These are the written comments made by Comox residents who participated in Decafnation’s Local Government Performance Review. Comments that breached our journalistic standards, such as ad hominem attacks, have been eliminated. All other comments appear as entered into the online survey platform. Click on each image to view that councillor’s satisfaction rating.

Comox Town Council

Pepole are doing their best under the circumstances

I am frustrated that the council is not taking climate change seriously and how it will affect our town. That and the way they’ve handled Mack Laing and the development of the marina area.

They rolled up their sleeves, and got to work. They made a long overdue decision to show Richard Kanigan the door. The new CAO is a breath of fresh air. They are progressive and logical in their governance. Bravo!

Comox Town Council has continued to demonstrate a backward position towards conservation of municipal nature parks (e.g. Mack Lang Park) and an uncooperative approach towards a regional park management plan.

The council has made it clear that the priority of their mandate is to ensure that they are paid very well for having been elected.

They are too secretive about the budget and give no details about how they’re spending tax dollars, or how they are arriving at these decisions.

Council’s position on Shakesides and the Mack Laing property has been appalling.

1) The consistency of garbage pickup has fallen since Arndt arrived. 2) Cycling is still a hazardous adventure, Noel, Lazo etc etc 3) No publicly available info on likely sea level rise in Comox, I was told to ask a realtor 4) inability to play nicely with our neighbours in Cumberland and Courtenay 5) no linkage of essential services , hospital beds for example, to palms for further development. 6) Poor air quality in winter. 7) people can still swim in our drinking water and log to close

The Council’s failure to honour the OCP, institute a Heritage Registry and legislation to protect local heritage sites and structures, insist on the inclusion of green space and adequate parking for new commercial and multi residential development, foster the protection of existing green spaces and parks as well as having a plan to acquire additional green space areas and especially having no apparent concept of climate change and the urgency of an adaptive plan for the fast arriving future have left me very dissatisfied this this councils performance.

Not enough has been done to address climate change, poor air quality in the winter months.

Election promises have been broken, respect for previous OCP has been lacking in follow through, lack of a heritage registry and building permits without proper parking allocations are issues. Using OCP designated parkland space to sell for a building site and not honouring an almost 40 year old trust agreement with Mack Laing are also issues for me. I could go on

I feel like the council is more of a boys club who would never stand up to the leader. I do not trust them.

Too little attention to taxpayer’s needs. Too much attention to individual council members “agendas”. It is a fact those least competent to govern are those most attracted to such offices.

Tough job, especially following the former Mayor and Town Administrator. Think the new council has terrific new people doing a hard job, and having to learn an awful lot on the job!

Local improvements for schools (e.g. Brooklyn Crosswalk) are very much appreciated. Happy with backyard chickens and food security progressive policies. The traffic calming steps in local neighborhoods are also appreciated.

They ignore the needs of youth and families in Comox. Apart from Marina Park and school playgrounds, there is nothing. We need a skate park and some spaces for 7-12 yro. And stop fighting over Shakesides and honour the original contract as intended by Mack Laing!!

I appreciate that the Comox Council has not embraced the panic of Covid and maintained an even keel thus far.

A Lot of things feel very progressive which is good, and on the other hand sometimes it feels like Comox is intentionally at odds with other municipalities and I wonder if that is necessary.

First thing they did was give themselves a raise. Garbage pickup is erratic and now less days per year pick up.

Comprising a majority of first time councillors, the group, I thought would bring a fresh perspective. I am afraid that in spite of moving from ‘an old boys network’ style of government, we have, instead, moved to one that gets mired in the minutia being on the side of political correctness.

I would like to see them put more work into prioritizing supporting local businesses and contributing to an affordable homeownership strategy

Lack of action taken, schedule change to garbage poorly handled

Mostly pretty good

There seems to be little effort to engage the community in preparing for the consequences of global warming.

They seem unfocused and leaderless. They seem to follow without thinking for themselves.

After spending the last couple of hours reviewing the minutes of the Town of Comox Council meetings I am left with the impression that the people who make the decisions and run the Town are Jordan Wall, Marvin Kamenz and Clive Freundlich. The mayor and council are essentially trained seals that nod in unison to the directions they are given by senior staff. 99% of all motions are carried without opposition. The role of the mayor and council members is primarily public relations. They justify their salaries by attending meetings hosted by special interest groups seeking council support and public money for their organizations. The Town of Comox has approved three large developments (695 Aspen Road, 2310 Guthrie, and 2309 McDonald road) without ensuring adequate recreational park space for residents. This has placed enormous strain on existing park space in the Comox Valley. The only economic development that the Town of Comox has supported is the mall renovation (Dollar Store) along with 3 pubs and 2 cannabis stores. While increasing taxes, they have cut back services (e.g., waste and recycling pick up to once every two weeks.) Their major contribution to the climate emergency and the environment was to ban plastic bags, build a couple of electric vehicle charging stations and approve the BC step code.

This Council is unable to think outside of the box that it built for itself. Because a number of the councilors are new to their positions, they seem unwilling to act or oppose the direction of the Council set by those who have past experience.

Their handling of the redevelopment planning for 1652 Balmoral was shockingly poor. I, along with almost all of the other neighbors provided similar feedback (not NIMBY, but lots of reasonable input provided on the circumvention of the OCP as well as design out of alignment, all ignored in the name of speed)

Ken Grant

He’s not a team player and not transparent-a detriment to the council

The dinosaur in the room. Only in office for the paycheque.

Ken Grant is not much better than Russ Arnott in his paternalistic governance approach to the municipal electorate.

Councillor Ken Grant has done absolutely nothing to forward the actual needs of the taxpayers of the Town Of Comox. They after all only pay the council wages, (and bonuses, and expenses and…)

Voted for demolition of Shakesides and to continue designing a viewing platform to replace naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home, rejecting any other proposals for the property,

Too dismissive of the female voices on Council.

Ken Grant’s jokes and comments are disrespectful. He is part of the “Old Boy’s Network “ of the last Council. He seems opposed to any substantial changes to Council’s past performance

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

Old guard

Mr. Grant, whose experience on council is welcome. He unfortunately also brings, I believe, baggage from the previous ‘old boys’ style of governance in the valley. I would vote for him again

It’s possible he’s been around too long

Ken Grant seems to represent the White male status quo.

Seems to parrot whatever Art Meyers feeds him.

Ken Grant just managed to get enough votes to be elected at the last election. His suggestion to increase the hotel tax from 2% to 3% in response to a request for additional funding for the homeless speaks volumes about Ken Grant’s character and abilities. Sadly, his friend and fellow incumbent, Russ Arnott, ensures that Ken Grant is the council member appointed to represent Comox at the CVRD.


Alex Bissinger

A breath of fresh air. She is articulate and willing to listen. Her views on climate change and sustainability as well as her ideas on future capital projects are well informed with an eye to the future.

The smartest person in the room. Fearless and always happy to keep people accountable. Top shelf councillor.

I had high hopes for Alex Bissinger as a progressive new voice on town council, but have been somewhat disappointed. She has backed off from pressing for real change, such as resolving the Mack Lang nature park trust, and bringing the municipal engineering department into progressive environmentally responsible professional management.

Councillor Alex Bissinger has done absolutely nothing to forward the actual needs of the taxpayers of the Town Of Comox. They after all only pay the council wages, (and bonuses, and expenses and…)

Cannot say I’m impressed, but she hasn’t done anything terrible either. A bit disappointing for someone of her intellectual ability.

Voted to continue designing a viewing platform to replace naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home, rejecting any other proposals for the property,

Councillor Bissinger has made a real effort to initiate some progressive and meaningful initiatives. Her strong awareness of the seriousness of climate change is appreciated as was her initial attempt to resolve the councils previous inability to honour it’s legal responsibility to uphold the terms of the Mack Laing trust. It’s disappointing and disquieting to see the “cone of silence” descend on her initial support for addressing this issue.

Bright and articulate woman who seeks innovative ways of addressing problems. It would be great if her voice was not stifled by males on Council.

Alex has brought several issues and motions to Council to promote meaningful changes or dialogue. She often misses the support she needs and can be overwhelmed by the “status quo” supporters to change her wording, table motions, etc. Lots of potential for meaningful changes

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

Alex is a true member of the community. She does this because she cares about Comox and the people that live here.

Ms. Bissinger, whom I thought would bring youth and pragmatism (an engineer), has, I think, not been able to bridge the gap between idealism and realism. Ms. Bissenger and Comox, may benefit from her being on council for another term.

Needs to do more to leave her mark.

Patrick McKenna

Interesting ideas about arts and culture and performing spaces

Pat McKenna has maintained a low profile and generally goes with the flow.

Councillor Pat McKenna, though sometimes a lone voice, has occasionally spoken up to question council decisions.

He has done nothing of note.

It’s hard to tell what councillor McKenna actually stands for.

A team player who has great communication skills and takes the time to analyze the issue at hand.

I’m convinced Pat could help Council expand possibilities for our Community. He speaks up well for issues he’s concerned about. Unfortunately he often supports the status quo team as well.

Mr. McKenna, in my view, was the star on Comox Council. I believe that he showed measured independence and moderation. I witnessed his thoughtful and mature questioning and his attention to the job at hand. I would definitely vote for him again and support his effort to be our mayor if he so chooses.

I love that Pat brings knowledge of housing and homelessness issues to Comox Council.

I think the difference between what he said while running and how he has voted are significantly different.

Pat is a nice guy. But that’s about it.

I have been disappointed by McKenna’s “let’s-not-rock-the-boat” attitude. I wonder if, somehow, his leadership of a local non-profit makes him overly cautious about standing up with the more progressive arm of Council.

Only councilor that I’ve dealt with first hand who seemed to ready to make the hard decisions and do the work that I would expect from elected officials

Mayor Russ Arnott

His position on climate change, sustainability and developing marina lands are lacking. And his stand on Mack Laing.

He is a down to earth, approachable leader. He stood up for his Public Works staff when an awful fabricated story broke about interactions with the female public. His love for Comox is obvious….he cares about people.

Russ Arnott continues to display a reactionary governance approach to municipal services delivery, male chauvinism towards female councilors, and an adversarial approach towards citizen activists and non-profit advisory groups.

Mayor Arnott is careful to ensure that he makes absolutely no decision that would bring any sort of controversy. He will not make a decision that would actually take any kind of stand for anything.

He is merely parroting the previous administration and has not seemed to do much of anything. He has not been a positive factor in solving a very large – and legally expensive – outstanding issue – namely the Shakesides Trust. There is too much secrecy around this,

Failed to consult with KFN re: demolition of Shakesides.

Mayor Arnott’s disruptive and coercive interjections during council meetings to promote his own agenda is unacceptable.

He seems to have the greatest power in Council rather than sharing it with his Councillors.

The mayor’s behaviour in council meetings has been interruptive and non respectful to public speakers and his newer council members. He has not attempted to follow OCP guidelines. Though he campaigned on a community ocean walkway, he allowed property to sell that was designated park space and reassured the new buyer that the public walkway space adjacent to his land and Port Augusta Creek would not ever happen. He is a former member of council who continues to block resolution of a 40-year-old Trust that could have created a gem for Comox such as Campbell River has achieved with both the Sybil Andrews House and the Haig Brown house and property. He continues to block Heritage Registry for Comox, at a great loss for the community.

I have had 2 dealings with Arnott and found him pompous, arrogant and dismissive.

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

Believe Russ is doing a decent job, it is a hard job and he has had to try and clean up some of the mess left by the former Mayor and Adm.

Old guard

Russ does not hesitate to seek advice and input from constituents on major matters.

Does he listen to council members?

Mr. Arnot brings a steady and firm presence to the group. I hope that he can remain so. I would vote for him again.

Nothing stands out positive or negative.

He seemed to be bullying the young(er) women on Council at one point.

Seems woefully under qualified to lead.

Arnott is typical of a small-town, glad-handing, baby-kissing, superficial, vacuous politician. He has no vision for the future of this community and no idea how to deal with the enormous future challenges facing the community including economic development, affordable housing and climate change adaptation. After approving a 14% raise for himself in 2018 he is now seeking a further increase. In my opinion he isn’t worth the salary he is already receiving. The simple truth is his absence from council would have no impact whatsoever except to save the community more than $50,000.

While some experience on Council is good (see my comments to previous question), the lack of creative thinking by this mayor is beyond the pale. It’s all about the economy and growing the tax base, which will see all the local municipalities behind the curve as our climate and the pandemic (both related to each other) set the stage in the future.

Maureen Swift

Not a team player. Incapable of making her own decisions.

Needs to learn from the other women on council and get progressive.

Maureen Swift represents the elitist lobby of entitlement of the wealthy in Comox, where housing development, parks management, and municipal services delivery are there to serve the well-off establishment of Comox.

Councillor Maureen Swift has done absolutely nothing to forward the actual needs of the taxpayers of the Town Of Comox. They after all only pay the council wages, (and bonuses, and expenses and…)

Not a positive influence on any issue of importance, and often very negative about what should be of benefit to the town – growing attractions that will encourage tourism.

Voted for demolition of Shakesides

Seems to be committed to maintaining the status quo of the previous councils culture and lack of vision.

Focusing on an off leash dog park is not a top priority yet this issue still hasn’t been resolved after 2 years.

Maureen Swift is also past Counsellor with an apparent agenda to preserve the status quo without substantial changes. Many missed opportunities to be a more progressive council.

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

Old guard

Ms. Swift brings experience and a woman, who has managed to survive in the former, less diversified governance in the valley. I likely would vote for her again.

She seems to “go with the flow.”

Maureen Swift has been a councillor for long enough. No doubt she is an active member of the Comox community and takes her role as councillor seriously. However, the time has come for Maureen to pass the baton to someone with fresh ideas.

Nicole Minions

So so. She doesn’t stand out. Her views on amalgamation and air quality are limited. She tends to follow the middle road.

Good community person. Needs a dash of Bissinger’s fearlessness.

Nicole tries to improve municipal governance but has been overwhelmed and bullied by the municipal council old guard and its parochial administration.

Councillor Nicole Minions has done absolutely nothing to forward the actual needs of the taxpayers of the Town Of Comox. They after all only pay the council wages,(and bonuses, and expenses and…)

Again, does not speak out and seems to have very little opinion about anything.

Voted against designing a viewing platform to replace naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home, was in favour of exploring other options

Councillor Minions is a welcome addition to this council. She has attempted to initiate some progressive ideas to the council despite the older members of the council’s entrenched resistance to considering new ideas. It’s disappointing that her initial support for a meaningful attempt to resolve the town’s situation in regards to the Mack Laing Trust has been silenced.

Collaborative with others and frequently seen trying to understand the issues at hand.

Nicole has a clear voice for advocating principles or ideas. She seems also the most responsive member to expressed concerns from locals. Good at dialogue.

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

Ms. Minion, another rookie on Council for whom I voted also disappointed me. Perhaps as a young working mother, the workload may have been too much. If Ms. Minion chooses to run again, I would vote for her in the hopes that on a more enlightened and experienced council, she would be able to bring her voice to the table.

I was at a Town Council meeting where she said electric vehicles and charging stations were a passion of hers. That was reassuring as it suggested to me that she takes global warming seriously.

I had higher hopes for her and she hasn’t seemed to gain her legs.

Of all of the current councillors, Nicole Minions is probably the most logical choice for the replacement (hopefully) of Russ Arnott at the next election. She is smart, has a business background and has been involved as a community volunteer. Even early in her first term, Nicole showed leadership by championing the disposable plastic bag issue. Her financial background gives her a solid grasp of Town finances. It is unfortunate that she hasn’t spoken up more about some of the questionable expenditures being made by the Town.

The same qualities mentioned above regarding Bissinger can be applied to Minions, without the science and data background. She stands up to the trio of “experienced’ councilors, but is hamstrung by her newness to the position. Still, she is doing the best she can, I think, and is showing signs, like Bissinger, of standing up and being counted as a progressive and a person concerned about the climate and pandemic.

Stephanie McGowan

Don’t have a clear picture. Her position on tax increases was interesting- partnering up with other levels of gov’t to save dollars and her other responses re transparency( town hall meetings) and future projects were general. She supported Comox signing on to the BC Climate Action Charter.

She has also tried for the best but is usually bullied into submission.

Councillor Stephanie McGowan, though sometimes a lone voice, has occasionally spoken up to question council decisions…

She at least tries to address concerns of Comox citizens, but is often overridden by the others, who it seems are only interested in making as few waves as possible.

Voted against designing a viewing platform to replace naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home, was in favour of exploring other options

Councillor McGowan has been a welcome addition to the council. Hopefully she will be successful in helping the town create a Heritage Registry and some protective bylaws to protect the town’s heritage properties and structures. Her initial support for a meaningful effort to resolve the Towns current impasse in regard to the Mack Laing Trust was appreciated. Hopefully the ember of that vision still remains.

Bringing forth the issue of homelessness and how it exists in Comox too.

Stephanie has great intentions in my opinion but again , can be overwhelmed by the blocking of change from the senior more experienced members of council. Good potential for future changes I think. She keeps bringing up the need for a heritage registry- yay and has a broader perspective of community members.

Needs improvement. More governing less politicking.

She’s engaged in important issues

I thought that Ms. McGowan, in spite of me not voting for her, was a disappointment and not good material for Comox Council. Too mired in idealistic beliefs for the level of responsibility. I would not vote for her.

I don’t have a sense of her politics.

Stephanie is best described as the “heart” of Comox Council. She cares about the “average Joe or Josephine”. She also cares about Comox history and our relationship to the K’omoks First Nation. Like the other novice councillors, Stephanie’s voice has been drowned out by the three former incumbents. She is not one to rock the boat and tends to conform to the direction being taken by the more dominant councillors.

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