CFB Comox Engineering Officer Alex Bissinger would focus on better planning, maintaining infrastructure and create more activity opportunities for young people in a town that has usually catered to seniors. She would add a voice for sustainability and not be fooled by consultant’s reports
Complex technical reports from staff and consultants often make municipal councillors eyes glaze over, but not Comox Council candidate Alex Bissinger. Her eyes light up.
Bissinger, 31, has a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Ottawa and heads up the engineering department at CFB Comox. She’s responsible for planning and maintaining the 19 Wing’s infrastructure, and directs a staff of 14 project managers, drafters, GIS technologists and procurement employees.
She took the civilian post as CFB’s Engineering Officer a year ago, a post the base had left vacant for 10 years. Since moving to the Valley seven years ago, Bissinger worked for the crown corporation Defence Construction Canada before taking her new job.
Bissinger recently purchased a house in Comox, where she hopes to raise children someday. She volunteers as an English tutor (she’s fluent in French having lived in Montreal) and recently joined the Valley’s newest Rotary club, “the young one.”
“I live off adrenaline. I enjoy being busy,” she told Decafnation.
Bissinger describes herself as approachable, but pragmatic. As an engineer, she’s trained as a problem solver.
“I’ll know what I’m reading in the studies and reports,” she said. “Nobody will pull the wool over my eyes.”
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She’s attracted to elected office because she can make a contribution to small community decisions.
For example, Bissinger wonders why the town didn’t include bike lanes in the recent redevelopment of Robb Avenue or along Lazo Road at Point Holmes.
“There could have been a more engineered solution, something was missed or forgotten,” she said. “There’s a few extra things like that we could do to make the community better.”
While Bissinger would focus on planning and maintaining the town’s infrastructure for core services, she would also add a voice for considering sustainability.
She was impressed that Campbell River employs a Sustainability and Long Range Planning Manager, who spoke at the recent Sustainability Forum, and thinks that could be a good idea for Comox.
Bissinger is going on a wheelchair tour of the town next week to experience first-hand the challenges faced by people with mobility issues. She hopes to formulate some ideas that she can take to council.
Bissinger would also like to create more activities for teenagers in Comox.
“The town has kind of catered to seniors,” she said. “There’s not much for the teen group.”
She would like to see a skate park and a pump or jump park.
Bissinger would try to address the affordable housing issue in Comox in a variety of ways.
She would make the process of creating a coach house less technical and more straight forward. She would launch an education program for homeowners to create basement suites: a step-by-step guide and a Landlord 101 workshop.
But she would also make Comox more attractive to builders and investors by eliminating unreasonable demands in the permitting process, such as “changing the goal posts,” requiring extra studies after plans have been approved and other delays.
At the same time, Bissinger wants to protect what ALR land exists within the town’s boundaries, and encourage more local food production.
“We should have community gardens, especially somewhere downtown,” she said. “Gardening is good therapy for seniors and recreation for people living in condos; it can bring young and old people together.”
Bissinger would also like the council to start monthly public access sessions, where council members can just chat with people.
“I love to talk with people,” she said.
Bissinger said voters will get what they see with her.
“I come with no influences. No strings attached,” she said.