Comox mayoral candidate Tom Diamond has a strong vision for a vibrant town facing massive growth pressures — a future by design, not by default
Tom Diamond loves the Town of Comox. He’s lived there for eight years, and thinks it’s a well-run municipality. But he would like to see the town led toward a more vibrant future.
So Diamond is running for mayor in this fall’s election.
During a Saturday morning interview over coffee outside The Grind on Beaufort Avenue, Diamond talked about his strong vision for Comox, and why the town’s unavoidable growth pressures make it so important.
“Massive growth is upon us, the whole Comox Valley. We can’t escape it,” he told Decafnation. “But with a well-defined vision, we can plan for it and manage it.”
Diamond points to the town’s default residential zoning, which makes every development project a one-off discussion, or fight. Some projects are stalled for years as a result.
“That’s fine in a slow-growing environment,” Diamond said. “But we can’t afford that anymore.”
FURTHER READING: Tom Diamond for mayor
Diamond’s campaign platform is based on developing a clear community vision, and making zoning decisions ahead of time.
“The council doesn’t know what the right thing to do is without a community vision,” he said. “With a plan, we’ll know when the right development comes along, and we can choose wisely.”
Diamond sees the Oct. 20 municipal election as a referendum of sorts.
“Are the people of Comox interested in a plan for the future, one that creates a vibrant downtown, attracts 21st century jobs and housing with a range of styles and affordability?” he said.
“I think so.”
Diamond has a masters in clinical psychology (counseling) and a Ph.D in organizational psychology (organizational development, human resources).
He’s worked for the U.S. Navy, several universities in administrative and teaching roles, a consulting group specializing in health care and as an independent psychologist.
Diamond was serving as Director of Academic Affairs for Walden University in Vancouver, when his family decided to seek a quieter lifestyle. They moved to Salt Spring Island, which proved to be too quiet.
FURTHER READING: Brain Fitness Center
The settled in Comox in 2008 as a happy medium. It offered a slow pace, yet had more opportunity for his family.
He’s gotten back into counseling since moving to the Valley, especially in the areas of biofeedback and neurofeedback to improve sleep and focus, reduce anxiety and recover from concussions.
His “brain fitness center” is called BrainiGo.
Vision for Comox
Diamond would use his experience in building strategic plans and forming collaborative teams to create a community vision that won’t get steamrolled by out-of-control growth.
He envisions a revitalized downtown core with a walking promenade from a more formalized seafood market on the docks up to Comox Avenue, lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants. He sees an expand marina, perhaps accessible by small cruise ships.
He sees a Granville Island-style public market, a community swimming pool and a safe network of pathways for non-vehicular traffic.
Diamond wants to encourage and attract technology jobs that will draw younger people to the town, and maximize recreational opportunities to keep them here.
“There are already a lot of younger, working families here that are underserved,” he said. “One priority will be to incentivize a wider variety of housing styles and price ranges.”
In Diamond’s vision, Comox not only keeps, but enhances the beauty of its coastline, and retains a small village feel within the downtown area.
The key, he says, is a “vision-led town council, rather than slowing everything down.”
Why mayor, not a council position?
Although he’s not held elected office before, Diamond says the mayor’s role is the right fit for his skill set and the motivation behind his campaign.
“I have a lot of big picture experience and that combined with my leadership and collaborative skills, makes me a better candidate for mayor,” he said. “I want to encourage people to get involved in shaping their town.”
He readily admits that his vision for Comox reaches high and will take time to achieve. But without that kind of thinking, he says the growth that is coming our way will bulldoze us.
“I believe the people want a future by design, not by default,” he said.