Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thank you!

Dear Supporters, I don’t like losing one bit, but my mayoral campaign felt like a victory of sorts – and that’s what many people have told me since my 2011 run for Saanich Mayor.

On the numbers, we were short by about 1500 votes, yet we got nearly ten thousand people moving in a progressive direction. That’s new in Saanich! The incumbent won (as tends to happen municipally), but got less votes then he did in the previous election.

A Snap-shot of E-Day at the Cubbs HQ
In addition, we moved participation from one-in-five to one-in-four, and we got virtually all of the new voters. This shows there’s latent appetite for change, and that it can be galvanized.

We need to be more competitive in the air, where we were outgunned by costly advertising: big signs, large newspaper ads, glitzy brochures, TV advertising, and the consolidation of support a slate provides to a mayoral campaign.
Where we won was on the ground – on the doorstep, in the remarkable volunteer effort and in the community response. Not enough, but powerful and very encouraging for the future.
I’m proud of putting a real platform in front of voters. That’s never happened in Saanich before! We focused on real issues: from Uptown and civic engagement in planning our future, to transit, farming and a senior-friendly community.
The spotlight we shone on the devastation of Babe’s Honey was the push needed for the province to finally okay a ground-breaking bylaw. It had been sitting on the Ministers desk but as our campaign focused on the issue and got the media asking tough questions, change suddenly happened and now municipalities can regulate fill-dumping on agricultural land.
To those who voted for me: thank you! 45% of Saanich voted for change and that should send a strong message to those in power.

I want to especially thank each and every one of my supporters for giving me the best campaign experience in over two decades in public life. I can’t thank my all-volunteer campaign team enough for their dedication, creativity and support. And special thanks to my campaign manager, Samuel Godfrey, for his professionalism and dedication, and for skillfully orchestrating the work of our superb team.

Let me end by congratulating the newly-elected Mayor and Council. You have taken on an important and challenging civic duty and I wish you all the very best.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

We can do better in Saanich

Dear Friends,

As you know, I’m running for Mayor of Saanich and gearing up for elections that are coming up fast. It’s a big undertaking and I need your help to get there!

For more information or to find out how to get involved, please visit my campaign website! www.cubbs4mayor.ca

I’m running for Mayor because I think Saanich needs a leader who recognizes that our quality of life depends on how well we shape growth and manage our mobility.

We need to diversify our mobility choices, but instead we see a growing disconnect between land use and transportation. At our largest commercial development ever, situated on a key transit corridor at the region’s hub, transit was left out entirely. Clearly we missed a key opportunity. I believe we have to do better.

Having served as a Councilor and Saanich MLA, I’m strongly connected to this community and I share its desire to grow more sustainably. Saanich has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint, and endorsed a vision for growth based on mixed-use centres served by quality transit, cycling and walking corridors. Yet this vision seems mostly lost in translation. As your Mayor, I will work to reconnect our vision to concrete actions consistent with our growth management strategy.

While Saanich is progressive in many areas – like providing parks and playing fields – the walking environment isn’t one of them. Sidewalks are often rudimentary or non-existent, even on major roads and around some schools. Our community plans speak of priority improvements, but Saanich has been slow to move on them. As traffic congestion builds and our community ages, the need for safe, attractive walking environments only grows. I think we can do better.

Traffic and transit issues will always be prominent in Saanich, as much of the region moves through our community daily. We have no choice but to be leaders in managing impacts and diversifying choice, but too often we seem to shy away from challenges. Whether it’s safety at Sayward Road, congestion at McKenzie/Admirals, or moving forward on a rapid transit system that gives commuters an attractive choice, we seem to want to put our heads in the sand. There’s no magic bullet for transportation issues – but there are opportunities to build partnerships with senior governments to invest in alternatives that get us moving while shrinking our carbon footprint. I think we should be seizing those opportunities when they appear. I’m convinced that we can do much better!

I’m asking for your support for Saanich Mayor this November. I believe it’s time for a change, and I’m hoping you’ll agree. My campaign website is here: www.cubbs4mayor.ca

Thank you, 


David Cubberley

Monday, June 6, 2011

Join me on Tuesday June 14....

Dear Friends,

Please join me at noon this Tuesday, June the 14th, for an important announcement about local government in Saanich.

I’m hosting an informal gathering at Rutledge Park – with refreshments, lively atmosphere…and a pithy speech.

We’re now just five months away from the next municipal election. Our choice affects every aspect of our community and region – from the importance of environmental stewardship to leadership on regional issues, from the taxes we pay and quality of services delivered to the degree of citizen engagement.

Like many, I think there’s room for improvement on the big issues facing Saanich – like shaping growth, managing traffic impacts, improving walkability, and building rapid transit.

I think it’s time for a change, because I’m certain we can do better.

Join me on Tuesday and I’ll fill you in on the details.


David Cubberley
Former Saanich Councillor and MLA

PS. Rutledge park is on Cloverdale Avenue, just East of Blanshard. Click here for a map.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Funding the full ounce of prevention

News that our Health Ministers are ready to ‘dialogue’ on the threat of rising obesity drew groans from experts who’ve been demanding action for many years.

Canadians have been porking up for decades – nearly two-thirds of us are now either overweight or obese (O/O). Coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, this energy imbalance is causing disease and sending healthcare costs skyward.

In the twenty-five years from 1980 - 2005, O/O rose to 65% of males and 53.4% of females (up ten percent each). This growth of girth parallels a rise in our daily salt intake (fast foods) and sugar consumption (syrupy pop).

Even more alarming, in the same timeframe O/O among children aged six to seventeen has more than doubled, with girls (25%) and boys (27%) bulking up at similar rates.

One result is the meteoric rise of late-onset (type two) diabetes and its appearance among children, a development with huge implications for public health. Type-two diabetes (TTD) is a lifestyle disease resulting from the body’s inability to handle the high glycemic load dumped into it daily by processed foods.

Glycemic overload results from putting too much fatty, salted, sugary, energy-dense and nutrient-empty food into a body that’s sedentary. The result is a condition that over time ruins a person’s health, prompting outcomes like heart disease, cancer, blindness, amputations, and finally kidney failure.

In 2006, while serving as provincial health critic, I learned from a report done by our provincial health officer that there were some 220,000 British Columbians living with type-two diabetes (TTD). A mere five years later, we are already up to 338,000 living with TTD, and we are forecast to reach 548,000 by 2020!

That would be over ten percent of our population in 2020 living with a life-threatening lifestyle disease. The good news is, it’s largely preventable. The bad news is, we’re still not doing anything to prevent it.

Experts and advocates are calling for change in two general directions.

First, we need to recognize that diabetes develops from obesity and physical inactivity in combination. Our physiological decline is caused by environmental factors that are susceptible of change: too much energy in, not enough energy out.

The physical environment we inhabit needs strategic modification – we are simply too dependent on cars for transport. So much so that the way we’ve arranged our work and home lives, and our ways of getting between, makes weight gain difficult to avoid.

Modifying our built environment to enable more exercise, especially of the kind incidental to transport, is a key way to reduce population weight gain. Societies that provide more safe and appealing walking and cycling infrastructures achieve significantly higher levels of daily physical activity.

Modifying our physical environment needs to be done at a regional and local scale, led by local governments working with new funds from senior governments. Coupled with more greenspace closer to home and work, and linear greenways linking both, more people will be attracted to walk and cycle.

Think for example of the impact the Galloping Goose has had on travel choices in the Capital Region. It serves as an incubator for walking and cycling trips, both for commuting and as travel to non-work destinations.

Overall we need to build more compact, complete communities as we densify around urban nodes, and link those nodes with sustainable transport. The evidence is robust that where such infrastructures are provided, people are much more likely to walk and cycle daily. Moderate regular exercise is the single best preventive against all causes of disease and mortality.

Currently, nearly all costs for making cities more walkable and bikeable fall to the local property tax base. Transit upgrades similarly fall on local sources in the CRD (currently about 70% of all costs).

As property tax is over-stressed already, progress in retrofitting our cities for sustainable mobility is very slow. Senior governments, who collect 92 cents of every dollar of taxation, need to invest earmarked funding in retrofitting cities for walking, cycling and rapid transit use.

A second policy direction to prioritize is gradual modification of our food environment, putting new emphasis on fresh and local, and de-emphasizing salty carbohydrates and sugary drinks. There’s a compelling need to mandate reductions in salt use in industrial and restaurant foods (80% of our salt intake is from prepared foods). There should also be front-of-package labeling of calorie, sugar and salt loads in all food products.

These are both non-cost policy changes that will beneficially modify diet and enable consumers to make more discerning food choices. Recently the federal government dissolved its expert salt taskforce, which was to have developed a national salt-reduction strategy. Wrong direction Ottawa! The mandate is fitness, not fatness.

Taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages is a tool available to policy makers. It could both curb consumption and provide a revenue stream for investing in modifications of our physical environment.

But why pick on pop? Because pop is one of the bigger culprits in societal weight gain – while our consumption has ‘leveled off’ at about 72 litres a year per person, many people ingest a can or more a day (!!). A single can of pop contains 39 grams of sugar, or about ten teaspoons worth! It would take over an hour of vigorous physical activity to neutralize the calories in a single can.

Kids are prone to pop addiction. According to StatsCan research, 50 percent of 15-year-old males recalled having a soft drink in the previous 24 hours, with the average serving size being 700 ml. As Victoria’s Dr. Tom Warshawski points out, doing that just twice a week gets you to 72 litres a year.

Recent polling showed that 70% of British Columbians supported a tax on sugar if the proceeds were invested in health promotion. I’d amend ‘promotion’ to read, if the proceeds are invested in modifications to our food and urban environments so that we can make healthier, more active choices more easily.

What we don’t need is Participaction 3.0. No offense, but if you don’t create new opportunities for people to use their legs as part of daily life, you’ll never get the numbers to dance. And that goes double for cycling – without safe, convenient bikelanes and trails, people won’t feel attracted to the activity. But if you build it, they will come.

There’s a lot to learn from Europe:
  • Finland moderated its salt consumption and reduced its incidence of heart attacks and strokes dramatically.
  • Over half of Dutch and German elders get around by walking or cycling, while in the USA it’s a mere six percent.
  • In Copenhagen, nearly fifty percent of commuter travel is by bicycle, a phenomenon that has happened solely by choice with the provision of safer cycling environments.
Then there’s the great policy crossover, between what we need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and what we have to do to get ourselves moving – turns out they’re identical!

Targetted investments in walking, cycling and zero-emission rapid transit will both reduce daily carbon emissions and raise daily exercise levels. Remember, every transit trip involves two short walk trips.

Our greatest challenge lies in blowing past the ingrained pessimism of professional politicians. The B.C. legislature has unanimously endorsed a strategy to address childhood obesity and physical inactivity. That was back in 2007, and the strategy has been collecting dust on a shelf ever since.

But Type Two Diabetes hasn’t stood still, adding 110,000 new victims since the politicians pledged to act. B.C.’s direct healthcare costs from TTD are rising rapidly, at $1.3-billion last year, rising to over $1.9-billion by 2015.

A public health strategy to address obesity by modifying our physical environment in ways that predispose more walking and cycling is feasible and long overdue. It would also not cost that much to implement: two capital funds earmarked for walking and cycling, each with $25-million annually to invest in cost-sharing of mobility retrofits in cities and towns.

Transit could be scaled up rapidly by dedicating existing and future carbon tax revenues, as well has having senior governments devolve some of the motor fuel taxes collected currently at the pump.

In 2006, the BC Standing Committee on Health estimated that ending the tax exemptions on candy, confections and soda pop would generate $40 - $45-million a year in new tax revenues.

This step alone could finance the investment stream for retrofitting infrastructure in our cities.

Is it time to Act Now and fund the full ounce of prevention? Or will we continue whistling Dixie instead?

John Pucher's Making Walking and Cycling Safer, Lessons from Europe is at: http://www.transporteativo.org.br/site/Banco/7manuais/VTPIpuchertq.pdf

A Strategy for Combatting Childhood Obesity and Physical Inactivity in British Columbia: http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/38thparl/session-2/health/reports/Rpt-Health-38-2-29Nov2006.pdf