Hemmens announces council bid

Website: https://www.hemmens2018.ca/

Public service is an honour and a privilege. I have a long history of working for the betterment of my community, and seeking out challenging professional and volunteer roles which utilize my skills, passion and expertise. I am a hard worker, a good listener and a natural collaborator. I am inspired by the democratic process and the knowledge that we, as individuals, have the power and the responsibility to create the communities we want to live in.

I’m a mother to two wonderful little boys, the wife of a local business owner, and a proud resident of the vibrant South End. My family moved to Nanaimo in 2011.

EXPERIENCE

I currently serve Nanaimo, as well as the Cowichan Valley, Ladysmith, Parksville, Qualicum and the west coast, as a coroner with the BC Coroners Service. The skills I use every day in this role, including collaborating with multiple stakeholders/agencies, applying evidence based decision making, working in highly emotional settings, being thoughtful, compassionate and curious, as well as exercising a high degree of professionalism and discretion, are all skills that I would bring to the role of Nanaimo city councillor.

Prior to my work as a coroner, I managed community based health and research projects for Dalhousie University, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the IWK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Capital Regional District Health Authority (Halifax), the Nova Scotia Department of Health, Doctors of BC and the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice.

Highlights from my career include:

  • Facilitating community conversations with front line workers, substance users and administrators to inform the policy direction of BC’s new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions;
  • In partnership with 16 local service providers/organizations, founding the John Barsby Wellness Centre, an award winning model of youth focused health care;
  • Coordinating a province wide evaluation of the Nova Scotia Breastfeeding Policy; and
  • Working with communities, Elders and Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Indigenous Foods Network to host two Traditional Food Conferences.

Highlights from my volunteer roles include:

  • Serving the City of Nanaimo on two committees: Community Vitality and Community Engagement.
  • Longstanding board member of the Midwifery Coalition of Nova Scotia, serving as co-chair during the two years in which midwifery legislation was enacted and service models designed and implemented in communities; and
  • Providing prenatal education and labour support to vulnerable mothers;

I hold a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Dalhousie University.

PLATFORM

I believe that we deserve a community that is vibrant and prosperous and where the wellbeing of all citizens is valued.

Strengthening the wellbeing of our community

Develop focused short and long-term strategies to address housing accessibility in partnership with Regional, Provincial and Federal stakeholders

Housing insecurity is a reality for many Canadian cities. The first step in addressing the current challenge is to understand the specific context of housing insecurity in Nanaimo. This includes having a solid grasp of the diverse populations it affects, the reasons we have more and more people at risk of homelessness and the impact of rising mental health and addictions issues. As we better understand the challenges, we can creatively and bravely look for solutions that fit our community. Nanaimo is well positioned to tackle this issue through numerous innovative non-profits, a committee devoted to looking closely at homelessness in our community, an Action plan to end homelessness, a new Affordable Housing strategy and Nanaimo’s newly created Community Action Team (opioid response team).

Priority actions

ü  Re-establish strong lines of communication with provincial and federal counterparts so we are well informed and prepared to act on future funding opportunities;

ü  Work with neighbourhood associations to conduct meaningful consultations on potential future development. Acknowledge that these are difficult conversation for all communities, and work to establish trust and strong relationships between residents and Council;

ü  Implement the vision of Nanaimo’s Action Plan to End Homelessness; and

ü  Work with our Health Authority partners to coordinate support of those with chronic and persistent mental health and addictions issues.

Create an accessible and efficient transportation system which responds to community needs and promotes an active lifestyle.

Moving people through our city efficiently and safely is a passion of mine. I believe our current public transportation system can be improved to meet the needs of our community. We need to examine how and where we could find efficiencies and opportunities. Cars will likely always be the dominant mode of transportation, but we can also ensure that those who don’t have a car have viable, safe and easy alternatives.

Priority actions

ü  With the Regional District, review the current public transit system to ensure that it meets the needs of neighbourhoods, including the provision of bus stop benches and shelters;

ü  Assess where we are in the implementation of the Transportation Master Plan, and create a priority list of projects based on available resources and community needs;

ü  Review current cycling infrastructure for opportunities for minor, relatively low-cost, but important repairs to the Parkway Trail and the E & N Trail, and focus on critical segments required to create a connected grid of cycling lanes to move people through our busiest districts; and

ü  Explore alternative models of connecting seniors to main bus routes.

Creating a More Prosperous City for All

Ensure that Nanaimo is open for business with competitive taxes, streamlined procedures and a liveable community that attracts new employers, employees and residents.

We live in an exceptionally beautiful part of the world with easy access to two major cities, all of the necessary amenities, the ‘feel’ of a small town and unparalleled access to mountains, nature and the ocean. Local government has an important role to play in helping to attract business and investment and to support the businesses that are already here.  Diligent and thoughtful fiscal management which aligns with our community vision, leadership which prioritizes creating an attractive city for residents and visitors and well-functioning city processes which promote investment will send a positive message that Nanaimo is a good place to live, work and invest.

Priority Actions

ü  Set realistic budgets which reflect the community’s strategic objectives;

ü  Immediately address the human resource shortage in the City’s building permits department to prevent project delays;

ü  Establish a stronger economic development function within the city (currently 1 full time city staff is responsible for our entire economic portfolio); and

ü  Work closely with our business community to understand the needs of our local businesses, and work with partners such as the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-Island Business Improvement Initiative to promote Nanaimo as an attractive place to live and do business.

Enhance and sustain an attractive and dynamic downtown core

We have a wonderful downtown, with strong local businesses and a lovely library, situated in what could be a classic town square. We have new and exciting downtown initiatives, such as the Commercial Street Night Market, Art in Humanity and our first ever Jane’s Walk, which are inspiring conversation and encouraging people to experience downtown in new ways. We need to continue to support these initiatives while focusing on filling empty storefronts, adding to the residential base and promoting the local business, arts and culture communities, which are the cornerstones of a vibrant downtown core.

Priority actions

ü  Don’t re-invent the wheel. Learn from the best practices and work that has already taken place, including that of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, the Victoria Crescent Association, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and the Old City Quarter Business Improvement Association and collaborate on a vision that both business’ and residents support;

ü  Encourage housing development in the downtown core by waiving Development Costs Charges and Property Tax for projects that fit pre-determined criteria; and

ü  Work to implement the vision of Terminal Nicol Re-imagined, creating a ‘Main Street’ corridor which efficiently moves traffic, promotes local businesses and increases the walkability and enjoyment of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Building a vibrant community together

Engage residents in a transparent, respectful and meaningful way

Vibrant and thriving communities begin with a plan and a vision for the future, and a successful plan and vision can only happen with meaningful citizen engagement. Community engagement has been a key component of my professional and volunteer roles for well over a decade. We need to listen to citizen feedback and not use an open house as a tick box for saying we've done our job.

Priority actions

ü  Develop a strategic plan which clearly articulates our community’s vision, values and key priorities, and commit to using it to guide our decision making;

ü  Update the 10 year old Official Community Plan; and

ü  Conduct a thorough review of the committee structure to ensure that the tables where citizens come to engage with leaders and staff on specific issues affecting our community are both effective and empowering.

Support our Arts and Culture Institutions and Sports Organizations

Nanaimo is home to a thriving Arts and Culture community, as well as premier sports organizations and facilities. In a 2012 report prepared by the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, Nanaimo’s gross economic output related to the arts and culture sector was valued at $94 million, creating close to 900 local jobs. In 2018, the Steve Smith Bike Park hosted the Red Bull Pump Track World Championships, drawing riders and spectators from around the world. Beyond being a key economic driver, arts, culture and sporting contributes to the overall experience of our city, encouraging civic pride, healthy lifestyles and a sense of place among residents.

Priority actions

ü  Re-establish the Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee which was responsible for coordinating and supporting a thriving Arts community, grant allocation and relationship development; and

ü Through the current Parks and Recreation and Culture Committee, create a common table for sports organizations to connect, coordinate and collaborate on facility development and tourism opportunities.

Renew our relationship with Snuneymuxw First Nation

It’s vital to acknowledge that Snuneymuxw First Nation (SFN) is its own government, with rights and responsibilities in the community. Over the last number of years we have witnessed a deterioration of the relationship between SFN and the city of Nanaimo: repairing this is vital work. If we want our city to move forward – economically and socially – we need to be partners and allies with the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

ü  In partnership with SFN, establish a Truth and Reconciliation committee with representatives from both governments and residents, to begin the work of rebuilding relationships;

ü  Commit to meaningful engagement on all projects, especially on land use and development plans, such as Port 1 Drive; and

ü  Honour the Nation’s vision of bringing cultural teachings and traditions to the broader community by supporting the Saysutshun development and public art partnerships.