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.
Two-term incumbent Courtenay Councillor David Frisch with his son, Levi, at Anderton Park on the west side of the Puntledge River
David Frisch: Carrying forward the vision already underway and implementing the new OCP
David Frisch is seeking his third term on Courtenay City Council. He was the top vote-getter in the city’s 2014 municipal elections.
Frisch moved to Courtenay in 1998 and studied Business and Humanities for three years at North Island College. He has served on the board for Comox Valley Cycling Club, Imagine Comox Valley and volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Canada and the Youth Challenge International. He runs his own small business.
David is an entrepreneur and has been in the construction industry as a tile setter for 15 years. He and his wife have three boys and enjoy swimming in the river, playing at the beach, hiking local trails, skiing and mountain biking.
David first campaigned on limiting urban sprawl. He says he has “continued to keep an open mind and enjoys making decisions that benefit the whole community, now and for generations to come.”
Why should voters re-elect you?
Frisch believes that the most important job of a councillor is to read all of the reports in order to be prepared for council meetings.
But with the city’s and regions’ populations growing so quickly, other aspects of the job outside of the regular council meetings have become equally or more demanding. Attending events like ribbon cuttings, demonstrations, visiting dignitaries, community events and staff presentations are now more frequent and expected of council members.
Frisch says he is running again to carry forward the vision for the city that’s already underway and the three years of work that went into revising the Official Community Plan.
He says the city has moved from typical urban sprawl toward a vision and plan that connects people with businesses and services more efficiently using active transportation and transit.
“We’re changing how we develop and how much density to allow, including in the downtown and near-downtown areas,” he told Decafnation. “I don’t want to let up now because there’s no guarantee that the next council will follow through with this vision.”
Now, he says, the council has to update relevant bylaws that will make the OCP “real on the ground.”
Frisch knows from his two terms of experience that it takes an enormous amount of energy to get anything done in the public sector. But he’s ready to do the heavy lifting that it takes to change the city’s culture to new ideas about public space and transit and to support them.
“Everything I’ve done in my second term has aligned with my vision and my campaigning – support for developments near downtown like the Bickle Theatre development, wider safer and narrower streets, light-controlled crosswalks and a bike lane network to connect people and services like schools and shopping centers.”
On social issues like housing and mental health, he says the council is trying to do its best, but they really require provincial and federal resources and funding. “We can’t step back and ignore these issue but the city has nowhere near the resources to address some of them,” he said.
What are some of your key accomplishments?
The pandemic created an opportunity to change the rules about sharing the street. And he believes the new on-street patios add vibrancy to downtown, an idea that arose from the 2016 charrette that resulted in a Downtown Playbook to liven the business core.
“I would still like to see Fifth Street become more pedestrian and less car-focused,” he said. “A hybrid street with more space for people to socialize”
He would also like to create riverfront access on the west side at Anderton Park with big, wide steps down to the river, enabling access from downtown.
He supports a pedestrian bridge at Sixth Street and says that it is well into the design stage. The city just needs to find the funding. The bridge will be an east-west connector through Simms Park for walkers and cyclists.
But it was updating the OCP that engaged Frisch the most in his second term. He said he was “deeply involved” and supported all the work in creating a new OCP.
“I’m particularly proud that we’re allowing more secondary dwellings on a property without having to go through a cumbersome permitting process,” he said. “Approval is already built into the zoning now.”
He says the OCP will be a game changer for the development community as it allows smaller old houses to be redeveloped into multi-story, multifamily buildings. Fifth Street is limited to four stories, but that increases to a maximum of six stories elsewhere.
“Increasing density means we absorb population growth without having to annex land and extend expensive infrastructure,” he said.
Frisch says the city has done its best on homelessness, which he says isn’t just people on the street. It’s also the people who live in trailers and their vehicles.
The council approved thousands of new housing units during the last term that aided affordability. And he notes that council tried to cooperate with the BC Housing Association, offering them free land for sub-market housing units. “BC needs to budget more funds for this type of housing.”
He regards the current 17th Street revamp as another major improvement that builds on the upper Fifth Street project a few years ago. The 17th Street project adds lanes for bikes, skateboards, scooters and for walking. At the top end of 17th, the city repainted lines as a temporary solution as upgrades are expected in the next few years. The lower section will now experience traffic calming and front yards separated from traffic by the bike lanes, “so they are safer places for kids to play.”
“The vision for the next four years is to connect schools, grocery stores and other key destinations with safe bike lanes so kids and parents with kids and people of all ages and abilities can move around without constant worry,” he said.
Frisch hopes to complete and expand on a trail that connects the Back Road to the Superstore. It’s already in the works with help from the developers of two big apartment buildings going into the empty lot next to SuperStore.
“In the future, I would like to connect that trail across the highway and into Simms Park,” he said. “With a new pedestrian bridge at Sixth Street, people will be able to travel from West Courtenay to Back Road without going on traffic roads. Kids would be able to ride safely to Isfeld and Puntledge schools.”
Goals for the next four years
He says implementing the OCP vision by rewriting bylaws and rezoning properties will be a top priority. He wants to work with developers on what the new buildings will look like, how high, what amenities, smaller units and commercial opportunities.
He plans to continue working with senior governments on social problems. They have the money, he says, and the city needs funding to support professionals on mental health, addictions, etc.
“I chair the community advisory committee for The Junction, a supportive housing facility with 46 units, managed by John Howard Society. It’s a real success story. These are people who aren’t on the streets.”
One of his goals for the next term is to maintain the human perspective.
“I’m sensitive to people having a hard time in their lives, but at some point, we have to say not anything goes,” he said. “I have sympathy for their situation and also for those people who want to enjoy downtown. We still have to have social expectations. We need downtown to be a pleasant place.”
He says the Connect Center is a good warming place that provides bathrooms, light refreshments, access to social services and a social worker to find help for people when they need it.
“Should we have one located outside of downtown?” he said. “ I think a strategy for dealing with this issue is urgent because otherwise, we’re at risk of losing our downtown.”
Frisch says he would continue pursuing his vision for the region. He’s interested in the opportunities around solid waste and how the city makes use of waste, organics and plastics. The city will soon have food waste picked up and he hopes to add glass, styrofoam and soft plastics for pick up someday.
“It’s a social issue, what to do with waste and packaging in our own households,” he said. “Electrical products, for example, are designed often without any plan for recycling or reuse. What should we do with the heavy metals in them? Local people pay for expensive landfills and it costs millions just to cap off a completely full cell.”
The most misunderstood thing about the Courtenay Council
Many people seem to think the city council can do everything, he says.
“I get calls about mail delivery or a ruckus in the neighbourhood instead of calling the police,” he said.
Councillors are working at the policy level where solutions help the most people possible, but of course, someone is always left out.
“It’s not that we don’t see everyone’s views or that we aren’t listening. We are, but we have to work for all of the people. Living in a community requires accepting minor annoyances; for example, a neighbor’s air conditioner or lawn mower.”
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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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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