Maureen Swift would create an off-leash dog park, more housing and more waterfront enhancements in a third term on Comox Council. And she thinks residents get good value for their taxes
Maureen Swift finds the evolution of a community like Comox both fascinating and challenging, which is why she’s seeking a third term on the Town Council.
In recent years, the town has become much more vibrant, she says, with tap houses and breweries popping up and increased numbers of people moving back or settling here for the first time. And with so many existing business owners reaching the retirement age, there is going to be even more opportunities for change.
Swift wants to help council deal with the issues that come with increased population, and to establish a reasonable growth rate. The Town Council will have at least four new members with new ideas, and Swift thinks she can provide some necessary balance and continuity.
In a third term, Swift also has a few goals of her own.
One of them is to create an off-leash dog park. She says there are a surprising number of households with dogs, and they have to travel to Cumberland to let them run. She envisions repurposing a portion of an existing park.
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She wants to continue to enhance the Comox waterfront with a rebuilt and expanded pier, some retail outlets and maybe a seasonal fish market.
The recent improvements of a splash park and food trucks have been a success, she says, as have the two rental buildings, known as the “sail buildings.” Swift says they are used for everything from birthday parties to celebrations of life.
“As people move into smaller homes, they need a gathering space,” she told Decafnation.
Swift would also like to see some housing initiatives.
The town has already approved tax incentives for builders who include a residential component with developments in the downtown core, but Swift would like to see the town make the permitting process “a little bit easier.”
“We don’t own the land, so we have to wait for an idea or proposal to come to us,” she said.
There are about 90 new market rate rental units coming online on Anderton Avenue and four stories of new condos with underground parking next to the Comox Golf Course that will help densify downtown.
But she would like to see the completion of a stormwater management plan for the northeast corner of the town, near the Airport, so it could be developed, possibly for new industries.
The town donates $30,000 each years to the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness and collects an affordable housing fee from developers that goes into a fund.
“The fund is there, we’re waiting for opportunities to present themselves,” she said. “We want organizations to come forward.”
Swift says she’s keeping an open mind about the reevaluation of the Courtenay-Comox sewage system, and where sewer pipes should be located.
“There are so many factors, the cost, the environment, we’ll see what the options are,” she said. She sits on the Public Advisory Committee that will have review options by CVRD staff sometime next year.
But she says she didn’t see the need for elected officials such as herself to sit on the public committee because she already sits on the Courtenay-Comox Sewage Commission.
Swift thinks a ban on single-use plastic bags is inevitable because “the world is changing in that direction.” But she’s less certain about banning wood stoves.
“I need more information on wood stoves,” she said. “We have to look at what is cost effective versus what makes sense for the rest of the community.”
One of Swift’s other goals, if she’s re-elected, is to improve the quality and quantity of wayfinding signage within the town.
She envisions more informative signs to help people find the town’s network of trails, parks and other amenities.
Swift has supported the town’s application to the BC Supreme Court to alter the terms of famed naturalist Mack Laing’s trusts. She’s proud that this council has finally taken on the issue after 36 years. Laing died in 1982, but the town hasn’t addressed the trust agreements until now.
“Once the court case is settled, we’ll see what we do,” she said.
She thinks the town faces some financial challenges with the province downloaded some burdens to local government. Her goal is to maintain the level of service and the condition of its infrastructure assets.
“Overall, Comox residents get good value for their taxes,” she said. “Our parks are well maintained, our roads are in good shape and we’re not overstaffed.
“We can’t afford to cut,” she said.