Wells, Frisch and Eriksson will battle for Courtenay mayor

Wells, Frisch and Eriksson will battle for Courtenay mayor

This article has been updated to include Rebecca Lennox’s announcement to seek re-election.

This article has been further updated to include Bob Wells announcement to run for mayor of Courtenay

 

Courtenay City Council member David Frisch announced early last week that he is running for mayor.

Frisch is the second sitting councillor to enter the mayoral race, just 225 days away. Erik Eriksson launched his campaign for mayor several months ago. Then, late in the week, Bob Wells announced that he would also compete for the mayor’s chair.

That makes half of the existing Courtenay Council running for mayor. It means there are now three open seats on council and two of the mayoral candidates will no longer serve on Courtenay council.

Mayor Larry Jangula remains undecided about whether to seek re-election. In early January, Jangula told Decafnation it was “too early” to decide and that his decision will be based on his wife’s health, his own health and “an examination of who might be running.”

Jangula is out of town and could not be contacted after Frisch’s announcement.

FURTHER READING: Who’s in, who’s out for Election 2018; Eriksson announces mayoral bid

Frisch told Decafnation that he’s running because he’s the best person to keep Courtenay growing in a healthy direction.

“I’m running for mayor because I have a vision to keep Courtenay’s natural beauty, access to recreation, and affordable living for generations to come,” he said. “My focus is on fostering an inclusive community and planning for growth in a responsible way, balancing economic needs with the need for a healthy and vibrant community.”

Frisch was the top vote-getter in the 2014 election and is serving his first term on council. He received 3,671 votes, hundreds more than his nearest competitor at 3,033.

“I’ve had the privilege to serve with the mayor and my fellow councillors for four years and have learned a lot,” he told Decafnation. “When I imagine how the valley will look in another 10, 20 or 30 years, I can’t think of anyone better to create an inclusive, people driven agenda.”

By seeking the mayor’s chair, Frisch, Wells and Eriksson will give up their council seats.

“The fact that my seat as a councillor will need to filled is only an invitation for another community minded leader to step up,” Frisch said. “The people of Courtenay will take care of choosing that person and I can work with whoever that may be.”

Rebecca Lennox, another first-term council members announced on Facebook late Thursday that she would also seek re-election.

“International women’s day is here​ so I thought I would tell you that​ I have decided to run in the 2018 election​,” Lennox posted. “It has been my greatest honour to serve on council these last years and I will always be so grateful of the opportunity to do so. If I am lucky enough to be elected for a second term I will continue to do my best in the role of councilor.

“I hope to see a few more ladies round the table next time as one out of seven is not a great balance,” she wrote.

And newcomer Kiyoshi Kosky, who recently sought the provincial NDP nomination, said he is running for a council position.

In an email interview several weeks ago, when Frisch was considering a mayoral run, he told Decafnation:

“As mayor, I plan to embrace the opportunities we have and lead our community to grow in an environmentally responsible way while capitalizing on our opportunities for economic growth – particularly in internet technologies, destination tourism, and retirement living,” he said.

“This includes doing as much as possible to support affordable housing options for young adults, families and seniors, as well as doing the much needed long range transportation planning to keep us all moving.

“My role as mayor will allow me to lead the city to engage with the people of Courtenay and create a long range plan particularly for sustainable development and efficient transportation.”

Voters go to the polls on Oct. 20. Candidates for the 2018 municipal election must file during a 10-day period beginning Sec. 3.

 

Island Health board to meet in Courtenay on March 29

Island Health board to meet in Courtenay on March 29

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA, or Island Health) board of directors will hold their March meeting in the Comox Valley.

It’s an opportunity for Comox Valley and Campbell River residents flummoxed by the myriad errors in planning the new hospitals to ask questions or make presentations to the directors and Island Health executives.

The board will meet from 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on March 29 at the Crown Isle Resort ballroom located at 399 Clubhouse Drive, Courtenay.

With the Comox Valley Hospital still running over capacity — due in large part to the shortage of long-term care beds — citizens might ask when Island Health will re-issue the Request for Proposals to build “new or replacement” beds.

Island Health originally issued an RFP for 70 “new or replacement” beds in 2016, then abruptly withdrew it last summer after deciding to move the community’s four hospice beds to a facility not operated by a religious organization.

Citizens might also ask when Island Health will correct planning errors such as the location of landing pads for emergency transport helicopters, the lack of space for storing health records and other oversights detailed in a series of articles on Decafnation.

FURTHER READING: Online forms for questions and presentations to the Island Health board

The board will only consider questions submitted in advance using an online form available on the Island Health website.

But, curiously, the board won’t speak to those questions at the Courtenay meeting. They will answer them in written form to be distributed at the meeting and uploaded to the Island Health website.

Individuals or groups planning a presentation to the board must apply using an online form at least 14 days in advance of the meeting (a March 15 deadline).

The Island Health board includes two area directors: Anne Davis, program coordinator for the Comox Valley Transition Society; and, Claire Moglove, a retired lawyer and former Campbell River city council member.

FURTHER READING: The Decafnation series on the Comox Valley Hospital

 

Monday, Feb. 26, 2018

Three Comox Valley and one Campbell River members of the Canadian Olympic team credit Mt. Washington with making their Olympic dreams come true. Read it here.

Project Watershed needs volunteers for its Kus-Kus-sum restoration project. Find out how you can contribute at an open meeting on Monday, Feb.19 at the Project Watershed office. Read it here.

Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns

Water bottling project raises aquifer concerns

This article has been updated to include a statement from NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard.

 

There’s a new water controversy bubbling up in the Comox Valley, and once again the province has dumped another problem on local elected officials.

The B.C. government has approved a controversial groundwater licence for a water extraction and bottling operation on a two hectare property on Sackville Road in the Merville area. They did it despite a strong objection from the Comox Valley Regional District and without public consultation or regard for community concerns.

“The province does this all the time,” said Area B Director Rod Nichol. “We have to clean up the mess and look like the bad guys.”

Nichol compared the water extraction issue to the recent Raven Coal Mine battle and myriad less high-profile issues, such as highway development.

About 200 people attended the CVRD’s Electoral Areas Services Committee meeting Monday (March 5) to protest and urge the CVRD to deny the water extraction applicants a necessary zoning change. The property is current zoned rural residential and would need to be zoned light industrial.

 
FURTHER READING: CVRD Staff Report

 

Instead, the committee unanimously endorsed a staff recommendation to refer the rezoning application to various agencies, CVRD committees and K’omoks First Nations. The intent is to build a baseline of data about the source of water (aquifer 408) and how a water bottling operation might impact agriculture and other existing users and potential long-term effects on the surrounding watershed.

NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard emailed this statement to Decafnation:

“I can understand the concerns of Merville residents, as water is a precious resource for any community. My understanding is the ministry performed a detailed technical review of the proposal and noted no concerns about aquifer capacity. I’ve also been reassured that existing well users would get priority in a drought. The project still needs CVRD zoning approval though, and as the local MLA I will be monitoring the situation closely.”

The applicants

Christopher Scott MacKenzie told the committee that he originally drilled a well for domestic purposes. But after his wife, Regula Heynck, insisted on testing and discovering the water had high pH levels (alkaline), the couple envisioned a viable family business.

MacKenzie claimed the alkaline water has health benefits and is “something the community needs … it’s really unique”

A protester disrupted MacKenzie with concerns about how neighbors’ drinking supplies might go dry. He replied that dry wells would be “hit and miss,” and that people “would just have to understand it.”

 

FURTHER READING: Alkaline water: beneficial or bogus?; Quackwatch

 

MacKenzie and Heynck have recently moved to the Valley from Ringenberg, Germany, and took out a building permit to locate a $14,613 mobile home on the property.

MacKenzie is the son of the late Keith MacKenzie, who served as president of the Courtenay Fish and Game Club after retiring as carpentry foreman from Candian Forces Base, Comox. His tours of duty included a stop in Germany.

The core issue

The province has already approved a groundwater licence that enables MacKenzie/Heynck to extract 10,000 litres per day or 3.65 million litres per year. But the CVRD must approve a rezoning application to permit “water and beverage bottling” as a principal use on the property.

Alana Mullaly, the CVRD manager of planning services, said the province has jurisdiction on what happens below grade. The CVRD has jurisdiction over what can happen above grade.

She said denying the rezoning application would not cancel the provincial groundwater license.

Without a zoning change, MacKenzie/Heynck cannot conduct water bottling operations as the principal use of the property.

But it’s unclear whether a denial of the rezoning application would mean only that they could not construct a bottling facility on the property or that they could not operate a commercial enterprise from the property even without a physical structure.

The CVRD opposed the water extraction application made to Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) on the basis that it was inconsistent with the Rural Comox Valley Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 337, 2014, and the zoning bylaw.

There are environmentally sensitive areas surrounding the property, including many farms and Agricultural Land Reserve areas that rely on groundwater.

Area C Director Edwin Grieve warned that aquifers eventually get pumped down and he wondered what effect that would have on the water supply for nearby farms. He noted that climate changes have caused Portuguese Creek to dry up in the summer.

Grieve said the applicant deserved due process and that the gathering of more information is important.

But Grieve also said earlier that “we could save the applicant a lot of time and money and deny it now.”

What’s next

CVRD staff will refer the rezoning application to a number of agencies, First Nations and its own relevant committees. Not date was set for staff to report to the CVRD board.

If the application passes through the Area C Advisory Planning Commission, then the CVRD would hold public hearings.

In the meantime, people can express their views on the proposal to Tanya Dunlop, senior authorizations technologist, at tanya.dunlop@gov.bc.ca.

 

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018

MORE AGARIANS — Matching up people who want to farm with those who have land available for farming is the goal of the 5th annual Winter Mixer and Land Link. Read it here.

MORE ROTARIANS — The Comox Valley’s 5th Rotary club has formed. Read it here.

MORE REPRESENTATION — Former Valley resident an editor of the award-winning G.P. Vanier High School newspaper Katie Betanzo shares her views of proportional representation based on experience living and working in New Zealand. Read it here.

 

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