Four-term council member Doug Hillian says 90 percent of a councillor’s work is spent on roads, water, sewer and parks and recreation
Doug Hillian: A balanced view between big picture issues and those that affect daily lives
Doug Hillian is seeking a fifth term on the Courtenay City Council. He recently retired from a 45-year career as a probation officer and community justice/social services manager. He has a Master’s degree in Human and Social Development and has twice been awarded the Governor General’s Exemplary Service Medal.
Hillian co-founded the Transition and Social Planning Societies and has served on several other nonprofits, including the Community Justice Centre where he continues to volunteer as a facilitator.
He has spent 12 years coaching youth soccer teams, plays competitive soccer himself, sings in a community choir and has called Courtenay home for 43 years.
Why should voters re-elect you?
Hillian says he offers a balanced perspective between big picture issues like climate change, housing and reconciliation and those issues that affect his constituents’ daily lives, such as the provision of core services, public safety, bylaw issues and keeping taxes affordable.
He prides himself on answering email and phone calls promptly and often meets with people in their neighbourhoods, something he’s been able to do more of since retiring in 2017. And he says the people he meets have encouraged him to run again.
“My experience and leadership skills have made a difference,” he told Decafnation.
What are some of your key accomplishments?
Hillian believes that a councillor’s work is collaborative and that Courtenay currently has a strong team on the council. He says that ability to collaborate helped them get through the recent difficult COVID period.
“We shouldn’t minimize the challenges of getting through the pandemic. Everyone had personal challenges and for a city government those were multiplied,” he said. “It was a fractious time, but we followed the advice of our health professionals, held firm on the restrictions and acted out of the best interests of the larger community.”
During that time, the council had to manage a significant turnover of senior staff, some of which he says was related to the pandemic. Council was able to recruit new staff despite the difficulty of digital meetings and interviews.
“It took a massive amount of work to maintain core services and keep people safe during the pandemic, but we were also able to accomplish a lot,” he said. “For example, we have a new Official Community Plan focussed on reconciliation, community well-being, equity and climate action.”
He believes Courtenay Council has built stronger relationships with KFN, the arts and culture community and downtown businesses.
It may not satisfy some people, but he says the council addressed street disorder by providing a building for the Connect Center.
“Some people don’t want to see the congregation of people there, it makes them uncomfortable, but we can either deal with it or ignore it and watch it get worse,” he said.
He says the city has worked collaboratively with regional social agencies while simultaneously pushing the province to do more to help the city address housing and community safety.
Hillian has played lead roles in getting more affordable housing units built, such as the rezoning of land on Lerwick for market housing and transitional housing for women and children survivors of domestic violence. Hillian led the council to delay a decision until the city had further meetings with neighbours who resisted that development.
“I wanted the development to proceed with the support of the neighbourhood, for people to feel that their voices had been heard, rather than feel railroaded,” he said. “The delay resulted in a potential for the transitional housing being lost, but council intervened with the Housing Minister and the project was restored.”
Hillian recognizes that some people are making an issue of bike lanes and criticizing the city’s efforts, particularly the current redevelopment of 17th Street. But he said the council is simply following best practices.
“The majority of people will still be driving cars. But bike lanes are not a radical idea,” he said. “Cities everywhere are adding bike lanes and for good reason: it makes the roadways safer.”
And for Hillian, traffic safety is a top priority. Separating cars and bicycles with narrower lanes slows cars down and makes the route safer for everyone, including pedestrians at crosswalks and kids going to school. It makes the roads safer for car drivers and cyclists, too, he says.
“I appreciate that traffic changes can be confusing, at least at first, but it’s part of a nationwide trend to promote multi-modal transportation, address climate change and make streets safer for all users.”
Goals for the next four years
Hillian says implementing the updated OCP will be his top priority if he’s elected to another term. But he also wants to create more below-market housing units and lobby the provincial government for support.
He promises to represent the city on big regional issues, such as the new sewage conveyance routes. He chairs the Courtenay-Comox Valley Sewage Commission. He’d like to see this project through to completion in the next two to three years.
He’ll keep working on the province to improve traffic flow on Ryan Road, the bypass and 17th Street bridge.
He would also like to continue his work on the ground-breaking KFN treaty. “The level of working together with KFN is higher than ever,” he said.
Hillian is the Comox Valley representative at the Main Treaty Table that meets monthly. This fall, KFN will receive a land and cash offer from senior governments, which will make KFN a major land owner in the Valley.
The most misunderstood thing about the Courtenay Council
Hillian differentiates between misunderstood and “deliberately misunderstood.”
“Some people don’t understand the role of local government, especially the mandate and resources we have available. Some may think we spend too much time on issues not related to basic municipal responsibilities, such as social issues, provincial or global issues,” he said.
“The fact is, 90 percent of what a council member does is related to sewer and water, roads, parks and recreation, and that’s the same for city staff, too. Staff and council worked hard during the pandemic to keep the city functioning, and to maintain core services. These are not always the headline-gripping issues but you realize how important they are to people and you work through long meetings to assure good city governance.”
He wants people to know that the level of regional cooperation is unprecedented on issues like flood mitigation and climate change-related issues, and he wants that to continue.
“I hope the days of backroom wheeling and dealing are over and that greater levels of transparency will endure,” he said.
Doug made the motion to include individual voting records in official council minutes that passed in 2010. But to get even more transparency, he says we need more people interested and paying attention to what the council does.
“I’m exploring the idea of holding council meetings outside of city hall, in neighbourhoods, and whether the effort and cost to do that is feasible. But my focus will remain on public service, a balanced approach and being accessible and responsive to citizens.”
WHERE AND WHEN TO VOTE
General Voting Day is Saturday, Oct. 15 for all local government positions.
Comox Valley Regional District
General Voting Day (Saturday, Oct. 15) and advance voting (Wednesday Oct. 5 and Wednesday Oct. 12) 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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