Jesse Ketler, Cumberland Councillor, CVRD Director and Board Chair

Jesse Ketler, first woman to chair the Comox Valley Regional District Board

Nov 7, 2019 | News

By George Le Masurier

Cumberland Councillor Jesse Ketler this week became the first woman to chair the Comox Valley Regional District since its inception in 2008.

All 12 of the past chairs have been five different males. Two of them — Bruce Jolliffe and Edwin Grieve — each held the post for four consecutive terms.

Ketler defeated two male opponents — David Frisch and Edwin Grieve — to win the annual November election of board officers.

Arzeena Hamir was elected vice-chair for the second consecutive year. The only other woman elected to the vice-chair position was former Comox councillor Patti Fletcher, who previously held the post in 2012.

In her speech to directors before the vote, Ketler touched on a variety of issues including fiscal responsibility, equality of power and climate change.

“On equitability. With seats at the board based on population and majority rules, the feeling of equity and balance can be elusive,” she said. “As a member of the board with the smallest population, I acknowledge how important it is to be heard. And I know that the best decisions come out of healthy debate where all sides are given a voice. I will endeavour to allow for fulsome, respectful debate of the important issues we face. And I feel that as presiding member, I can bring a neutral lens to some of our more contentious challenges.”

Ketler said she’s aware of the financial impact CVRD decisions have on constituents.

“I myself am a single parent of two young children and I live with my share of financial insecurity,” she told directors. “I have been a member of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness since its inception and I am entering my second term as the Village appointee to our Homelessness and Affordable Housing Committee. I know how even $50 a month can have a big impact on a family and I do not take decisions on tax increases or user fees increases, lightly.”

And, in a statement released by the CVRD, Ketler said she wants to contribute to “solutions that bring people together.”

“The board has heard the community’s concerns around affordability, climate change, and reconciliation with First Nation people and has reflected these in our priorities,” Ketler said.



Note: Vice chairs in parentheses

2008 — Fred Bates, Feb. 15 to Nov. 31 (no vice chair)
2009 — Fred Bates — (no vice chair)
2010 — Gregory T. Phelps (Edwin Grieve)
2011 — Edwin Grieve (Paul Ives)
2012 — Edwin Grieve (Patti Fletcher)
2013 — Edwin Grieve (Jon Ambler)
2014 — Edwin Grieve (Jon Ambler)
2015 — Bruce Jolliffe (Manno Theos)
2016 — Bruce Jolliffe (Ken Grant)
2017 — Bruce Jolliffe (Bob Wells)
2018 –– Bruce Jolliffe, Jan to Nov. (Bob Wells)
2019 — Bob Wells (Arzeena Hamir)



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