ELECTORAL AREA A: Candidates answer our three questions
Decafnation asked this year’s candidates for public office to respond to three questions. We are publishing their responses by the jurisdictions in which they are a candidate.
Electoral Area A
One representative to be elected
Incumbent –Daniel Arbour
Challengers — Tamara Meggitt, Gordon Kennedy
1. In the event that a new dangerous variant of the COVID virus emerges or if a new pandemic arises would you use your position as a civic leader to support federal and provincial public health orders and encourage others to do likewise?
Daniel Arbour, incumbent
Making decisions through the COVID-19 pandemic was an unnerving experience. In March 2020, I was a Board Executive on the Vancouver Island Library with 39 branches, and had just been elected Chair of the Comox Valley Recreation Commission, responsible for pools and arenas. It was a dark time to have to close all facilities and tell our staff to stay home. I hated it. At the time there were also fears our hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.
With a Master’s in Environmental Studies and trained in scientific methodology, I have respect and trust in the medical profession and scientific fields. Professionals act on best available information; hypotheses are tested, and consensus is established. As a policy-maker job #1 was to limit the risks of mass death. We saw different jurisdictions try different policies. I never expected the response to be perfect, and there were some policy inconsistencies that could have been addressed. If another pandemic occurs, I would follow, support, and promote Provincial health guidance, while not vilifying alternative viewpoints or constructive criticisms of policies. Something snapped in our society with the pandemic, and we have important work to do to bring ourselves back together. I am hopeful we will.
As we have seen, Covid is one of many divisive issues society has been facing over the last few years. It is important to understand that when it comes to public health orders, they are provincial regulations and not municipal. As in all things, I will encourage people to act in ways that are in the best interests of all residents and to be respectful of each person’s views. Everyone has the right to feel safe. We need to end the divisiveness and have conversations to find solutions that work for everyone in a manner that is respectful.
We need to follow the scientists and their recommendations. That being said we can not force people to take vaccinations. ( I am fully vaccinated) I have my first Vaccination passport from 1960 issued by the Toronto School Board so I could go to school. I also have a second one from 1966 that was required to travel oversees (Canadian Government Document). These are not new ideas. I hope our scientists act with the most up to date information and that they give us the best advice. We have to work together to protect everyone.
2. Do you support the Regional Growth Strategy as it’s currently written? In particular, do you support its theme to funnel new growth into already defined urban boundaries, leaving the rural areas as rural as possible. And, do you support not adding any settlement nodes until the Union Bay Estates and K’omoks First Nations developments in the Union Bay area are well underway?
The Comox Valley Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is the foundational document which guides land use planning and development across the Comox Valley, and was developed following extensive public input and expert advice. The Official Community Plans of each community are aligned and nested within the RGS. The CVRD Board has started a review process which will straddle into the next term and will allow the community to consider if any amendments are required for the Comox Valley as a whole.
My view is that the current RGS follows best practice to avoid urban sprawl as we see in places like Nanaimo; protects forestry and forest lands; agriculture, and aquaculture for the benefit of future generations. The RGS allows for some growth outside the municipalities in three settlement nodes, namely Union Bay, Saratoga, and Mount Washington. As I am very familiar with the challenges of supporting the growth of the Union Bay settlement node, I definitely agree that no other areas should be considered for development outside the municipalities until we can demonstrate that existing settlement nodes can be developed sustainably. Lastly, as K’omoks First Nation approaches Treaty, I look forward to their suggestions regarding the RGS..
When we look at Area A, it has a population of 7,925 residents. There are 3,645 residents over the age of 60. That is almost 50%. Most are living in private households. Income stats suggest that many are living on pensions. The median income is a mere $33,000 annually. Having services closer such as medical practitioners, grocery stores, etc will go a long way in supporting them. In short, as we look at growth (Area A having the largest overall growth from 2016-2021 at 9.9%), we can also look at allowing homeowners to have suites, making owning a home more affordable and potentially opening options for families to remain together, keeping seniors at home and aiding in the housing crisis.
Officials should support the plan, however all plans should be evergreen. Meaning things change and we need to be flexible. I like the European rules of keeping rural land rural. We can grow the area within the urban areas we have zoned now (with more density). Restricting growth to these 2 areas you have mentioned may not be in the best interests of the valley. I have watched Union Bay have very little progress over the last four years. During two of those years I bought my property and built my house.
3. Do you believe it is the responsibility of local governments to take climate change focused actions and to consider how to minimize carbon emissions from municipal operations and facilities in all of the council deliberations?
I believe it is the responsibility of all governments, businesses, and households to take strong climate action, as after decades of talk we have not managed to bend the curve on emissions. The CVRD Board recently passed a plan to reduce our organization’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. It will require discipline, hard choices, and resolve to achieve this target, and I believe we can.
A big emissions reduction opportunity I see is with BC Transit, which has committed to 100% electrification by 2040. This summer, BC Transit approached the CVRD to build an electric charging facility in the Valley, in anticipation of diesel bus replacements with an electric fleet. Federal grants of up to 80% funding are available. Once re-elected, I will propose that we approach School District 71 to partner on this initiative along with BC Transit and BC Hydro, with the goal of reducing facilities costs for all. This is one example, but there are many other climate actions the CVRD takes at almost every meeting. My record shows that I have been amongst the most vocal and pragmatic climate action champions at the CVRD board table.
I believe it is up to all of us to do what we can when it comes to taking actions that are environmentally sound. Imposed regulations must be realistic (phasing out of gas stations is not a realistic solution at this time). Some things we can do: make the ability to recycle easier for rural residents, support and encourage local initiatives to support our many artisans, crafters as well as our farmers.
Food security is a real concern for many residents. Producing locally can minimize our carbon footprint by reducing the need to ship products from foreign countries. I, along with a few friends, started a Facebook page (Shop Local Comox Valley) which now has 7,500 people on it. This was a concept that took off during Covid and has been steadily growing. As a municipal government, we can be working alongside residents to enhance access to everyday services that we all need.
Yes, you cannot fool mother nature. She will not negotiate. She will take us out. Every human being should take whatever actions they can. We all need to help in government or outside government. I believe in being a practical green. I recently built a house for less than $150 a square foot with solar panels and a heat pump. My last electric bill for two months was under $13 for a 4,000 square foot house. My best 12-month period was under $350 for a year.
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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