Wendy Morin, a substance abuse counsellor with the John Howard Society and a co-founder of the Comox Valley Girls Group, is running for Courtenay City Council. She would focus on housing, social issues and the environment
A founding resident of Courtenay’s Tin Town live-work neighborhood hopes to bring her social consciousness and long-time connection with Comox Valley youth to the City Council.
Wendy Morin, a lifelong resident of the Valley, will launch her campaign at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 outside of the Tin Town Cafe.
The youth and family substance use counsellor at the John Howard Society believes voters will find her 20-year experience in advocacy, collaboration, creative problem-solving and relationship-building an asset to the council.
Morin, who thought about running in 2010 and again in 2014, thinks the current City Council has made good progress in her primary areas of interest: social issues, the environment and affordable housing.
“But we’re losing some of them now,” she said.
Bob Wells, David Frisch and Erik Eriksson are running for mayor and at least two will lose their council seats. Rebecca Lennox, the lone woman on council, is retiring, a fact that Morin laments.
“When we have more women on council, we’re better represented,” she said.
Morin is the co-creator of the Comox Valley Girls Group, which has provided training for young women, from age 12 through 21, about how to deal with societal pressures and learn skills for healthy living.
The program operates under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Transition Society. During its 20 years, Morin estimates that more than 400 young women have been helped to navigate their way through the challenge of adolescence.
She hopes to engage more young people in municipal affairs through council outreach initiatives, as well as those who are marginalized through social inequality and feel disempowered.
“I want to help create a city that’s livable for everybody,” she said. “A city where nobody is left out of decision-making.”
But she also has views on a variety of specific issues.
Morin worries that the Valley has become unaffordable for young families. She supports diverse housing options that include promoting secondary suites, carriage houses, tiny homes and urban infill with incentives for developers.
She supports transitional and supportive housing.
She would like to use her council platform to promote neighborhood hubs “whether that’s a community school or center, cafes or coffee shops, parks or farmers markets.”
Morin opposes the 3L Developments proposal to build a new 740-house community near Stotan Falls because it’s a contravention of a core tenet of the Regional Growth Strategy to have sustainable long-term growth and infrastructure.
“And it (3L’s Riverwood proposal) would just abandon a plan (the RGS) that’s not that old,” she said. “Water, sewer and road infrastructure is just going to come back to the city eventually, and cost us more.”
Morin is the first and, so far, only candidate that supports the elimination of plastic bags. She would recommend more opportunities for community food gardens, green building and protections for forests, riparian areas and estuaries.
Attracting innovative businesses and clean industries tops Morin’s list of economic development objectives.
She supports adopting a social procurement policy similar to Cumberland’s to “offset taxation and improve the social wellbeing of the community.”
Morin supports alternative modes of transportation to slow down growing traffic congestion and make it easier for those who cannot drive vehicles.
She opposes a bridge at 21st Street that “made no sense.”
Morin says the Courtenay Airpark “seems to be valuable,” because it supports economic development, tourism and health care. She knows of nurses who travel to remote places.
“I respect the Official Community Plan process,” she said. “I would support continuing to implement it, no abandon it.”
The city’s OCP states council’s support for the airpark, its commitment to protect it and encourage it to expand.
Morin would advocate for a social planning position at the city. The position would coordinate the activities of an existing volunteer committee to improve the social health of the city, and offset hidden costs to taxpayers.
“If we improve food security, housing and access to health services, we benefit from economic spin-off and cost savings,” she said.