012 and .61% in 2013. And he pointed out that multi-family housing places more demands on the city for services, such as parks and the library.
So far, he said, people are happy with the services they are paying for but agrees this is no time to “go on a spending spree.”
“We’ll clarify every issue and go through it line by line if they want to. It’s the people’s budget and the people’s process, we’re very conscious of that.”
Clay said he’s open to hearing what other ideas TransLink has for the Murray-Clarke corridor and isn’t wedded to the idea of building the long-awaited connector, although he agrees something needs to be done to reduce traffic congestion. “I want to know what the regional vision is,” he said, arguing that the route should remain a secondary arterial route, with St. Johns the major artery.
Clay says the city can’t afford to redevelop Inlet Park now but he would be willing to look at other options, such as partnering with School District 43 to redevelop playing fields around Moody middle school, slated for re-building in the next couple of years. He points out that Westhill Park was only refurbished five years ago and taxpayers are already on the hook for a new fire hall.
“One group says pay $50 a year for a soccer field and another group says keep my taxes down.”