Courtenay City Council candidate Brennan Day believes that with good planning, the Comox Valley can grow without without losing its charm or small town feel. He would improve infrastructure, housing affordability and promote greater City Council transparency and better communication
Brennan Day believes the silent majority is under-represented on the Courtenay City Council, but that’s not the only reason he’s running for office this year.
He wants to make housing more affordable, properly plan for population growth, ensure the city spends its money wisely, improve infrastructure and create more transparency in local government.
As a 25-year resident who was raised in the Comox Valley, Day understands the desire to maintain the small town characteristics that people love. He just doesn’t see that as mutually exclusive with what he regards as inevitable growth.
“We can’t pretend the Valley won’t continue to grow,” he said. “If we do, and bury our heads in the sand, we’ll get sprawl. But if we plan for growth, we can improve infrastructure so that the community still feels small.”
Day and his wife, a former Denman Island resident, and their one-year-old child moved back to the Valley in 2016, after spending the previous 10 years living and working in Kazakhstan. He worked as a manager for Arctic Group International, which specializes in services for Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry.
Day currently works for Hyland Precast in Cumberland.
FURTHER READING: Who is running for municipal office this year, go to our Elections 2018 page.
The Valley’s infrastructure lags behind neighboring communities like Campbell River, according to Day, because we’re not recognized as an urban center and split into smaller municipal populations.
“This should concern everyone, because we’re missing out on federal and provincial funding as a result,” he said. “We don’t get a proportional return on our taxes.”
Day isn’t promoting amalgamation, but he sees considerable savings in consolidating services such as fire departments and parks.
“I believe City Council has to be responsible with tax dollars,” he said. “We’re currently overspending for the services we get. Consolidating services could be a transitional step to lowering the tax burden.”
Describing himself as a moderate fiscal conservative, which he believes mirrors the majority of Courtenay residents, Day disagreed with the City Council’s recent decision to hire more employees, because the process was flawed.
“Their methodology was okay, acceptable,” he said. “But there was no attempt to look at spending accounts first.”
With a windfall surplus, he said City Council “seemed desperate to spend it rather than cut taxes.” Had council looked harder at expense accounts, Day says he might have approved the hirings.
The candidate points to the aging Fifth Street bridge as an example of the city’s failure to plan for infrastructure improvement.
“That bridge is about 30 years past its life cycle, and we’re going to have to replace it,” he said. “What are we going to do when it no longer passes safety inspections?”
Day believes a third crossing of the Courtenay River will eventually be needed, but says the city should work with the province to make improvements to the 17th Street bridge first.
While City Council has to consider all available options, he thinks a new bridge at 21st St. that would close the Courtenay Airpark should be the lowest priority.
And the city could avoid miscommunications with citizens like the Courtenay Airpark Association if the council was more transparent. He calls the council’s communication efforts “terrible.”
Day would advocate for more robust minutes that show how each council member voted in all decisions, not just those motions that fail.
“If elected, I would publicize a position piece on every vote I cast,” he said. “People should know why council members voted the way they did.”
And he would restrict in-camera sessions because they “don’t give the public confidence.”
Day would also support efforts to make housing more affordable in the city, including allowing carriage houses and suites without going through an amendment process, and other easy steps to densify the urban core.
“These things can get us to the goal quicker,” he said. “And they have a smaller impact than putting up high rise buildings.”
Day would also promote creating more industrial development land, which he says is in short supply.
“Industrial land is scattered around and about half of it is covered by mini-storage operations,” he said. “If it doesn’t exist, where are the new jobs going to go?”