Kiyoshi Kosky, the Courtenay City Council candidate from Cortes Island with the Japanese first name, says we could learn a lot from First Nations culture, and about affordable housing from Whistler, BC
To describe his view of local government, Kiyoshi Kosky looks to Section 7(d) of the Community Charter, a provincial act that defines the purposes, powers and governance of municipalities.
“It says the purposes of the city are to foster the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community,” he told Decafnation. “And that’s what I’m focused on.”
Kosky uses the Kus-kus-sum restoration project as a prime example.
He says returning the old sawmill site to its natural habitat, which will widen the river at that point, will provide an economic benefit to the city through flood mitigation. Rehabilitating a key section of the productive K’omoks estuary will provide environmental benefits.
And all of the above, plus removing an eyesore with walkable trails, will create social opportunities and improve our quality of life.
That section of the Community Charter has inspired Kosky to run for Courtenay City Council, and would guide his decision-making as a councillor.
“We need to keep our community values in mind, so that we don’t make decisions in isolation,” he said.
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Kosky moved to the Comox Valley two years ago from Pemberton, where he worked for 10 years as a education assistant, supporting students in K-12 with a wide range of abilities, including autism. He is now working on a BA degree in social work at North Island College.
He is passionate about using the Whistler Housing Authority model to create more affordable housing in Courtenay. He envisions the city using its housing reserve fund to leverage loans and build affordable units that would pay off the debt through rental income, and ultimately provide a revenue stream for the municipality.
Kosky has proposed the idea in conjunction with other plans to revitalize downtown Courtenay at the former Thrifty’s Foods site. His plan includes converting the former grocery store into a technology hub to attract new business, an arts hub and and a large farmer’s market.
Kosky is also promoting more off-leash dog parks. He has a number of environmental issues including the banning of single-use plastic bags and phasing out wood stoves, the prime cause of concern about the region’s air quality.
Kosky, whose mother was enthralled with Japanese culture when he was born (hence his first name, Kiyoshi), is himself impressed by the culture of First Nations people.
“First Nations culture gives us the experience of a different way to live,” he said. “It shows us how to take care of each other and the environment and not compromise our children’s future.”
Kosky was raised on Cortes Island in close contact with First Nation communities.
“My mom appreciated the teachings of First Nations culture. She had a high respect for it,” he said.
At the school he attended on Cortes, if there was an issue, all the children sat in a circle and talked it out.
“We were taught how to resolve problems,” he said.
Kosky describes himself as person with a strong work ethic, who would do the homework required of a councillor. In addition to his perseverance and determination, Kosky says his interpersonal skills could be an asset on council.
“I have a positive regard for other people. I listen actively and I’m collaborative,” he said.
Kosky has previously sought office in Pemberton and sought the NDP nomination for the Courtenay-Comox riding in the 2017 provincial election.