Kienan Christianson’s Platform
Kienan is running for Burlington City Council to ensure that every New North End resident can thrive!
Housing affordability has been the single most important issue I’ve been hearing from neighbors on the door. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone agrees that it is getting more and more expensive to live in Burlington. Luckily, we can find solutions that help make housing more affordable while also increasing the livability of Burlington.
For starters, we can reorient our new services and development so that we’re sustainably growing, both economically and ecologically. From an economic standpoint, given that we have approved renovations to the High School– something that was desperately needed and which will help ensure are kids go to a safe and healthy school– as well as upgrades to the water treatment facility, we need to be very strategic about when and what projects we take on. There are a number of great projects the City could take on, but we need to make sure that we’re not taking on every project all at once, resulting in everyone’s property taxes going up.
Instead, we should be focusing on paying down our current projects while also investing in our infrastructure. With the new housing that’s getting built, we need to ensure that we’re adequately upgrading our pipes and sewer lines so that we don’t have another spillage into Lake Champlain. In addition, we should be increasing community input and engagement to the types of new development the City takes on so that the housing that is being brought online will help ease pressure on rents while also increasing the grand list.
By being strategic about when and what projects we take on, we can develop in an ecologically sustainable way. If we appropriately invest in infrastructure to accommodate the new housing, we keep sewage out of the lake, which keeps our drinking water clean, and maintains the lake for recreational activities.
Through increased community engagement and a focus on sustainability, we can tackle the housing affordability crisis in Burlington so that whether you’re on a fixed income or starting a new family, you’re not overburdened by higher and higher property taxes.
With the recent accident on North Avenue, neighbors across the New North End have been consistent that we need a solution to make it safer and easier to get across North Avenue. Installing the lighted crosswalks will be one step in the right direction so that when folks cross the street, drivers know. However, we can do more.
In addition to lighted crosswalks, we can increase the number of crossings so that we minimize the number of people darting across the street because the next closest crossing is half a mile down the road. For example, there are a number of bus stops without a cross walk–if folks are getting off the bus, they should be able to cross the avenue without having to dart through traffic.
I also spoke to a number of neighbors who were interested in increasing the lighting on the avenue so that as our nights get longer, folks walking along the sidewalk can see and be seen.
Finally, with the installation of the bike paths, we should be doing more to make it safer for bikes and cars traveling along the avenue. The current partitions simply don’t work, as numerous neighbors told me. Many of the newly installed partitions have already been destroyed because of the street plowing. We should be exploring other ways to make the bike paths more secure, without wasting taxpayer dollars on a solution that won’t last the winter.
What makes the New North End a great place to live and retire is the people–I’ve been consistently humbled by how amazing our community truly is. Whether it’s folks coming together to shovel each other’s walks, or hosting community dinners so that everyone has an excuse to get out in the cold, it’s the people that makes the New North End so special. That’s why I’m focused on bringing more community services out to the New North End.
For many, it comes as a surprise that if the New North End were its own city, it would be the fifth largest city in Vermont. For context, the New North End has the same population as Montpelier– if Montpelier bussed in 3,000 more people. Yet for many of our neighbors, it feels like the New North End is missing amenities that other parts of Burlington have.
For starters, I’d like to push for a branch of the public library so that there is a space for kids, families, and older neighbors to get together outside of meals or coffee. I’d also like to see more activities brought to the New North End. We should also leverage the resources we already have. For example, did you know there’s a bowling alley in St. Mark’s? By engaging with our community and leveraging the resources we already have, we can increase community engagement without necessarily increasing costs or taxes.
In addition, I’d like to bolster our support for our Neighborhood Planning Assemblies (NPA). Our NPA serves the valuable function of connecting City Hall with the New North End. The programs and presentations the NPA puts on ensures that all of us are aware of the types of projects and events taking place around the city, which increases community input, another top priority of mine. In addition, our NPA is local democracy in its purest form. We should work together with our steering committee to find solutions for building upon the great community we already have in place.
Communities are healthier and more successful when everyone feels valued. For far too long, many in our neighborhood have felt unseen and unheard in their community. We need to amplify the voices of our New American neighbors, the voices of our older neighbors who are living alone on fixed incomes, and others who feel marginalized.
The New North End has the best communities in Burlington–I will work hard to continue to foster and grow what makes the New North End the greatest neighborhood in Burlington: its people.
When I think of climate change, it can feel overwhelming. But we can do a variety of things at the local level to reduce our carbon emissions.
For starters, the current ban on plastic bags under consideration by the Council is a great start. But we can go further. I spoke to Peter at The Bagel as well as Dan and Kara at Simple Roots, who agree that we can ban single use plastics without increasing their bottom line or forcing them to raise their prices. This will cut our reliance on fossil fuels while also decreasing the amount of plastic that gets washed into the lake.
Another solution is to increase the accessibility of the bus line that runs up and down North Avenue. We have a number of older folks living out Edinborough Drive, Van Patten Parkway, and James Avenue who need to walk over a mile if they want to access the bus. For many of our older neighbors, when the snow and ice comes, this simply isn’t feasible. As a result, unless they own a car, many of our older neighbors are stuck at home when the weather is bad, which can be very isolating. By adding a small shuttle service that picks up our neighbors who live closer to the Winooski River and Lake Champlain, we can make it easier for our older neighbors to access the bus, which has the added benefit of reducing the number of cars on the road and therefore our overall carbon emissions.
Climate change is happening, but we can do our part locally to ensure that we’re reducing our carbon footprint so that our kids and grand kids can enjoy swimming in Lake Champlain like so many of our neighbors have when they grew up here.