Judi Murakami wants City Council to focus on senior women’s poverty, arts and culture, revitalization and removing blight and protecting green spaces. Plus, she’s prepared to put in the time to make important decisions
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated for the correct spelling of Judi Murakami’s name
Judi Murakami wants to use her education and professional experience to help the Courtenay City Council coalesce around some common goals, something she believes they desperately need to do.
She decided to run for office in January, after meeting with Mayor Larry Jangula, who she says told her the council was not working well together.
That shows up, she says, in the failure of the city’s strategic plan to even mention schools and education, green spaces and arts and culture, and is short on specifics.
“For example, the plan talks about growing the economy, but how?” she told Decafnation. “It doesn’t say.”
FURTHER READING: Read about other Comox Valley candidates
Since moving to the Comox Valley 10 years ago, Murakami has been a tireless volunteer, including a seven-year stint hosting the local cable TV program, Comox Valley Stories.
She has a masters degree in applied behavioral sciences with a focus on organizational development, and worked as a safety advisor for the Vancouver Island Health Authority training staff how to better manage aggressive behaviors.
Before retiring, she also did quality assurance work with the BC Ministry of Health.
Murakami thinks that knowledge and experience will benefit the city by helping the council focus on its four most important issues.
At the top of her list is senior women’s poverty.
“Rising house prices in Vancouver and Victoria have moved up island,” she said. “We don’t have any affordable housing for low-income seniors, particularly women.”
She points to the three-year wait for a vacancy at Kiwanis Village as a symptom of the problem.
Next, Murakami would make arts and culture an economic pillar of the city.
“The city should create a budget for arts and culture, not make these organizations come cap in hand every year for funding,” she said.
She believes the city could do more to market Music Fest, CYMC, the art gallery and The Sid. She envisions maps with walking tours, and more city-sponsored events to promote the arts.
Murakami wants the city to take more aggressive action to revitalize its core areas.
She specifically refers to the vacant lot at England and Cliffe, the site of the old Palace Theatre, which has sat empty for years.
“It’s an eyesore in the heart of downtown,” she says. “The private owners are not being incentivized to do anything … they’re not being fined or taxed enough to get moving.”
She wants to identify that site and other blighted areas and encourage property owners to speed up improvements.
Finally, Murakami wants the city to better protect and enhance green spaces.
She applauds the city for forgiving taxes on the Kus-kus-sum site while Project Watershed raising the funds to purchase the property.
“But waiving property taxes for two years isn’t enough,” she said. “Council should get on board and approve a sizable grant for the project.”
Murakami believes the Comox Valley is a “charity driven” community.
“People consciously go out of their way to attend events and support local causes,” she said, noting that the Valley is one of few communities to support a YANA (you are not alone) organization to help families that must travel to access medical treatment for children.
Murakami says there’s another important reason why voters should choose her on Oct. 20: She’s got the energy, qualifications, time and commitment to serve on City Council.
“I won’t just show up to meetings,” she said. “I’m prepared to put in the time to read and understand the reports and issues that come before council, and ready to make important decisions.”
Murakami sees the role of a councillor as a two-way street.
“It’s a dialogue with people to understand their concerns,” she said. “I’m always learning from people.”
FURTHER READING: Visit Judi Murakami’s Facebook page
Judi – if I may I have a couple of questions with regards to your platform. Firstly you state “The city should create a budget for arts and culture, not make these organizations come cap in hand every year for funding,” Do you have a dollar figure in mind, what annual increases in this budget item do you foresee and what will the cost be to the average taxpayer? Secondly you state “Council should get on board and approve a sizable grant for the project.” (Kus Kus Sum) Do you have a dollar figure in mind to fund this project? If these spending initiatives are not going to increase taxes which core services will be reduced to fund these? I thank you in advance for your response.
Here is Judi’s reply;
Judi Murakami Hello Dick, thanks for your questions. Do I have a dollar figure in mind? No. From the 2017 annual report, expenses for Recreational and Cultural Services (RCS) was $9,266,899 of the total of $48,850,4478. Although our population has increased, the RCS budget decreased from 2016’s budget of $9,868,744. It is difficult to determine what percentage is allocated to Recreational vs. Cultural, although the description of services “parks and facilities that allow for fitness, aquatic, cultural, and other activities for the public to enjoy” seems heavily weighted towards recreational, despite the fact that users of the Sid Williams Theatre, Art Gallery and Museum far outweigh users of the recreation facilities.
I cannot forecast budget increases, as I would need to know how the RCS budget is allocated. As for grants for the Kus Kus Sum project, I don’t have a dollar figure in mind. I do know that Calgary allocated $2M to the arts last year, as they argued that for every $1 spent on the arts recoups $1.90 in increased tourism benefits. Calgary is considered the 3rd best city in the world. Comox is 90, Powell River is 257 and we’re down at 276! Frankly, I think Courtenay is one of the best cities, but we have our work cut out for us. Yes we have debts, but I want to work on decreasing those debts and improving this city so that we have affordable housing for seniors, students and the work force. I know you’re passionate about a lot of issues Dick. I am too, and I’m prepared to work hard. I’m not sure if you live in Courtenay or the Regional District, but it’s time to make a change.
I for one fully support the Air Park as I live nearby, and it is one of the things I love about this Valley. I don’t believe the transportation survey adequately addressed the issue, as it bundled options together without giving respondents the opportunity to evaluate each one separately.
Although George and I disagree on our perception of this point, I met with Larry because I had concerns that council was not working well together, as described by the opening statement. It was not the mayor criticizing his council.
Thank you for your input and support for our community. I believe you are on the right path here as I was just thinking about the 55 years or so that the airpark has being where it is and the value such a gem provides all in the heart of Courtenay. Lotsa grass and green space as well. most of the Valley thinks it should stay not just to complement the Estuary, Kus Kus Sum, Holly Hock etc but also to provide jobs and tourism as people from all over Canada and the US fly in to visit and not just to shop but also to enjoy the escape destinations the Valley provides. Walking distance to hotels, restaurants and shops wow. Almost all the valley loves the airpark. Some people may not remember but May 28, 2015 The Comox Valley Record did a Readership Poll of the Comox Valley and to everyones astonishment this is what it asked ……..Should the Courtenay Airpark Be Moved from its current location to a more rural area.
Results 6.3% Yes and 93.7% No. I think you have your answer from the people of the valley and how they feel.
It also provides something that is almost unheard of for light aircraft possibly we should call it the Float and Wheel Plane Capital of BC not many places you can have both at the same place. It definitely, for most of us anyway, is the Highest and Best use of this property.
Gee wis no one has commented on the Airpark and the importance of all the jobs it provides, all the tourists visiting via aircraft, its commitment to keeping it the green space it is and what it would become if it were to disappear and turn into something other than an Airpark. With a road and bridge going right thru the Estuary so close to the airpark. After the Watershed and Airpark community just breached the Airpark Lagoon giving all the rearing of salmon smolts a better place to grow and now The City of Courtenay’s Plan B of putting a road thru the next planned breach to allow the old channel thru the Kus Kus Sum site into the north east side of the Estuary. I wonder if it would become an election issue since the Comox Valley’s Paper “The Record Poll of May 28, 2015” shows
6.3 % of respondents think the Airpark should move and 93.7 say the Airpark should stay.
I think the Courtenay candidates running for election would definitely have to have an opinion. Lots of votes here and yes lots of retired airforce families that love the walk around the airpark.
Morris, I fully expect this particular transportation proposal and the future of the airpark to both become election issues.
Would like to see the facts to show how much money the airport brings in. Thought it was mostly for the old retired military gents’ flying hobby. There is a recognizable danger having the airport in the center of a city.
Highest and best use of any park is not necessarily imperative they produce income I don’t think. Of course if it happens like this one thats great and this one brings in lots. It would probably take a year of checking all the aircraft coming from the US, lower mainland, across Canada Alaska and just how they spend their money at the car rentals, shops, restaurants and hotels, so the business people tell me. Maybe you should go thru the transient aircraft check in logs in the airpark lounge as you may have more positive comments about the comvenience and location of the Airpark. Perhaps talk to the pilots in training or the companies from Florida or Alaska that have their Float equipped aircraft here in the winter time and just how much they appreciate the talented Aviation techs here at the Airpark. Also the dozens of trades jobs on and off site it provides by the 70 or 80 or so aircraft based here and what they all add to the taxes the airpark members all pay. If you think the members are all pilots your wrong there are a few wannabes too…… like me…… thats a joke LOL. Defiantly your wrong about retired airforce gents LOL, some are tho…….. 5 or 6 maybe, since you can’t fly in out of the Comox Air Base privately and certainly not in a Float Plane. Those guys gotta have their plane someplace and close to home is of course always best not as good as when they were working at the Air Base and staying in barracks but………. Again a high point to mention, in addition to the existing Air Speed High Flight school, a new flight school was to start training Air Cadets at three local airports CR, Courtenay and Powell River. The Ministry of Transportation has already given them the Approval for an office at the Airpark they just need the City to speed up their Approval time so they can begin training them. Just how much money would you like to see come from the Airpark, Kin Park, Kus Kus Sum, the Estuary or any other park for that matter?
Danger I don’t think so…… I don’t think you are a pilot, but you can be trained at the Courtenay Airpark, then you would know just how important a treasure this place is…… two of the best approaches in the country over water both ways where you can land both float and wheel planes. Courtenay Airpark’s 55 years and 100’s of thousands or landings and take offs from both land as well as the water runway and also when you consider the safety factors of cars vs aircraft mile per mile. …… oh ya as I mentioned a water runway and land runway Shish what Volunteer run Airpark can you do that in the same place any where in BC, oh i remember, Nelson. A Transport Certified water runway right next to the land runway. Appreciate the comment your making tho as it kind of lets others know there are people more concerned about dollar returns than green space, parks and estuary’s. Oh and did I say the City has no responsibility for any upkeep any services whatsoever as its all done by Volunteers and of no burden to the Valley Taxpayer whatsoever. Thats gotta be a good thing for such a useful green space eh