A feud develops between Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula and challenger Harold Long over a broken four-year old promise. Barbara Price fails to make the ballot in Comox. Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird finally has an opponent, poor fella, so there’s no end of fun in this year’s election campaign
This article was updated Tuesday morning to add new information about a Comox candidates meeting and to correct information about the School District 71 elections.
Who says local government elections are boring? Here’s what happened in the last week of nominations in the Comox Valley:
The Courtenay mayoralty candidate that many assumed was the front-runner curiously dropped out of the race in a bid to stay on the City Council.
A long-time former City Council member jumped into the Courtenay mayoralty race and strongly criticized the incumbent mayor for breaking a promise he made four years ago.
In Comox, the Town Council and mayor’s chair will get a near-total makeover because only two of seven incumbents are running for re-election.
But that wasn’t entirely planned. One Comox councillor, who fully intended to run again, failed to file her completed nomination papers in time and won’t be on the ballot.
In School District 71, four incumbents chose not to run for re-election, an indication of some of the pressure on school boards, perhaps as a result of years of underfunding by the provincial government.
And, finally, Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird has drawn a challenger. It’s the first time she’s had an opponent, having been acclaimed to office twice. Not that anyone is expecting a close vote.
But, all in all, the next four weeks of local politics looks like fun.
FURTHER READING: For more interviews with candidates and a full list of who’s running for councils, regional district and school board, go to our Elections 2018 page
Harold Long and Larry Jangula will feud it out. Long wanted to run for mayor in 2014, but made a deal with Jangula to support him last time, if Jangula would support Long in 2018.
Except it’s going to be hard for Jangula to keep his promise with his own name on the ballot.
According to a reliable source, Jangula justified breaking the deal to Long in a phone call: “I can change my mind if I want to,” Jangula reportedly said.
Jangula has yet to respond to Decafnation’s request for an interview.
David Frisch, the top vote-getter in the 2014 election, looked like the front runner for the mayor’s job in Courtenay. Even late-entry mayoralty candidate Harold Long thought Frisch was the odds-on favorite.
But Frisch dropped out suddenly because, according to him, he didn’t want to split the progressive vote three ways (between himself, Bob Wells and Erik Eriksson) making a Jangula victory more likely.
But he dropped out before Harold Long jumped in, who is sure to take a big chunk out of Jangula’s vote total, which leaves local political observers wondering who will emerge from this two-on-two free-for-all.
Comox Councillor Barbara Price meant to file for re-election. But while at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler last week, she got word that her nomination papers weren’t properly filled out.
Price tried to correct the problem while travelling back to the Comox Valley, including trying to find a Notary Public on the BC Ferry trip from Horseshoe Bay, but to no avail. She didn’t make the ballot.
That has the potential to realign the balance of power in Comox, especially on issues like the rewriting of Hamilton Mack Laing’s Last Will and trusts to the town.
Decafnation will do its best to inform voters about the candidates, and we’ll make our own recommendations soon. But there are only a few opportunities for voters to hear the candidates speak in person and debate each other.
There’s a Comox Valley sustainability forum tomorrow night, Thursday, Sept 19, at the K’omoks First Nation Community Hall, and an all-candidates meeting for the City of Courtenay only on Oct. 16 at the Sid Williams Theatre. Comox voters will get to meet their municipal candidates at 7 p.m on Oct. 12 at the Comox Recreation Centre.
And surely there will be a public debate for the Cumberland candidates. But will regional district and school board candidates get a chance to debate in public?
Watch The Record and TideChange.ca and our Morning Briefings column for announcements of additional events. We’ll be posting new events on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/decafnation.
Meanwhile, enjoy the show, support your own favorite candidates and, most importantly, VOTE on Oct. 20.
Comox Councillor Barbara Price has offered up misleading statements to defend changes to an antiquated sewerage system that serves only Comox and Courtenay residents.
Price chairs the Comox Valley Sewage Commission, which is itself a misnomer. The Sewage Commission does not serve or represent the Comox Valley. It represents the sole interests of the Town of Comox, the City of Courtenay and CFB Comox.
A nearly equal amount of the Comox Valley’s population resides outside these two municipalities and relies on septic systems and wells for their water and sewage treatment. The Village of Cumberland manages its own wastewater.
So Price stretches the truth when she writes that the Comox Valley Regional District is “… planning and managing sewage operations for the region.” That’s a true statement only if you narrowly define ‘region’ as Courtenay and Comox. But Price attempts to give the impression of a broader interest.
The irony of Price’s fake fact is that a Valley-wide sewerage system is exactly what the CVRD should be doing. Instead of furthering the patchwork delivery of wastewater services, which creates inter-jurisdictional fights, the Comox Valley should have a 21st Century model for comprehensive and fair delivery of wastewater collection and treatment.
The issue of the moment is the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission’s plan to build a large pump station on Beech Street, which resides in Area B, not within the municipal boundaries of either the Town of Comox or the City of Courtenay.
On that point, Price also misleads readers when she suggests that the commission followed “proper processes” in selecting the Beech Street site, which she also calls the “preferred location.”
A proper process to site such an important public facility would have been transparent. As is required in the Town of Comox, several possible locations would have been identified and the public would have had input before the commission authorized purchase of any property. A fair process would have given a vote to the Area B director who represents people most directly affected by the facility.
But the sewage commission did all of this work in secret. By shutting out the public, and delaying announcement of the property purchase until after the 2014 municipal elections, the commission showed a callous disregard for public sentiment and open governance.
The Beech Street location was not the preferred location of the commission’s own Advisory Committee — formed after the property purchase was announced and comprising elected officials, staff and Beech Street neighbors. The committee gave its top recommendation to upgrading the existing pump station in Courtenay, and for good reason.
Two separate financial analyses — one by the regional district itself and another by a qualified citizen — showed that upgrading the Courtenay No. 1 pump station was less expensive. The independent report predicted savings of $7 million to $12 million in the long-term.
In her op-ed column Price writes that the Comox No. 2 pump station will only be built if it “can be built safely, without harm to neighbours and their necessities (such as well-water access.” CVRD Engineer Kris La Rose made a similar promise in a meeting with Beech Street neighbors last summer. He promised the new pump station would not create any odour or noise discernible beyond the facility’s property line.
Those are bold promises. But can the public have any faith in their veracity? The Courtenay/Comox Sewage Commission made similar promises to residents of the Willemar Bluffs about property erosion and to the Curtis/Brent road residents about odours.
Both sets of residents successfully sued the regional district because the commission’s promises were proved untrue. More than 30 years later, odours from the treatment plant still drift through the neighborhood, which remains skeptical of yet another plan in 2017 to fix the problem.
The Comox Valley faces a watershed moment. Elected officials can choose to invest in patchwork infrastructure that shackles us for decades to deteriorating and outdated technology, or they can create a 21st Century model: a Valley-wide shared service that addresses population growth, new technology and climate change and takes in more service areas and more ratepayers so the burden — and benefits — can be shared more widely.
If not now, then when?
Does the Comox Valley have visionary leaders who see the big picture and consider the long-term? Do we have leaders willing to debate the merits of building a world-class Valley-wide sewerage system with tertiary treatment and resource recovery?
Or, do we have leaders stuck in the past, afraid to think of the greater good because it would be a long, hard sell to voters?
Other North American cities already clean their wastewater to point of reinjecting it into groundwater supplies and, in some cases, directly back into public drinking water systems. They use the byproducts of treatment to fuel their plants, and provide suitable water for agriculture irrigation.
Why can’t the Comox Valley take such a forward-thinking approach?