MUNICIPAL ELECTION: Mayoral candidate Paul Brown campaigning on fiscal prudence, taxes and transparency

Government consultant says too many decisions being made behind closed doors

Paul Brown

Paul Brown

Back in May, Paul Brown came racing out of the gates as Victoria’s first declared mayoral candidate.

After placing sixth in the 2010 byelection for city council, with 1,065 votes, Brown this time started campaigning early to overcome the fact he’s a little-known candidate.

Brown is a partner in a consulting firm called 3e Training Inc., providing management advice to governments, and a director with the Victoria Chapter of the Financial Management Institute of Canada. He has volunteered for many years with Big Brothers and Sisters of Victoria, but has no community leadership experience.

“About halfway through the (2010) campaign, I was contacted by some people by email and they said, ‘You know what, we’re impressed by what you’re doing … (but) you haven’t got a chance.’”

That grassroots support grew into the official endorsement of an electoral organization called Open Victoria.

At first, Brown’s goal for the 2011 election was a seat on council. “The further I got into it, the more convinced I became that something had to be done,” he explained of his motivation to oust Mayor Dean Fortin.

Brown has positioned himself as the voice of financial prudence in a time of economic uncertainty.

“We need to focus on the issues of greatest importance to the city and right now, council’s attention tends to be focused 80 per cent of the time on issues of insignificant importance, or of provincial, national or global nature, over which we have very little influence,” he said.

“One of the big challenges I face right now is persuading the public that we are going into a financial crisis.”

Signs of the crisis, according to Brown, include the city’s $467-million infrastructure deficit, such as the Crystal Pool which needs replacement but has no allocated funding. Brown also points to the looming cost of sewage treatment, the mayor’s support for light-rail transit, and this year’s seven per cent residential tax increase.

“A lot of people I’m speaking to knocking on doors, they’re angry that they were told (they’d face a tax increase of) 3.96 per cent,” he said, referring to the overall tax increase for 2011, before taking into account the tax ratio.

On the city’s focus to address homelessness and affordable housing, he said: “I think it’s admirable that the city stepped forward.

“I think it’s disappointing that the province hasn’t taken this on … The problem is when you’re getting into something you don’t understand,” he said, referencing the city’s purchase of a Traveller’s Inn which sits boarded up for the foreseeable future due to cost escalation.

“Too many decisions are being made behind closed doors,” Brown argued. By way of example, he points to a budget presentation lasting only 15 minutes.

While he acknowledged the city held several community budget presentations, he said they were not very informative and budget documents online are not adequately detailed.

To keep tax increases at a sustainable level, Brown proposes to tackle the city’s growth in management.

“We’ve grown from one to nine people earning over $150,000 (since 2008),” he said.

“We are doing an incredible amount of planning at city hall,” he added. “They (reports) go on the shelf.”

Another idea is amalgamating services with other municipalities, such as garbage collection.

“I think we can get economies of scale if we do it all together… I would love to move to amalgamation, but lets take these baby steps.”

He calls council’s decision to launch kitchen-scrap collection “dumb.”

“We should be doing it with the rest of the municipalities,” he said.

Brown criticizes a common practice among some councillors of attacking higher levels of government.

“My business is working with provincial governments,” he explained. “There is a general attitude in the B.C. government right now that this city council cannot be trusted and will do anything to try to embarrass the provincial government.”

At the same time, Brown’s own campaign is heavy on attack tactics toward the city council. When asked if this will affect his ability to work effectively with his colleagues, if elected, he responded: “I think council knows they are in trouble.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Dog owners walk along Fleming Beach on a sunny day (pre-COVID). (Black Press Media file photo)
Deadline nears for licensing your dog in Esquimalt

Pet owners have until Feb. 28 to renew, purchase or transfer licences for 2021

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Most Read