Area A incumbent Daniel Arbour at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, where he is now Chair of the Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation committee
Daniel Arbour: Focused on rural planning, making Union Bay area a cohesive community
Daniel Arbour is seeking a second term representing Electoral Area A on the Comox Valley Regional District board. He has a Master’s degree in Environment & Sustainability. In 2020, he completed a certificate in Public Policy Analysis at the London School of Economics.
In 2022, he was re-elected to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board and recently appointed as the national Chair of the Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation committee. He has served as the Economic Development Officer with the Hornby Island Community Economic Enhancement Corporation and previously as General Manager of the Hornby Festival and worked for Ecotrust Canada.
He moved to the Comox Valley in 2002 and currently sits on the Vancouver Island Public Library executive, on the Island Corridor Foundation board and Chairs the Comox Valley Recreation Commission.
Why should voters re-elect you?
Arbour expects Electoral Area A to continue being the busiest of the three rural areas during the next four years and would benefit from his experienced leadership.
“We have, for example, incorporated the Union Bay Improvement District into the CVRD, devoted hours to planning for the coming growth of the area, gone through COVID and still supported many organizations and groups, expanded bus services, received major grants for fibre optic service on the islands and the Denman water treatment plant. And I hope we will have success with sewage grants as well,” he told Decafnation.
Arbour says that 95 percent of his focus in Area A has been on core municipal services and that “I’ve been at it full time.”
He was just appointed chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Municipal infrastructure and Transportation committee where he will be advocating for programs that support local government across Canada.
“I have high expectations for myself,” he said. “And I believe I have performed well. I think I have been an effective representative for Area A these four years.”
Arbour thinks that he represents the views of the vast majority of people in Area A and that he has served them well.
“I would be happy if all the incumbents were returned, including Edwin (Grieve in Area C) and Arzeena (Hamir in Area B).
What are some of your key accomplishments?
Arbour sees Area A as five distinct communities: Royston, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, Hornby and Denman, and each has its own unique needs and opportunities
“On the Islands, we brought fibre optic cable that is being installed right now, thanks to a $7.8 grant I helped secure from the province,” he said.
The islands have tried for more than a decade to get a better-wired connection, so when residents were asked in a recent referendum if they wanted it, 93 per cent said yes. Residents will pay 10 percent of the cost.
“The best part is the municipal-owned telecom laying the fibre cable (city of Prince Rupert) will return 20 percent of the profits to the islands for at least 20 years. That money will go to funding nonprofits on both islands,” he said.
During his first term, Arbour also brought bus service to the islands, which he expects to grow over time. Island residents have for years paid $150,000 to $200,000 to the regional district as a contribution to public transit in the Comox Valley, But they had no service.
“Now, roughly half of that money will fund the islands’ own bus service,” he said.
On the Vancouver Island portion of Area A – essentially Fanny Bay, Union Bay and Royston – Arbour has brought in a historical partnership with K’omoks First Nation and Union Bay Estates that opens the door to a sewage conveyance system for the Baynes Sound area. He perceives both the KFN and UB Estates properties as future municipalities just now in the incubation stage.
The province and federal government are in the process of finalizing a treaty package that will turn over a large piece of crown land in the Union Bay area to KFN. Between the new KFN land and UB Estates, there is the long-term potential for a proper small town to emerge around Union Bay.
The area is one of the settlement nodes identified in the Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy for future growth.
“Our work right now is to ensure adequate infrastructure is in place, and to start looking at integrated planning,” he said.
For Royston, Arbour says he will focus on moving the burgeoning community’s drinking water from sharing Cumberland’s water source to the wider Comox Valley source at Comox Lake.
“With Cumberland’s growth, we were notified a number of years ago that they would stop serving the Royston community, so it will be an important capital project to connect their system to Comox Lake water, which eventually will also service the K’omoks First Nation lands as part of our reconciliation efforts,” he said.
He will also focus on bringing a sewerage system to the area. The new CVRD Liquid Waste Management Plan will include a $50 million Big Pipe proposal to connect the Baynes Sound area to the existing Courtenay-Comox sewerage system. This month, residents from Union Bay and Royston will join the plan’s existing Public Advisory Committee to provide feedback on sewage planning for Union Bay and Royston.
“This is very exciting to see, but we will also have to watch for affordability. Major grants have been applied for the project which hopefully will come through,” he said.
For all sections of Area A, Arbour says he’s dedicated to working with nonprofits and helping them find the money for projects that improve their quality of life.
“For example, we funneled regional money during COVID to build a playground at the Fanny Bay Hall, which kept families safely close to home. And along with Area B and Area C, we revamped the rural grants program, creating annual and multi-year funding streams for nonprofits,” he said.
Goals for the next four years
Arbour says rural planning will be his top priority over the next four years.
“Once the critical infrastructure is in place for Royston and Union Bay, we will need to do integrated planning so that we have a sustainable and livable community,” he said. “Questions that may come up include how to connect KFN’s development with Union Bay and Royston so there is walkability and livability and so the whole area feels like a well-planned cohesive community rather than a patchwork.”
One of the challenges is that KFN will be self-governing, so they won’t need to necessarily consult with the regional district.
“That means that maintaining and building the relationships will be important to support good planning and benefits for everyone,” he said.
Arbour’s focus on the CVRD board is to amp up climate-focused action in everything they do. The regional district has initiated an electrification policy for replacing fleet vehicles with electric ones where it makes operational sense. And they have already put 10 charging stations at the new CVRD building anticipating this change.
He says a review and rewrite of the Official Community Plan for the three electoral areas will take place in year three or four of the next term. Before that, the CVRD will lead a community review of the RGS.
“Most, or a majority of regional incumbents are happy with the existing document, although many of the goals haven’t yet been fully achieved,” he said.
And he is supporting BC Transit’s proposal to build a charging facility for its future electric bus fleet that will be completed by 2040. This will cost $20 million or more, but 80 percent of that would be covered by federal grants.
Another of Arbour’s goals is to reduce methane emissions from the landfill site. There is a new Solid Waste Management Commission plan to achieve this goal, partly by moving all food waste to a new organic composting facility now under construction.
“I wanted the CVRD to commit to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030 and the board settled on a 50 percent target,” he said. “I believe people now expect climate action from local government. Every new staff report addresses climate change concerns and I am very supportive of this.”
In the long term, Arbour has a dream to bring Vancouver Island regional districts and First Nations together to purchase all of the Island’s private forest lands, in partnership with the province.
“It makes sense and is imperative for the public to own its watersheds,” he said. “The current and future pressures on our water supplies require better management of our watersheds than a private company focused on logging can provide.”
He says Crown-owned forest lands are better managed for sustainable forestry and protection of water, and the same standards should apply to large private forestlands.
“Publicly owned forest lands is not a new thing, there’s lots of precedent in BC,” he said. “There are currently 60 community-owned forests in the province, such as Squamish, Whistler and Capilano, and it seems to me that we would do a much better job managing for multiple values if the forests were publicly owned.”
Arbour also plans to put a special focus on BC Ferry issues and shift the service more toward users’ needs.
“The goal is to create a smooth experience to move on and off the islands,” he said. “I would like to see at least the service for small islands to be moved out of the BC Ferry Corporation and back into the Ministry of Highways.”
Arbour was so fed up that he resigned from the BC Ferries Advisory Committee a while ago, but says he plans to join again. The province currently subsidizes 60 percent of small-run ferry services and users pay 40 percent. On the big runs across the Strait of Georgia, users pay over 90 percent.
“But in the interior, the Kootenay ferries across rivers and lakes are 100 percent subsidized by the province,” he said. “These discrepancies and some other bad choices by BCF have upset islanders who think the system doesn’t focus on users. The Denman cable ferry, for example, has no backup plan if it goes out of service.”
The most misunderstood thing about the CVRD
Arbour thinks that most people don’t know or fully understand the regional district.
“Think of it this way: The CVRD is a federation like Canada. The municipalities are the provinces. Umbrella issues that stretch across the provinces, like health care, are managed by the federation. It’s the same for issues common to the region’s municipalities. The rural electoral areas are like Canada’s territories, which have limited power and are treated differently than the municipalities,” he said.
He would also like people to understand that every tax dollar collected from rural residents is applied to each service those residents participate in.
“The money doesn’t get gobbled up by the municipalities. All services are in a box and the money stays there. It’s very transparent. No money disappears. There is no slush fund,” he said.
After four years of hearing complaints, Arbour has found that if people don’t understand the structure and trust the financing, then that colors their perception of the CVRD.
WHERE AND WHEN TO VOTE
General Voting Day is Saturday, Oct. 15 for all local government positions.
Comox Valley Regional District
General Voting Day and advance voting take place at the CVRD building in Courtenay from 8 am to 8 pm.
Go to this link for General Voting Day locations in the three Electoral Areas.
Additional voting takes place on Oct. 6 from 9 am to 12 pm on Denman Island and on Oct. 6 from 2 pm to 5 pm on Hornby Island
Advance Voting begins on Wednesday October 5, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Native Sons Hall, and again on Wednesday October 12, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre.
General Voting Day, Saturday, October 15, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Queneesh Elementary School, and at the Florence Filberg Centre.
Advance voting begins Wednesday, October 5 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre, and on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and again on Monday, October 10 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and on Wednesday, October 12 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre.
General Voting Day runs from 8 am to 8 pm on Oct. 15 at the Comox Community Centre.
All voting in the Village of Cumberland takes place from 8 am to 8 pm at the Cumberland Cultural Centre. Advance voting takes place on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.
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It was weird. But when the sun rose on Oct. 16, Comox Valley voters had made it clear they liked the direction charted by our local governments. In the municipalities, they elected all but two incumbents. In most races, the vote was a definite pat on the back for a job well done.
Mayor Bob Wells and all Courtenay incumbent councillors have been re-elected. Evan Jolicoeur has also been elected. Manno Theos has lost his seat.
Jonathan Kerr, Jenn Meilleur, Steve Blacklock, Chris Haslett, Ken Grant and Maureen Swift have been elected in Comox.
Vickey Brown has been elected mayor in Cumberland, defeating long-time mayor and councillor Leslie Baird.
Voting down -20.6% in Courtenay, -22.3% in Comox and -50.9% in Cumberland.
Full results with Electoral Areas A, B and C, school board and Islands Trust results in the morning.
Daniel Arbour in Area A and Edwin Grieve in Area C won by wide margins. Richard Hardy defeated Arzeena Hamir by 23 votes.
Shannon Aldinger topped the polls in races for SD71 school trustees.
Click the headline on this page for complete results and voter turnout.
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